Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Jailed opposition activists allegedly rebuff Rainsy offer

Jailed opposition activists allegedly rebuff Rainsy offer

Cambodia National Rescue Party members walk into Prey Sar prison yesterday morning to visit detained party members and supporters.
Cambodia National Rescue Party members walk into Prey Sar prison yesterday morning to visit detained party members and supporters. Heng Chivoan

Jailed opposition activists allegedly rebuff Rainsy offer

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that opposition leader Sam Rainsy wanted to return to Cambodia to be jailed in place of 15 of his party’s activists and officials, but that those prisoners had rebuffed the offer and told Rainsy to remain overseas.

Rainsy has again been living in self-imposed exile since a warrant for his arrest was released a year ago, with many criticising the CNRP leader for his perceived timidity as authorities have arrested numerous opposition officials and dissidents in his absence.

Outside Prey Sar prison yesterday, Sovann said he had met with the 15 jailed activists and officials from the CNRP – including lawmaker Um Sam An and Senator Hong Sok Hour – and told them Rainsy hoped to engineer a deal in which he would return and replace them behind bars.

“I informed them about a solution that [CNRP] President Sam Rainsy mentioned on Facebook – that he agrees to be jailed instead of them all and somehow make the ruling party and courts release them. He agrees to come and serve instead of them,” Sovann said.

“But all the youth and the victims asked the president to reconsider, because when the president is overseas, he can do lot of work for them, so they will struggle and be patient to live in the prison until there is a solution.”

In May, police also tried to arrest CNRP deputy leader Kem Sokha, but he refused to flee overseas and instead threatened mass protests if he was jailed. Sokha last week also said that if Rainsy returned to stand with him “it would be better” than remaining abroad.

Kem Monovithya, the eldest daughter of Sokha and the CNRP’s deputy head of public affairs, said yesterday that Sovann’s suggestion that Rainsy only had a choice between prison in Cambodia or working in Europe was at odds with her father’s experience.

“First, it’s very wrong to suggest that Sam Rainsy has only two options: being imprisoned here or living in Europe to lobby for help,” Monovithya said. “Look, Kem Sokha is in Phnom Penh and is not in prison, because standing up to the injustice here is itself an effective way of galvanising support for the cause from both our supporters and the international community.”

“The struggle is here; the diplomatic channels are also here in Phnom Penh,” she added. “The CNRP is a big political institution that competes to govern the country, [and] that requires people from different levels fulfilling their duties, including the top.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Rainsy stopped in Paris from boarding Thai flight

    Airline officials at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursday prevented Sam Rainsy from boarding his flight to Bangkok ahead of his announced return to Cambodia on Saturday. Prime Minister Hun Sen had earlier in the day assured Phnom Penh residents that there would be

  • Analyst: Rainsy blocked from boarding flight 'an excuse'

    THAI Airways not allowing Sam Rainsy on its route from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday is being used as an excuse to keep his standing among fellow coup plotters and his uninformed supporters as flights to non-Asean countries are available, an analyst said on Friday.

  • Rainsy lands in Malaysia

    Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport on Saturday afternoon after boarding a flight from Paris, where he has been living for more than four years. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Saturday that Cambodia respected

  • Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

    Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped. “As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand

  • Touch: Rainsy will never return

    Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom. Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle

  • Prayut indicates no entry into Thailand for CNRP’s Rainsy

    Cambodian government officials on Wednesday welcomed the position of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha after he indicated that Sam Rainsy would not be allowed to return to Cambodia through Thailand. “According to our commitment to Asean, we will not interfere in each other’s internal