Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rainsy summoned for 'treason' over alleged Montagnard deal



Rainsy summoned for 'treason' over alleged Montagnard deal

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued a summons for opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who already has a warrant out for his arrest. AFP
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has issued a summons for opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who already has a warrant out for his arrest. AFP

Rainsy summoned for 'treason' over alleged Montagnard deal

Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy has been summonsed from exile to answer a charge of “treason” over an alleged agreement he made with a pro-Montagnard activist.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Deputy Prosecutor Sieng Sok issued a letter on Thursday to summon Rainsy as a “suspect” to appear in the municipal court for questioning on May 7.

A court document posted by police to Rainsy’s home, the former CNRP headquarters in Chak Angre Leu commune in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, stated Rainsy was called to clarify an agreement he signed with Kok Ksor in 2013 that authorities claim would have ceded land to the Degar, also known as Montagnards.

Rainsy, who has been in self-imposed exile since late 2015 to avoid jail time for a slew of politically motivated criminal charges, said he “couldn’t care less” about the summons.

“When it comes to politics, Cambodia’s subservient court has been already so much decried and ridiculed that any additional charge they levy against me becomes meaningless, not to say laughable,” he said in an email on Friday.

A Phnom Penh Municipal Court summons posted outside Sam Rainsy's home on Thursday.
A Phnom Penh Municipal Court summons posted outside Sam Rainsy's home in the capital on Thursday.

Montagnards is an umbrella term meaning “mountain people” that includes several ethnic minority groups stretching from Vietnam’s central highlands into northeastern Cambodia, including the Jarai. Hundreds of Vietnamese Montagnards fled to Cambodia from Vietnam in the past few years seeking asylum from persecution.

In 2013, Rainsy met with pro-Montagnard activist Kok Ksor, and, mostly quoting from the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, he promised a degree of “autonomy” to the ethnic groups should his now-dissolved party win power.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and other government officials have interpreted that meeting as an agreement to cede four provinces to the Montagnards, which Rainsy has denied.

“This judicial farce only shows a fearful Hun Sen cowardly and desperately trying to further and further discard me from the electoral process,” Rainsy said. “But history shows that no tyrant has ever had the last word.”

The allegedly treasonous promise has been gaining traction as a talking point in a ruling party narrative that the opposition has colluded with foreigners. Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An broached the topic in a speech to border police officers on Saturday in Koh Kong, likening Rainsy’s actions to the murderous Pol Pot regime.

“His actions are to weaken us, and [he] will brutally kill people, making our country falling into the three-year 20-day period of the Pol Pot regime, and we do not allow him to do that,” she said. She added that such an eventuality would be impossible under the leadership of Hun Sen, who would not even allow “10 centimetres” of land to be taken away from the country.

Hun Sen himself is a former member of the Pol Pot-led Khmer Rouge regime, defecting when he fled to Vietnam around halfway through the group’s rule over the country.

This version updates with a comment from Sam Rainsy.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma