Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Beehive safe, Sonando not

Beehive safe, Sonando not

Beehive safe, Sonando not

120802_03

Supporters of detained Beehive Radio director Mam Sonando gather outside the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Monday. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly declared yesterday that the government has no plans to shut down Beehive Radio, despite the recent arrest of its director, Mam Sonando, and added that the movement to gather thumbprints for his release would not help his situation.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony for students of the National Education Institute, the premier said that taking action against Beehive Radio itself would be like getting “angry with the oxen, then hitting the ox cart”.

“The radio [station] made no mistake,” he said. “Don’t wonder so much – the radio is not guilty, who would shut it down? The radio owner made a mistake, [that’s why] they wanted to go against the owner.”

Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator for the rights group Adhoc, welcomed the prime minister’s announcement, saying the closure of an independent station like Beehive “would affect freedom of expression and rights to advocacy.”

Chea Bamrong, vice president of Sonando’s Association of Democrats, said that he would accept the prime minister’s words for the time being, but acknowledged that everything could change in an instant, citing the rapid revocation of an early statement from a Council of Ministers spokesman who initially said that Sonando would not be arrested.

Referring to the movement to free Sonando, which recently delivered petitions purportedly thumb-printed by more than 45,000 supporters to multiple foreign embassies on Monday, Hun Sen stated that “the thumbprints don’t have any pressure on the judicial system”.

Hun Sen also alluded to the ever-fluctuating number of Sonando’s alleged co-conspirators wanted by the government, alternately saying that four of the five original suspects had come to confess and serve as witnesses, and that six of the seven accused had confessed.  

He added that alleged ringleader Bun Ratha was still at large, and at one point accused an unnamed NGO of funding yet another suspect’s flight to Thailand.

Longtime fugitives Sok Tong and Bun Chhorn, Ratha’s father, could not be reached for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • EU officials: Ending EBA an 18-month procedure

    EU officials have confirmed that it will take a total of 18 months to complete the procedure if Cambodia’s preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) trade agreement is to be withdrawn. According to EU Agriculture and Rural Development spokesman Daniel Rosario, the formal process has not

  • IPU slams government claim

    The president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Gabriela Cuevas Barron, has refuted a claim by the National Assembly that she “highly appreciated the achievements of Cambodia” in its July national elections with a tweet saying “Of course not!” before adding “No congratulations”. A delegation from

  • Conflict lingers on Paris Accords

    As the Kingdom prepares to commemorate on October 23 the 27th anniversary of the signing of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, which ushered in an end to nearly two decades of civil war, there is political conflict on whether the tenets of the agreement are still being

  • EU agrees VN trade deal despite rights concerns

    The EU on Wednesday agreed to a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Vietnam, a country described as having a “major rights-abusing government”. This comes amid the 28-nation bloc preparing the procedure for a possible withdrawal of Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential trade agreement on