Opposition’s Rank and File Run to Capital

An undetermined number of opposition party members and organizers have fled their home provinces and are crowding party headquarters in Phnom Penh, citing threats of violence from CPP supporters.

“I’m scared to go back be­cause I am a target,” one Funcin­pec party leader from the Peam Ro district of Prey Veng province said Thursday.

He said three armed men surrounded his house on Wednes­day night. He left the following morning and doesn’t know when he will go back.

A party election observer from the same village is also taking re­fuge at Funcinpec headquarters. He said the CPP militia, a village chief and the commune police threatened before the election to kill him if the CPP won.

A third man said he was targeted because he had a Fun­cinpec sign on his house. He said CPP supporters had told him, “If your party wins, no problem. But if our party wins, you have to leave your house immediately.”

He said they threatened to throw a grenade into his house, and after the elections armed police drove around his house and asked neighbors about him.

“The fear is quite real in the provinces,” Funcinpec official Ou Bun said Thursday.

Ou Bun said he and other party officials registered 44 people who have fled their homes in the past four days. About 30 of them have returned home while others stayed with friends or relatives in Phnom Penh.

Across town at the Sam Rainsy headquarters a frightened wo­man from Tbong Khmom district of Kompong Cham province claimed Thursday that she had escaped from “CPP killers.”

CPP officials have said in the past that such claims from opposition party members are simply attempts to discredit the CPP.

A rights worker in Phnom Penh said that these “fairly widespread” cases were difficult to prove, but that many were still credible based on the convincing testimony of individuals.  “We must take these seriously; there are so many,” he said.

(Re­porting by Steve Dahlgren, Lor Chandara and Saing Soenthrith)





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