Paper Attacks Monarch’s Past

A local newspaper published a harsh attack on King Norodom Sihanouk on Sunday, a day after his 76th birthday.

The article by Damneung Thmei (New News) accused the King of spearheading the Khmer Rouge regime that led to nearly

2 million deaths by starvation, illness, torture and execution.

The newspaper, known for sup­porting Second Prime Minis­ter Hun Sen, included seven photos of then-Prince Si­han­ouk—dressed in peasant clothing with a checked scarf—with Khmer Rouge leaders, in­cluding Pol Pot, in 1973. At the time, the Khmer Rouge was fight­­ing the US-backed Lon Nol regime, which had ousted Sihan­ouk.

The article comes two weeks before a UN team is to arrive in Cam­bodia to investigate the Khmer Rouge regime. The article also seemed aimed at deflecting attention from Hun Sen, who was recently attacked for his role in the Khmer Rouge by US politician Dana Rohra­bach­er.

“A group of political analysts have said that the allegation on Samdech Hun Sen as a Khmer Rouge chief is completely distorting the truth,” the article stated. “In fact…[according to] many documents and photos of the 1970s at the time Prince Si­han­ouk was leading the Khmer Rouge organization against the Lon Nol re­gime.”

Khek Sysoda of the Royal Pa­l­ace said Monday that she hadn’t seen the newspaper article. But when told about it, she said that it sounded totally unjust. “Why are they again attacking his Majesty the King?” she asked. “Please, help find justice for His Majesty.”

Sieng Lapresse, the Informa­tion Ministry’s undersecretary of state, said he believes anyone who would publish such an at­tack must have “brain problems.”

“Those photos are not evidence to substantiate he was actu­ally shooting or killing anybody,” he said. The article “is only to disgrace the King….The article is totally incendiary.”

Information Secretary of State Khieu Kanharith said Monday he will call a meeting after the hol­i­days to discuss possible measures against the newspaper, such as a warning or suspension.


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