Scores of security forces yesterday stormed the house of alleged secessionist leader Bun Ratha’s mother in Kampong Cham province yesterday, confiscating mobile phones and memory cards, his relatives told the Post.
Bun Ratha, the alleged leader of Democratic Association, has been on the run since security forces launched a bloody crackdown on Pro Ma village in Kratie province’s Chhlong district last week that left a 14-year-old girl dead and hundreds homeless.
His brother Bun Sithet said yesterday that forces surrounded his mother’s Chheu Kloem village home in Memot district’s Romchek commune at about 12am on Monday night.
“They threatened us not to use phones and they accused us of preventing them from searching the house,” he said, adding that one officer had seized his sister’s camera through the window while trying to negotiate for a search warrant.
At about 11:30am yesterday, after his mother had asked for a warrant, the force of about 40 police, military police and soldiers kicked the door in and confiscated all mobile phones.
“If they had knowledge of law, they would not do it at night like this, and they were just there to arrest one person, [so] why did many forces come? What they did is a threat to my family and other villagers as well not to go against them.”
Kampong Cham provincial police chief Chhay Kimson said his forces had raided the house after receiving information that Bun Ratha was inside and denied they had harassed anyone.
“I went with one prosecutor to arrest the offender; we did not consider whether it was day or night – we had to try to catch the offender,” he said.
Ruos Rin, Bun Ratha’s father-in-law, rejected the allegation he had led a secessionist plot, arguing he barely had enough money to support his nine-month-old baby and wife, let alone an autonomous state.
“On the day of incident, my son [in law] left me a message saying that he did not know whether he would live or die, but told me to help take care of his son and help him have good education,” he said.
About 1,000 families live in Pro Ma village, Kampong Damrei commune, where the crackdown took place last Wednesday, many of whom have said Bun Ratha was merely helping them defend themselves in a land dispute.
Eight people have been charged with incitement, though the five “ringleaders” authorities were targeting have all evaded arrest.
To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at firstname.lastname@example.org