Two students at Hun Sen Takhmau High School were arrested Monday and accused of scattering more than 1,500 leaflets calling the government a “Vietnamese puppet” and urging its overthrow.
Police said the students, whose names were not released, confessed to distributing the leaflets in rural areas of Takhmau district in Kandal province. They were being questioned to determine who had asked them to do so.
The Cambodian Constitution bars the distribution of literature calling for the overthrow of the government, according to Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior.
“Now we are at peace,” he said. “No law allows the creation of armed forces aimed at bringing the country to war again.”
Kandal Provincial Governor Tep Nunary said the leaflets are the work of the Cambodia Freedom Fighters, an obscure group of Cambodian expatriates living in the US state of California.
The group opposes Prime Minister Hun Sen, who came to power during the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia in the 1980s.
Police said the leaflets contained the CFF logo and the name of Chhun Yasith, a Cambodian-American who is a former member of the Sam Rainsy Party and now allegedly leads the CFF from his home in California.
Yim Sovann, an opposition parliamentarian, said Chhun Yasith quit the SRP in 1997 and the leaflets “have nothing to do with my party.”
This is at least the fourth time this year that the CFF has been linked to anti-government propaganda. In January, a fax purportedly from the CFF vowed to overthrow the “genocidal, communist clique” that rules Cambodia.
In late October, more than 200 leaflets were found in five districts around Phnom Penh.
Also in October, authorities said the CFF was responsible for firing a B-40 rocket at the home of Pailin Governor Y Chhien, a former Khmer Rouge commander.
But some former top Khmer Rouge officials in Malai said later the rocket had been fired by disaffected former Khmer Rouge troops, upset that former rebel leaders were growing rich while the rank-and-file remained poor.
Meanwhile, similar issues have arisen in neighboring Thailand, where authorities were questioning a Thai-American who had hijacked a small Thai plane so he could drop anti-communist leaflets over Ho Chi Minh City on the eve of US President Bill Clinton’s visit.