General Says No Post-Poll Harassment

Reports Continue to Pour in, However

The chief of headquarters for the national police said Tuesday he has investigated but found no evidence for claims of post-election threats aimed at opposition members and activists.

“There is no intimidation of the people in the countryside,” Gen­eral Mao Chandara said after contacting police departments in Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Takeo and Kompong Cham provinces.

Local investigations in those four provinces turned up not one case of intimidation, he said just two days after Second Prime Minister Hun Sen urged all government officials, the military and the public to “not take revenge against each other,” and to “please maintain friendship and gentleness.”

Co-Minister of Defense Tea Banh and army Chief of Staff Ke Kim Yan, both members of the CPP standing committee, also said Tuesday that they do not believe claims by op­position parties that their supporters are being tormented in rural areas.

“These are invented rumors by people who want to destabilize the country,” Tea Banh, the defense co-minister, said by telephone.

Ke Kim Yan, the RCAF chief of general staff, said the accusations are “just an attempt by the losers to discredit the elections.”

“These are invented rumors by people who want to destabilize the country,” Tea Banh said by telephone.

Ke Kim Yan said the accusations are “just an attempt by the losers to discredit the elections.”

Mao Chandara said it is difficult for authorities to investigate claims because reports are not being filed with local police.

“I really wonder why [the opposition] always bring up complaints but don’t submit them to the local authorities,” he said.

He said the flood of opposition members and activists who have fled their home provinces and come to Phnom Penh are “exaggerating their problems.”

Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy parties say that more than 300 of their provincial members have arrived in the capital since last Sunday.

Those who have fled are reported to fear retribution from local authorities and other CPP supporters. The charges include death threats, attempted murder, rape and attempted kidnapping.

The Sam Rainsy Party claimed that the intimidation amounts to a “campaign of terror.” The party says it is cooperating with election watchdog groups and the UN in documenting more than 400 incidents.

In a “public appeal to Hun Sen” issued Tuesday they wrote: “We are not satisfied by your televised statement in which you cast doubt on the victim’s reports while pretending to advocate an end to any violence.

“We appeal to you to stop the retribution campaign and allow the Cambodian people to express their political will whatever it might be,” the letter said.

But Svay Sitha of the government-run Cambodian Human Rights Committee on Tuesday dismissed the parties’ claims.

“People coming [to Phnom Penh] from the provinces are not coming because of intimidation. They are coming to get the money they were promised,” Svay Sitha said.

He said that his two-month old group did not plan to investigate the charges because he had not received any reports from any of the parties or individuals in­volved.

“Maybe they lodged something with the NEC,” he said. “We’ve received no complaints.”

Svay Sitha, who is close to the CPP cabinet, said the opposition was cocksure before the elections and that they are now motivated to “tarnish the reputation” of the CPP.

“We have been very patient during the campaign process. We have nothing to gain from intimidation,” he said.

But international human rights workers say that many of the claims are credible and they are still trying to put together a picture of how widespread the problem is.

One investigator expressed surprise that Mao Chandara claimed to have investigated four provinces when human rights workers were “up to their necks” in cases of alleged intimidation.

“It’s hard to believe a thorough and credible investigation could have been carried out in a couple days,” the investigator said.

Another investigator said that he hoped Hun Sen’s appeal would have an effect, but a de­crease in reports was not apparent yet.

(Additional reporting by Pin Sisovann and Touch Rotha)

 

 

 

 

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