PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - A Cambodian court convicted two rappers and sentenced them to up to a year and a half in prison on Tuesday on charges of incitement over their rhymes about social injustice and loss of sovereign territory.
Yin Srang, a spokesman for the Siem Reap provincial court, told Reuters that rapper Kea Sokun, 23, was found guilty of incitement to commit a felony and sentenced to a year and a half in prison, of which six months were suspended.
Another rapper, Long Putheara, who was 17 when arrested last year, received five months in jail, about six weeks of which was suspended, Yin Srang said.
Their convictions come during a wave of arrests of activists and opponents of the government, which started in July with the detention of a unionist who accused it of ceding land to neighbouring Vietnam.
Others held include members of environmental groups, a politician and a Buddhist monk, according to human rights group Licadho, which tracks arrests of dissidents and activists.
Several Western nations have condemned that crackdown as well as treason charges against scores of opposition party supporters, warning that Cambodia’s democracy is under threat.
Kea Sokun’s father Kea Phal said the conviction of his son was an injustice and the two rap songs - “Khmer Land” and “Sad Race” - had positive meaning.
“The songs were educational and just remind youths to be loving of own nation,” Kea Phal told Reuters.
Kea Phal said his son had made no apology during court proceedings because he did nothing wrong.
Lyrics in Khmer Land and Sad Race - which have over 2 million and 700,000 views respectively - say Cambodians are starving and the country is losing territory to its neighbours.
They urge people to stand up against oppression and unite to bring the country greatness.
Cambodia’s government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the convictions.
Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by Martin Petty
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