At least six demonstrators have been arrested after security forces forcibly dispersed a gathering outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday, August 13. The demonstrators had gathered to demand the release of prominent trade unionist Rong Chhun, who was arrested earlier this month. Security forces were deployed to move the protesters on, citing that they were disrupting traffic in the area.
Further unrest is possible over the issue in the near term. A heightened security presence and localized disruption are to be expected in the vicinity of any future protests.
Chhun, who is a representative of the Cambodian Watchdog Council and president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU), was arrested on July 31 after allegedly criticizing the government's policies regarding border negotiations with Vietnam.
The ruling Cambodian people's Party frequently moves swiftly to quash any opposition protest or dissent. The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a directive on August 3 stating that any rally in front of the court that could affect public order or cause disruption would not be deemed as a peaceful protest, making it easier for authorities to justify clamping down on such demonstrations.
Those in Phnom Penh are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests or demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.