THE opposition Sam Rainsy Party on Saturday held a ceremony at the Choeung Ek killing fields marking the 35th anniversary of the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge, though a government official later accused the party of using the occasion to score political points.
Party president Sam Rainsy, who is currently in self-imposed exile, addressed the gathering from Brussels, stressing that it was important for Cambodians not to forget the “cruel killing” carried out by the Khmer Rouge.
He went on to say that although the “current regime” does not “kill people cruelly”, it is guilty of making Cambodians “fearful, poor and ignorant”.
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann, meanwhile, said the Khmer Rouge tribunal should initiate investigations into high-ranking government officials who he said were guilty of committing crimes during the regime years.
“We would like to call on our leaders not to kill people like the Khmer Rouge did. And we would like to call for the international court to make an investigation into more present leaders who were involved in killing people during the Khmer Rouge regime and to bring them to be punished,” Yim Sovann said.
A number of senior government officials, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, were Khmer Rouge cadres before they defected from the regime and helped launch an offensive against it.
Tith Sothea, a member of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, on Sunday said the SRP should not have used the anniversary to “split Khmers from Khmers”, and that the allegations from Yim Sovann were unacceptable.
Tith Sothea has previously said that Sam Rainsy is the “true criminal”, citing the two-year jail term the opposition leader received in January for charges related to an incident in which he helped uproot border posts in Svay Rieng province.