Opposition says police haven’t investigated attacks on them

Two Candlelight Party activists say they were hit with steel batons in Phnom Penh last week.
By RFA Khmer
Opposition says police haven’t investigated attacks on them Keat SokChan [left photos], a member of the Candlelight Party youth movement, was beaten April 7 in Phnom Penh by two suspects with a steel baton on his arms, shoulders and head. Candlelight Party Acting Youth Movement Thorn Chantha [right photos] was attacked last week with steel batons.
Citizen journalist

Two attacks on opposition activists over the last week have prompted leaders of the opposition Candlelight Party to renew calls for police investigations into suspected political violence, which appears to be increasing ahead of July’s parliamentary elections.

The two incidents are the latest in what party officials claim have been dozens of similar violent attacks on their activists in the capital, Phnom Penh, and elsewhere over the last few years. No suspects have been arrested or charged in any of the incidents, they said.

Last Thursday, Thorn Chantha, president of the party’s youth movement, was struck by a baton by two assailants who then chased him to his car and smashed the driver’s window with a rock.

“This violence is to intimidate opposition party activists who dare to conduct political activities ahead of the election,” Thorn Chantha said.

The attack happened on the streets of Phnom Penh as party activists were planning a demonstration in front of its headquarters – the first in several years. 

A couple days later, Keat Sokchan, a member of the Candlelight Party’s youth movement, told Radio Free Asia that he was beaten by two suspects who used a steel baton to hit him about 10 times on his arms, shoulders and head. 

He said earlier this week that he was still being treated at a hospital.

“My arms are so painful that I can’t lift them up,” he said. “I want the authorities to imprison the suspects for the sake of youth safety across the country.”

No follow-up from police

Party organizers have also faced threats, harassment and arrest on what they say are trumped-up charges as they prepare for July’s parliamentary elections.

Authorities still haven’t followed up on Thorn Chantha’s complaint, he told RFA.

“I don’t have any confidence that police can find any suspects in my case and other cases,” Thorn Chantha said on Tuesday. “So far, they can’t find any suspects.”

Another activist, Nol Pongthirith, told RFA that he was struck on the head in July 2022. He said he also hasn't received any information about an investigation. 

“If the suspects are not brought to justice, political parties’ activities will be reduced due to security concerns,” he said.

National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khouen has previously told RFA that police have been unable to find any suspects because victims haven’t cooperated with authorities. RFA couldn't reach him for comment this week.

The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, Sok Ey San, denied that there have been politically motivated attacks. In some cases, police have just needed more time to gather evidence, he said. 

“I guarantee you that there is no difference between an investigation to the ruling party and the opposition party,” he said. “Authorities investigate all incidents.”

Translated by Samean Yun. Edited by Matt Reed and Malcolm Foster.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.