Another eight Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) officials received summonses from the Battambang provincial court over the weekend for allegedly violating the Supreme Court ruling that saw the party dissolved.
Suon Chamroeun, a former party official in Battambang province, said on Sunday that 20 CNRP members and supporters had now been called before the local court.
“[The court] has summoned them as they have others, which is something I don’t understand. These are normal people who did not commit any wrongdoing. But [the court] said they violated the Supreme Court’s ruling. I don’t understand this,” Chamroeun said.
Twelve former party members and supporters were called before the court last week.
According to Sor Chandeth, a former senator for the defunct Sam Rainsy Party, the latest eight to receive a summons included former Wat Kor commune chief Tan Samorn and former Sangke district councillors Ham Eab and Vy Voan, as well as Battambang town councillor Yuom Doung.
Former commune chiefs Sun Chamroeun and Poeuk Lom were also called before the court, as were ex-first deputy commune chiefs Saing Bunmao and Sok Sopheak.
Keu Bunnara, Battambang provincial court spokesperson and the prosecutor who issued the summons, could not be reached for comment.
According to summon letters received by The Post, they were issued on April 24 and 25, with those they were addressed to referred to as “suspects”.
The addressees were told to appear in court this, the next and the following week.
“As far as I know, they will go to clarify in court. They will want to know what wrong-doing they have committed. I think more people will receive summonses because we woke up this morning and another summons letter had been received in Ek Phnom district’s Samrong Khnong commune,” Chamroeun said.
Ou Chanrath, a former CNRP lawmaker, on Sunday said he disagreed with the court action.
“Firstly, I think the summonses have made the political situation tense. Secondly, they are a restriction on freedoms because those who were summoned were not banned from political activities."
“Therefore, the activities were the exercising of their rights and they should not be summoned like this,” he said.
He said the court should clearly outline what had led to the summonses, while authorities should announce the dos and don’ts for activists based on law and the constitution.
The Post has learned that it is only in Battambang province where the local court has issued summonses for the alleged violation of the Supreme Court ruling since the CNRP was dissolved in November 2017.
Chanrath said Battambang is a province where former local CNRP officials were relatively active.
“In past commune elections, Battambang [residents] supported the CNRP, so I think activists in Battambang have to be careful,” he said, adding that the summonses would serve as a warning to activists in other provinces.
However, Ministry of Justice spokesperson Chin Malin rejected claims the court action was meant as a threat.
“They should not be concerned if they have not committed any ill-intentioned actions that may have led to crimes. This is just a call for them to clarify certain information with authorities. It is not a threat,” Malin said.