SRP activist Kung Bun Heang and wife, shortly after his release from prison March 6, 2000.
Sam Rainsy Party activist Kung Bun Heang has made a moving appeal for international
assistance to protect both him and his family from possible "reprisals"
following his release on March 6 from Phnom Penh's Military Prison.
Bun Heang and fellow SRP detainee Mong Davuth had been held virtually incommunicado
since their Sep 1999 arrests in connection with a Sep 1998 Siem Reap B40-rocket attack
on a motorcade of government officials including Prime Minister Hun Sen.
CPP officials have consistently described the incident as an assassination attempt
orchestrated by Rainsy.
Bun Heang's arrest was widely criticized by human rights groups at the time due to
the fact that he was in prison in Battambang on a separate weapons charge at the
time of the attack.
Interviewed on March 9 just hours before going into hiding with his family, a frail
and nervous Bun Heang reiterated his claims of innocence.
"This is a letter from the court in Battambang verifying I was in prison in
Battambang at the time," he told the Post . "It's impossible that I could
have been involved with the rocket attack."
According to Bun Heang, during each of the three interrogation sessions he faced
over his six months imprisonment, representatives of Military Intelligence Research
Unit Director Mol Roeup offered him bribes in the amount of 22 damleung of gold (worth
approximately US$7,000) in return for agreeing to publicly admit that Rainsy had
ordered the attack.
"After they made the offer, I was told the government would guarantee my safety
if I said the incident was caused by Rainsy," he said. "I told them that
this wasn't fair, that I wouldn't cooperate even if it was for a lot of money."
Public statements by Military Intelligence Research Unit Deputy Director Hour Sareth
that Bun Heang and Davuth remained suspects in the case have made Bun Heang anxious
about his future.
"When I left the prison, they told me 'Be careful'," Bun Heang said. "I
live in fear. ... I can't go back to Battambang because it's not safe.... [The government]
can kill people easily, they are very cruel," he said.
Bun Heang appealed for international assistance to assure his and his family's safety.
"I request that any international persons or organizations that can help get
me out of Cambodia to please do so, for mine and my family's safety," he said.
"Even here, in the middle of the Sam Rainsy Party headquarters, it's not safe
Attempts by the Post to contact Hour Sareth regarding Bun Heang's allegations were