A Cambodian university student has been jailed for 18 months for asking the public to join his “colour revolution” and inciting crimes in an anti-government Facebook post.
The man, identified as 24-year-old Kong Raya, is the first Cambodian convicted of using social media to attack Prime Minister’s Hun Sen’s government, who has issued warnings that online critics could be traced and arrested in a matter of hours.
Disenfranchised citizens have increasingly turned to the internet to highlight alleged state abuses and demand political reforms from Sen’s government which has ruled the country for more than 30 years.
“There’s nothing to be surprised about. This is how the court works,” Raya told reporters as he left the courthouse. According to reports looked unshaken by the verdict as he was escorted away by guards.
The 24-year-old student was charged in August last year for urging the public to “change the vulgar regime” and join his “colour revolution”. In a Facebook post, Raya said he was willing to go to prison or die for his cause. How he intended to pursue it was never made clear and his call failed to garner public support.
Am Sam Ath, an activist with Cambodian rights group Licadho, said Raya’s posting caused no turmoil or damage to society. “This verdict is a message, a threat to other youths and people who dare to express personal opinions,” he said.
According to a news agency, a 25-year-old man was arrested and charged in January with issuing death threats to one of the world’s longest-ruling leaders.
A Cambodian opposition senator also faces up to 17 years in jail after a court charged him for posting a disputed document on Facebook about the border with Vietnam.