Cambodia’s Hun Sen Calls on Authorities to Arrest Perpetrators of Lawmaker Attacks

2015-10-28
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Kem Sokha (third from L) meets with Nhay Chamreoun at a hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, Oct. 28, 2015.
Kem Sokha (third from L) meets with Nhay Chamreoun at a hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, Oct. 28, 2015.
Photo courtesy of the CNRP

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday called for authorities to apprehend those responsible for an attack in the capital Phnom Penh which left two lawmakers beaten and bloodied earlier this week during an anti-opposition protest that turned violent.

Opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmakers Nhay Chamreoun and Kong Sophea were dragged from their vehicles and assaulted by protesters as the two men attended a meeting of the legislature at the National Assembly building on the morning of Oct. 26.

The attack occurred as more than 1,000 supporters of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) surrounded the parliament building, calling for deputy president of the CNRP Kem Sokha to step down from his position as first vice president of the National Assembly.

On Wednesday, Hun Sen took to his official Facebook page to urge authorities to arrest the perpetrators of the attack.

“Today, I officially call on the authorities to seek the arrest of the culprits who committed violence against the two parliamentarians,” said Hun Sen, who the same day had returned to Cambodia from a state visit to France.

“We cannot tolerate those who committed the act, no matter who they are—be they CPP supporters, government supporters or opposition supporters! Anyone who commits such a cheap act must be arrested and sentenced at any cost.”

He noted that National Assembly president Heng Samrin had donated U.S. $10,000 to each of the two injured lawmakers to assist with their medical care and urged parliament to allocate funds for repairing their vehicles, which were damaged during the incident.

The attacks left Chamroeun with a double arm fracture, broken nose and chipped front teeth, while both men sustained significant facial injuries. The two lawmakers were flown to Thailand for medical treatment on Tuesday.

Although the anti-opposition protesters, who have been accused by the CNRP of being organized by the CPP, did not have official permission to rally, Hun Sen said that they were within their rights to make their voices heard and suggested the attack had occurred “after the demonstration was demobilized.”

He said that the incident had been precipitated by a number of factors, such as “cursing at each other, a love triangle [and] revenge,” without providing details, but added that nobody should be the target of violence, “specifically lawmakers who enjoy immunity.”

The CNRP has called the assaults a repetition of past violent incidents against other party members and suggested they were organized by the CPP in response to an anti-Hun Sen demonstration by Cambodian expatriates on Sunday in Paris, which infuriated the prime minister during his visit.

Before his departure to France, Hun Sen had warned his detractors that if Cambodian opposition supporters were to effectively hold their planned demonstration against him while he was in Paris, his supporters would attack and create trouble for Sam Rainsy's supporters back home.

The CPP has denied claims that it was behind the protest.

Response to message

cambodia-kong-sophea-oct-2015-400.jpg
Kong Sophea (R) receives oxygen at a hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, Oct. 28, 2015. Credit: CNRP CNRP
Responding to Hun Sen’s message, CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay called the prime minister’s commitment to arresting those responsible for the attacks “a positive sign” and said he was encouraged by an outpouring of support by parliamentarians from both sides of the aisle.

“Lawmakers from both sides … expressed sadness, anger, and other concerns over the violent incident,” he said.

“They said they understood that this might not only happen to opposition lawmakers—that they could be the target of a similar attack someday in the future … and [questioned how] this could happen at the nation’s highest institution where representatives of the people are working for the whole country.”

But Son Chhay suggested that Hun Sen was maintaining a double standard of justice in Cambodia, saying that if a similar attack had been perpetrated against members of the CPP, “we would have seen measures taken within 24 hours.”

He also questioned why security at the National Assembly had been “loose” and organized “in a very strange manner” the day of the protest, lacking the normal road blockades.

‘Trying to fix it’

Political commentator Kem Lei echoed concerns about the lack of security, saying that during previous demonstrations by the opposition “authorities and anti-protest forces were standing by and have even used violence on protesters.”

“In this one, we saw a contradiction in that the protesters were the ones to cause violence, but no authorities or security forces intervened.”

Kem Lei also suggested the protest had been organized by the CPP as a form of revenge for the anti-Hun Sen demonstration in Paris.

“But it became chaotic and violent, leading to two lawmakers being beaten up,” he said.

“It seems that [the CPP] overacted and now they are trying to fix it … by paying for the treatment costs for the two lawmakers and to repair the vehicles damaged in the incident.”

He said the damage caused by the protest had overshadowed its original purpose, which was to push for the removal of Kem Sokha, who has routinely criticized Hun Sen’s leadership.

Call for removal

Defense Minister General Tea Banh yesterday publicly supported moves to force out Kem Sokha, including calls by some members of the military, after Royal Cambodian Armed Forces deputy commander Kun Kim circulated a petition to remove him, the Khmer Times reported.

But Am Sam Ath, technical coordinator for rights group LICADHO, said that while soldiers have the right to voice their opinion, they should only do so if they are not in uniform and refrain from using ministry equipment to protest, according to the Times.

“But they should not wear their uniform or use military or ministry equipment to protest,” he said.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Pagnawath Khun. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Comments (8)
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Anonymous Reader

This an old trick which the suspect just burns a house and he is the one that calls for help.

Nov 03, 2015 02:00 PM

Anonymous Reader

Same old tricks....

Oct 30, 2015 01:26 PM

Anonymous Reader

On the day of the attack, Hun Sen and his son,Hun Mani and Chheang Vun secretly ordered all the guards at the parliament building,the congress to be replaced by a strange new group,which collaborated with the attackers and protesters.The government secretly
ordered the guards to leave the gates and doors open.All the guards were secretly ordered to leave the open gates and doors so the attackers can do their dirty job.Usually,there are many police men and security officers guarding the protest,but there were no law enforcement officer at all in the streets of this protest.

Oct 30, 2015 09:44 AM

Spottagus

from USA

This morning I listened to the news, the government wants Sam Rainsy to publicly said sorry to Hun Sen of what he did or else he will divorce the "Conversational Culture". Mr. Sam Rainsy! No need for you to say sorry, okay! Let it be if they want to terminate that conversational culture because it is not really useful anymore. I can see a big picture even that culture will end soon. Here is why and I give an example, okay! You and Hun Sen are like a boxer on the ring which fight til 12 rounds. First, I thought Hun Sen will knock you down at round 3, but you didn't. However, of all that rounds, your score was trailing. From round 5 to round 8, your score was on top of Mr. Hun Sen. Now and until round 12, you don't have to over use your energy to fight him, believe me! Just avoid him inside the ring and ignore about conversational culture. You're in control right now and the judge and the spectators are in your favor. So, when round 12 is reached and National Election start in 2018, you will win by Technical Knocked Out. Therefore, don't play his game, ignore the conversational culture, just continue to do your job as usual. Other 55 Senators just keep on doing their jobs like helping and communicating with all your supporters. The people already knew who is the winner because they are hungry to change not ongoing with the suffering by one man might power. Believe me and just sustain and conserve your energy until round 12 and you win for sure by 97% based on my AI Engine.

Oct 29, 2015 04:30 PM

Anonymous Reader

Please find the culprits like you did with Chou Bandith, former governor of Bavet.

Please also remember words from your mouth, okay? This is what you said..." Hun Sen said that they were within their rights to make their voices heard..." So when people call you to step down they are making their voices heard, okay?

Oct 29, 2015 12:10 PM

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