Rights group Licadho said on Tuesday it has removed a rap song from its social media and website after a senior executive was questioned by police.
In a statement, Licadho said that officers from Phnom Penh Police Commissariat had informed its operations director Am Sam Ath during what they called an “interview” that refusing to remove the music video “Protesters’ Blood” would result in further legal action from authorities.
Translated into English by Licadho as “Workers’ Blood,” the group’s Sam Ath said that police had demanded the music be removed from Licadho's page and given 24 hours to respond.
“If the song is not removed, authorities will take legal action in accordance with the law,” Sam Ath told Kiripost. “However, we continue to maintain that the song we released does not violate the law and does not intend to provoke social unease.”
He said that in order to avoid legal action that would disrupt Licahdo's operations, Licahdo decided to remove the video in order to devote more time to serving victims and communities in need.
“We decided to remove it in response to a request from the authorities. They said that some parts of the song cause social insecurity,” he said. “However, we believe that this is just an expression and the expression is protected under the Cambodian Constitution.”
According to the Licadho statement, it is the first time in the organization's 30-year history that the government has taken legal action as a consequence of a complaint over a post on its Facebook page and website.
It added that the video was to mark the nine-year anniversary of the Veng Sreng Boulevard tragedy, to call for an investigation to bring justice for the victims and deaths, and to prevent further violence from occurring in the future.
Besides Sam Ath, three other civil society leaders have also been summoned: Moeun Tola, head of Center for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (CENTRAL); Vorn Pao, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association (IDEA); and Theng Savoeun, leader of the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community.