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Cambodian Activists Detained as Demonstration Crackdown Continues

  • VOA News

FILE - Tep Vanny of Boeung Kak lake is blocked by riot police officers during a protest rally near the prime minister's residence in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 2, 2013.
At least five Cambodian housing rights activists were detained for much of the day Monday, as a government crackdown on protests continued.

Among the detained was Tep Vanny, an outspoken leader on housing rights and forced evictions in Cambodia, and Yorm Bopha, a community leader who recently ended a prolonged stay in detention.

The five demonstrators were held for hours after leading a rally in front of the French Embassy, where they had sought to deliver a petition calling for the release of detained labor leaders and activists.

All five were later released after signing a letter promising to halt demonstrations.

But after she was freed, Tep Vanny told VOA's Khmer service that she would stop protesting only under two conditions: death or justice.

"The arrest is the serious violation of our rights because it is the restriction of movement, it is the restriction for us to give information to various embassies and other places to know our issues, and it is the restriction of our freedom of expression," she said.

Many protesters were from the Boeung Kak lake community, which has been protesting forced evictions since 2008.

The detentions come amid weeks of anti-government protesting and the deadly shooting of demonstrating garment workers on Friday, as well as the ouster of pro-opposition protesters from a public square on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the French government on Monday issued a statement urging all political parties to rapidly find a solution to an ongoing political deadlock over July's disputed election results.

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement called for political dialogue and "the proper functioning of institutions, in a spirit of calm and restraint."

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service