A former opposition commune councillor candidate in Koh Kong province is in hiding after fleeing his Chumnap village amid alleged threats from a ruling party commune councillor.
Ven Eth, younger brother of activist Ven Vorn, claimed that Cambodian People’s Party Commune Councillor Til Chan had threatened him at a wedding on April 17, claiming that authorities were aware of a supposed “plan” on his part and would stop him.
“‘Sooner or later, Eth will disappear from the world’,” he was allegedly told. “‘Even if you escape, they already deployed a trap [to catch] you.’” He fled the area on April 23.
Chan couldn’t be reached for comment on Monday.
Twelve former Cambodia National Rescue Party candidates in Chumnap commune defected to the CPP before the opposition was forcibly dissolved by the government, but Eth did not.
“They defected, so they did not experience any problems,” he said, adding he believes he’s being monitored and that he once saw two men with rifles near his home late one night.
Eth filed a complaint to the Chumnap commune police on April 20 to seek intervention for his safety. He also submitted a complaint to rights group Licadho.
“It is a serious life threat, so I escaped the village with my wife and 6-year-old son,” he said. “I am at a safe place now.”
He said Chumnap Commune Police Chief Sok Norng, who declined to comment, had said he would make a report to district police. Sim Vary, police chief in Thma Bang district, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Licadho monitor Hour In said he carried out an investigation following the complaint and the rights organisation will urge authorities to take legal action against Chan.
In pointed out that Eth was involved in protests to call for the release of Mother Nature activists who were imprisoned for their anti-sand dredging activism in 2015, and also travelled to Phnom Penh to deliver a petition to the government earlier this month to urge official recognition for the Chong ethnic minority community.
But “the most important thing is [the political] tendency because he was a former CNRP second candidate for the commune elections”, he said. “His colleagues defected, but he did not.”