Cambodian Police Arrest 10 Over ‘Plot to Topple Government’

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An undated photo by Cambodian Police of members of the Khmer National Liberation Front with founder Sam Serey (center, standing).
An undated photo by Cambodian Police of members of the Khmer National Liberation Front with founder Sam Serey (center, standing).
Photo courtesy of Cambodian National Police.

Police in Phnom Penh have arrested 10 Cambodians whom they accuse of setting up an armed unit in a bid to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, a police spokesman said Thursday.

The 10 were allegedly members of the Denmark-based Khmer National Liberation Front (KNLF), which has been deemed a terrorist group by the Cambodian government.

They were taken into custody late Wednesday and Thursday on charges of conspiracy to topple the government, said National Police spokesman Lieutenant General Kirt Chantharith.

The move drew criticism from a human rights group, which said the arrest violated their rights and questioned the government’s basis for labeling KNLF a terrorist group.    

“The [KNLF] movement has intended to topple the government by establishing illegal armed forces, spying on military secrets, distributing anti-government leaflets, training terrorists, and conducting training along the Cambodian-Thai border,” Kirt Chantharith said.

Police also confiscated “evidence” that included books criticizing Hun Sen, he said

The 10, most of whom were farmers, had planned to hold a peaceful protest outside the Vietnamese embassy in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh to demand that Vietnam respect the Paris Peace Accords, Kirt Chantharith said.

Signed in 1991, the accords, which ended the Vietnam War, required the parties involved to recognize the fundamental national rights of Cambodian independence, sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity.

Many Cambodians are wary of Vietnam’s influence over their country’s affairs.

An estimated 1.7 million people, or one in four Cambodians, died in what came to be called the “Killing Fields” after the ultra-Communist Khmer Rouge took power in 1975. The regime was unseated when Vietnam invaded the country four years later.

Vietnam occupied the country for a decade before withdrawing its troops and signing the Paris Peace Agreement to restore sovereignty and stability to Cambodia.


The KNLF says on its website that the two-year-old group consists of Cambodian nationalists and democrats who work with democratic countries and the United Nations to achieve peace, freedom, and democracy.

It says it is working to change the government through nonviolent means.

Its mission is to seek justice for and free Cambodians from Vietnamese "neocolonialism" and the “dictatorship regime under Hun Sen” based on international law, the Paris Peace Accords, and the rights of the Cambodian people, the KNLF said.

“The front wanted to protest in front of the Vietnamese embassy to demand that it respect the Paris Peace Accords because the Vietnamese government hasn’t implemented them,” said a statement issued by the KNLF.

It called on local and international human rights groups "to pressure the Hun Sen dictatorship to release the demonstrators immediately.”

Last year, the Cambodian government deemed the KNLF a terrorist group, claiming it was plotting to overthrow President Hun Sen’s government.

Police action questioned

Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator with the Cambodian human rights group Licadho, criticized the arrest, saying the 10 men had wanted to hold a peaceful protest outside the Vietnamese embassy within their rights as Cambodians .

“If they want to protest against the Vietnamese embassy, it is their right,” he said. “They are not involved in any criminal activity.”

He said the government must differentiate between demonstrators and KNLF members and questioned the basis for branding KNLF a terrorist group, arguing instead that it is a nongovernmental organization.

In April, a Cambodian court sentenced 13 KNLF members to five to nine years in prison after finding them guilty of plotting to overthrow the government, according to reports.

Of the six tried in absentia was Sam Serey, founder of the KNLF.

Rights groups had denounced the verdicts as politically motivated and lacking evidence and claimed that torture had been used to extract testimony, The Cambodia Daily reported.

“The Khmer National Liberation Front is an illegal group, because it causes national security concerns,” Long Dymong, spokesman of Phnom Penh City Hall, told RFA. “They are extremists, and they want to topple the government.”

Reported by Samean Yun for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Comments (6)


from Long Beach

Ah Hun Sen is a total thief since 1979 when he was installed as prime minister by Vietnamese. He was also a member of Khmer Rouge that killed millions of Cambodians. These people are TRUE Khmers who are only looking after the interests of ALL Khmers in Cambodia. Hun Sen is a puppet of Vietcong to annex Cambodia.
This also reminds me of Khmer Freedom Fighters and Chhun Yasith, who is now in jail. The US government put him in jail because they do not know any better and because they are very scared of upsetting Ah Kwak Hun Sen. Yeah, some people died during the KFF fighting but Hun Sen has blood of HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of Khmers on his hands.
jeyo khmer! HUN SEN OUT!

Nov 01, 2014 01:41 PM

Anonymous Reader

When is Khmer stop killing Khmer? This dictator is willing to slaughter innocent people to stay in POWER when is it going to be enough for him? Let us pray for these 10 people and their families! It's 2014, it's time for Khmer to stop killing Khmer, enough is ENOUGH!

Oct 30, 2014 06:06 AM


from mass.

'...In April, a Cambodian court sentenced 13 KNLF members to five to nine years in prison after finding them guilty of plotting to overthrow the government..."

How about the Cambodian govt. throwing into jail those who are corrupt, deforesting Khmer land, human trafficking young girls, official sons who are driving recklessly and killing innocent civilians, etc? Give them a sentence please!

Oct 24, 2014 01:58 PM

phetsakhat sorphainam

from vientiane

they are armed in full Uniforms so that means they don't like the PM. hun sen.

Oct 24, 2014 11:47 AM

Anonymous Reader

'Police also confiscated “evidence” that included books criticizing Hun Sen'

Really? Really? Since when criticizing Hun Sen is a crime? This is the CPP thugs new boggy man since CNRP is now part of their government. The CPP has to find someone to vilify, and these poor farmers are it.

Oct 24, 2014 10:58 AM

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