MORE RIGHTS ACTIVISTS ARRESTED
Police sacked CCHR to arrest Mr. Kem Sokha.
Kem Sokha, as leader of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, has been a prominent critic of the government. A number of opposition figures have been charged with defamation - which can be a criminal offence under Cambodian law - in recent weeks.
Foreign diplomats have expressed concern that charges are being used to silence and intimidate the opposition. The government has defended its right to prosecute people who it says have broken the law.
Police surrounded the headquarters of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights in the middle of the morning. They held warrants to search the building and to arrest the organisation's leader.
Foreign diplomats and the United Nations' Human Rights representative tried to intervene but police barred them from entering. Eventually, Kem Sokha emerged and police took him to court. The defamation charge stems from a banner displayed at a rally to mark International Human Rights Day earlier this month.
Hun Sen police deployed near PP Municipal Court to protect any protest against the arrest of Mr. Kem Sokha
One of the organisers of the rally also faces charges. At the Cambodian Legal Education Center, police came and went three times, demanding entry and meeting with Yeng Virak. CLEC staff denied the director was inside, and the two sides were at a standstill until a court clerk and deputy prosecutor arrived around 3:20 pm. Yeng Virak emerged and was taken to the court.
Phoum Bunphann, one of three CLEC lawyers representing Yeng Virak said Sunday that the director was questioned for about an hour by Sao Meach before also being charged with defamation and taken directly to Prey Sar. "They say he is responsible for the whole ceremony," Phoum Bunphann said. "But he's not the one responsible. Every group had a booth and he was only one member of the organizing committee."
Last week, the opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, was sentenced in absentia to 18 months in prison for defaming the leaders of the governing coalition.
On Jan 4, 2006, Cambodian Center for Human Rights' (CCHR) acting director Pa Nguon Teang has been arrested by the border authorities along with CCHR spokesman Ou Vireak and Mr. Pa's friend at the Cambodia Laos border.
Mr. Pa told VOA stringer by telephone at the site that the three of them want to go to the border with Laos for a sightseeing.
Police authorities told VOA stringer that police chief, General Hok Lundi gives order for the arrest.
Mr. Hok Lundi cannot be reached for comment. Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak says that the arrest was made by court order. If Mr. Pa has something to do with the banner displayed at the CCHR booth defaming the government, he will be detained. US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle says that the Embassy asks the government to reconsider freedom of speech and democracy issue.
It means that five critics of the government- Kem Sokha, Yeng Vireak, Rong Chhun, Mam Sonando, and Pa Nguon Teang, are now in jail awaiting trial. Six more have left the country rather than face imprisonment - Sam Rainsy, Prince Sisowat Thomico, Dr. Say Bory, Ear Chan, Chea Muny, and Man Nath.
HOW MANY MORE TO BE ARRESTED BY HUN SEN. HIS FAME IS ALWAYS MORE CONCERNED THAN THE COMMON GOOD OF THE NATION.
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