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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Amnesty blasts treatment of Rainsy

Amnesty blasts treatment of Rainsy

A MNESTY International has called for an immediate, impartial investigation into

the detention and alleged torture of Sam Rainsy's four bodyguards on July 13.

Amnesty said the men were interrogated for 16 hours by up to 30 soldiers who

wanted them to identify Rainsy as having links with the Khmer Rouge.

They

were allegedly beaten with rifle butts, punched, had guns pointed at them and

one told: "If you don't answer, your head will be soaked with blood... Even if

you are not shot, your head will be smashed to bits, and no-one will be able to

help you."

Amnesty said: "In the light of this incident, Amnesty again

fears for the safety of Sam Rainsy and his family. Rainsy is currently on a

visit outside Cambodia, but given the attack on his bodyguards, there is concern

that he may be in danger on his return home."

Amnesty said this was

"merely the latest incident in a dismal catalogue of restrictions on the rights

to freedom of opinion, expression and association in Cambodia in the last 12

months".

The human rights watchdog said that since the apparent coup

attempt a year ago this month, the government "has become increasingly

intolerant of criticism of its ministers and their policies". Rainsy's guards -

Um Samoeun, Seng Sopharith, Nguon Han and Cheav Koab - say they were invited to

a restaurant and later to the house of a friend, but were instead taken to the

base research department of the Ministry of Defense.

Amnesty said Defense

Minister Tea Banh had denied the claims the men were beaten, saying they had

just been asked questions that had nothing to do with Rainsy.

Amnesty

criticized the Press Law, saying the article that stated the press should not

publish information that affected national security was not defined and could be

used for arbitrary punishments.

"It is clear from the attitude of the

government that the determination to silence its critics comes higher on its

list of priorities than the internationally guaranteed rights of all Cambodia

people."

Amnesty wants the government to provide adequate guarantees for

the security for all elected representatives, singling out Kem Sokha and Ahmed

Yahya as potential targets for expulsion for having defended

Rainsy.

"[Amnesty] regrets that it has not seen improvements in the human

rights situation in Cambodia since March of this year, and that recent events

represent a considerable step backwards.

"In particular, the abduction

and torture of Sam Rainsy's bodyguards is reminiscent of tactics not seen in the

country since before the 1993 elections."

Amnesty called on the

government to ensure that all harassment, threats and intimidation against

politicians and journalists stop, and investigations made into previous killings

and threats.

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