Amid continuing protests of his official visit to France on Sunday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that opposition leader Sam Rainsy may end up behind bars over his Facebook page’s connection to the post that saw Senator Hong Sok Hour jailed.
Speaking to some 800 supporters in Paris, Hun Sen said that because Hong Sok Hour’s post about the 1979 Cambodia-Vietnam border treaty was made on a page belonging to Rainsy, he may also be liable.
“Who is the page owner? The page owner is Rainsy, so it can reach back to Rainsy,” he said, adding that he would not pardon Rainsy if charges were brought against him.
“I will not pardon [Rainsy] . . . Prey Sar [prison] does not distinguish who you are,” he continued, going on to remark that the decision to arrest Rainsy is not his but depends on the courts and police.
The prime minister went on to compare a theoretical arrest of Rainsy to when former French president Nicholas Sarkozy was held for questioning in July of 2014, which he attributed to the act of an independent judiciary.
Hun Sen went on to say that while Rainsy was the co-creator of the so-called culture of dialogue, he had proven himself an unworthy counterpart, along with Funcinpec president Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Human Rights Party boss Son Soubert.
His only true counterparts, he said, were two deceased icons of Cambodian politics: King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Soubert’s father, former Prime Minister Son Sann.
As Hun Sen spoke, some 150 Cambodian expatriates demonstrated outside the venue.
Held back by French gendarmes in riot gear, they “booed those [supporters] attending the conference and above all demanded the release of Hong Sok Hour”, according to Paris-based journalist Eugene Mormin, who has been following the protests.
Hun Sen, responding to what he felt about the protests, alluded to yesterday’s protests against Kem Sokha in Phnom Penh. “Well, it is equal; [we] respect each other’s rights. You respect protesters’ rights here, I respect protesters’ rights there,” he said.
The premier went on to request that Rainsy apologise for what he perceived to be repeated transgressions against him, stating that their relationship would improve if he did so.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann yesterday questioned Hun Sen’s motives and desire for democracy. “It is all politically motivated. Does [Hun Sen] . . . want our citizens to live in a democratic society, or [live] how the ruling party wants? He must answer this question,” he said.
Sovann added that Rainsy had nothing to apologise for and stood by his prior statement that the CNRP was not behind the Paris protests.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALESSANDRO MARAZZI SASSOON