Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has filed a complaint with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court over the government’s decision to ban his book “Light of Justice.”
He cited a remark by Khieu Kanharith, secretary of state for the Ministry of Information, questioning the book’s claim that more people have died in Cambodia since 1979 than died during the brutal Khmer Rouge regime between 1975 and 1979.
Khieu Kanharith told The Cambodia Daily on Aug 26 that Sam Rainsy should not make such claims without supporting evidence, as such charges “promote instability.”
Sam Rainsy counters that his claim is true, due to Cambodia’s high rates of infant and child death and its low life expectancy.
He argues that in the 22 years since the Khmer Rouge were removed, many people have died sooner than they should have due to high infant mortality, disease, and natural disasters such as floods.
“We can infer that tens of thousands of people die naturally but prematurely every year in Cambodia” with rates rising steadily due to the spread of AIDS, he said. The statistics cited are from the UN Development Program’s “2001 World Report on Human Development.”
Sam Rainsy contends that Cambodia’s mortality rate is high due to bad government and corruption, leading to poor education and nutrition, lack of medical care, and worsening floods due to illegal logging.
Since 1979, he said, the number of Cambodians who die prematurely “becomes more and more appalling and tends to exceed the number of people who were summarily executed during the Khmer Rouge. We must stop this silent massacre.”