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Cambodia activist briefly detained after protest in shackles

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA (AP) – Cambodian security forces yesterday briefly detained a Cambodian-American lawyer who is a prominent rights activist as she walked barefoot near the prime minister’s residence in Phnom Penh, wearing a prison-style orange outfit and Khmer Rouge-era ankle shackles.

Theary Seng was on her way to a court hearing and was livestreaming her progress via social media when a number of uniformed men surrounded her and blocked her way.

Journalists at the scene said security forces then put her into a car and took her away.

She was released, shortly afterwards, and arrived at Phnom Penh Municipal Court for the resumption of her trial on treason charges. She was still wearing the orange outfit, but court officials asked her to remove the ankle shackles.

Theary Seng is an outspoken critic of Prime Minister Hun Sen who has been in power for 36 years and has kept a tight leash on all political activity in the country.

The Cambodian-American lawyer has previously used clothing to make symbolic points, during the current legal proceedings against her. On December 7, she attended court dressed as a classical Cambodian Apsara dancer, telling reporters she was expressing her belief that the trial was “political theatre”.

Theary Seng lived through the brutal Khmer Rouge era as a child, during which she lost both her parents. She left for America where she qualified as a lawyer, then returned to Cambodia in 1995.

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