Mr Kofi Annan,
United Nations Secretary-General,
April 2, 1997.
Dear Mr. Annan:
As you undoubtedly know by now, on the morning of 30 March 1997, at least 15 Cambodians
were killed and over 100 injured when a peaceful political protest in front of the
National Assembly led by Mr. Sam Rainsy, the former Minister of Finance and Economics
and member of the National Assembly, was attacked by four grenades. Among the dead
were one of Mr. Rainsy's bodyguards, a member of the steering committee of his party,
two journalists and many average people.
The demonstration was not only legal but had been approved in writing by the Co-Ministers
of Interior and the Phnom Penh municipal authorities. Incredibly, after the attack
the Second Prime Minister, Mr. Hun Sen, went on national TV and radio and called
for the arrest of Mr. Rainsy.
The political and human rights situation in Cambodia is rapidly deteriorating. Two
months ago, armed clashes between the two main parties in northwestern Cambodia left
dozens dead. Since the Royal Government was formed in 1993 there have been nine attacks
against journalists in which four journalists have died; a newspaper critical of
Mr. Hun Sen was attacked in broad daylight and the attackers praised by Mr. Hun Sen,
who offered to supply them with trucks if they wanted to attack again; the home of
the president of the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP) and a pagoda housing
BLDP supporters were attacked on the eve of a party congress, leaving two dead and
40 injured-before the attack Mr. Hun Sen stated that if the congress went ahead it
would be attacked by grenade.
Instead of a democratic state respecting human rights and the rule of law, Cambodians
now live in fear of expressing their opinions and participating openly in the political
process. None other than King Norodom Sihanouk himself now frankly admits that Cambodia
"lacks the characteristics of a country [that abides by] the rule of law".
Many Cambodians have recently paid for their bravery with their lives.
Few Cambodians believe that the national elections due to be held in 1988 will be
free and fair. Most believe that this type of political killing and intimidation
will continue and even escalate. Today, 18 months after his party was formed, Mr.
Rainsy's Khmer Nation Party is still considered by the Royal Government to be illegal.
This position is in violation of the Constitution and international law. Cambodians
who wish to work for any party other than the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) face
constant threats, intimidation and violence.
While UNTAC was a success in many respects, it failed to complete its mission by
ensuring that the winners of the 1993 election took power. The basic problem with
UNTAC was that the winners of the election lost and the losers won. That is, FUNCINPEC
and BLDP gained a majority of seats in the 120 member National Assembly, but Mr.
Hun Sen and the CPP threatened to use force if they were not given a share of power.
At the point of a gun, FUNCINPEC and BLDP agreed to form a coalition government.
But it was the responsibility of UNTAC and Mr. Akashi to enforce the will of the
people at that time. They failed to do this and now we are suffering the consequences.
Because Mr. Hun Sen retained power by threat of force, it has been impossible to
reform the military, police, judiciary or civil service. As pointed out by your Special
Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia, Mr. Thomas Hammarberg, in his reports,
human rights abuses continue with impunity throughout Cambodia. Those who commit
human rights violations are rarely if ever prosecuted. The judiciary is still completely
politicized. And the biggest human rights abuser is the most powerful man in the
As a result, most Cambodians see little or no change in the political system or their
lives since the UNTAC elections. With this in mind we believe that it is now time
for the United Nations and the international community to consider what measures
it may take to address this situation. In particular, we wish to draw your attention
to article 29 of the Agreement on a comprehensive settlement of the Cambodia conflict
and article 5 of the Agreement concerning the sovereignty, independence, territorial
integrity and inviolability, neutrality and national unity of Cambodia. The international
community has a continuing responsibility to intervene if and when necessary to promote
democracy and human rights in Cambodia. While we know that the world faces many other
urgent problems, Cambodia cannot be forgotten or relegated to yesterday's news. Without
the United Nations and the international community's direct involvement, Cambodia
risks a return to the killing fields and all-out civil war, which will result in
the deaths of thousands and the creation of even more refugees. Appropriate intervention
now will save a lot of intervention and money later.
Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your response.
- Signed by: Ky
Lum Ang, Prak Chantha, Ros Chheng, Om Radsady, Ahmad Yahya, Chum Kim Eng, Por Bun
Sreu, You Hockry, Sao Samuth, Men Sam Ean, Kann Man, Chea Savoeun, Som Chanboth,
Ing Kieth, Min Saroeun, Ung Huot, Veng Sereyvuth, Seng Tong, Chau Sen Chumnor, Monh
Saphan, Sam Kanitha, Ros Hean, Son Soubert, Phlong Sareth, Kuy Mayara, Nou Saing
Khan, Pol Ham, Thach Reng, Ang Bun Tha, Kem Sokha, Chhim Chhorn, Soth Soy, Chhim
Tip, Kieng Vang, Khun Phinop, Douk Uttamo, Son Chhay, So Chy, Um Bun Than, Pin Dam
and Norodom Ranariddh.