In the latest development in a long season of repression in Cambodia, a court has convicted two rappers of incitement for writing lyrics that referenced social justice and the loss of territory to Vietnam. In a hearing on December 22, a court in Siem Reap found Kea Sokun and Long Putheara guilty of incitement to commit a felony under Article 495 of the Cambodian Criminal Code.
Sokun, 23, was sentenced to a year and a half in prison, of which six months has been suspended. Putheara, 18, was sentenced to five months in prison, of which he must serve three months and 11 days, but having already served that time in prison, he was released on December 22. According to the local human rights group Licadho, Kea Sokun was given a harsher sentence because he refused to express remorse for his actions, whereas Putheara apologized to the court.
The two young men were arrested in September after the Ministry of Culture brought complaints over lyrics in popular rap songs that were critical of the government’s response to social issues such as the economy and the sensitive question of the Cambodian border.