Cambodian activist assaulted in Thai beach town

Attack on Vatt Mony is the latest in a series of assaults on Khmer activists outside Cambodia.
By RFA Khmer
Cambodian activist assaulted in Thai beach town Cambodian activist Vatt Mony stands in front of a Thai police station after filing a complaint over an attack on Aug. 29, 2023, by four men in the beach town of Pattaya.
Credit: Vatt Mony

An opposition party activist who is seeking asylum in Thailand said he was attacked on the streets of the beach resort town of Pattaya by four men – the latest assault against a Cambodian activist in the neighboring country.

Vatt Mony told Radio Free Asia that the attack on Tuesday happened as he was sitting on a motorbike. A white car pulled up and the four men got out and began beating him, he said.

“I was shouting for help and ran toward a crowd,” he said. 

Vatt Mony, an official with the main opposition Candlelight Party, has been campaigning among Cambodian workers in Thailand to protest against Prime Minister Hun Manet’s newly formed government. He has also petitioned embassies in Bangkok to urge the Cambodian government to return to democracy. 

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party won 120 of 125 seats in the July 23 general election. 

However, the Candlelight Party wasn’t allowed to list candidates on ballots. The National Election Committee disqualified the party in May, citing inadequate paperwork in a decision that was widely criticized as politically motivated. 

The ruling came after months of efforts by the CPP to intimidate or co-opt opposition party activists at the local and provincial level ahead of the election. 

Dozens of opposition activists were persuaded to publicly switch their allegiance to the CPP. But at least 100 activists have fled to Thailand out of fear in recent months.

Hun Manet officially became prime minister on Aug. 22, just after the new National Assembly was formed.

‘It is not safe’

Another activist who is seeking asylum in Thailand, Phorn Channa, told RFA last week that he was struck in the face by three men who tried to drag him into a car in Rayong, about 60 km (37 miles) east of Pattaya. 

Phorn Channa said the newly appointed minister of Labor, Heng Suor, had tried to convince him to join the CPP. He said he declined because he believed that only an opposition party could bring respect for human rights to Cambodia.

“I thought when I arrived in Thailand I would be safe, but it is not safe,” he told RFA. 

Vatt Mony has filed a complaint with Thai police. He said he believes Tuesday’s attack was “a premeditated attempt from the ruling party and the royal embassy” in Bangkok.

“They are unethical people who hurt innocent people to abuse people’s freedom of expression,” he said.

RFA was unable to reach Cambodian embassy officials for comment on Wednesday. CPP spokesman Sok Ey San said his party hasn’t sent anyone into Thailand to hurt opposition party officials. 

“This allegation is the culture of the opposition party,” he said. “They accuse the ruling party for any incidents. When they fall into wells or have car accidents, they accuse the ruling party.”

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


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