Military police Tuesday arrested Tieng Narith, the Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University lecturer who was fired last month for teaching his own anti-government textbook to his students.
The reason for the arrest was not made public Tuesday, but observers believe the 30-year-old Phnom Penh university lecturer has been detained for the allegations, possibly defamatory, against senior government leaders contained in his self-published book.
“Ask the municipal court. We did it according to the arrest warrant from the court,” National Military Police Commander Sao Sokha said of Tieng Narith’s arrest.
The National Assembly voted earlier this year to remove prison sentences from the country’s tough defamation law.
Tieng Narith’s father Tieng Yeang, 57, said that his son was arrested at his house on Street 182 just after 5 pm. “I don’t know what charge he was arrested for,” Tieng Yeang said.
“Even the warrant, they did not show it to me,” he said, adding that he was worried that his son would be mistreated by the authorities. “I appeal to all NGOs to investigate,” he said. “I am worried they might do bad things to him.”
He also said that his son, whose book displayed strong anti-CPP sentiments, had exhibited mental problems in the past when he got angry. “I understand that there are some words that affect the leaders,” he said of the book.
Tieng Narith was fired from his job Aug 22, three months after first introducing his political philosophy students to his textbook, which accused senior government officials of everything from creating the outlawed Cambodian Freedom Fighters to carrying out assassination attempts.
Some of the claims in Tieng Narith’s book echoed recent allegations made by the fugitive former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov about crime at the highest levels of government.
“He should not be arrested, he just expressed his opinions,” said Chan Soveth, chief investigator for local rights group Adhoc. “He doesn’t have any army, he is not a politician, just a professor,” he said.
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s human rights adviser Om Yentieng could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.