A WAVE of extra-judicial killings, detainment of provincial Funcinpec officials,
torture of captured troops, and ongoing harassment of Funcinpec party members has
followed in the wake of the violent clashes of July 5 and 6, according to human rights
Senior CPP officials have denied the existence of a "campaign" to intimidate
members of Funcinpec and opposition parties and would confirm only one death in custody,
that of Ho Sok, Secretary of State for Interior.
"If any Funcinpec officials were killed it's because of the clash not because
they were killed after capture," said Sar Kheng, co-Minister of Interior.
"There was no campaign to kill these people. The bullet has no eyes. Maybe they
died in the fighting," said Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak.
Human rights workers are investigating reports, based on eyewitness accounts and
corroborating evidence, that at least 30 Funcinpec officials were executed after
their arrest by government troops.
"We are currently investigating allegations of at least 30 and up to 47 cases
of suspected executions in custody," said a UN official.
Among those believed to have been the victims of extra-judicial killings are senior
Funcinpec military leaders, Generals Chao Sambath, Kroch Yoeum, Maen Bun Thon and
Ly Seng Hong.
"There is extremely strong evidence that they were taken into custody and then
executed," said one rights worker.
While some of the killings may have been the result of revenge rather than deliberate
policy, the fact that the victims died after their capture by government forces makes
the government accountable, said the rights worker.
"So long as the killings took place in the custody of state agents then the
state must take full responsibility," he said.
According to Interior Ministry officials, Ho Sok was killed by "an unidentified
and angry gunman" in a first floor office at the ministry after he was apprehended
around 4 pm on July 7.
Officials were confident that an investigation committee set up to find Ho Sok's
killer would be successful. "It's not hard [to find the killer], not as hard
as the grenade attack," said Interior Ministry spokesman, Khieu Sopheak.
The official also scotched reports that senior CPP officials were implicated in the
"It was not a high ranking official, they know about the law. They make rumors
that it was people close to Hun Sen to destabilize the situation.
"This is psychological warfare, we have experienced this since 1979," said
Human rights investigators have also confirmed the arrests of close to 200 Funcinpec
party officials in five provinces - Kampong Cham, Siem Reap, Battambang, Prey Veng
and Kampong Speu. The majority of these people have subsequently been released.
In addition, over 600 people accused of being "illegally recruited soldiers"
or "anarchic forces" had been detained for "re-education", reported
Interior ministry spokesman, Khieu Sopheak, said that the detentions had not been
directed at Funcinpec members specifically but were part of a government operation
to "wipe out" illegally armed forces.
Provincial authorities had been instructed "not to intimidate, harass or threaten
our Funcinpec brothers and sisters" in a July 8 directive from Sar Kheng, he
Other party members had been confined to their homes during the fighting for their
own safety, said Secretary of State for Information, Khieu Kanharith.
"People were assigned to their own house for security and to be sure they were
not in trouble," the official said.
UN officials have already uncovered evidence that some soldiers captured after the
fighting around Phnom Penh July 5 and 6 have been subjected to torture.
"They were blindfolded, their hands tied behind their backs and were beaten
until they confessed that they were part of a special group brought to Phnom Penh
to fight against Hun Sen," said a UN official.
Thirty prisoners were held for 10 days in a two by six meter cell at Kambol, the
base for the 911 division, an Indonesian-trained elite paratroop regiment, according
to the official.
During their detention, the soldiers had to sleep standing up and were forced to
drink from and wash in a pond used for sewage.
"We found this by luck, one would be naive not to assume there are not other
places like this. This is clearly systematically and organized torture carried out
with the full knowledge of the senior military officials," said the official.
Rights workers also cite a range of other acts of intimidation in recent weeks. Funcinpec
and opposition newspapers have been visited by police, party offices looted and signboards
torn down. Police conducting house-to-house searches for illegal weapons have also
checked for residents' political affiliation.
Villagers in rural areas are forbidden to listen to Voice of America radio, according
to one local human rights worker.
These developments - added to the reported extra-judicial executions, torture and
the detention of Funcinpec members - have left observers with grave fears for the
future of political freedom in Cambodia.
"It opens the door for persecution. Anyone who questions the regime can be dubbed
as 'anarchic forces' and taken away. And that is what's happening," said one
"There is a pattern of arrests and violence. When you put it together, the bottom
line is that the CPP is consolidating its position and eliminating any opposition
whatsoever," he warned.