Supporters Tell Cambodge Soir: ‘Hang in There!’ Don’t give up!’

More than 400 people from around the world had by July 3 sent messages of support to the embattled staff of Cambodge Soir, employees of the French-language newspaper said.

The Soir has not appeared at news­stands since June 12, following a strike to protest the firing of a reporter and the parent company’s reported bankruptcy.

E-mails from well-wishers, in­cluding SRP leader Sam Rainsy, Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith, filmmaker Rithy Panh and Khmer Rouge tribunal Co-Investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde, have pour­ed in from countries such as Argen­tina, Lebanon, New Zealand, the US, France, Australia and Cam­bo­dia.

“In closing Cambodge Soir…a French voice is abandoned, leaving only the singular Anglo-Saxon press active,” author and French Catholic priest Francois Ponchaud wrote in a message dated June 29.

“Cambodge Soir was closed not through the intervention of the Cambodian state but through the preventative censorship of a shareholder and adviser to the French development agency,” he added.

Soir Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Gee said the messages were good for morale. “It’s good to know that the work we did during all those years has had an echo after all,” she said.

“We’re a bit lost. We’re into the fourth week. We don’t really know what to think,” she added.

A meeting with management Monday evening failed to resolve differences.

However, company executives denied that they intended to sell the paper and agreed to continue talks, said Gee, adding that staff have yet to be paid for the month of June.

Deputy Publisher Emmanuelle Billier-Gauthier declined to comment. Edmond Escabasse, president of the media company Solaris, which announced Friday it was considering buying the Soir, said July 3 that his company had made no formal offer.

Buying the paper was only one option among many the company was considering, he added.

“At any rate, I will only take it if this is a viable economic option,” he said.

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