Although last month's elections were widely hailed as free of the violence that
had marred the campaign period, in fact political murders in the provinces have not
Coinciding with the short-lived secessionist movement two weeks ago, numerous attacks
against opposition party offices and members were reported in the eastern 'breakaway'
provinces as well as Siem Reap province, the site of much political violence during
A June 16 press release from the Phnom Penh headquarters of FUNCINPEC stated that
"several thousand Cambodians...have been obliged to abandon their homes, villages,
districts and provinces and seek refuge in Phnom Penh or other zones not under the
direct control of the State of Cambodia... The victims are FUNCINPEC members and
sympathizers who are fleeing the political repression and reprisals which erupted
following FUNCINPEC's recent victory in the elections."
Outside FUNCINPEC headquarters in Phnom Penh for the past few weeks there have been
large groups of people gathered on the street, many of them party members and sympathizers
from the provinces who had feared for their lives and fled. They came mostly from
the "secessionist" provinces in the east, particularly Kompong Cham, Svey
Rieng, and Prey Veng, although many others also came from Siem Reap province.
Men Savorn, 32, a FUNCINPEC party member, fled Prey Veng district after the Funcipec
office there was attacked. "They were chasing me on a motorbike," he said.
"Then they started shooting at me from about 50 meters behind. Thank God, they
missed. I rode my bicycle across the paddy field to the provincial office."
Wearing only shorts and a krama, he escaped, leaving behind two children with their
grandparents. He said he didn't know where his wife was.
Pen Kim Eng, 45, was head of the FUNCINPEC office in Preah Sdech, Prey Veng province.
"We could only be together during meal times, then we had to split up,"
he said, motioning to his wife.
"Armed men patrol our houses, waiting for the head of the family to show up
so they can arrest him. After I voted, I went and hid in the forest, because I was
so afraid of them.
"We cannot go back to the villages unless these men are disarmed, otherwise
the intimidation will not stop. Or else, we should be given weapons to protect our
families. But the bloodshed is not a good idea, it's better if these men are disarmed,"
Kim Eng said.
Associated Press reported that FUNCINPEC party members told of being shot and killed
by State of Cambodia soldiers in Prey Veng and other eastern provinces. Several FUNCINPEC
members interviewed by AP in Phnom Pen described how soldiers marched through the
streets in several provinces shooting and beating FUNCINPEC members and burning down
Official of the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party said that nine of their members
were murdered in Prey Veng and that more than 600 party officials had sought refuge
in Phnom Penh.
An official with UNTAC's Human Rights component said that UNTAC had sent people to
the villages to investigate, but had not yet been able to verify all of FUNCINPEC's
claims. He said UNTAC so far had found "most attacks [to be done by] one person,
and nowhere near the number" reported by FUNCINPEC. The official said UNTAC
had confirmed about five murders so far, whereas FUNCINPEC had claimed that there
were 29 in Siem Reap province alone. "Even still, that's way too many,"
the official agreed.