Five years after a grenade attack on demonstrators killed at least 19 and injured as many as 150, opposition leader Sam Rainsy may have to wait until Prime Minister Hun Sen is ousted to find justice.
“We will know the truth in Cambodia only when we have a change of government. Then people will dare to speak,” Sam Rainsy said.
“There are people who know more [about the attack] but do not want to speak out of fear—people in the government, the army, the police, the secret service—because they would lose their security, their liberty, maybe even their life,” the opposition leader said. “When Hun Sen loses power, the truth will be exposed. Hun Sen has to cling to power by any means necessary because to Hun Sen, power means impunity.”
On March 30, 1997, members of the Khmer Nation Party—of which Sam Rainsy was president—were protesting outside the National Assembly when four grenades were thrown. Ministry of Interior spokesman General Khieu Sopheak said the government continues to investigate the attack. “This case has not been closed,” he said.
Sam Rainsy maintains the attack was masterminded by Hun Sen. But last month, Sam Rainsy told reporters he would agree to join a coalition government with the CPP if his own party won a substantial number of votes in next year’s national election.
Asked how he could call Hun Sen a murderer in one breath and agree to work with him in the next, Sam Rainsy tried to clarify his position.
“I did not raise the issue of forming a coalition as if I were demanding something,” Sam Rainsy said. “I was asked whether I would consider forming a coalition government in 2003. I had to say something, so I said that as a matter of principle.
“Of course we would like to implement our ideas. We do not exclude working with other people—as long as there is a written agreement. We would have to have a slate of reforms. This is common sense, this is realism. We can’t pretend we would run the country alone, have a 100 percent SRP government.
“Would we join a coalition like the one which Funcinpec is in now? Never. Something symbolic and honorific, without influence or authority or a program for reform? We’re not interested.”
A ceremony commemorating the attack will be at 8:30 am Saturday at the memorial stupa near the National Assembly.