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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Murders of party officials continue

Murders of party officials continue

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

stopped.

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

the campaign.

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

party offices.

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.

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