A Phnom Penh primary school teacher has gone into hiding after being summonsed to court for rallying support among her students for the Khmer National Liberation Front, a Cambodian political party based in Denmark that has been branded a “terrorist” organisation by the government.
Pheng Sokunthea, a teacher at Boeung Trabek Khang Tboung Primary School in Chamkarmon district, was called to appear yesterday at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, according to a summons letter, which accused her of giving out anti-government leaflets and collecting thumbprints from students to support the KNLF’s cause.
The letter, signed by Municipal Prosecutor Tob Chhun Long on May 2, says the incident took place in March.
A letter purportedly from the school director, Chhay Narin, that was circulated online, suggested the teacher’s political activities had come to the attention of the school’s management.
The Education Ministry expressly bans political material at educational institutions. Reached yesterday, however, Narin denied sending out such a letter and said she was unaware of the matter.
Speaking by phone, Sokunthea confirmed she was a member of the KNLF, which is led by Denmark-based Sam Serey, who last year announced the formation of a “government in exile”.
Serey was among 11 KNLF members sentenced in December to between five and nine years for “plotting an attack” against the government, though the group strongly denied the charges.
Sokunthea acknowledged handing out KNLF literature and said she had gone into hiding after the summons emerged. “I collected thumbprints, distributed booklets called The Root of 7 January and leaflets,” she said.
Court officials could not be reached for comment.