Three CNRP Youth activists facing charges of taking part in an insurrection for their alleged roles in a violent opposition protest near Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park in July have been summonsed back to court early next month.
A summons signed by Investigating Judge Keo Mony calls Khin Chamroeun, head of the CNRP Youth in Phnom Penh, to appear at the court on October 1 “to respond to the charges,” which also include intentional violence.
“The person has to bring documents concerning the case if he has them,” the court order says.
Neang Sokhun, a CNRP Youth leader from Tuol Kok district, said that he and another young party activist, San Kimheng, have also been called to court, on October 2 and September 30, respectively.
A total of 11 CNRP officials and activists have been imprisoned and released since opposition supporters viciously retaliated against a group of district security guards who were deployed to break up a protest on July 15 to open Freedom Park, which was surrounded by razor-wire barriers at the time. At least two of the guards were seriously injured.
Seven opposition lawmakers were arrested and detained in the days following the clash and were released on bail hours after Prime Minister Hun Sen and CNRP President Sam Rainsy struck a deal on July 23 to end the opposition’s boycott of the National Assembly. The three CNRP Youth leaders were imprisoned on August 2 and released on August 22.
So far, court officials have offered no explanation for how the street brawl near Freedom Park might have been part of an “insurrection.” The lawmakers involved remain charged with leading an insurrection, a crime that carries a sentence of 20 to 30 years in prison, while the youth activists are charged with participating in an insurrection, which carries a seven- to 15-year prison sentence.
Mr. Sokhun said the latest court order was simply part of the ruling CPP’s continued efforts to use the judiciary to suppress opposition activism.
“The politicians use the court system to break the spirit of the youth because they have seen many of them stand up protesting for their rights,” he said.
“But we are not afraid of the court and we will keep fighting for our right to support others.”