Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM has deal for ‘secessionists’

PM has deal for ‘secessionists’

PM has deal for ‘secessionists’

120627_02b

A soldier speaks to villagers near the site of a violent eviction in Kratie province last month. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

An alleged accomplice of “secessionist” leader Bun Ratha has confessed and been granted immunity as a witness, Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday, a deal he left on the table for any of the four remaining fugitives who are willing to co-operate, including Ratha.

Warrants for the five were issued after a forced eviction in Kampong Damrei commune’s Pro Ma village, in which a 14-year-old girl was shot dead by government forces.

The government has described the Kratie operation – in which roughly 1,000 police and military police evicted some 200 families – as an attempt to quell a “secessionist plot” purportedly led by Ratha.

Ratha and other villagers have repeatedly denied any such plot, saying they were simply applying for land titles.

“I will be responsible for the four who come out to confess,” Hun Sen said. “You will be free of guilt if you come out and admit the guilt. We can withdraw the arrest warrants and turn you into witnesses, because you were also deceived by others.”

In his speech, Hun Sen warned that the court will sentence Bun Ratha in absentia if he doesn’t resurface on his own.

“I appealed to [the four] to come out, whether they are hiding in the forest, at home, at an embassy or with NGOs,” he said.

Hun Sen also told NGOs that villagers should address their grievances through the courts rather than NGOs, and that the government wouldn’t expel residents from their villages.

However, those expelled from Pro Ma, he said, were rightfully evicted, and would not be given back their land.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division, said the government’s claim of a secessionist plot was unfounded.

“If the prime minister has evidence, then he should let that do the talking rather than continuing his ranting and raving against NGOs and anyone else who raises well-founded questions about what he has to say,” he said.

Bun Sithet, 25, Bun Ratha’s younger brother, also denied the plot.

“The residents just depended on my brother, who has knowledge in law, to write the complaints for them,” he said.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment.

To contact the reporters on this story: Chhay Channyda at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • 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’s China visit ‘a good opportunity’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Beijing on Sunday to discuss economic and trade issues presents a good opportunity for the Kingdom to strengthen Chinese ties and counter punitive measures by the West, an analyst says. The prime minister’s four-day official visit to

  • Former chief bodyguard receives royal pardon

    The former chief bodyguard of late Senate president Chea Sim has received a royal pardon nearly eight years after he was sentenced to 15 years behind bars on several charges, according to a royal decree dated November 12, last year, and obtained by The Post on Wednesday.

  • 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