A group of “Black Monday” protesters who have spent nearly three months seeking the release of an election official and human rights workers have suspended their efforts amid a boycott of the organizer’s laundry businesses.
Almost every Monday for the past 12 weeks, about a dozen activists from Phnom Penh’s eviction-hit neighborhoods have congregated around the capital to protest. The marches started after the rights workers and election official were jailed on bribery charges in May as part of the government’s investigation into accusations that deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha had an extramarital affair.
Chray Nim works inside her laundry in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district on Monday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)Chray Nim, the group’s organizer, who lives in the Thma Kol neighborhood near the Phnom Penh International Airport, said on Monday that she had suspended the campaign as police and security guards were staying away from the laundry businesses she runs in Pur Senchey and Tuol Kok districts.
“I have decided to suspend my activities temporarily, because we have a lack of finances to support it,” Ms. Nim said.
“Since I started organizing Black Monday [protests], my customers have started to slow down, especially police and government security guards, who boycott my laundry,” she said, adding that her profits had dropped from roughly 80,000 riel (about $20) a day to about 20,000 riel ($5).
“It doesn’t mean I have given up my hope, but we are forced to suspend the campaign first. We will be back once our livelihood is better,” Ms. Nim said.
A separate group of around 40 black-clad activists from the Boeng Kak neighborhood were blocked by roughly 50 government security guards from marching around their community at about 6 p.m. on Monday. The group has called for the release of the rights workers and for the government to conduct a full investigation into the murder of political analyst Kem Ley.
“Black Monday” activists confront police in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak neighborhood yesterday. The group was protesting for the release of jailed rights workers and a full investigation into the murder of political analyst Kem Ley. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)“We do not accuse any individual of being behind the murder, but important people like Chut Wutty, Chea Vichea and Kem Ley were shot dead under the powerful regime of Mr. Hun Sen,” activist Tep Vanny said.
“Mr. Hun Sen, you are the strong man…. Please find the real killers and the people who are behind the killers,” she said.
City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said the activists had to be blocked because the government believed the protests were an effort to spark a “color revolution.”
“We already told [them] that Black Monday is an act of instigating a color revolution, so we cannot let them do this campaign,” he said.
sokhean@cambodiadaily.com
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