Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Expense could threaten petition for Pen Bonnar's return: organiser

Expense could threaten petition for Pen Bonnar's return: organiser

Expense could threaten petition for Pen Bonnar's return: organiser

ETHNIC minority villagers in Ratanakkiri province said Tuesday that a petition campaign seeking the reinstatement of a former provincial human rights advocate faces a shortage of finances and may have to be cancelled.

Chuk Savath, 50, from O'Chum district, said he began the campaign last week to appeal to provincial Governor Pav Horm Phan for the return of Pen Bonnar, a provincial coordinator for the rights group Licadho, who was reassigned to Phnom Penh on August 6.

Pen Bonnar had represented ethnic minority villagers for nearly a decade until provincial judge Thor Saron suggested earlier this month that he leave the province or face prosecution on charges of defamation, incitement and terrorism.

Pen Bonnar has denied wrongdoing and says no charges have yet been filed.

Chuk Savath said he has collected thumbprints from about 100 villagers in O'Chum district, but plans to visit three others - O'Yadav, Borkeo and Lumphat - were in jeopardy because he could not afford to continue much longer.

"I am worried that my money has almost run out," he said, adding that appeals to other supporters of the ousted rights coordinator have refused to help the campaign for fear of being arrested.

Chuk Savath acknowledged that he had doubts that the campaign would do any good, but that he was committed to honouring Pen Bonnar's work on behalf of the province's ethnic minority communities by seeking his return.

Pav Horm Phan could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, but Morn Saroeun, deputy provincial governor, told the Post that villagers had every right to conduct the campaign.

"People are free to petition the governor. I believe he will consider the petition when he receives it, but I can't say which way he will decide," Morn Saroeun said.

Pen Bonnar expressed his gratitude Tuesday for the efforts to return him to the province.

"This is a success for ethnic minority communities to show such bravery in standing up to local authorities to seek a non-violent solution," he said.

He added that whether or not he would be allowed to return, he was resolved to continue supporting the villagers.

"I want to complete my mission to train villagers to understand their legal rights," he said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all