03/16/2021, 10.21
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Cambodian activist arrested for criticizing Chinese anti-Covid vaccine

Thorn Kimsan, a member of the CNRP, posted to social media that the product is "unsafe" and has reportedly caused “several victims" in the country. Plainclothes officers arrested her while she was working in a restaurant in the capital. For her daughter it is a "political" arrest. Other activists are in prison for the same reason.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Phnom Penh authorities arrested an activist and member of the dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) over the weekend.

They have charged Thorn Kimsan with fomenting revolt for criticizing the Chinese anti-Covid vaccine.

Kimsan has stated that the product made by Beijing is "unsafe" and would have caused "several victims" in the country.

The woman, a party member for the municipality of Koh Totem, in the province of Kampong Cham, was placed in custody by plainclothes officers on March 14 while she was working in a restaurant in Phnom Penh.

Asked by Radio Free Asia (RFA) her daughter Thorn Somethea charges: "They arrested her for no reason, I waited all night for her to return to her home". It is a "politically motivated" detention, she continues, "unjust" and without any "arrest warrant".

“They didn’t explain anything. They only said that they were going to take her to the Tuol Kok district office. I want the authorities to get in touch with [our family] and tell us what is going on,” she said, adding that her mother suffers from hypertension and high cholesterol and now needs medicine brought to her in jail.

Phnom Penh Police Commission spokesperson San Sok Seyha told RFA on Monday that Thorn Kimsan had been arrested because of statements made on her Facebook page that had “gravely affected social security.”

“She sent a voice message saying that the Chinese vaccine has caused people in Cambodia to die, and this is not true. This constitutes incitement to create social unrest and misunderstandings. In reality, there has been no such problem so far,” he said

Thorn Kimsan’s arrest was the latest in a string of arrests of political opposition and social activists on unspecified charges or accusations of “incitement,” with no warrants shown or explanations provided to suspects or their families. At least two other CNRP activists—Thun Chantha and Mey Sophon—were recently arrested for making comments on Facebook criticizing the Chinese-made vaccine, with a court in Phnom Penh charging them on Feb. 28 with making comments likely to incite “grave social unrest.”

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has variously spoken in favor or against Chinese vaccine.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Health on March 11 confirmed the country’s first COVID-19 related death, one year to the day that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus that causes the disease a global pandemic.

The victim 50, was a driver for a Chinese company chief who lived in Sihanoukville city, and who had also tested positive for COVID-19, according to a ministry statement. The driver died at a Phnom Penh hospital, the statement said, without providing further details.

So far, China has approved four vaccines developed in the country: two by the China National Pharmaceutical group; one from Sinovac Biotech and one from CanSino. In an emergency, they have been inoculated into millions of Chinese and distributed to at least 97 countries. But data on the third stage results, showing its large-scale efficacy, have not yet been published. According to some experts, the effectiveness of some Chinese vaccines is just over 50%.

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