CNRP Promises Museum to Document ‘Criminal’ Acts by CPP

CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha on Saturday used a ceremony marking the 17th anniversary of the July 1997 factional fighting in Phnom Penh to promise to create a museum documenting “criminal” acts committed by leaders of Cambodia since 1993.

Speaking to about 100 supporters at the ceremony to commemorate the fighting, which resulted in the ouster of then-First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh by then-Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, Mr. Sokha said the museum would be established on foreign soil for political reasons.

Former Funcinpec Information Minister Lu Lay Sreng, left, and CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha, right, attend a ceremony in Phnom Penh on Saturday to commemorate the people killed in the July 1997 factional fighting. (Sani Sinary)
Former Funcinpec Information Minister Lu Lay Sreng, left, and CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha, right, attend a ceremony in Phnom Penh on Saturday to commemorate the people killed in the July 1997 factional fighting. (Sani Sinary)

“In order to avoid the forgetting of criminal acts, I would like to say clearly that we will build a center recording the criminal events in Cambodia since 1993,” he said at the CNRP’s Phnom Penh offices.

“We will collect all the documents; we will not keep them in Cambodia, but in an overseas country. I have already contacted our Khmer people and foreign friends to set this center up,” he said.

The fighting in 1997, on the weekend of July 5 and 6, resulted in the death, torture or arrest of more than 200 people loyal to Prince Ranariddh at the hands of those loyal to Mr. Hun Sen. The prince at first sought refuge in France before returning and forming a new coalition government with Mr. Hun Sen’s CPP in November 1998.

Sidelined again after his ouster in 2006 as president of Funcinpec, the Prince unveiled the new Community of Royalist People Party in March this year and has since used the party to attack the CNRP as a threat to the monarchy.

Mr. Sokha, who was a Son Sann Party lawmaker during the 1997 fighting and led the party’s dissolution into Prince Ranariddh’s Funcinpec in early 1998, hit back at Prince Ranariddh’s criticism on Saturday.

“To speak frankly, Prince Norodom Ranariddh led all these military forces to oppose the CPP, didn’t he?” he asked rhetorically. “If a leader leads his subordinates and they are killed, and then he wants to form a party to support the killers of his subordinates, how weak is he?”

Mr. Sokha then accused unnamed Funcinpec officials of burying the killings of July 1997.

“We held the ceremony today to show all the dictators that the criminal activities they committed are not yet buried,” the deputy CNRP leader said. “The CNRP will always dig them up—and Funcinpec can’t bury these criminal activities even with all the efforts they’ve tried.”

Cheang Vun, a senior CPP lawmaker, said by telephone that the ruling party was not concerned by Mr. Sokha’s plans for a museum.

“The CPP is not concerned by this center,” Mr. Vun said. “This only concerns them.”

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