08/06/2015, 00.00

Phnom Penh cracks down on opposition arresting three activists

Roeurn Chetra, Yun Kimhour and Yia Thong are members of the opposition CNRP. They were arrested for their involvement in last year's protests, that turned violent. The court issued an arrest warrant for two other members of the CNRP. Last month, another 11 activists sentenced to between seven and 20 years in prison.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Cambodian authorities have arrested three more activists linked to opposition party, on charges of insurrection for taking part last year in a peaceful protest then degenerated into violence.

News of the arrests arrived yesterday and, according to a member of parliament, they are linked to the opposition's criticism of the government for the management of territorial clashes on the border with neighboring Vietnam. The three activists belong to the opposition party Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and are currently detained in Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh.

Meanwhile, the court has issued an arrest warrant for two other members of the CNRP, who attended a demonstration July 15, 2014, in Freedom Park, in the Cambodian capital that ended with clashes between demonstrators and security forces.

Roeurn Chetra, Yun Kimhour and Yia Thong, the three activists arrested, claimed that they joined the protesters and were on the streetswhen the clashes took place, but did not take part in the violence. They young people are calling for justice for their fellow citizens: "We have not committed any crime - says Yun Kimhour - we have done nothing of what we are being accused."

The CNRP has issued a statement condemning the arrests and demanding the unconditional release of the three activists. The opposition also accuses Prime Minister Hun Sen and his government of threatening members of the opposition and preventing them from carrying out their role according to democratic principles.

Last month, authorities arrested 11 other CNRP activists for their participation in the protests and imprisoned them in Prey Sar prison on charges of "insurrection". A trial handed down a entence of 20 years in prison for three of them, while the other eight were sentenced to seven years.

Opposition sources say, in short, there may be more arrests and convictions among the members of the opposition and activist groups. Human rights activist Am Sam Ath speaks says the arrests are politically motivated and fruit of the hard line dictated by the Prime Minister against demonstrators.

The protests are also motivated by the long-standing border dispute between Cambodia and Vietnam. The internal opposition accuses the Phnom Penh government of using counterfeit maps that do not record the real territorial demarcations. People living along the border confirm the seriousness of the problem and accuse the government of failing to find a solution. At the end of June there were heavy clashes between Vietnamese and Cambodians along the border in the province of Svay Rieng.

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