Two Human Right Party members in Kompong Cham province were charged with incitement on Friday for allegedly distributing leaflets accusing the government of losing territory to neighboring countries.
Phan Pha, 66, and Phu Yan, 71, were arrested on Thursday in Tonle Bit commune, Tbong Khmum district, after the CPP-affiliated village chief informed police about the documents he had seen them carrying on their bicycles, HRP spokesman Pol Ham said yesterday.
Mr Ham said the documents were internal party communications intended to teach party activists about the history of Cambodia’s borders with Thailand and Vietnam, and were never meant for public distribution.
“They [Mr Pha and Mr Yan] were taking some documents to hand over to other HRP activists. The CPP village chief confiscated it from them and sent it to the police,” Mr Ham said. “They are not guilty.”
Mr Ham said the men were called to the local police station for questioning and subsequently arrested on charges of incitement.
He accused the police of colluding with the CPP village chief to interfere in the party’s registration drive for next year’s commune elections, which kicked off on Thursday.
Kompong Cham Provincial Court prosecutor Hout Vuthy noted that the documents did not bear the HRP logo, which he claimed was proof that the documents were leaflets and that they were being handed out to the public.
“I charged them with incitement to commit crimes against the government of Cambodia when they handed them to the public,” Mr Vuthy said.
“The border issue was approved by the National Assembly, but they accuse government leaders of losing the land to Vietnam; it is not true,” he said, adding that the two men were being held in pre-trial detention while the court carried out its investigation.
Neang Savath, a local coordinator for human rights group Licadho, said that he had carried out his own investigation and had concluded that the men had not distributed the documents to the public.
“I know that they did not hand it [the documents] over to the public like they accuse…. It is a political and human rights violation when police arrest political party members like this,” he said.