Government Ties CNRP to Bombings, ‘Terrorist’ Group

A package of documents and DVDs sent from the Ministry of Interior to foreign embassies and NGOs this week uses speeches made by opposition leaders Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy, criminal acts that have occurred since the election and a letter from an alleged terrorist group in the U.S. to show how nationwide protests by the CNRP could result in violence.

The package included DVDs of recent speeches delivered by Mr. Rainsy and Mr. Sokha along with English-language transcriptions of their calls for demonstrations, an assemblage of pro-CNRP Facebook comments, a letter from Sourn Serey Ratha, who has been labeled as a terrorist by the government, and summaries of unsolved explosions that have taken place since the contested national election.

On a document accompanying the package, which was sent from the Ministry of Interior’s Secretar­iat of Permanent Command for Election Security and dated August 21, recipients are asked to as­sist the government in making sure that anti-government rhetoric being used by the CNRP does not result in a disturbance of the peace.

“The Secretariat of Permanent Com­mand for Election Security is pleased to submit herewith a compilation of inciting messages which has been drummed up purposefully by the Cambodia National Rescue Party,” the letter states.

“[The Secretariat] would like to take this opportunity to express sincere appreciation for the efforts and commitment on the part of Her/His Excellency ensuring peaceful conduct of recent election,” it continues.

Among the excerpts from speeches made by the CNRP president and vice president in the post-election period are comments made by Mr. Rainsy addressing a crowd in Kandal province.

“Are you willing for our victory to be stolen? Do you all dare to protest with the CNRP? To hold a demonstration like an earthquake,” he is quoted as saying.

In a speech in Prey Veng province, Mr. Sokha is quoted expressing similar sentiments.

“Brothers and sisters, allow us to win, we really win, so we do not [allow votes to] change to the thieves. If we lose, we will hold a demonstration together. Do you all dare to do so?” Mr. Sokha is quoted as saying.

One of the Facebook comments copied and transcribed is Mr. Rainsy’s message to members of Cambodia’s military to join the CNRP’s cause. “I appeal to armed forces to unite and gather with people and youth power to change the leader,” Mr. Rainsy wrote on August 9.

Another Facebook post comes from a user named Love Honor. “In 23 capitals and provinces are asked to gather up to 20,000 people to arrest Hun Sen, the Thief Prime Minister,” the user wrote.

At the end of the summary of inflammatory comments made by CNRP leaders and their supporters online is a rundown of three crimes that have been committed this month under the heading “Bomb Plantation and Explosion Activities.”

Noting that all of the acts were committed by “unknown perpetrators,” the document reports a bomb exploding on August 7 near the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, the discovery of two shells for an M79 grenade launcher that were left on a windowsill of a house in Tuol Kok district also on August 7 and the explosion of a handmade bomb at a CPP office in Kompong Speu district on August 14.

The package from the Ministry of Interior also included an open letter to Cambodia’s military and police forces from Mr. Serey Ratha, the leader of the Khmer People Power Movement, which has been deemed by Cambodia’s government to be a terrorist group with links to the CNRP. The CNRP denies having any links with Mr. Serey Ratha, who police have an arrest warrant for.

“I would like to call for all the soldiers, police, military police and all Cambodian Armed Forces: To turn their weapons to the dictator who is addicted to war, who is a leader in the business of war and threatens to provoke war and kill their own race,” Mr. Serey Ratha is quoted as writing in a letter dated August 14.

Though the documents do not explicitly link Mr. Serey Ratha and the bombings with the CNRP, they do make a link between the incidents and the intentions of the opposition should they carry out mass protests, said Ou Virak, the president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, which was among the NGOs that received the package.

The government is trying to create “an implicit conclusion that CNRP threats to conduct a mass rally… means that the opposition wants to topple government, and then links that to Mr. Serey Ratha and explosions, like somehow it’s all connected. They are trying to draw a conclusion that, therefore, mass protests would lead to things like bombings at the municipal court,” he said.

“I don’t think it will convince any of the people they sent it to because nothing they [Mr. Rainsy or Mr. Sokha] said was illegal. Their target audience is people who are quite involved. Pretty much everything is in the public domain.”

“The fact that Ministry of Interior is trying to lobby with NGOs is good. They do care about opinion of international community, and the opinion of civil society,” he added.

Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said that the letter was sent in the hopes that representatives of embassies and NGOs would send along the message to the CNRP that it needs to tone down its rhetoric in order to avoid conflict with the government.

“The intention of us sending the embassies that is for the embassies to help us tone down his [Mr. Rainsy’s] rhetoric, tone down his words not to incite people to make demonstrations to topple, to change the government,” he said.

“They [CNRP leaders] don’t listen to the government, so we need embassies to help speak with them. The demonstration to topple and change would be insurrection and we don’t want that. It will make the nation fall into chaos,” he added.

But CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the documents were merely an attempt to tarnish the reputation of the opposition.

“They want to discredit us. They want to link our peaceful demonstrations to violent ones. This is a threat that they will crack down, but I think that diplomats and ambassadors understand very well. We do not have anything to do with Sourn Serey Ratha’s movement.”

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