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More Cambodian Activists Arrested Over 2014 Protests

FILE - Meach Sovannara, center left, of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and a CNRP supporter, left, are escorted by police at a Phnom Penh court after 11 CNRP members were sentenced in connection with the Freedom Park protests, July 21, 2015.

Three activists from the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) were arrested this week on charges related to violent demonstrations in July 2014, party officials and lawyers say.

The arrests add to those already made in the wake of the demonstrations, which occurred near Freedom Park in Phnom Penh. At least 40 city security personnel were injured when demonstrators attacked them.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday called for authorities to make more such arrests, following the convictions of 11 activists who now face up to 20 years each in prison.

Opposition officials strongly opposed the arrests, claiming the charges were disproportionate to the events.

Ou Chanrith, a CNRP lawmaker, told VOA the arrests were politically motivated.

“The arrests are a violation political agreements made on July 22, 2014, between the two parties who won seats in national assembly to end all kinds of threats and arrests," Ou Chanrith said. "And just a few days before the arrests, Prime Minister Hun Sen talked about the possible arrests of activists who took part in the protest at Freedom Park. Just a few days later, the court issued warrants."

But Hun Sen has rejected the allegation of political motivation, adding that the arrests did not violate last year's agreement between the parties.

Two of the activists, Roeun Chetra, 28, and Yun Khem Huor, 33, were arrested Tuesday, while Yea Thong, 43, was arrested Wednesday.

Sam Sok Kong, a lawyer for the activists, told the VOA Khmer service that the charges and arrests were being made on very thin evidence.

“My clients were photographed among the protesters," the lawyer said. "They were there to join a peaceful protest, but they did not commit any violence.”

The arrests followed new tensions over opposition calls for an end to alleged Vietnamese border encroachment, a typically sensitive matter for the government.

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