Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - No political prisoners here, says ruling party

No political prisoners here, says ruling party

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy and Prime Minister Hun Sen stand on the steps of the Senate last July after a meeting to end the political deadlock. The ruling party has warned the opposition that questioning Tuesday’s verdict could jeopardise the culture of dialogue.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy and Prime Minister Hun Sen stand on the steps of the Senate last July after a meeting to end the political deadlock. The ruling party has warned the opposition that questioning Tuesday’s verdict could jeopardise the culture of dialogue. Heng Chivoan

No political prisoners here, says ruling party

As outrage still reverberates among opposition supporters over Tuesday’s conviction of 11 Cambodia National Rescue Party activists on “insurrection” charges, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has warned that questioning the verdict will imperil the ongoing “culture of dialogue”.

In a statement issued late on Wednesday, the CPP stated that the culture of dialogue can only be maintained by showing respect to the constitution, in which the independence of the judiciary is enshrined.

“Cambodia has no political prisoners, [only] politicians who commit offences and are punished by law,” the statement reads.

The statement comes as indignation continues to be expressed by opposition supporters and NGOs, who say the verdict was politically motivated and a clear indication of judicial bias.

The 11 activists were sentenced to between seven and 20 years for their role in a July 2014 demonstration that turned violent in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park.

Participants were protesting a ban on public gatherings in the park, which is a space traditionally reserved for political rallies.

Human Rights Watch has previously stated it has video evidence that the violence, which saw a number of Dauh Penh district’s notorious security guards severely beaten, was instigated by the irregular government forces.

Senior investigator at rights group Licadho Am Sam Ath yesterday slammed the CPP’s claims that the courts are independent, pointing to the fact that jailed opposition activists had only received bail since the start of the “culture of dialogue” between the ruling and opposition parties.

“This clearly shows that the courts are not independent,” he said.

In a statement released yesterday by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, 11 civil society groups condemned Tuesday’s verdict, saying it was “based on trumped-up charges and characterized by a total disrespect for fair trial rights”.

“No credible evidence supporting the claim that the defendants had planned an ‘insurrection,’ or that any of the 11 had themselves committed acts of violence, was produced during the trial,” the statement says.

Speaking yesterday, the president of rights group Adhoc, Thun Saray, said the CPP’s attempt to banish all objection from the ongoing rapprochement with the CNRP was anti-democratic.

“Criticism and the culture of dialogue must go hand-in-hand, because this is a multi-party democracy,” Saray said.

However, that goodwill appears to be increasingly strained, despite CNRP leader Sam Rainsy praising the culture of dialogue on his Facebook page on the same day the 11 were sentenced – a post widely criticised as insensitive by supporters.

In a statement released by the opposition leader yesterday, in which he also responded to outrage over his decision to leave for France despite the sentences, Rainsy labelled the verdict “a brutal act of repression”.

“There will be other appropriate actions and measures we will take on several fronts in the coming days,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will move to annul diplomatic passports issued to those not born in Cambodia. Analysts say the move may be in relation to reports that former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register as

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading

  • Hun Sen warns Irish MP of EBA ‘mistake’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday told former Irish premier Enda Kenny, still a member of the EU nation’s parliament, that the 28-nation bloc should not make a “third mistake” regarding Cambodia by using the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement to “take 16 million

  • PM warns EU and opposition on 34th anniversary of his rule

    HUN Sen reached the milestone of 34 years as Cambodian prime minister on Monday and used the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ring road around Phnom Penh to tell the international community that putting sanctions on the Kingdom meant killing the opposition. “Please don’t forget