CNRP Organizer Arrested Over Vietnam Leaflets

An opposition CNRP organizer was arrested in Takeo province’s Prey Kabbas district on Saturday for distributing leaflets warning against purported Vietnamese plans to destroy Cambodia by poisoning food, turning government officials into money-grubbers and buying them off with beautiful women.

Authorities arrested Chhea Tang Sorn, the 64-year-old deputy chief of the CNRP’s district executive committee, after learning he had distributed the leaflets during a recent visit to the district by Acting CNRP President Pol Ham, according to provincial internal security police chief Chhun Sareth.

“We arrested him after we questioned him and learned that he had distributed leaflets impacting on national security,” he said. “The content is ‘Irregularities in the 20-point strategy of the Yuon to get rid of the Khmer race and swallow the territory’…and it ends by asking [readers] to make copies.” Yuon is a word for Vietnamese often considered derogatory.

Mr. Ham—who is leading the CNRP in the absence of opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha, who are in Australia—visited Prey Kabbas district to attend a public forum on August 29.

“It is normal when there are problems impacting on national security for authorities to summon [a suspect] for questioning, and after we did the questioning, he confessed to all he had done,” said Mr. Sareth. “Those are 20 sensitive points.”

Mr. Sareth said Mr. Tang Sorn was still being held at the provincial police headquarters Sunday evening.

A copy of the leaflet obtained Sunday lists the 20 main ways the Vietnamese are apparently working to undermine Cambodia as a nation, though none of the points provide much detail or are supported by any type of evidence.

The document, which was not authored by Mr. Tang Sorn, says Vietnam’s goals include “hybridizing the races from the top-levels to the ordinary people,” “buying the hearts of the top officials by using money, ranks and beautiful women” and “putting poisons in food to sell to the Khmer.”

Other purported Vietnamese strategies to destroy the Cambodian nation listed in the leaflet include “flowing in legal and illegal Yuon immigrants” and “teaching Cambodian soldiers that power, women and alcohol are important.”

Sao Sam, president of the CNRP’s Prey Kabbas district executive committee, said Mr. Tang Sorn had not done anything wrong by distributing the leaflets and had merely exercised his right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution.

“This was just an expression of his views, in compliance with constitutional law,” Mr. Sam said. “He did not use them to incite anyone, or to cause violence, or to fight…. He just gave [the leaflets] to people who wanted to know.”

“The arrest was made to threaten other people from speaking and sharing information about the Vietnamese border and violations of human rights…. They just use the excuse of charging us with impacting national security and leading incitement.”

Separately, opposition leader Sam Rainsy posted to his Facebook page on Friday night an appeal for the CPP and CNRP to come together to oppose Vietnamese incursions and territorial grabs after months of tension between the parties.

“The issue of national borders and Cambodia’s territorial integrity is not an issue between Khmers and Khmers and is not an issue between the CPP and the CNRP either. In fact it is an issue between the Khmers and the Yuons and this issue dates back to many centuries ago,” wrote Mr. Rainsy.

“Cambodia started to lose large portions of its territory to its Eastern neighbour since 400 years ago, more precisely since the reign of King Chey Chettha II (1618-1627). Since then Cambodia’s territory has been continuously shrinking.”

“At those times the CPP and the CNRP did not exist yet. Therefore, in 2015 and onwards, all Khmer patriots must not fall into the division trap laid by those who want to swallow our land and they must unite to defend their motherland.”

Yet CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said that cooperation between parties will not happen and that Mr. Rainsy should back off when it comes to border affairs.

“The border issue is the government’s responsibility and is not a thing between party and party,” Mr. Eysan said.

“We will not allow him to join with us to solve the problem,” he added. “The CPP was the winning party and therefore the party that formed government, so the government can solve the border issues with the neighboring countries.”

“He can stand by and watch as we cook, and he cannot put seasoning and salt into the cooking and cannot be poking at our waist. Otherwise, he may get an unexpected response.”

(Additional reporting by Alex Willemyns)

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