Opposition leader Sam Rainsy was briefly held by Vietnamese policemen Saturday for illegally entering Vietnam at the Phnom Den border crossing in Takeo province.
Sam Rainsy and approximately 20 members of his traveling party were questioned from 3 pm to 5:30 pm Saturday after they took photos and videotaped disputed areas that Cambodians claim belong to them but are being used by Vietnamese nationals.
“About two minutes of the film we took was cut,” Sam Rainsy said Sunday. “We were kept and questioned while the film was cut.”
He called his arrest an “intentional act” by Vietnamese border forces because of his criticism of border disputes. “They know [King Norodom Sihanouk] and I refuse to [agree to] controversial border agreements.”
Sam Rainsy was accompanied by National Assembly member Cheam Channy and senators Thach Setha and Chao Phally, all opposition party members. According to party officials, a photographer and two cameramen were working when two Vietnamese police officers asked them, along with Sam Rainsy and Thach Setha, to go to a police station about 200 meters away.
According to party officials, the Vietnamese police at first told the group their film would be confiscated. But after some discussion, the Vietnamese agreed to inspect the equipment and delete only the final portions of recorded film.
Vietnamese army officials in An Giang province, which borders Takeo province, declined to comment Sunday.
Cambodian villagers complain Vietnam has moved the border more than 1 km into Cambodia and are not allowing Cambodian farmers to use their own fields. They also accuse Vietnam of prohibiting them from using water from a canal located inside Cambodia.
Sam Rainsy said Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong canceled his trip to Phnom Penh, which was scheduled to begin today, because he is unhappy that Prime Minister Hun Sen has been unable to convince King Sihanouk to approve border agreements Sam Rainsy claims Hun Sen made with the Vietnamese in the 1980s.
Nguyen Duy Hong, Vietnamese ambassador to Cambodia, said he didn’t know the reason for the postponement of the president’s trip.
The opposition party leader also said Hun Sen “created a good trick” by orchestrating the street fighting in Phnom Penh early Friday morning.
“The fighting can mislead the public, keep it from paying attention to the border issue,” Sam Rainsy said. “In the meantime, Vietnam’s leaders could use the fighting as a pretext not to come to Cambodia.”