A Change of Guard

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Saturday, 14 May 2016

'Black Monday' protest paused after pardons are dangled

"Black Monday" protesters are moved on by police near Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh on Monday. Pha Lina

'Black Monday' protest paused after pardons are dangled
Fri, 13 May 2016 ppp
Shaun Turton and Lay Samean

Civil society members involved in the “Black Monday” protests on May 9 say they will not stage a follow-up demonstration after Prime Minister Hun Sen suggested a possible royal pardon for four Adhoc staffers and an election official locked up over the Kem Sokha scandal.

The premier floated the idea after Monday’s protests over the group’s imprisonment, which saw eight people detained for several hours. He implied the pardons were contingent on the protesters backing down.

Speaking yesterday, NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut executive director Ee Sarom, who was among those detained on Monday, said the group would avoid provoking the prime minister and hope for a resolution.

“It looks like everyone is waiting after Mr Hun Sen said there is a possibility to write to the King to ask for a pardon for the five,” Sarom said.

Sarom said the group had intended to hold weekly protests and further rallies were on the cards if a resolution was not forthcoming.

The government has characterised the “Black Monday” campaign as a “colour revolution” aiming to topple the government, and threatened further arrests if protests continue.

Police on Wednesday questioned Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association president Vorn Pao over accusations his group was printing the black T-shirts worn by demonstrators. Reached yesterday, Pao denied making or distributing black shirts.

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