The US-based Human Rights Watch has called on the Cambodian government to prosecute a former RCAF member who allegedly threatened to shoot Parliamentarian Cheam Channy Friday, saying the government is failing to protect opposition party members.
“It’s an outrage that an army officer can threaten a member of parliament and UN workers with a gun in broad daylight while the police just watch,” Human Rights Watch said Tuesday in a statement.
The agency claims Cheam Channy and five UN workers were left without police assistance during the hour-long standoff with the gun-yielding military officer, though several differing accounts of the incident have been given. “This continues a pattern of state harassment of opposition members and human rights defenders and impunity for perpetrators,” the agency statement said.
Cheam Channy said Van Veng, wearing a military intelligence uniform, emerged from a cafe shortly after the lawmaker stopped to make a call from a public telephone near Military Intelligence headquarters at the intersection of Kampuchea Krom and Pochentong boulevards at about 4:30 pm.
Shouting he hated both Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party, the officer allegedly pulled out a small revolver and aimed it at Cheam Channy, the agency said.
UN workers who arrived on the scene soon after sought help from a military police officer and a traffic policeman. However, they were told they could not take action against the officer unless ordered to do so by their superiors, according to Human Rights Watch.
Cheam Channy was taken from the scene with the assistance of UN workers and two RCAF generals, one of whom drew his pistol against Van Veng, the agency said. Van Veng left the scene on the back of a motorcycle that entered the Military Intelligence headquarters compound, Cheam Channy said.
Chief of RCAF Military Intelligence Mol Roeup angrily denied that the man who allegedly threatened to kill Cheam Channy was a member of his military intelligence unit.
“Cheam Channy claimed that [Van Veng] is in Q101 [Military Intelligence]. This is not true,” Mol Roeup said.
Van Veng was a member of RCAF but was sacked from the service in 1996 and has also spent time in prison, Mol Roeup said.
Mol Roeup would not confirm if Van Veng was a former member of his unit, but said that he will arrest the culprit then deal with Cheam Channy’s accusation that the man was one of his staff.
Cheam Channy has written a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to take action against Hour Sareth, deputy commander of RCAF’s military intelligence, for disparaging remarks made against him on Sunday, which called him “crazy” and a “second-rate” lawmaker.
Hour Sareth, who is also a military adviser to Hun Sen, could not be reached for comment.
In a letter sent Monday to Hun Sen, Cheam Channy said Hour Sareth should be punished for referring to him as a “crazy” and a “second-rate” parliamentarian.
Hour Sareth made the remarks following Cheam Channy’s report that a member of military intelligence threatened to kill him.
“In order to protect the reputation and dignity of RCAF, I would like Prime Minister Hun Sen to please take measures against Hour Sareth,” Cheam Channy said. “He is not a suitable RCAF military commander.”
Hour Sareth, who is also a military adviser to Hun Sen, could not be contacted for comment Tuesday.