‘Shadow Army’ Leader To Serve Khmer Krom

Long Sary—whose confession to membership in an alleged opposition-led “shadow army” helped convict Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Cheam Channy on charges of sedition—said Sunday that he has established a humanitarian organization to benefit Khmer Krom people living in Cambodia.

Long Sary, a construction worker, said his Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association for Public Wel­fare will serve the elderly and those infected with HIV/AIDS.  The association already counts 1,000 members, he said, adding that members must pay a 2,000 riel monthly fee.

Despite recently being center stage in national politics, Long Sa­ry was adamant that his organization was apolitical.

“I am not involved in politics,” he said, but added that Khmer Krom people have the right to po­li­tical affiliations, too.

“I don’t want our Khmer Kam­pu­­chea Krom to be cheated” of their political rights, Long Sary said.

The umbrella group of Kampu­chea Krom organizations, however, has refused to partner with Long Sary’s group, said Kim Vann­chheng, executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Coor­di­nation Committee.

“He is involved in politics, and we don’t know his real identity, whether he is Khmer Kampuchea Krom [or not],” Kim Vannchheng said.

Khmer Kampuchea Krom Com­­­munity Director and Sam Rain­sy Party Senator Thach Setha also worried that Long Sary was acting as a pawn for a political party. But Thach Setha said he would reserve final judgment and wait to see if Long Sary’s association would in fact serve the interests of the community.

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