Khmer News in En

A Lao Deckhand Sends His Wife an SOS, Then Disappears From a Thai Fishing Boat

Days before Kong Maharath disappeared from a Thai fishing boat without a trace, the deckhand told his family that someone was trying to kill him, RFA’s Lao Service has learned.

Just as he had many times before, the 38-year-old native of the Lao province of Khammuane shipped out on a fishing boat from the Thai port of Phetchaburi, but not long after setting sail on May 17 he reported trouble in a cell phone call to his wife Charipha Phetmany.

“He was working on the boat on May 28 when he called and told me that someone would kill him, and then he asked me to inform police and military to help him,” Charipha told RFA.  “On the night of May 29, the owner told me my husband had disappeared.”

Charipha told RFA she met with a representative of the Nor Douangdy 11 Company which owns the boat on June 30, where the owner told her he would take responsibility, but she added that the owner also “asked me not to inform the police because if the police know I will have to pay them.”

While Charipha is Thai, her husband has lived legally in Thailand since 2006, and has never been in trouble, she said.

An investigation

Kong’s disappearance has sparked an investigation as Thai police and military officers in Phetchaburi province are looking into the disappearance, a police official told RFA.

“Now the police and soldiers are investigating the cause of his death,” a police officer at Bah Leam district police station told RFA, but authorities declined to discuss the case. Officials with the Thai and Lao government also declined to talk about the incident.

Working on a Thai fishing boat is notoriously dangerous. Not only is ocean fishing a hazardous occupation in itself, but the Thai fleet is known for abusing workers, and slave laborers are often used to fill out boat crews.

The Thai government estimates that 80 percent of the 145,000 working in its fishing industry are migrant workers, mainly from Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos.

According to United Nations estimates, the Thai fishing fleet consistently faces a shortage of about 50,000 mariners. The shortfall is filled primarily with migrant workers desperate for a job and people forced to work on the boats against their will.

In the Thai fleet murder is apparently a common occurrence, as the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking found that nearly 60 percent of trafficked migrants interviewed aboard Thai fishing vessels reported witnessing the murder of a fellow worker.

Unusual moves

While authorities aren’t hazarding a guess as to the cause of Kong’s disappearance, officials with the Labor Rights Promotion Network Foundation (LPN) thinks it’s more than an accident.

The Thai-based LPN was founded to address discrimination against migrant workers in Thailand and to combat human trafficking. NPF has been active in labor issues involving the Thai fishing fleet.

“Kong’s relatives, Lao embassy officials, and a foundation representative met the boat owner on June 15, but he disavowed any responsibility saying only that Kong Maharath had disappeared from the boat,” Samak Thapthany, an LPN official, told RFA.

The actions of the boat captain are also raising questions, as the usual procedure if a man is lost is to contact authorities while the vessel is still at sea, Samak explained.

“The boat was taken to a port and then the owner informed Kong’s wife afterwards, which is not right,” he said. “The usual practice, if someone disappears on the boat, is that the boat isn’t allowed in port until there is an investigation of the cause.”

Samak told RFA that the family gave the Lao government the right to sue the boat owner, and that one of Kong’s relatives told the foundation the boat’s owner offered $600 to the family as compensation for Kong’s death. When the family turned that down, the offer jumped to $8,600, Samak said.

“The family refused to accept the money,” Samak told RFA. “Kong’s sister returned to Laos to collect all the necessary papers and documents to submit to the Lao embassy for the court filing, but so far the Lao embassy official handling this case would not give us any details, stating that it might affect the case.”

Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Ounkeo Souksavanh. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.

Source link

Cambodia National Rescue Party Looks For European Help

Cambodia’s opposition party wants the European Union’s help in resolving the political crisis that is gripping the nation as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government continues to apply pressure to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, senior CNRP officials told RFA’s Khmer Service.

While the European Union’s ambassador to Cambodia, George Edgar, visited CNRP acting president Kem Sokha at the party’s headquarters on Friday, CNRP officials declined to tell RFA what they talked about.

CNRP lawmaker Pol Ham told RFA the ambassador met with Kem Sokha for a simple talk, but he didn’t provide details.

“I have observed that the European Union wants to help resolve the crisis,” he said. “That is why they visited us. We all know about the EU’s stand, but we don’t know yet how will they resolve this.”

The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) told RFA that Cambodia doesn’t have any political crisis, repeating the government’s contention that the CNRP is having trouble because its members broke the law.

“It is the ambassador’s right to visit anyone,” he said.

Hun Sen’s government and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) have been backing a push in Cambodia’s courts to bring CNRP leader Kem Sokha in for questioning regarding his alleged affair with a young hairdresser.

The case has seen the arrest of four employees of the human rights group ADHOC and a member of the National Election Commission (NEC), while an arrest warrant was also issued for a U.N. worker. Heavily armed police also attempted to arrest Kem Sokha at CNRP headquarters for failing to appear in court in a pair of cases related to the alleged affair.

Petition problems persist

Meanwhile, CNRP activists in Pursat province say they are being persecuted and threatened when they attempt to collect villagers’ thumbprints for petitions seeking King Norodom Sihamoni’s intervention in the situation.

Thumbprints serve as signatures in Cambodia.

CNRP Provincial Director Yann Seng Huot said the 19 activists were summoned to local police headquarters where authorities pressured them to stop collecting thumbprints for the petitions.

“Our activists didn’t cause any security issues or disturb social order. We are collecting thumbprints from villagers voluntarily,” he said. “Authorities shouldn’t discriminate against us.”

Provincial Deputy Police Chief Penn Tung said his officers didn’t threaten any activists or confiscate any thumbprinted documents. He told RFA that the activists have the right to collect thumbprints, but that he had summoned them to the police station because villagers complained about the petition drive.

“Villagers said activists claimed they collected villager’s thumbprints to demand the government fight inflation, but their thumbprints were being used for a different purpose,” he said.

Also on Friday, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court questioned jailed opposition senator Hong Sok Hour in his case as the investigating judge wanted to find out if there are more suspects and more evidence in that case.

Hong Sok Hour was arrested in 2015 for criticizing on Facebook the treaty demarking the border between Cambodia and Vietnam.

Reported by Vuthy Tha and Sopheak Chin for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.

Source link

Vietnamese-Americans Urge U.S. to Step Up Inspections of Fish Imports From Vietnam

While the Vietnam government drags it feet on addressing an environmental disaster in which tens of thousands of dead fish washed ashore in the country’s central coastal provinces, other actors are taking steps to limit the damage.

At least 100 tons of dead fish began washing ashore in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien-Hue provinces in early April apparently killed by industrial effluents.

The cause of the catastrophe remains unknown, although it is widely believed that sewage-pipe runoff from a huge steel plant run by Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation, a subsidiary of Formosa Plastics Corporation of Taiwan, poisoned the fish.

The company has denied responsibility.

A group of Vietnamese-American activists in California has now sent a petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), urging it to thoroughly test and inspect all seafood and fish products imported from Vietnam.

Do Thanh Cong, a rights activist who signed the petition, also sent letters to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), and to congressmen in California.

“We have to understand that HHS is the main agency [dealing with this matter], while the FDA is just an auxiliary,” Cong told RFA’s Vietnamese Service, adding that the group has also launched an online petition.

So far, the group has received responses from the FDA, which said it is looking into the matter, and Burwell’s office.

When asked about the financial consequences that Vietnamese fishermen will face if they cannot export fish to the U.S., Cong pointed out that Vietnamese are still buying and exporting fish and other marine products, even though they have been poisoned.

“So who is the victim here?” he said. “The direct victims are people inside the country, and we are the indirect victims—millions of overseas Vietnamese who consume such products.’

‘Products that will harm us’

Fishermen from Vietnam’s central region have not been able to fish offshore for several weeks, and local merchants complain that they have not yet received promised support from the government. Security forces have also arrested Vietnamese activists who staged public protests, including one in Hanoi.

The government has provided each family affected by the environmental disaster with 22 kilograms (49 pounds) of rice, but still has not informed them of the cause of the fish deaths.

“Knowing about the problem, can we still let Hanoi export contaminated products that will harm us?” Cong said. “We have to take care of our health first, and then address the problems that fishermen over there are facing.”

But Dang Kim Son, the former director-general of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development under Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, told RFA that the situation isn’t that serious.

“If we [stop fish exports from Vietnam], the first victims will be our own fishermen, especially those who have invested a lot in long trips faraway by sea,” he said. “In fact, the pollution has not spread any farther than the currents near the coast.”

Taiwan’s lawmakers call for action

The Vietnamese government has remained tight-lipped about incident, saying only that it will announce the cause of the mass fish kill sometime this month and is preparing a report to submit to lawmakers when they meet in July.

But Taiwanese lawmakers urged the government on Thursday to investigate Formosa’s possible role in the environmental disaster, Agence-France Presse reported.

They fear the incident could jeopardize new President Tsai Ing-wen’s Southbound Policy, which promotes business and investment ties in Southeast Asia to wean Taiwan off its economic reliance on China, the report said.

Formosa has been involved in other pollution incidents in its home country, in the U.S., and in Cambodia.

Taiwan has offered to help the Vietnamese government investigate the incident, but the communist nation refused, the AFP report said.

On Wednesday, Formosa postponed the June 25 operational start date for a furnace at its steel complex in the Vung Ang Economic Zone in Ha Tinh province, with no future date set, according to Taiwan’s official Central News Agency.

The delay came after Taiwanese media reported that Vietnamese authorities have demanded that Formosa pay U.S. $70 million it owes in taxes. The media also reported that Vietnamese authorities needed more time to process an application the company had submitted to begin production at the steel mill.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Source link

Interview: Cambodia's Sam Rainsy on Talks with Hun Sen: 'Everything has to have a starting point.'

Cambodia has been in the grips of a political crisis for months as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government has pursued an investigation into an alleged affair between Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) deputy leader Kem Sokha and a young hairdresser. The investigation has led to the arrest of four human rights workers and an election commission official who are accused of bribery or accessory to bribery charges for attempting to keep the woman quiet, and it has also seen heavily-armed police attempt to arrest Kem Sokha at the CNRP’s headquarters.

While that is the most high-profile case, Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) have also pursued other cases against opposition lawmakers. Opposition party Senator Um Sam An was charged with two criminal offenses over his accusations that the government conceded land to Vietnam along its border. The government is also holding more than two-dozen other opposition party officials on various charges, including Senator Hong Sok Hour and CNRP media director Meach Sovannara.

Cambodia National Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy went into self-imposed exile following his removal from parliament in November 2015 by the CPP because of a warrant issued for his arrest in an old defamation case. Most analysts say the campaign against the CNRP is designed to intimidate and weaken the party before elections due in 2017and 2018. In a live interview on June 15 in the RFA studio in Washington, DC. Sam Rainsy discussed the situation in Cambodia with RFA Khmer Service journalist Vuthy Huot.

RFA: The situation in these past few days seemed to hold some positive signs for the CNRP. The international community, including the U.N., European Union and the United States, seemed to back the CNRP. How much of this is the result of the diplomatic efforts by you and the CNRP?

Sam Rainsy:  People are finally getting a clear understanding of the political situation in Cambodia. The world has learnt that the situation in Cambodia has reached a most dangerous stage due to the strategy of the dictatorship of Cambodia.

The government used intimidation, threats, violence and the court system, under the control of the CPP, to put pressure on CNRP members or on the members of the civil society who were just speaking the truth and who protected and provided justice to the victims, so it is not hard for the world to see it.

RFA: I can understand how international recognition is helpful and it puts pressure on Cambodia’s rulers, but I’m not sure how much that moves Prime Minister Hun Sen. He recently said discussions about the detention of CNRP officials and civil society workers is off limits in any negotiations to end the crisis. What does this mean for “the culture of dialog?”

Sam Rainsy: I want to emphasize that I always value and hail the culture of dialogue. The culture of dialogue is not just between two individuals or two parties, but it is for all parties so the Khmer people of all political stripes can move into the future.

That said, the culture of dialogue in Cambodia is still very new and there are difficulties, but we have to have trust that the culture of dialogue will remain alive and replace the culture of violence.  We have experienced only the culture of violence, the culture of destroying each other. We should give up this culture and grasp the culture of dialogue so that the Khmer people can experience peace, to ensure our country’s stability and real democracy.

RFA: From the outside, Cambodia looks like it’s in trouble?

Sam Rainsy: Since the coup d’ etat in 1997, Cambodia’s crisis is currently at a stage that could lead the country over the edge to disaster if we do not solve it peacefully.  The CNRP is ready to start discussions with mutual respect. We did not put conditions regarding date, time, venue, or topic on the discussion.  The topic we need to select is the one that is relevant and reflects the current tense situation.  Now let’s ask the people, what are their biggest concerns and sufferings? We have to put these issues on the table for discussion.

RFA: So, will you drop the insistence on conditions before there is negotiation?

Sam Rainsy:  There are no longer any conditions.  Everything has to have a starting point, but it has to lead to topics that reflect the people’s concerns.

RFA: Hun Sen wants the CNRP to stop boycotting the national assembly. Do you plan on returning to the parliament any time soon?

Sam Rainsy: The CNRP is not quarreling, but is a victim of successive problems created by those who keep drumming up allegations and accusations against the CNRP.  Before returning to the National Assembly, we want to see lawmakers’ immunity fully respected and protected as it is laid out in the constitution.

Currently, the national assembly is not working properly because it is now going back to the situation before the Paris Peace Accords. When there was only one dominant party. It’s even worse than that, because it is only one man who causes all the troubles on his own free will.

We are not going to join this game. We want to have a real multi-party government with democratic principles. We want the situation to go back to normal as it was about six months or a year ago before we return to our National Assembly duty.

RFA: Does that mean you want to have a negotiation process in place before the CNRP returns to parliament?

Sam Rainsy: Per our experience, unless there is a package solution we must not accept partial or temporary solutions. They release some people and later on, they arrest this or that person…We need an official declaration of a principle that stops using the court system to put pressure on people and creates an intimidating environment that would affect the upcoming election process.

RFA: Did the culture of dialog lead you to write a letter regarding the published allegations on Hun Sen —  Facebook posts saying one of his sons is the child of his wife and a former Vietnamese leader?  Have you received any response from the CPP or from the prime minister regarding your letter?

Sam Rainsy: I regret and I denounced the allegations and accusations against Mr. Kem Sokha who is deputy head and currently acting head of CNRP. Because those allegations and accusations are a personal issue that is of no use. It’s a petty thing that is just diverting people’s attention from the vital issues of the nation.

Since I feel that way about him, I also feel regret and denounce those who create the same problem for others. That is why I wrote that letter expressing regret regarding the accusation against Prime Minister Hun Sen.

RFA: Have you gotten a response?

Sam Rainsy:  I did not write the letter because I expected a response. I wrote it to affirm the morality of the CNRP, its leaders and its members, who have maintained a noble dignity. We did not make any allegations and accusations on a personal issue that would lead to humiliation and defamation against others, stain their dignity or cause them pain.

RFA:  But have you received any response?

Sam Rainsy:  I am now in Washington D.C., and I have not received any information on the response from Mr. Hun Sen, yet.

RFA:  Since the scandal issue broke, the CNRP has declared that it will stay silent, not quarrel or respond. That all its efforts and focus is on preparing for the upcoming commune elections. But this is the state of play: The CNRP leader is still in exile; the acting head is in self-detention within the party’s headquarters; and it looks like all CNRP members, lawmakers, and supporters in the country have gathered around the headquarters in Phnom Penh.

It looks like the focus on the election has been postponed.  How you are going to deal with the situation?

Sam Rainsy: The situation is not at a standstill, but actually moving forward with positive prospects for the CNRP.  We can see, at the grassroots level in 25 provinces and cities across the country, including the capital city of Phnom Penh, that the threats and intimidation are not scaring anyone off. Instead people are stronger and more supportive of the CNRP.

They continue encouraging CNRP leaders by coming to the party headquarters with tens of thousands of petitions and staying for days regardless of all the difficulties. People inside and outside the country have provided financial support to buy food and water, while others cook meals for those who stay at the party headquarters. It is a good sign for the CNRP as well as for its plan for the upcoming elections in 2017.  And those who have caused the problems in the hope to weakening the CNRP, we have proved them wrong.  We have become stronger than ever.

RFA: When will you return to Cambodia?

Sam Rainsy:  I will go back before the election date. Even if for just a short period of time prior the election. Even a short stay would be sufficient. In 2013, they created so many troubles for me. I returned to Cambodia less than 2-3 weeks before the last election date and it was enough time. There were people showing their strong support before my return. This time, the people’s will and support are even stronger than before, and we will stick to our vital goal that is to have peaceful change on the path of democracy in the country.

Translated by Yanny Hin.

Source link

Cambodia’s Sam Rainsy Calls For Immunity From Prosecution For Opposition Lawmakers

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Wednesday said lawmakers from his party will not attend future parliamentary sessions unless their constitutionally guaranteed immunity from prosecution is fully respected and protected by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government.

Deputies from the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) walked out of the National Assembly last week to boycott a question-and-answer session by the country’s justice minister addressing the alleged misuse of the judiciary to target CNRP lawmakers and human rights activists.

“Before returning to the National Assembly, we want to see the immunity of lawmakers be fully respected and protected as guaranteed by the constitution,” he told RFA’s Khmer Service, adding that Cambodia’s parliament is not functioning properly.

“There is only one dominant party, and even worse than that there is only one man who causes all this trouble at his own will,” he said, referring to Hun Sen.

Cambodian politics is in full crisis mode with tensions between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and CNRP running high. Authorities have arrested opposition party lawmakers, despite their parliamentary immunity, and rights workers, and the CPP has sued a prominent NGO leader and critic of the government as prosecutors pursue a case involving CNRP vice president Kem Sokha’s alleged affair with a young hairdresser.

The CNRP and its supporters claim the charges are a trumped-up attempt to damage the party ahead of elections scheduled for 2017 and 2018.

“We are not going to join this game,” Sam Rainsy said.  “We want to have the principles of a real multi-party democracy.”

‘A petty thing’

Sam Rainsy who is currently in Washington, also discussed the one-page letter he wrote to Hun Sen on Tuesday, expressing regret for an incident involving a former CNRP member who posted salacious accusations about the prime minister’s family on Facebook.

After the posts appeared, Hun Sen accused the CNRP of secretly orchestrating the effort, despite an immediate statement from the opposition party distancing themselves from the comments.

“I wrote this letter not because I expected any response,” Sam Rainsy said. “I wrote it to affirm the moral rectitude of the CNRP, its leaders, and its members who have maintained noble dignity. I did not make any allegations or accusations on personal issues that would lead to humiliation and defamation against others, stain their dignity, or cause them pain.”

Sam Rainsy also denounced accusations against Kem Sokha, whom police attempted to arrest in late May, for failing to appear for questioning about the sex scandal that the government has been prosecuting against him since March. Kem Sokha has since been hiding out in the CNRP’s headquarters in Phnom Penh.

“The allegations and accusations regarding a personal issue is of no use and is a petty thing that just diverts people’s attention from the vital issues of the nation,” Sam Rainsy said. “So I also feel regret for and denounce those who have created the same problem for others. And that’s why I wrote that letter expressing regret regarding the accusations against Prime Minister Hun Sen.”

Sam Rainsy said he had not yet received a direct response from Hun Sen about the letter, although the prime minister made a comment about it to the Cambodian newspaper Fresh News, indicating that it was not enough to satisfy him.

“I have no time, and there is no need to talk with a culprit who has been living in exile, running away from a legal dragnet,” Hun Sen said.

‘A good sign’

Sam Rainsy also told RFA he will return to the Southeast Asian nation before key national elections are held in 2017 and 2018.

“We still support and welcome the culture of dialogue,” he said, referring to a previous period of  constructive engagement between the two rival parties.

“The CNRP is not quarreling, but is a victim of successive problems created by those who keep making  allegations and accusations against it,” he said.

He also expressed faith in the Cambodian people who support the CNRP and continue encouraging party leaders by submitting tens of thousands of petitions to the CNRP headquarters in the capital Phnom Penh, sometimes remaining outside the building for days.

“It is a good sign for CNRP as its plan for the upcoming election in 2017,” Sam Rainsy said.

About 2,000 supporters from dozens of cities and provinces have gathered this week at the party’s offices, despite road blockades by armed security forces, as CNRP officials monitor the political situation related to the court cases surrounding Kem Sokha.

Reported by Huot Vuthy for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Yanny Hin. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Source link

Cambodian Opposition Leader Expresses 'Deep Regret' Over Renegade Facebook Post

Cambodian opposition party chief Sam Rainsy expressed regret to Prime Minister Hun Sen for an incident involving a former Cambodia National Rescue Party member who posted salacious accusations about the prime minister’s family on Facebook.

“In the name of the Cambodian National Rescue Party and in my own name, we would like to express deep regret over the action of those who had used indignity, humiliation and allegation against Samdech [Hun Sen] and the son of [Hun Sen’s wife] Samdech Kittipritbandit Bun Rany Hun Sen, causing Samdech and family pain,” Sam Rainsy wrote in a June 14 letter obtained by RFA’s Khmer Service.

Samdech and Kittipritbandit are honorary titles in Cambodia that confer respect. Roughly translated, Samdech means “lord,” and Kittipritbandit is equivalent to an honorary doctorate.

Brady Young, a Cambodian-American living in United States, posted consecutive video clips on his Facebook page in April that included accusations that Hun Sen’s elder son, Hun Manet, is actually the child of former Vietnamese Communist leader Le Duc Tho and Bun Rany Hun Sen. Brady also called on Hun Sen to have his elder son’s DNA checked to confirm his paternity.

After the posts appeared, Hun Sen accused the CNRP of secretly engineering the effort and warned that he would not let the CNRP rest in peace, despite an immediate statement from the opposition party disowning the comments. On May 16, the CNRP dismissed Brady from the party.

Speaking at the Royal University of Phnom Penh on June 13th, Hun Sen reiterated his warning that he has little tolerance for such shenanigans from the CNRP.

“When you hit my head and then ask me to fetch the water for you to drink, do not expect that is going to happen,” he said. “You must have enormous compensation for Hun Sen and for Hun Sen’s family. You must listen to this clearly.”

High tension

Sam Rainsy’s note comes as tensions between Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the CNRP are running high.

Authorities have arrested CNRP lawmakers and rights workers, and the CPP has sued a prominent NGO leader and critic of the government as prosecutors pursue a high-profile case involving CNRP deputy leader Kem Sokha’s alleged affair with a young hairdresser.

CNRP President Sam Rainsy has been staying in France or traveling since an arrest warrant was issued for him in November for a 2008 defamation case. At the time, he was removed from his office and stripped of his parliamentary immunity. After Sam Rainsy left the country, the CNRP named Kem Sokha its acting president.

Authorities are also making it difficult for CNRP supporters to travel and collect thumbprints on petitions asking King Norodom Sihamoni to intervene in the political crises that has also seen heavily armed police attempt to arrest Kem Sokha at CNRP headquarters in Phnom Penh..

CNRP supporters in the Me Sang district, Prey Veng province, were banned by authorities from traveling to join a gathering at the party headquarters in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, RFA has learned. Thumbprints often serve as signatures in Cambodia.

Chharn Sophate, the CNRP’s commune council member of the Prey Khneas commune, told RFA that six authorities stopped his group from going to Phnom Penh on Wednesday.

‘They stopped us’

“They stopped us, and then they sent us to the police station to sign an agreement, but I said: ‘What is the issue that requires me to go there?’  So I refused to go,’” he said. “If they want to arrest me, let them do so because I did nothing wrong.”

Prey Khneas commune chief Em Seab told RFA that he was implementing the plans of his superiors.

“This plan was issued by the higher-ups to ban them from going,” he said.

Prey Veng provincial commissioner Sreng Chea denied that he had issued any orders that would prevent locals from traveling to Phnom Penh.

“I did not place the order to stop them,” he said.

In Stung Treng province, CNRP province chief Puy Chanthala told RFA that provincial authorities have detained seven party activists since June 7. Authorities forced them to stop collecting thumbprints and made them sign an agreement to end their activities, he said.

“They said that we must get their permission to collect thumbprints,” he told RFA. “This is wrong.”

On June 12, authorities in Stung Treng province threatened CNRP supporters for providing thumbprints, according to an opposition party official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official told RFA that 100 villagers were called in for a meeting by Kbal Rmeas commune authorities in Se San district and were threatened with jail time unless they withdrew their thumbprints.

Voeun Sambath, Kbal Romeas commune chief and CPP member, admitted that there was a meeting to educate villagers about the thumbprint issue, but he denied any issuing any threats against locals.

Suon Bunsak, executive director of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC), told RFA that shifting the blame from one set or authorities to another is a pretext to avoid accountability.

Stopping people from going to Phnom Penh is clearly violation of the citizen’s rights stated in the constitution.

“The government has an important duty to facilitate every citizen’s ability to exercise their rights,” he said. “I would like to appeal to the government to kindly implement its duty though mediation so every Cambodian can exercise his rights freely in accordance with Cambodia’s legal framework.”

CNRP supporters gather

While authorities were attempting to keep CNRP supporters bottled up, about 2,000 supporters from dozens of cities and provinces still managed to gather at the party’s headquarters.

A line of supporters stretched for about one kilometer (0.62 mile) along Highway No. 2 where security forces packing firearms, electronic wands and shields were deployed, and iron barricades were blocking the road.

CNRP officials said they are not preparing for a demonstration, but wanted to monitor the political situation related to the court cases surrounding Kem Sokha as the embattled CNRP leader declined to appear in court once again.

Police attempted to arrest Kem Sokha on May 26 for failing to appear for questioning about the sex scandal the government has been prosecuting against him since March. He has since been hiding out in the CNRP’s headquarters in Phnom Penh.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Yanny Hin. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.

Source link