| PHNOM PENH, July 16
PHNOM PENH, July 16 A Cambodian court charged
six opposition activists on Wednesday with leading an
insurrection after clashes with security forces, deepening a
year-long political crisis after a disputed election.
Five members of parliament and an assistant, all members of
the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), were ordered detained
pending trial and taken to prison in a heavily guarded convoy as
hundreds of supporters stood outside the court demanding their
One of the accused, prominent parliamentarian Mu Sochua,
issued a Facebook post confirming the charges of leading an
insurrection, which carries a penalty of 20 to 30 years in
prison, and incitement to violence.
"This is all unconstitutional as our parliamentary immunity
has not yet been lifted," Mu Sochua wrote. "We call on all to
stay united and continue our fight for freedom , human rights
Opposition activists clashed on Tuesday with security forces
after attempting to reopen Phnom Penh's Freedom Park, the only
place where protests are legally allowed under Prime Minister
Hun Sen, in power in various capacities since 1985.
Guards at the site attacked the CNRP supporters with batons
and riot police fired teargas after the activists tried to
string up banners on a barbed wire fence surrounding the park.
The government said 37 security guards were injured.
CNRP deputy president Kem Sokha, speaking before the charges
were laid, said the opposition would hold the ruling Cambodian
People's Party (CPP) responsible for any violence should the
members of parliament be jailed.
He said the CNRP would seek help from embassies to secure
their release and had no wish to organise mass demonstrations.
"We want them released as soon as possible. We don't want
things to heat up," he told a news conference.
The government accused the opposition activists of provoking
violence to destabilise the country.
"A handful of CNRP leaders had a premeditated plot and
instigated their extremist supporters, armed with batons and
other deadly objects, brutally attacking security personnel," it
said in a statement.
The opposition has been leading a campaign against Hun Sen
since accusing his CPP of vote-rigging last year to stay in
power in an election which saw big opposition gains. Hun Sen and
his government dismiss any such accusations.
The opposition has staged mass rallies to press for an early
election or Hun Sen's resignation, joined by factory workers
who went on strike last year over the government's refusal to
meet demands for higher pay.
Five workers were killed in January when security forces
fired live ammunition to disperse striking garment workers and
security guards have consistently broken up protests.
(Editing by Ron Popeski)