Black Monday Activists Cease Protests, For Now

The black-clad activists who have called for the release of imprisoned human rights defenders almost every Monday for the past 33 weeks said on Monday that they would call it quits next week because they expected the prisoners’ release before year’s end.

“We took our black shirts off today in the hope that the government will release those six who are detained,” Bov Sophea, an anti-eviction activist, said on Monday in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak neighborhood.

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‘Black Monday’ activists remove their symbolic black shirts after a protest on Monday in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak neighborhood. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

She was joined by more than 20 land activists, who removed their signature black shirts as a message to the government to follow through on a promise to release the officers from human rights group Adhoc and an election official.

The “Black Monday” activists are also calling for the release of Tep Vanny, a protest leader from Boeng Kak who is being detained as she awaits trial over protest-related charges.

“We will suspend the Black Monday protests until the end of this year. If those people are released, then we will stop,” Ms. Sophea said.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng said earlier this month that Prime Minister Hun Sen had agreed to a “resolution” for the Adhoc officers and NEC official, “maybe by the end of December,” during a meeting with CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha.

After the activists stripped off their shirts on Monday, they said they would don them again and restart protests next month if all six people were not released. “We will hold Black Monday again, even if Ms. Vanny is the only person in prison,” Ms. Sophea said.

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