A court docket in western Cambodia’s Pailin province has sentenced a schoolteacher to at least one 12 months in jail for “incitement” after he criticized a monument to Cambodian-Vietnamese ties, prompting condemnation from rights teams who mentioned the decision violates his freedom of expression.
Based on an April 9 ruling by the Pailin Provincial Court docket’s presiding decide Huy Nyhour, which was made public on Monday, Yuong So Da was tried and located responsible in absentia of “incitement to commit a felony” in accordance with Article 495 of Cambodia’s penal code.
The decision cited a remark Yuong So Da posted to Fb in September 2020, which implied that the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Monument within the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Pailin symbolized Cambodia’s growing subservience to Vietnam.
“Now Cambodia has a [Cambodia-Vietnam] monument in practically each province and shortly the nation could have two flags to boost,” the Fb remark mentioned.
Yuong So Da, who has been dwelling in hiding for the previous six months, known as the court docket verdict “unjust and unacceptable” in an interview with RFA’s Khmer Service on Tuesday.
“This matter is expounded to my freedom of expression, and I’m an individual who likes to talk the reality,” he mentioned, talking from an undisclosed location.
“I didn’t suppose the authorities would search to arrest to me and that the court docket would attempt me. I’m a trainer and an writer—why are they making issues for me?”
Yuong So Da mentioned he’s contemplating interesting the court docket ruling, which he should do by mid-July.
Centuries of animosity
Animosity between Vietnam and Cambodia goes again centuries, however was heightened by the Vietnamese warfare that ousted Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime in 1979 and paved the best way for long-ruling prime minister Hun Sen’s ascension to energy.
Accusations over the demarcation of the border between Vietnam and Cambodia have change into a outstanding function in Cambodian politics as Hun Sen’s opponents have tried to color the robust man as a software of the Vietnamese.
Union chief Rong Chhun was formally charged with “incitement to commit a felony or trigger social unrest” underneath Article 495 and jailed at Prey Sar Jail in Phnom Penh on Aug. 1, 2020, a day after his arrest for claiming the federal government has allowed Vietnam to encroach on farmland alongside their shared border. His arrest prompted close to day by day protests within the capital Phnom Penh.
Ying Mengly, Battambang provincial coordinator for Cambodian rights group Adhoc, informed RFA that posting feedback on Fb is an train in freedom of expression acknowledged by the structure and known as the decision in opposition to Yuong So Da a “severe menace” to the nation’s rule of regulation.
“I would really like the court docket to drop the costs in opposition to the trainer,” he mentioned. “He’s simply a person. How had been his feedback thought-about incitement?”
“The state has many media retailers that may inform individuals [about the monument]. The federal government and courts have to open up and permit [criticism].”
Whereas Yuong So Da is in hiding, he has used Fb to ask that individuals to take care of his dad and mom, who he claims are going through stress from authorities. On Tuesday, he posted a remark requesting donations of rice, pens and books within the occasion that he’s jailed.
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.