‘Black Monday’ Campaign Off Streets as Protesters Dwindle

The “Black Monday” campaign faltered on Monday as ac­tivists stayed off the street and out of public view for the first time since it began 19 weeks ago.

Since May, activists from Phnom Penh’s eviction-hit neighborhoods have rallied or marched for a wide range of demands, starting with the release of jailed officers from rights group Adhoc, and have regularly been rounded up and arrested for flouting a ban on the campaign.

Last month, activists Tep Vanny and Bov Sophea were arrested while protesters waved U.N. flags and cursed effigies of court officials, and were later found guilty of “insulting.”

On Monday, the campaign was limited to a handful of Facebook posts.

Phok Sophin, an activist from Borei Keila who has been arrested on numerous occasions throughout the campaign, said at least 10 people were necessary for an ef­fective street protest.

“How can we carry out a campaign on a big issue when there are only a few people?” she asked. “If they arrest us, there are not many people to protest by making noise and pressing authorities to release us.”

Boeng Kak activist Sung Srey­leap confirmed that the protests, during which participants wear black T-shirts, were confined to social media for the week.

“We are wearing black shirts and have posted to Facebook,” she said. “It’s not much different and it’s still a message from us, even if we do not have many of our activists.”

Even though they did not rally in public, she said, “we are never quiet because we still have the will, at least, to post to Facebook.”

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for rights group Licadho, which was at the forefront of the initial Black Monday demonstration, but has since stayed away from the protests, said it was un­necessary for activists to repeatedly take to the streets.

“The Black Monday campaign does not mean you have to rally all the time,” Mr. Sam Ath said. “They can celebrate by taking a picture and posting it on Facebook.”

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