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Cambodia police briefly detain 11 activists

January 21, 2014

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Police in Cambodia briefly detained 11 activists Tuesday who were trying to hand over a petition to foreign embassies urging them to help free 23 anti-government protesters arrested during a brutal crackdown this month.

Chan Saveth, an official from the local human rights group Adhoc, said the activists were trying to deliver the petition to four embassies, including those of the United States and France.

All 11 were released after several hours in exchange for signing an agreement that they will not hold illegal rallies in the future, Chan Saveth said.

The government imposed a ban on rallies and street marches in the capital, Phnom Penh, after a wave of anti-government protests in early January that posed the biggest challenge in years to the authoritarian rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has led the country for almost three decades.

The 23 people the activists are urging be freed were arrested in connection with those protests.

Police could not be reached for comment and it was not immediately clear which laws the activists were accused of breaking.

Sam Rainsy, head of the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, said he won’t give up his movement’s struggle until Hun Sen resigns and calls new elections. The opposition says the elections in July were rigged and cheated them of victory.

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