CNRP Distances Itself From Threatened Social Media Activist

The opposition CNRP’s deputy public affairs director, Kem Monovithya, posted a statement to her official Facebook account on Saturday distancing the party from Thy Sovantha, a 19-year-old opposition activist with a large social media following, announcing that Ms. Sovantha was “not involved” with the CNRP.

Last week, Ms. Sovantha was the target of death threats after her passport application, which included her home address, was posted on Facebook. She claims that the document was leaked by immigration police at the Ministry of Interior’s passport office.

The CNRP statement posted by Ms. Monovithya was made in response to a post on Ms. Sovantha’s Facebook page, which has almost 200,000 followers, claiming that CNRP President Sam Rainsy had filed a lawsuit against Prime Minister Hun Sen with the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged crimes against humanity.

“The CNRP would like to clarify that Ms. Thy Sovantha is not involved with the CNRP,” the statement reads. “Mr. Sam Rainsy as well as the CNRP has not filed a lawsuit yet,” it continues, adding that a team of lawyers is still collecting evidence in the case.

Ms. Sovantha said Sunday that she did not know why the CNRP took pains to publicly separate itself from her.

“I don’t know whether other people are trying to split me [from the party] or defame me or what,” she said.

Ms. Sovantha was a prominent figure on the CNRP campaign trail before July’s election and has remained one of the party’s most high-profile youth activists, leading chants from her Lexus SUV during protest marches and regularly posting news updates, featuring herself, at demonstrations and other opposition events.

Asked Sunday why the party has sought to distance itself from Ms. Sovantha, two CNRP spokespeople—Ms. Monovithya and party spokesman Yim Sovann—gave disparate answers.

Ms. Monovithya, the daughter of CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha, said that the CNRP decided to issue a statement naming Ms. Sovantha “because we saw the information on her page,” adding that the main purpose of the statement was to clarify that the party had not yet filed a complaint with the ICC.

However, Mr. Sovann said that the statement referring to Ms. Sovantha posted by Ms. Monovithya was fake, pointing out that the authentic version, also issued Saturday and posted to the party’s website, made no specific reference to Ms. Sovantha.

Asked why there were two versions of the statement, Mr. Sovann declined to comment.

One of Ms. Sovantha’s fans, in response to the CNRP’s statement posted to Ms. Monovithya’s Facebook account, said he was disappointed by the announcement.

“[T]he second letter upsets many CNRP’s supporters who truly love Thy Sovantha since she has been very active for CNRP so far,” wrote a Facebook user named Chin Vary.

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