Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday ordered the arrest of an opposition senator, accusing him of treason for posting a “fake” international treaty related to the Cambodia and Vietnam border on his Facebook page.
Senator Hong Sok Hour of the Sam Rainsy Party made comments on social media that an article of the 1979 Cambodian-Vietnam Friendship Treaty was intended to dismantle the border between the two countries. He also posted two copies of the 36-year-old border agreement with neighboring Vietnam.
During a graduation speech in the capital Phnom Penh, Hun Sen accused the lawmaker of posting a fake copy of the treaty. He also ordered the national police commissioner to detain Sok Hour and the city’s international airport to block him from leaving the country.
“This is flagrant criminal evidence,” he said during the speech. “How much farther do they [the opposition party] want the country to be in turmoil?”
Following the speech, General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said police were not yet looking for Hong Sok Hour, according to local media reports.
A spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party has said that Hong Sok Hour, who also holds French citizenship, is in a safe place.
Accusation carries no weight
Attorney Sok Sam Eoun said the prime minister’s accusation does not carry any legal weight.
“He might think that when someone’s action is deemed a threat to national security and national safety, it is treason, which is not correct in my view,” he said, but noted that two documents Hong Sok Hour posted online were different.
“If Hong Sok Hour deleted or added something to the document, he will be prosecuted for producing a fake public document,” he said.
Sok Sam Eoun suggested that Hong Sok Hour may have obtained the document from elsewhere and though it to be legitimate when he posted it.
“Some documents are old and need to be reprinted, such as our constitution, so he may have believed that it is legitimate document,’ he said. “In that case, he had no intention of causing trouble.”
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), led by Sam Rainsy, contends that Vietnam has been encroaching upon Cambodian territory at various spots along the 1,228-kilometer (763-mile) border.
It also has accused the government of ceding land to Vietnam, which invaded and occupied Cambodia in 1979, by using incorrect maps to determine border demarcations.
Hong Sok Hour, who is chairman of the Senate’s anticorruption committee, has traveled to Paris to obtain maps that the opposition party believes to be correct and accurate versions of constitutionally mandated maps that should be used to determine Cambodia’s eastern border, according to The Phnom Penh Post.
Last month, a Cambodia-Vietnam Joint Border Committee held talks in which the two countries recognized that the land demarcations process was complicated and agreed to finish demarcating the border very soon.
The border issues led to clashes at the end of June between activists led by CNRP members and Vietnamese villagers as the Cambodians inspecting a road that the Vietnamese built in a disputed area of Svay Rieng province.
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Sarada Taing. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.