Though the opposition leader himself was in Japan, Sam Rainsy’s voice boomed through a loudspeaker over a crowd of 500 gathered in front of the National Assembly on Wednesday morning to commemorate the anniversary of the 1997 grenade attack that killed at least 15 people and injured more than 150 demonstrators.
Sam Rainsy spoke to the crowd by calling a mobile phone that was held up to a loudspeaker.
“I will never forget the nationalists who lost their lives, got injured, became disabled,” he said of the March 30, 1997, attack on an opposition protest, which he had led in front of the Assembly.
Although he was overseas, he said, “my heart, my mind is with you all.”
Sam Rainsy left the country Feb 3 after he was stripped of his parliamentary immunity, along with lawmakers Chea Poch and Cheam Channy, for allegedly making defamatory remarks against National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
Sam Rainsy said he is lobbying dignitaries and lawmakers in Japan to help Cambodia have “real democracy.”
Mao Yeang, whose daughter was killed in 1997 attack, said the relatives of victims of the grenade attack are still waiting for answers from the government.
“It has been silent,” she said.
Svay Sakharn, father of Chanty Pheakdey, one of the people killed in the grenade attack, said he does not believe the government’s new judicial reform tactics will help attack victims find justice.
“Being a father, I wish to see real criminals [prosecuted],” he said.
Eng Chhay Eang, secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party, said Sam Rainsy will visit the Philippines before coming back to Cambodia, although he did not provide a date.