Cambodia: Black Monday

Image Credit: Khmer Times/Mai Vireak

Image Credit: Khmer Times/Mai Vireak

Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, has been the focal point of protests against Prime Minister Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) since their contested general elections victory in July 2013.

In late 2013 and early 2014, thousands of factory workers went on strike across the country demanding an increase in wages. In January 2014 security guards attempting to disperse the protesters and reinstate order fired into the crowd, killing 5 and injuring 40 more. The marches then decreased in numbers and frequency.

As of 2016, Prime Minister Hun Sen has been accused by the opposition of assassinations, planting evidence against his enemies, and arbitrarily detaining social movement and opposition leaders. These cases have sparked the Black Monday movement in which those who support the opposition wear black shirts on Mondays to work and, in some cases, take part in street protests.

The Black Monday movement specifically asks for the release of political prisoners and hopes to raise awareness on the injustices committed by the ruling party against freedom of speech.

The Black Monday protests received renewed energy as they returned on Monday September 23 after two weeks of no action. The return was also marked by threats from the government and arrests. The opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which has backed the Black Monday movement, have called for mass protests. This move seems to have been sparked by the deputy leader of the CNRP, Kem Sokha, being sentenced to five months in prison and a hefty fine for failure to appear in court. The most recent protests on September 14 were met with repression leading to one death. 

 

Further Readings:

 

Government Bites Back as ‘Black Monday’ Returns. The Cambodia Daily. 27 September 2016. 
Coverage of the recent government response to the Black Monday group. 

Cambodia’s Opposition Party to Proceed With Mass Demonstrations. 12 September 2016. Radio Free Asia. 
Background information on the build up to the mass protests. 

CNRP Defiant Amid Threats. 14 September 2016. Khmer Times. 
Article on some intimidation tactics from the government directed at the opposition in light of protests. 

Protests Turn Into Clash with Police. 15 September 2016. The New York Times.
Mass protests of 20,000 in Phonm Penh met with repression

What's Behind Cambodia's Black Monday Campaign?The Diplomat. 14 June 2016.
Brief explanation of the Black Monday and its effects.

CNRP Warned for Endorsing Black Monday Campaign. Cambodia Daily. 9 August 2016.
Insight into the relationship between the protesters and the opposition party. 

Is Cambodia at a Tipping Point?CNN. 10 January 2014. 
Background information on Cambodia since Hun Sen took office.