White Sunday campaign launched for release of political prisoners in Cambodia

  • Cambodian opposition party deputy leader Kem Sokha (R) raises his fist during his speech at the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) headquarters in Phnom Penh on September 9, 2016. Kem Sokha appeals in the public for the first speech to supporters after he detained himself for a few months in the CNRP headquarters. Phnom Penh municipal court start trial The acting head of Cambodia’s opposition party, Kem Sokha related to sex scandal. / AFP PHOTO / TANG CHHIN SOTHY

Three Cambodian activists on Sunday launched the so-called “White Sunday” campaign calling for the release of 24 political prisoners in Cambodia, including  former CNRP leader Kem Sokha and ex-Khmer National United Party leader Nhek Bun Chhay, according to The Phnom Penh Post Online on Monday (Jan1 ).

The trio – two former CNRP members and the director of Cambodian Centre for Independent Media Pa Nguon Teang – showed themselves dressed in white in a group photo posted in the social media.

The campaign is similar to the Black Monday protests launched in May 2016 calling for the release of four staffers from rights NGO Adhoc and one election official who were held in pre-trial detention for over a year in relation to an alleged sex scandal involving Sokha and a hairdresser.

However, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak warned that the participating CNRP members had been banned from political activity following the dissolution of the party in November.

He said officials would check if they were violating their bylaws by endorsing the campaign.

Sopheak targeted Sokha’s daughter and CNRP official Kem Monovithya, saying she would be arrested on arrival in Cambodia. He also threatened to extend the 5-year ban on 110 senior CNRP officials and said NGOs should be shut down if they violated their internal bylaws submitted to the ministry.

Monovithya has been overseas meeting foreign diplomats and governments and has called for targeted sanctions on senior government officials responsible for the crackdown of the opposition party.