CNRP Takes Wary Steps Into ‘Black Monday’ Dress Code

Leaders of the opposition CNRP say they have no plans to officially join “Black Monday” protests in support of jailed human rights activists, though they will wear black to work and recommend the same dress code to those visiting their offices on Mondays.

“So far, the CNRP has no plans to express itself by dressing in black in public places,” CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said in a video posted to Facebook on Saturday. “So I want to clarify to the Royal Government and authorities, please do not worry.”

Activists march along National Road 3 in Phnom Penh in May as part of the fourth 'Black Monday' protest. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Activists march along National Road 3 in Phnom Penh in May as part of the fourth ‘Black Monday’ protest. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

CNRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang said last week that the party planned to wear black on Mondays in support of the campaign, drawing a warning from the government, which has said the peaceful protests are illegal and pose a security threat.

Mr. Chhay Eang said on Sunday that lawmakers would start wearing black to work on Mondays, but claimed they were not technically joining the campaign.  

“We will not do a Black Monday campaign,” he said, referring to protests launched 15 weeks ago to call for the release of four officers of local rights group Adhoc and an election official who were jailed in what are widely believed to be politically motivated cases.

“We suggest that our leaders dress in black but it is not an event,” Mr. Chhay Eang said. “On Monday, if someone comes to our headquarters, we suggest that they dress in black as well.”

Mr. Sovann also announced on Friday that daily news briefings, which opposition lawmakers have delivered from their Phnom Penh headquarters since late May, when CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha moved into the party’s offices to avoid arrest, would cease.

He said the party would instead focus resources on voter registration in the provinces.

“Lots of MPs [members of parliament] are part of provincial working groups, so we go to the field to prepare for registration.”

During a workshop at the headquarters last week, Mr. Sokha said that he would have to leave at some point before the end of November in order to register to vote, but did not say when that might happen.

(Additional reporting by Kuch Naren and Colin Meyn)

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