Search form

Login - Register | FOLLOW US ON

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Exercises’ bring military helicopters and vessels to CNRP’s doorstep

Masked, heavily armed members of the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit sit in a truck outside CNRP party headquarters yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Masked, heavily armed members of the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit sit in a truck outside CNRP party headquarters yesterday in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

‘Exercises’ bring military helicopters and vessels to CNRP’s doorstep

A day after a top army general warned that his troops were ready to arrest the opposition’s leaders, military helicopters, navy vessels and troops were yesterday deployed for “exercises” in extreme proximity to the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s Phnom Penh headquarters.

As party activists watched on at about 5pm, four of the military’s Chinese-built Z-9 helicopters swooped repeatedly over the building on National Road 2 where CNRP acting leader Kem Sokha is hiding to avoid arrest – the choppers descending low enough for bsytanders to see the crews inside.

The display followed another pass earlier in the afternoon by the Z-9s, seven of which could be seen circling Phnom Penh from about 11am.

Meanwhile, behind the property, which abuts the Tonle Bassac River, the Post watched as two speedboats and a larger patrol vessel with a mounted machine gun ferried more than 20 soldiers in camouflage fatigues back and forth.

One of the speedboats, carrying about six troops, moored about 30 metres from the property, while the other two – which were earlier accompanied by a third speed boat, according to witnesses – lurked nearby.

“This is an action to frighten people,” said CNRP supporter Pen Chan, 43, as he watched on from the riverbank.

CNRP commune councillor for Chamkarmon district Kim Savuth, 42, also decried the “intimidation”, as he recalled convoys of troops passing the headquarters.

“At about 1:30pm, about 10 trucks with 10 soldiers each, armed and with full black masks, drove past slowly, then later about four came back past,” Savuth said.

“This must be a plan from the government leaders . . . They are trying to threaten or arrest my political leader; if not, why did they come here?”

A Cambodian vessel carrying four military personnel is pictured moored on the banks of the Bassac River just behind CNRP headquarters.
A Cambodian vessel carrying four military personnel is pictured moored on the banks of the Bassac River just behind CNRP headquarters. Hong Menea

At about 4pm, another convoy of armed and masked troops – bearing the insignias of the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit – was spotted travelling towards the headquarters.

The display came a day after an interview with four-star General Kun Kim was released, in which the deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces said the army would “guarantee to arrest” the opposition’s leaders if it received a court order.

Sokha will be tried – presumably in absentia – next week for refusing to submit to questioning over his alleged affair with a hairdresser. CNRP president Sam Rainsy fled the country last year to avoid arrest in a separate case. Both men face a slew of cases widely considered politically motivated.

However, reached yesterday, Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said the manoeuvres were “not related” to the CNRP, whose spokesmen could not be reached yesterday.

“They can do their operation in air, water and ground; those locations do not belong to [the CNRP],” he said, denying it was a threat. “Only the people who have done something wrong feel intimidation.”

Hing Bun Heang, head of the premier’s Bodyguard Unit, said the “exercises” were simply part of ongoing preparations for the unit’s upcoming anniversary parade on Sunday.

He laughed when asked whether the deployment was linked to plans to arrest Sokha. “If they were arresting him, why would they need to use a helicopter?” he asked.

“Why do you ask such a crazy question?”

2

Comments

Please, login or register to post a comment
Don Rennie's picture

Dear Shaun and Dara,

Commander Hing Bun Heang is not very clever.

Make no mistake, this exercise was clearly intimidation and harassment of civil society and the CNRP.

Such displays are clearly an attempt to threaten the CNRP.

The CPP continues to play a losing game.

DR

Willkabul's picture

One would not expect the UN or EU staffers on the Gravy Train to take any action over this act of intimidation and threats, which would take backbone, something both institutions are lacking in. It is also very unlikely any individual government will take action. So a message, a shout of help to the US, do something now, not just issue condemnations, but take action. Get rid of these crooked corrupt murdorous thugs, protect the cambodian people, do not let the country turn into another viernam, although cambodia will be china's satellite in the region unlike its neighbor. Will I hold my breath though?

Latest Video

Turkish Embassy calls for closure of Zaman schools

With an attempted coup against the government of President Recep Erdogan quashed only days ago and more than 7,000 alleged conspirators now under arrest, the Turkish ambassador to Cambodia yesterday pressed the govern

CNRP lawmakers beaten

Two opposition lawmakers, Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Sakphea were beaten unconscious during protests in Phnom Penh, as over a thousand protesters descended upon the National Assembly.

Student authors discuss "The Cambodian Economy"

Student authors discuss "The Cambodian Economy"

Students at Phnom Penh's Liger Learning Center have written and published a new book, "The Cambodian Economy".