F’pec Ex-MP To Start Human Rights Agency

Former Funcinpec parliamentarian Kem Sokha has founded a new organization that he says will help build democracy and protect human rights in this country.

Kem Sokha said he has re­ceived funding from the US government for just under $1 million to set up the Cambodia Center for Human Rights, the former par­liamentarian said. He refused to discuss the funding further and officials at the US Embassy could not be reached Sunday to confirm his account.

“I formed the center because I think that this is the time for the countryside’s people to understand their rights and their du­ties,” Kem Sokha said. “Poor people now are fed up with their pov­erty. They don’t know how to elim­inate their poverty, but if they exercise their rights they can solve their poverty.”

Kem Sokha, who served as chairman of the Senate’s Human Rights Committee, was the first of a handful of Funcinpec leaders to desert the royalists last month. His decision to leave the party came days after a car accident that Kem Sokha claimed was a CPP assassination attempt. An unidentified black car reportedly side-swiped his as he pulled into his driveway.

The center also plans to set up its own radio station after next year’s national elections, which are scheduled for July.

“We will educate people through broadcasts about civil and political rights and the rule of law. We have US experts preparing the network right now,” Kem Sokha said.

The new organization will keep it simple, so that everyone can un­derstand, Kem Sokha said.

“We are not extrapolating on legal theory; we’ll make it simple to educate people in all of the districts for the rest of the year be­fore the elections,” he said.

The group already has slogans, Kem Sokha said. Its representatives will flock to the standard of “there is no chance if there is no risk” and “to protect human rights to protect lives,” Kem Sok­ha said.

In spite of Kem Sokha’s partisan past, the new center will be neu­tral, he said.

“My center is a non-governmental organization. Don’t confuse it with political involvement,” he said. “If I wanted to serve a political party, I wouldn’t have walked out from the party. I want to help civil society.”


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