The Life and Near Death of Sam Rainsy

22 years after surviving a grenade attack, the popular opposition leader faces new questions about his role in politics.

On March 30, 1997, four grenades were thrown into a crowd gathered in Phnom Penh to support rising political star Sam Rainsy. At least 16 people were killed and many more injured, including union activist Chea Vichea, who was later assassinated. Rainsy himself only survived the attack because his bodyguard shielded him from the blast.

Like most assaults on enemies of the government, the grenade attack has become an infamous example of impunity in Cambodia. But it has also been a symbol of Rainsy’s commitment to the cause of democracy.

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