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.”