Cambodian court charges outspoken union leader with ‘incitement’


A prominent Cambodian union leader who is a long-time government critic has been arrested and charged with inciting social unrest for his comments about a politically sensitive matter concerning the country’s borders with Vietnam.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, was formally charged with “incitement to commit felony” for statements alleged to be provocative.

Chhun was arrested late on Friday for “his border comments”, National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said.

A court had issued a warrant for Chhun for “issuing untrue information that harms social security,” Khoeun added.

If tried and found guilty, he could face up to two years in prison.

Earlier this month Rong Chhun, released a statement accusing the government of “irregularities” at Cambodia’s eastern border, which he said caused locals to lose their farmland.

Opposition leaders have long accused strongman premier Hun Sen of ceding territory to Vietnam, harnessing the unresolved border issues between the two countries to whip up nationalist sentiment against his administration.

Since the July 2018 election – where Hun Sen’s party won every parliamentary seat in a vote without a credible opposition – authorities have stepped up arrests of former opposition party members, human rights defenders and dissenting voices.

Hun Sen is one of the world’s longest-serving leaders, maintaining a 35-year hold on power with methods that critics say include jailing political opponents and activists.

He rose to power during Vietnam’s 1979-1989 occupation of Cambodia after Hanoi invaded to oust the Khmer Rouge regime. (Source: CNA)