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Euronews | May 16
In another disaster for an Asian country making apparel cheaply for the West, at least two people were killed when the roof of a shoe factory in Ca...
Now in Cambodia, the owner of one of the few independent radio stations that broadcasts programs critical of the Cambodian government is in legal trouble. Mam Sonando has been charged with "insurrection" and "inciting people to take up arms against the authorities." But are the allegations legitimate or is this an example Prime Minister Hun Sen's crackdown on freedom of expression? Our contributor in Phnom Penh, Justine Drennan, tells us what social media is saying about Sonando's predicament.
As Sonando waits in Phnom Penh's infamous Prey Sar Prison for his trial, Cambodian netizens are debating what his arrest means. Many see it as a government move to suppress dissent.
One response to a Radio Free Asia YouTube video says Sonando's imprisonment represents:
"...a battle between two men. One is a man with empty hands but devoted to his country, and the other is a man with money and power, thousands of soldiers and weapons, and even the court on his side."
The man with power is, of course, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Another YouTube viewer believes that Sonando has already lost the battle, writing:
"There is no justice for the weak."
Not all commenters side with Sonando. On the online newspaper, CamNews, a commenter who identifies as CPP, the initials of Cambodia's ruling party, asks the rhetorical question:
"Is Mr. Mam Sonando a hero or a coward?"
While the commenter does not answer the question, the implied skepticism about Sonando puts CPP in the minority online.
Most comments on CamNews instead criticize the government. This one says:
"The prime minister would rather kill the wrong person than let a threatening one go free. Will this strategy serve him well? Who will be next?"
Many Cambodians are asking similar questions. Another commenter wondered:
"What will happen to the next person who fights for our country?"
Sonando's case highlights the problem of land seizures by developers, often foreign, and often tied to Hun Sen's CPP. More than 400,000 Cambodians have been affected by land grabs. Property records were lost during the Khmer Rouge period in the 70s, so many people are without land titles, leaving them vulnerable to eviction. In Phnom Penh, I'm Justine Drennan, for LinkAsia.