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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Anti-Sokha protest day nigh

Anti-Sokha protest day nigh

5 chum mey s-21 heng chivoan

Tuol Sleng survivor Chum Mey on Tuesday is expected to follow through on plans to call for a mass protest against opposition lawmaker Kem Sokha for allegedly calling the Khmer Rouge torture centre where Mey was detained an invention of the Vietnamese.

Calls for the demonstration come in the absence of an apology by the Cambodia National Rescue Party acting president, who says a May 18 recording of him doubting the authenticity of the prison was manipulated by the ruling party.

Days later, Prime Minister Hun Sen used the allegation to propose that Cambodia criminalise genocide denial. Members of the National Assembly practically fell over themselves to submit a draft version on May 31.

The law, which calls for fines of at least one million riel ($250) and prison sentences of six months to two years for those who deny that the Khmer Rouge committed genocide, will be debated in the National Assembly on Friday.

National Assembly spokesman Chheang Vun told the Post yesterday that the legislation would not be used retroactively to convict Sokha.

“This law that the permanent committee has decided to propose will not point only at Kem Sokha. It’s something we do for our whole country, from today to the future,” he said. “Therefore, if Kem Sokha does not say anything more, he will not be guilty, but if he says more, he will be guilty and this law will be enforced.”

Several additional Tuol Sleng, or S-21, survivors also threw their weight behind Mey’s protest over the weekend. Survivor Bou Meng, however, has said he will “remain neutral” on the issue.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the proposed law is a ploy of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party to gain support ahead of the national elections on July 28.

“The ruling party is making an unclean problem before the election,” he said.

In a statement yesterday, opposition leader Sam Rainsy – who is living in France to avoid several convictions on charges some believe to be politically motivated – blamed Hun Sen for creating “tensions for political gains”.

“Hun Sen is distorting the truth, manipulating justice and bullying the Cambodian people,” Rainsy, who has stayed largely silent about the Tuol Sleng scandal, said yesterday in his statement.

additional reporting by Mom Kunthear



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