Activist charged with inciting unrest among villagers

Keut Saray, President of the Khmer Student Intelligent League Association (KSILA)
Khmer Times | 8 April 2024

Activist charged with inciting unrest among villagers

by Buth Reaksmey Kongkea 

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday charged Keut Saray, the president of Khmer Students Intelligent League Association (KSILA), for inciting villagers embroiled in land disputes in Preah Vihear province to resist provincial authorities and the government.

Keut Sary, 32, a resident of Kraing Thnong commune of Sen Sok district in Phnom Penh, was charged with incitement to commit a felony or cause social unrest, and committing a misdemeanor after sentencing for a felony under the Penal Code. The offences are punishable by prison terms of two to five years if the accused is convicted.

Colonel Sam Vichhika, spokesman of Phnom Penh Municipal Police, said yesterday that Sary was arrested on Friday after a warrant was issued by Seng Heang, deputy prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Col Vichhika said that Saray’s arrest followed his involvement with land disputes and public demonstrations in Srayong and Tbeng II commune, Preah Vihear province.

The charges allege that Saray aimed to incite protesters to defy the government.

He said that Saray’s activities involving land protesters in Preah Vihear affected security and public order.

He said that in addition to his intent to destroy the peace, Saray and his associates exaggerated the land case situation and he also gave interviews to foreign media outlets, VOA, RFA and VOD that also incited unrest in Preah Vihear.

Col Vichhika added that in order to prevent unrest during the upcoming Khmer New Year, the court ordered Saray’s detention to maintain the peace between the people and authorities.

Thy Thorn, a member of the Khmer Students Intelligent League Association, said yesterday that Saray had not committed any crimes.

Thorn added that recently, Saray joined villagers who were protesting that their land was being encroached upon in Tamouk lake area in Phnom Penh and also in Preah Vihear province. He added that no other Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) or local associations had dared to protest the land grabs.

“Keut Saray is a social activist who has worked hard without receiving any salary to help the poor,” Thorn said. “I would like to appeal to the court to release him because he has not committed any offence.”

Saray was previously sentenced by Phnom Penh Municipal Court to 14 months for incitement to commit a felony or cause social unrest in 2021.

He was released from prison at the end of 2021.
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