I am writing this letter in the last weeks before my planned return to my motherland, facing the prospect of living out my last years behind bars. I write this letter from exile to provide the background to the charges my colleagues and I are accused of, and explain the reason for my planned return.
As deputy president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), I have been charged with a range of crimes including “conspiring to commit treason” and “incitement to commit felony,” and am one among 125 opposition leaders, members, supporters and activists facing a politically-driven mass trial in Cambodia in the coming months. If found guilty, I face up to 30 years in prison.
In September 2017, shortly after the CNRP came close to legitimately defeating Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) in an important local election, our leader Kem Sokha was arrested on trumped-up charges. Weeks later, in fear of being detained, several other CNRP leaders and I fled the country. In direct response to the party’s popularity, in November 2017, Hun Sen – in power for over three decades – and his ruling government dissolved the CNRP, accusing it of attempting to overthrow the government.