A Cambodian senator targeted for arrest by the country’s prime minister for posting a disputed diplomatic document online will turn himself in to authorities on Monday to defend himself against accusations of treason, the fugitive lawmaker told RFA on Friday.
Hong Sok Hour of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) had posted comments on social media claiming that an article of the 1979 Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Treaty was meant to dismantle, rather than simply define, the border between the two countries.
He had also posted online two copies of the 36-year-old border agreement with neighboring Vietnam containing the article's disputed wording.
During a graduation speech in the capital Phnom Penh on Thursday, Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen accused Hong Sok Hour of posting a “fake” copy of the treaty and called for his arrest, ordering the city’s international airport to block him from leaving the country.
Hong Sok Hour, who holds citizenship in both Cambodia and France, said that after hearing Hun Sen had called for his arrest, he had approached the French Embassy for help, but that with encouragement from the embassy he will now surrender to authorities on Aug. 17 at 10:00 a.m. in order to explain his actions.
“I did not fake the disputed Article 4 of the treaty,” Hong Sok Hour said, speaking from hiding.
“I got the document from the Internet a long time ago, probably seven to eight years ago, and put it up on Facebook without knowing if it was accurate,” he said, adding that he is ready to correct the disputed article online if it is proven false.
Despite Hun Sen’s demand that Hong Sok Hour be arrested for “treasonous” behavior in the case, no warrant for his arrest has yet been issued and no formal charges have been filed, according to Cambodian media sources.
In an ongoing dispute with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP)—a merged political grouping that includes the SRP and is 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 has also accused the government of ceding land to Vietnam, which invaded and occupied Cambodia in 1979, by using incorrect maps to determine border demarcations.
The border issues led to clashes at the end of June between activists led by CNRP members and Vietnamese villagers as the Cambodians inspected a road that the Vietnamese had built in a disputed area of Cambodia’s Svay Rieng province.
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Sok Ry Sum. Written in English by Richard Finney.