Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Activist denies coup call, says video an appeal for peaceful democracy

Activist denies coup call, says video an appeal for peaceful democracy

An undated photo uploaded to a Facebook by Som Vichea yesterday after he called for a coup in the Kingdom earlier this week. Facebook
An undated photo uploaded to a Facebook by Som Vichea yesterday after he called for a coup in the Kingdom earlier this week. Facebook

Activist denies coup call, says video an appeal for peaceful democracy

A former soldier being hunted by the military for calling on security forces to be ready to move against the government said yesterday that he was not calling for a coup, but wanted people to “stand up” against Cambodia leaders by peaceful means.

In a video posted online on July 17, Som Sovanara called on military forces to be ready to “go against the authoritarian leadership of the CPP, Hun Sen and Yuon communists”, using a word for the Vietnamese some consider derogatory.

However, speaking via telephone yesterday from Canada, where he received asylum after fleeing Cambodia in 2013, Som Sovanara slammed what he called the country’s “dictatorship” but insisted he didn’t advocate violence.

“My video clip does not mean I called for a coup or want a coup, but I want the country to have real democracy and peace,” Sovanara said, adding he was not in touch with any current military personnel.

The activist, who is also a member of the Denmark-based Khmer National Liberation Front, said he previously belonged to the Royal Cambodian Armed Force’s Intervention Division Three, a mobile force based in Preah Vihear that is sponsored by the prime minister’s cabinet and commanded by Lieutenant General Srey Deuk.

After serving in the military between 2007 and 2010, Sovanara said he fled the country in 2013 after receiving “threats and intimidation”.

“After I realized my life was at stake, I escaped through the refugee asylum of the UN. I knew many military officials and they are not happy with the government,” he said.

Lieutenant General Srey Deuk Commander of the division declined to comment yesterday, saying he was in a meeting. RCAF infantry spokesman Mao Phalla referred questions to Defense Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat, who was unreachable yesterday but on Wednesday said the man had been identified and the military was investigating.

Yesterday, president of the KNLF Sam Serey reiterated the previous statement by the party – which has been branded a “terrorist” group by the government – saying Sovanara was free to express his views.

“The KNLF is an advocacy group which has been officially registered in Denmark and we have been working peacefully according to international law, the Paris Peace Agreement and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said Serey, who claimed the KNLF has 6,000 members in Cambodia.

“Therefore, Sovanara ex-pressed his personal opinion on the situation in Cambodia and called for support from Khmer people. He has the right to do that.”

In 2014, 13 people involved with Khmer National Liberation Front were sentenced to between seven and eight years in jail for an alleged plot to overthrow the government. However, six of the suspects, including Serey, were tried in absentia.

MOST VIEWED

  • Rainsy vow to return on Nov 9 dismissed as ‘political warfare’

    An announcement from the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) that its “acting president” Sam Rainsy would return to the Kingdom on November 9 was dismissed on Sunday as “political warfare”. The CNRP made the announcement on Friday after a permanent committee meeting chaired by

  • Kingdom rejects VN request

    Cambodia rebuffed Vietnam’s request to provide nationality to its citizens living in Kratie, Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri and Stung Treng provinces, with officials saying law enforcement is the Kingdom’s responsibility. Chheang Vun, the head of the National Assembly’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation,

  • PM sues Rainsy in Paris court

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and Dy Vichea, the deputy chief of the National Police, filed lawsuits against Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), for defamation in a Parisian court on Tuesday. The court action comes after Rainsy,

  • Official transferred after pointing at car with foot

    The deputy director of the Siem Reap provincial Registration and Driver’s Licence Unit at the Department of Public Works and Transport who last week pointed at the number plate of a car taken in for a technical check with her foot has been transferred.