Cambodian Opposition Leader Marks 1997 Grenade Attack


2004.03.30
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Listen to the original broadcast in Khmer

PHNOM PENH — ; Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy and supporters gathered Tuesday to remember victims of a 1997 grenade attack on a party rally that left at least 16 people dead, RFA reports.

"In the name of all the families and on my own behalf, I wish to appeal for a full and permanent stop in taking the lives of others," he told some 300 people. "If it truly does stop, from now on, I will no longer bear a grudge."

On March 30, 1997, during a rally numbering in the hundreds led by Rainsy against Prime Minister Hun Sen's rule, four grenades were thrown into the crowd, killing at least 16 Sam Rainsy Party supporters. Rainsy himself appeared to be a target of the attack.

One International Republican Institute (IRI) worker was wounded in the attack, which led to an investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI's 1998 report on the grenade attack said between 16 and 20 people died and more than 150 were wounded.

Tuesday's rally included about 100 Buddhist monks, victims' family members, Cambodian Center for Human Rights Director Kem Sokha, FUNCINPEC Party Secretary General Prince Norodom Sirivuth, and Jackson Cox, IRI's Resident Program Director.

At the rally, Cox appealed to the FBI to reopen its investigation into the attack if local police cannot solve the crime.

On March 17, Rainsy filed a civil lawsuit alleging that Hun Sen masterminded the 1997 grenade attack. Rainsy, a French citizen, filed a similar lawsuit in France.

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