A young rapper whose anti-establishment track went viral on social media has promised to concentrate on writing love songs after a visit from military police officers.
Human rights activists are investigating alleged police threats made against Cambodian rapper Chhun Dymey, 22, aka Dymey-Cambo, after his track ‘Sangkum Nis’ (This Society), struck a chord in his home country.
It complained of social injustices including corruption, poverty, oppression and cops shooting to kill, and urged young people to “wake up, wipe away the tears and move forward”.
‘Sangkum Nis’ made a big impression with online fans on Facebook and YouTube and it was even picked up by exiled former opposition leader Sam Rainsy, 70, who posted a link to the video on his own Facebook page.
But it also earned Dymey a visit from military police officers who were unhappy with the track’s anti-government rhetoric and persuaded him to delete it from his social media channels and concentrate on less controversial themes in future.
They turned up at his family’s home in the Kokchak commune on the edge of the city of Siem Reap, capital of north-western Cambodia’s Siem Reap province, to give him a stern warning which prompted Dymey to agree to stop performing the song.
Dymey, who is also a student, later admitted he had agreed to remove the track because he had fears for his own safety and the safety of his family.
He said: “I’ve deleted the song, and I’ll stop singing it in order to de-escalate the matter. I will stop composing such songs and turn to write sentimental songs that encourage the younger generation to love and unite in solidarity with one another.
“Now that I’ve deleted the song, I want to get back to normal and I hope the fuss about it will go quiet. If my song is seen as problematic, I would like to stop this problem.”
He also urged Mr Rainsy to delete the track from his social media channels where the rapper said it had been posted without his permission.
Provincial police chief Tith Narong said the authorities had been forced to act because the song was damaging the government’s image.
He added: “Military Police personnel questioned him. So, for more details please contact the Military Police.”
Human rights group Adhoc said it was concerned Dymey’s right to freedom of expression had been curtailed and promised to investigate.
Provincial coordinator Suos Narin said: “The song doesn’t have any bad intentions. It just shows the reality of how society needs to improve.
“It’s not about politics. This act will ensure our youth never dare to speak out and, if they do, they face dangerous consequences.”
Mr Rainsy, the former leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Movement (CNRM), is living in exile in France and faces jail for anti-government activities if he ever returns to his own country.