Victims of Alleged Political Violence Speak Out

The daughter of jailed Sam Rainsy Party activist Sok Yoeun on Friday wept as she pleaded for her father’s safety

“My father is innocent. He did nothing wrong,” Sok Yuk Heng said through tears. “I beg the government not to harm him.”

Sok Yuk Heng was among 20 victims and relatives of victims of alleged politically motivated violence who told their stories at a press conference organized by the opposition party.

Her father is accused of masterminding a 1998 rocket attack on Hun Sen’s motorcade in Siem Reap, an accusation he denies.

He has since fled to Bangkok where he is being detained pending the outcome of the Cam­bodian government’s extradition bid. Human rights activists say the allegations against him appear to be politically motivated.

“Now we have no father,” Sok Yuk Heng said of herself and her four siblings. “I beg you to find justice for him….I miss him so much.”

After two years of relative peace, the upcoming commune elections have sparked a rise in politically-motivated violence, Sam Rainsy charged.

And authorities seldom punish the perpetrators, whose crimes range from threats to murder, he said.

“What we deplore is impunity,” Sam Rainsy said. “In all these cases…not a single criminal, not a single murderer has been arrested.”

Among the speakers were survivors of the March 1997 gre­nade attack on an opposition party rally, along with relatives of those who were killed. Also present was the family of two slain journalists and several provincial Sam Rainsy Party activists.

Khan Sophoan, 26, of Memut district in Kompong Cham prov­ince, said he was attacked with an ax last month, three days after applying for permission from local authorities to erect a Sam Rainsy Party sign in front of his house.

On June 20, an unknown assailant attacked Khan Sophoan from behind, striking him eight times on the head and back while he was drinking coffee at a local restaurant, he said.

“[At the time] I didn’t know what was happening to me,” he said. “But I’m sure that this was politically-motivated,” he said, baring the wounds on his head, neck and back.

Seng Sokhom Kang, 42, lost her husband and 7-year-old daughter earlier this year when an unknown gunman shot them to death in their Meas district home in Kom­pong Cham.

“We are innocent. Why did they do this to us?” she said of the Feb 10 killings.

Seng Sokhom Kang, who witnessed the shootings, said she knows the killer, whom she alleges is a member of the village militia. But when she told local authorities, they did nothing, she said.

“[They] threatened to harm me if I kept complaining,” she said. “Even after my lovely ones have been killed, they still intimidate me. What an unjust society this is!”

 

 

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