Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Soldier threatens SRP MP

Soldier threatens SRP MP

Soldier threatens SRP MP

AGUN-wielding soldier threatened to shoot a Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) parliamentarian,

Cheam Channy, and UN human rights officials, during a bizarre two-hour standoff on

a Phnom Penh street, and two weeks after the incident the Government has done nothing

about it.

Channy told the Post he was approached by a soldier - who witnesses say is named

Veng Vey - at 4:30pm on September 29.

Channy was calling from a public phone booth on the corner of Pochentong and Kampuchea

Krom streets when the soldier left a nearby restaurant and approached the booth shouting

"I hate the SRP and Funcinpec."

Channy said the soldier drew his revolver and pointed it at him. "I asked 'Why

do you want to shoot me? Who are you?' but the gunman didn't answer," said Channy.

Companions tried to restrain the soldier and Channy left. "I saw it was a bad

situation so I crossed to the other side of the road," said Channy. He asked

a military policeman for help, but said he was ignored.

"I was afraid to stay there so I kept walking," said Channy. He then saw

a car driven by a Funcinpec parliamentarian, Ky Lum Ang, and waved her down. Lum

Ang made a few calls and half an hour later Generals Keang Savorn and Ky Keat arrived,

followed soon after by UN human rights officials.

Together they returned to Channy's car, which he had abandoned by the phone booth.

Channy said when they reached his car, Vey came out from the restaurant, pointed

his gun at Channy, the generals, and UN human rights officials.

General Keat then drew his own gun, aimed it at Vey, and suggested that he not shoot.

The standoff lasted 15 to 20 minutes, then a motorcycle arrived and drove Vey into

the nearby Q101 compound. Q101 is the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces military intelligence

unit.

This version of events was confirmed by a UN human rights official who stood beside

Channy while Veng Vey waved his gun and threatened to shoot.

Channy said two more UN human rights officials arrived soon after Vey was taken away

and he accompanied them into a restaurant to discuss the incident.

A few minutes later a companion of the gunman returned to warn the UN officials that

if they did not leave immediately then Vey would come back. Vey was then seen approaching

the restaurant on foot. The UN officials decided to immediately move Channy to safety.

A UN official said Vey did not appear drunk, as was reported by some media, just

arrogant.

A high-ranking officer at Q101, who refuses to be identified, told the Post that

Channy is exaggerating "I think [Channy] is trying to make this small issue

into a political issue. He is a parliamentarian, why is he concerned about such a

little thing?"

The officer said no one named Veng Vey serves in Q101. And despite numerous eyewitness

accounts, he doubts that a gun was used to intimidate the parliamentarian. "Only

a colonel would be allowed to carry a gun," he said.

"I have made an investigation into this case and it is not acceptable that [Channy]

accused a member of the armed forces with threatening to kill him. All people are

laughing at [Channy] ... In simple words we can say that this matter is no worse

than children having sex," said the officer, using a Khmer idiom for an issue

of little importance.

Human Rights Watch has called on the Cambodian Government to find and prosecute the

soldier, saying it is an "outrage" that an army officer can threaten a

Member of Parliament - as well as UN workers - while police and authorities do nothing

to intervene.

"This continues a pattern of state harassment of opposition members and human

rights defenders and impunity for the perpetrators," said Sidney Jones, Executive

Director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, immediately after the incident.

When asked about progress being made in investigating this case, the Chief of Staff

of the National Police, Mao Chandara, told the Post on October 11: "I don't

know what happened. No one has reported this incident to me."

At the Post's press time a representative of Human Rights Watch said: "It's

been almost two weeks and as far as we know no action has been taken in this case.

We urge the Government to immediately launch an investigation and bring the perpetrator

to justice - otherwise this is yet another case of impunity."

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