Cambodian Ruling Party, Opposition Fail to Discuss Jailed Activists in Closed-Door Meeting

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Sar Kheng (L) and Kem Sokha (R) speak to reporters after their meeting in Phnom Penh, Aug. 10, 2015.
Sar Kheng (L) and Kem Sokha (R) speak to reporters after their meeting in Phnom Penh, Aug. 10, 2015.

A meeting between top officials of Cambodia’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the country’s political opposition failed on Monday to address the plight of more than a dozen activists jailed on what have been described as politically motivated charges, with one CPP official calling the situation a matter only for the country’s courts.

The meeting between CPP deputy president Kem Sokha and Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) deputy president Sar Kheng focused instead on other concerns, including a still unsettled border dispute between Cambodia and Vietnam and a controversial law restricting the activities of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), officials told reporters following the meeting.

The arrests of 14 CNRP activists for taking part in an anti-government rally that turned violent last year, and the issuing this month of warrants for two others, are not subjects appropriate for political dialogue, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Interior Sak Setha said.

“This is a matter for the courts,” Sak Setha said, adding, “It is within the court’s jurisdiction to arrest and prosecute those activists, using its own procedures.”

Both parties have vowed to “solve the problem” as soon as possible, though, he added.

Warrants issued

On Aug. 5, Cambodian authorities detained three CNRP activists on insurrection charges for their role in the July 15, 2014 protest, prompting one lawmaker to say the move was linked to the party’s recent criticism of the government over contentious border issues with neighboring Vietnam.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has now also issued warrants for two other activists who participated in the rally, which led to clashes between protesters and security forces in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park.

In July, authorities arrested 11 other CNRP activists who took part in the rally and sent them to Cambodia’s notorious Prey Sar prison after they were convicted in municipal court on insurrection charges.

Three were handed 20-year sentences, while the rest received sentences of seven years.

'Politically motivated'

Am Sam Ath, an investigator for the domestic rights group Licadho, called the arrests politically motivated, pointing to an Aug. 3 speech by Prime Minister Hun Sen in which he called for authorities to make more such arrests.

Meanwhile, CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An told RFA’s Khmer Service in an earlier report that the arrests were related to party activists’ and parliamentarians’ recent role in disputes over alleged territorial encroachment by Vietnam. CNRP politicians have been outspokenly critical of the government’s handling of unresolved border demarcation work with Vietnam.

In a statement last week calling for the activists’ release, the CNRP called the arrests contrary to the spirit of political cooperation it had forged with the CPP on July 22, 2014, in which the opposition ended a nearly one-year boycott of parliament following a disputed election and the ruling party adopted key reforms to Cambodia’s National Election Commission.

CNRP steering committee member Eng Chhai Eang told reporters on Monday that the party will now appeal to a higher court to overturn the Phnom Penh Municipal Court's verdicts against the jailed activists.

“We will find a lawyer to help those detainees, as well as the two others that the court is looking to arrest,” he said.

Reported by Moniroth Morm for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Sarada Taing. Written in English by Richard Finney.

Comments (4)

Anonymous Reader

" CPP official calling the situation a matter only for the country’s courts."

I think he meant a matter of the country's corrupt courts.

Aug 11, 2015 09:57 AM

Anonymous Reader

well, well ask the same court and the same judge who issue warrant arrest 11 people, how about who pulled the triggers killed many innocent people. don't use a system water rises fish eat ants be careful when water gone ants will eat fish. just like in Pol Pot regime. every one know who you are.

Aug 11, 2015 02:30 AM


from L

In reaction to Mrs. Koy Pisey said awhile back that she said that Cambodia can't take border crisis between Vietnam to ICJ. I can't say she is wrong because I don't know what is in her mind. In my opinion, if I break it down from big to small (divide and conquer), list capacity of problem, quota, level of acceptance of both countries to solve issue, I can see a big picture which way Cambodia has to walk.

1. Capacity of problem: Very big
2. Quota: Been going on for long time
3. Level of acceptance: Low
4. Pitfall: Cambodia might lose land

Based on this issue that has been prolong for decade, the quota is reached and for sure an issue can't be solved by Cambodia and Vietnam. Therefore, you can't step on an old foot-printed by wasting more times. Remember!!! Vietnam is a big country and a lot of population and they will not give us a chance in a two party talk. This is law of nature (big eat small and power take down innocent). Also, the same concept when CNRP is dealing with CPP and CPP won't listen and accept the ideas. Of course they loosen their power, only to expand. In that case, Vietnam will not accept that is why they want solve this quickly before Cambodia take this matter to ICJ.

Aug 10, 2015 06:30 PM


from Lowell,USA

Just like I thought that this meeting won't resolve the problems that they are having with because this matter is big and can't solve by Sar Kheng and Kem Sokha. Especially, when you are dealing with CPP who has been compulsively in love with power for decade. If Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy meet to solve the problem, yes there might be a slight hope. So, instead of wasting time talking between Sar Kheng who has no power to make decision, Khem Sokha shouldn't meet with him. Remember that every problem you are trying in making decision whether to accept or reject, have a quota and limitation and that is a roadblock that just can't make by people has less superior than the upper or head. In this case is Mr. Hun Sen. Only minor thing that easily can be solved without approval from higher authority like Mr. Hun Sen, then of course that can be solved and negotiate able. The same concept like Director, Manager, Supervisor, and Team Leader in a company. You have to know what that meeting all about and how big of the responsibility in making decision without approval from the top tier. If you know the roadblock, find the detour without crossing the bridge and use those times for something else.

Aug 10, 2015 05:53 PM





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