Thai Activist Denied Talks With Local Officials

Top government officials last week declined to meet with a Thai human rights official who came to Phnom Penh to conduct an independent inquiry into the Jan 29 anti-Thai riots.

Sunai Phasuk, executive director of regional rights group Forum Asia, said last Thurs­day that his investigation into the violent demonstrations has been greatly hindered by a lack of co­operation from Cam­bo­dian officials. “I have tried to talk with government officials but received no re­sponse from the Ministry of In­ter­ior, the Ministry of Information and high Funcinpec officials,” he said.

“The government officials were reluctant to meet [Sunai],” said Ad­hoc director Thun Saray, who tried to help Sunai set up meet­ings with Funcinpec Sec­retary-General Prince No­ro­dom Siri­vudh, Min­is­try of In­for­mation Sec­­retary of State Khieu Kanh­a­rith and Min­is­try of Interior Sec­re­tary of State Prum Sokha.

“Many of the officials turned off their phones,” he added.

Thun Saray said he spoke directly to Khieu Kanh­a­rith about meeting Sunai, but the secretary of state denied he was ever contacted.

“I never received anyone from this group—no e-mail, no phone call or no letter,” Khieu Kanharith said on Sunday.

Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua, who tried to help organize a meeting with Prince Si­rivudh, said the prince was too busy to meet with the Thai official.

“The prince was involved in a lot of projects [on Thursday], especially having to do with the voter registration process—we tried to set a meeting for the next day,“ Mu Sochua said Sunday. “It is not that people do not want to meet him—they are just very busy.”

Prum Sokha could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Sunai said he was able to interview ma­ny Cambodians who expressed unhappiness with the way the demonstrators acted.

“They say it is quite shameful, quite sad, that the riots occurred,” Sunai said. “The people we interviewed said they were unhappy because the Thais are angry.”



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