T HE bodies of several Funcinpec soldiers have been unearthed, adding to the total
of about 40 suspected murders of military or political figures in recent weeks.
It is difficult to be sure whether the killings represent a coordinated decapitation
of Funcinpec's hard-line military leadership or an opportunity for individuals to
settle old scores, human rights workers say.
UN Center for Human Rights (UNCHR) investigators have uncovered the bodies of three
Funcinpec soldiers in shallow graves in the past month. They indicated that in some
cases there were signs of torture before execution.
On July 31, the body of a royalist soldier was dug up about 100 meters from a Phnom
Penh detention camp. "We came here, we found a fresh grave, we have dug up the
grave and found this person," Balaskrishnan Rajagopal of the UNCHR said. "We
found a rope around his neck. This is a clear sign of death by strangulation. As
to why - we don't know."
Two other bodies had been found in the previous week in shallow graves 100km southwest
of the capital. The men - feared by UNCHR to be Ranariddh supporters - were reportedly
bound, blindfolded and shot.
Hun Sen's government has admitted that one senior Funcinpec official, Interior Ministry
secretary of state Ho Sok, was killed in custody by unspecified "angry"
Several other military chiefs including Generals Chao Sambath, Ly Seng Hong and Kroch
Yoeum are known to have been killed. Human rights workers have said they are investigating
about 40 suspected extra-judicial killings.
Meanwhile, a recent wave of arrests of Funcinpec officials has led to widespread
speculation that the crackdown on crime is politically motivated.
"If you look at cases of weapons violation arrests, alleged kidnappers being
detained and robbers being shot - we find that they are nearly all Funcinpec when
we investigate," says a human-rights worker. "Eyewitnesses generally have
a different account of events from what appear in the Khmer press."
"There are classic signs of a campaign to decapitate the remaining opposition
and to coerce its followers into submission," says another human-rights worker.
"The CPP has dealt a swift, decisive blow to their military opponents and are
now targeting political figures through the judicial system."
At a CPP meeting in Pursat during the first week of August, provincial, district
and commune authorities were given instructions on how to control "anarchic
forces" and maintain political stability, according to human rights and other
"We must take precautions against those saying that Vietnam is supporting Hun
Sen. Those who say these things must be arrested," party officials were reported
as saying. "We must also supervise the work of human-rights organizations. If
they interfere in our affairs, they must be closed immediately."
NGO workers say that copies of the "White Paper" - a document produced
to justify the CPP attack on Funcinpec forces on July 5-6 - are being distributed
widely and that a senior Pursat civilian official has instructed district and commune
leaders to tell people "not to listen to the Voice of America, because it can
Second Prime Minister Hun Sen has consistently denied reports that he or his men
have hindered human-rights investigators.
"I allow Red Cross and human rights [workers]. If they come anywhere they can
see, they can go. I allow." He has accused the UN Center for Human Rights of
frightening opposition Members of Parliament into fleeing the country.