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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CNRP trio seek asylum

Hong Sok Hour is escorted into court by police last month after being arrested. Three CNRP staff members are currently seeking asylum overseas after being linked to Sok Hour’s court case.
Hong Sok Hour is escorted into court by police last month after being arrested. Three CNRP staff members are currently seeking asylum overseas after being linked to Sok Hour’s court case. Heng Chivoan

CNRP trio seek asylum

Three Cambodia National Rescue Party staff members have fled, via Thailand, to another country in the region and are applying for asylum in third countries after being linked to the case of imprisoned opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour, sources have said.

The group – believed to be those called out by Prime Minister Hun Sen in a speech on Tuesday – fled to Thailand on August 19 after their names were mentioned during police interviews with Sok Hour, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.

Two of the men – Satya Sambath, 25, and Chong Leang Ueng, 20 – administer the Facebook page of CNRP President Sam Rainsy, while the third, 24-year-old David Sambath, brother of Satya, is a personal assistant to Sok Hour, a Sam Rainsy Party senator.

One of the sources who confirmed the escape maintained they were receiving assistance from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Both declined to be named due to the case’s sensitivity.

The second source – who spoke to the men following Sok Hour’s arrest on August 15 for posting a “fake” version of a 1979 Cambodia-Vietnam border treaty and video on Sam Rainsy’s Facebook page – said they fled because they were terrified of being targeted for their roles in uploading the post.

“They were so worried,” he said. “They said they did not know about the content of the treaty. They just followed orders [by Sok Hour] and did the technical [work].”

According to the first source, Sok Hour’s video was shot by Satya and uploaded by Chong Leang, while David was not directly involved.

In a speech on Tuesday, the premier – who ordered Sok Hour’s arrest for “treason” following the August 12 Facebook post – said the fake treaty, which purported to show Cambodia and Vietnam agreeing to dissolve their borders, had threatened national security and could have led to war.

He demanded that unnamed accomplices in the posting return from Thailand.

“[I] would like to appeal to those who escaped to Bangkok to return to Phnom Penh and confess to the authorities about their conspiracy,” Hun Sen said.

The group was originally identified in an August 23 article in local newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea.

That story quoted an unnamed Phnom Penh court source as saying the trio had been summonsed to answer questions about the case.

Yesterday, Phnom Penh penal police chief Sok Khemarin said he had no information about the suspects.

The first source yesterday said the group had fled across a small border crossing on August 19 after rumours of arrest warrants for them surfaced.

In Thailand, they stayed in a safe house and met UNHCR representatives on several occasions before flying on August 31 from Bangkok to another country in the region, where they met the UNHCR once more, according to the source.

The source said the men – who are homesick, anxious and struggling to eat and sleep – are now attempting to apply for asylum in third countries.

He said that their refugee claims are already being expedited by some Western countries, but did not want the nations revealed for fear of influencing the process.

“These guys really fear for their lives,” he said.

The UNHCR did not respond to questions by press time yesterday. CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann declined to comment.

Asked about the case, CNRP lawmaker Mu Sochua, while not confirming the men’s situation, said the current political climate would make such actions understandable.

“The [government] has said and continues to say anyone speaking wrongly about the use of the maps will face the law. Posts on face book [sic] are directly targeted,” she said via email. “The courts have almost never failed to act on order of the government. If a senator with full parliamentary immunity can be behind bars, the fear of being pursued by the courts is real.”

Sok Hour is being held in Prey Sar prison and faces charges of incitement and forgery for posting the treaty and a video of himself discussing its claims.

The opposition says his arrest, and the imprisonment of another 14 CNRP activists over an anti-government protest that turned violent last year are part of a politically motivated crackdown in response to their campaigning on the Vietnam border issue.



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savath.pou's picture

On September 6th, 2015, Samdech Decho Hun Sen, CPP President and Prime Minister of Cambodia, has delivered a televised 3h 04min and 25sec speech pinning down the CNRP and its President Mr. Sam Rainsy on their politically motivated allegations which have groundlessly accused that the Royal Government of Cambodia has thus far utilized "wrong, fake or theft maps" in demarcating Cambodia's international borders with Vietnam so as to secretly cede some Cambodian territories to its eastern neighbor which had backed the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation (KUFNS) in its brief war to chase out the murderous Khmer Rouge regime in December 1978 and to claim the inaugural victory on January 7th, 1979.
In proving that the RGC has been upfront with its people and has done nothing wrong in its border demarcating efforts with either Laos, Thailand or Vietnam, Samdech Decho Hun Sen has placed the highest bet of his entire political career by declaring to the nation that he’s ready to give up his prime-ministership, voluntarily walk to the police detention cell and await a trial soon after the Opposition has come up with solid evidence which can support its above-mentioned allegations.
Last but not least, Samdech Decho Hun Sen has dared the Opposition party and its leadership team to do the same if they cannot substantiate their claims. Otherwise, all CNRP members who are responsible for their groundless and malicious accusations will be dealt with the full force of the Kingdom’s existing laws.
Now that Mr. Sam Rainsy has been appointed as the rightful Opposition leader, he has an absolute and historic duty to officially reply to Samdech Decho Hun Sen’s September 6 speech in due course. Otherwise, he has no power whatsoever to stop people from calling him a liar, a cheat and possibly a traitor to the Khmer nation.
Sydney, 10 September 2015.
Savath Pou,
Senator Expelled.

Bob's picture

He had said many things and never respected what he had promises.
For the border issues Hun Sen should ask Francois Holland the French president said he ll send expert to help resolving the border issues if both Cambodia and Vietnam agreed.

In my opinion, this is a political suppression and is not allowing the rule of law take its forces but he show the world that I AM IN CHARGE HERE.

Bob's picture

Why Cambodian cannot live as peaceful as it should with all the helps from UN that spent hundreds of million s of dollars?
Why this guy has so much power and why Vietnam should get involve with the internal Cambodian's affair?
These two parties CPP and CNRC should work together jointly in a peacefully matter for the name of Cambodian people, please! If this is a border issues than it should be easy enough to get it resolve with more help from Francois Holland as he promisses but instead Hun Sen just want to play by his rule and over power his MP responsibility.
He cannot be tamed and always scold whoever opposed or challenged him.Is that a tipicall dictatorship ruling?