A Cambodian opposition party politician from the royalist FUNCINPEC party has been shot dead in the latest in a series of killings of political figures, RFA's Khmer service reports. And opposition politician Sam Rainsy has published a list of five people including himself who he says will be the next targets for government-backed assassination.
Meach Youen, 40, who was a local election candidate for FUNCINPEC in 2002, was shot in the mouth with an AK-47 automatic assault rifle in the early hours of Jan. 25 as he lay asleep in his house.
FUNCINPEC issued a statement announcing his death and condemning the spate of recent murders in Cambodia of opposition activists, who recently united against the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen to form the Alliance of Democrats.
"These murderous acts are the result of the relevant authority that is incompetent, unable to guarantee people's social justice and security," said the statement.
Meanwhile, a list of public figures in need of protection faxed to RFA by Sam Rainsy identified the next five likely targets of what the opposition is calling a government-sponsored killing campaign.
The list comprised Sam Rainsy, President of the Sam Rainsy Party; Eng Chhay Eang, secretary general of the Sam Rainsy Party; Norodom Sirivudh, FUNCINPEC secretary general; Kem Sokha, director of the Cambodia Center for Human Rights; and Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers' Association.
Earlier Tuesday, the United Nations condemned the murder of trade-union leader Chea Vichea, who was shot on Jan. 22 after reportedly receiving death threats.
"The highest levels of political leadership in the country must send a clear message that those responsible for this murder will be held to account," Bernard Ramcharan, acting U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement. "The problem of impunity remains a central obstacle to the process of building democratic institutions and advancing the enjoyment of human rights under the rule of law in Cambodia."
FUNCINPEC also called on the government to "render justice" to the victims and their families, especially in the cases of Chou Chetbarith, Touch Sonnich, and Chea Vichea, as well as other members of the FUNCINPEC and Sam Rainsy parties.
It is estimated that 23 activists of the three main parties have been killed in Cambodia since January 2003. But the government has maintained that the slayings were the result of personal disputes and robberies, with no political motive behind them.
On Jan. 15, two Sam Rainsy Party activists, Chhin La and Keo Chan, were killed by four unidentified gunmen. Two days before, another Sam Rainsy Party supporter, 42-year-old Lay Kong, was also shot. Both attacks were carried out with AK-47s.