The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee—a coalition of 23 rights organizations—launched a billboard campaign Sunday calling for the release of the two men jailed for the 2004 killing of union leader Chea Vichea.
The launch in Phnom Penh coincided with the third anniversary of the arrests of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun on Jan 28, 2004. It was attended by their relatives, NGO workers and Chea Vichea’s brother, Free Trade Union President Chea Mony.
A large board bearing the number “1,096”—the number of days that had passed Sunday since the pair were arrested—was hoisted onto the outside wall of the head office of local rights organization Licadho.
Thirteen boards, which bear photos of the two men under the heading “They Need Justice,” will be posted at NGO and union offices around Phnom Penh, Licadho founder Kek Galabru said.
The number on the boards will be updated daily to reflect how long the men have been imprisoned, and advertisements with the same message will be printed in newspapers, she added.
The pair were convicted by Phnom Penh Municipal Court in August 2005, “despite extensive evidence of their innocence,” CHRAC said in a statement Sunday.
In October, the Appeals Court failed to hold the men’s appeal when judge Samreth Sophal did not attend, claiming to be sick with diarrhea.
Amnesty International released a statement Sunday calling for the men’s release, and also calling for thorough, independent investigation into allegations of police brutality during the two men’s initial interrogation.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said such allegations were baseless.
“They are playing as if they were the court and the police,” he said. “We didn’t do what they accuse us of.”
Sok Sam Oeun’s father Voun Phon, who said he travels from Takeo province every month to visit his son in PJ Prison, said his son was a scapegoat.
“My son is innocent. The municipal court didn’t provide justice,” he said.