Target: Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia
Goal: Throw out arbitrary convictions of labor demonstrators
Twenty-five Cambodian activists were recently convicted for their roles in large-scale labor protests. While they were handed suspended sentences and therefore released from detainment in jail, these suspended sentences carry several other consequences. These politically motivated convictions should be dropped immediately as they impose undue restrictions on the lives of the accused without adequate evidence to support the claims.
The convicted were arrested during protests at Phnom Penh in late 2013 and early 2014, many of them taken at random from crowds. They were accused of inciting and committing violent acts, damaging property, and injuring security forces. All 25 were convicted and handed sentences of up to four and a half years probation.
These charges mean that, should the activists be arrested under similar accusations, they can be put in prison for the remainder of their sentence. They will also be restricted from other acts of advocacy, such as serving on labor unions.
These arrests are a direct attack on freedom of speech by the Cambodian government, which largely controls the police force and the courts. The charges are an attempt to cover up rampant police violence during the labor protests, which left seven dead and many more injured. The government is attempting to blame all the violence on demonstrators, while seeking no punitive action against Cambodian officials.
These arbitrary convictions impose restrictions on the rights of the accused activists without sufficient evidence or reason. Rather than attempting to silence dissent, the Cambodian government should be working to improve conditions for laborers and protect citizens from excessive force at the hands of police. Your signature will demand that the convictions be dropped, and that any criminal record as a result of the charges be wiped clean.
Dear Prime Minister Hun Sen,
Suspended sentences were recently imposed on twenty-five activists for their participation in large-scale labor protests in late 2013 and early 2014. Though the sentence means they were released from jail, the activists still face undue restrictions on their freedoms.
While the demonstrators have all been charged with inciting violence, it is clear that Cambodian officials used excessive force to disperse protesters. While no police have been disciplined for the deaths of seven citizens, twenty-five activists were chosen almost at random from the crowds to take the blame. Without adequate evidence against the accused, these convictions are arbitrary and politically motivated, and should be thrown out immediately. I demand that the convictions are quashed, and that any criminal record as a result of the charges be wiped.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Luc Forsyth via Flickr Creative Commons