Phnom Penh (dpa) – A Cambodian court has sentenced a university student to 18 months in prison for calling for a “colour revolution” on Facebook last year.
Kong Raya, 25, was convicted of incitement by Phnom Penh’s Municipal Court on Tuesday, local media reported.
Kol Preap, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said the sentencing was a "clear message" to Facebook users, who numbered over 5 million, or 34 per cent of the population in 2015, according to USAID.
"This particular case of Kong Raya could generate concern among Facebook users on their possible consequences for expressing political opinions or personal views on controversial issues, especially from now leading up to the elections in 2017 and 2018," he told dpa on Wednesday.
The term “colour revolution” is usually used to describe non-violent democracy movements in former Soviet republics in the early 2000s. Online discussion of such movements has led to political crackdowns in countries like China.
Kong Raya had asked his friends on Facebook in August 2015 if they would “dare to make a color revolution with me?” according to the Cambodia Daily. He was arrested two weeks later by police from the Interior Ministry, the newspaper said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power since 1997 but effectively in control for 30 years, has found that his Cambodian People's Party is less popular with today's youth than previous generations.
Facebook has become a popular forum for political discussion in Cambodia, particularly among young people who are dissatisfied with alleged corruption in the governing party and the opposition.