A former minister, implicated as a leader of last year's short-lived secession
attempt and an organizer of CPP death squads, was granted a visa by the US to
attend a meeting last week presided over by President Clinton.
trip to Washington was met with outrage by some Cambodian legislators and
embarrassment by the US government.
The former Minister of National
Security was invited by Sen Howell Heflin to attend the National Prayer
Breakfast in Washington on Feb 3 , an event attended by President
The National Security portfolio gave Sin Song control of secret
police and security forces in the former SOC government prior to the elections
Firm evidence emerged in early 1993 that Sin Song was abusing
his position by coordinating squads of secret police tasked in assassinating and
intimidating political opposition, UN investigators, human rights activists, and
opposition party officials say.
More than one hundred opposition party
activists were killed or wounded in the months prior to the May polls in what UN
investigators say was an orchestrated campaign by agents of the Cambodian
A US state department spokesman in Washington confirmed
on Feb 2 that Sin Song was granted a visa.
The spokesman said it "was
reviewed very carefully by the Department, in consultation with other interested
He added: "The department determined that, based on available
evidence, Sin Song did not fall under any of the visa ineligibilities set forth
in our immigration law."
US officials say they had no evidence that Sin
Song was directly implicated in terrorist activities.
But former UNTAC
investigators, contacted by the Post, said "we had firm evidence that the
Ministry of National Security, which was headed by Sin Song, organized secret
groups to undermine and destroy the political opposition."
National Security Ministry document seized by UNTAC last February and obtained
by the Post, outlined the function of one such secret unit.
authenticated by UN investigators, spoke of secret police units charged with
"creat[ing] misunderstanding among the popular masses about the opposition
party; to ferment activities that undermine their reputations and interests; to
create contradictions and splits among their forces, and to use pre-emptive
methods to prevent the opposition parties from gaining advantage in the
In addition, the National Security Ministry document referred
to special units whose function was to "carry out special duties according to
the requirements of the upper echelons."
It went on to say the secret
units, referred to as "a-92" forces were situated within the overall command of
the Ministry of National Security.
Within days of the CPP coming second
in last year's polls, Sin Song, along with a small group of renegade leaders,
declared that they had seized military control of seven eastern
Hundreds of UN officials fled these provinces after they were
threatened by the renegade army and police, and opposition figures say that more
than a dozen of their supporters were executed.
The secession attempt
fizzled in June after it became clear that the leaders had little popular
support, and Sin Song fled to exile in Vietnam.
He soon returned and now
lives in Phnom Penh again.
Despite its failure, the secession bid was
instrumental in forcing the CPP's opponents to cede control over key areas of
the government, security forces, and army.
Sin Song holds no position in
the Royal Government, but remains a senior official of the CPP.
Ahmed, a member of the National Assembly condemned Sin Song's trip to the US as
He added: "If the American government invited him to the
US, it means that the American government recognizes him as a Cambodian leader.
"How many people lost their lives because of Sin Song, and now he is an
official guest of the US?
"Maybe the U.S. government thinks he is a
Cambodian leader, but the Cambodian people and the ministers of Parliament say
Sin Song is now attempting to get co-opted onto the National
Assembly but many Cambodian parliamentarians are fighting the move.
resigned as a candidate days before the polls were held, and his name was
removed by United Nations officials, who said he was not eligible to
" According to election laws, if you resign you cannot come
back," Yahya Ahmed said.
In Washington, the office of Senator Howell
Heflin confirmed that they had invited Sin Song to visit the United States and
requested that the State Department issue him a visa.
"We put in a
request to the State Department asking his visa be granted asking them to give
him every consideration," Heflin's spokesman Tom McMahon told the Post
"It is up to the State Department to decide whether to issue the visa's
or not, " he said.