Man held after calling government 'authoritarian' on Facebook

San Rotha, 29, was sent to pre-trial detention at Kampong Cham Provincial Prison yesterday for calling the Cambodian government ‘authoritarian’ in a video posted online (pictured). Facebook
San Rotha, 29, was sent to pre-trial detention at Kampong Cham Provincial Prison yesterday for calling the Cambodian government ‘authoritarian’ in a video posted online (pictured). Facebook

A 29-year-old man from Kampong Cham was sent to pre-trial detention this morning following his arrest last week – on his wedding day – for calling the Cambodian government “authoritarian” in a video clip posted to Facebook.

The arrest of San Rotha on February 8 is just the latest case of authorities clamping down on online dissent.

Hun Khei, director of the Kampong Cham Provincial Prison, said he had received San Rotha yesterday morning, but wasn’t able to specify the charges.

Plang Sophal, deputy prosecutor in Kampong Cham, declined to comment on the case and referred questions to Huot Vuthy, spokesman for the Kampong Cham Provincial Court, who couldn’t be reached. Nouv Yarath, director of the court, also declined to comment, saying he was busy in a meeting.

Mean Prom Mony, provincial investigator with Adhoc in Kampong Cham, who has been following the case, had limited information yesterday, but corroborated that Rotha had been sent to prison.

“He has been placed in pre-trial detention,” he said.

“We do not know what the charges are that the court pressed against him.”

Rotha was questioned over the weekend by a prosecutor and a judge over preliminary accusations of “public insult” and “incitement”. In his video, he urges the public and supporters of the now-banned Cambodia National Rescue Party to stand up and not be afraid of “actions and intimidations of some authoritarians”.

“If you do not stand up and unite together, we will not get loose from the devil’s hand,” he says in the clip.