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Cambodian Activists Released on Bail After 5 Months

  • Neou Vannarin

Meach Sovannara (C), a member of the Cambodia National Rescue Party cries next to CNRP President Sam Rainsy (L) and Deputy President Kem Sokha before a Buddhist ceremony at the CNRP office in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 13, 2015.

Meach Sovannara (C), a member of the Cambodia National Rescue Party cries next to CNRP President Sam Rainsy (L) and Deputy President Kem Sokha before a Buddhist ceremony at the CNRP office in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 13, 2015.

Eight Cambodian political activists, including monks and members of the main opposition party, were released on bail Monday after five months in detention.

The released activists include U.S. citizen Meach Sovannara and others accused of inciting an “insurrection” in July 2014, when protesters injured about 40 security guards who tried to evict them from a public park.

Speaking to journalists after the bail hearing, Choung Chou Ngy, a lawyer for the activists, stressed the court case is not over.

“The legal procedure is not over. It was just a decision to temporarily release [them] on bail. This decision is right. It provides justice for my clients because they have requested to be out for a long time," he said.

The bail was given after royal pardons were issued for 10 women housing rights activists and one monk over the weekend. The Cambodia National Rescue Party [CNRP] held a Buddhist blessing for the activists following their release.

Nget Khun, a 76-year-old activist who received one of the royal pardons, said she should not have been arrested in the first place. She had been protesting the flooding of her neighborhood and was asking for help from City Hall.

“I am not happy, because I have not done anything wrong, but they arrested and imprisoned me,' she said. "That was because my house was flooded and I came to ask city hall to pump out the sewage.”

The releases follow political negotiations over a new National Election Committee, which officially started its work on Monday.

The CNRP and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party came to a deal last week on a reorganization of the National Election Committee, a key electoral reform for the opposition.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.

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