Tuesday, 24.4.2007: Kem Sokha Seeks Supports for His Human Rights Party in US

Posted on 25 April 2007. Filed under: Week 505 |

Apologies for the delays – office work suffers a lot from electricity cuts.

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 505

“The human rights activist from Cambodia Mr. Kem Sokha is returning to the political game again. After spending more than five years outside politics as an observer of the situation of human rights and democracy, and as a strong critic of Prime Minister Mr. Hun Sen of the ruling party, he held the position of Executive Director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. Now Mr. Kem Sokha announced that he has resigned from this non-government organization to create a new party. The new party is named Human Rights Party; he has submitted the request for permission to the Ministry of Interior with the expectation that the ministry will officially recognize the party after completing some missing points in the formalities.

“To seek supports from the international community, Mr. Kem Sokha has recently left Cambodia for North America. He stopped in Canada, then proceeded to Seattle and to North California.

“Last Sunday, he made a statement in Long Beach [California] in the Holiday Inn Hotel, 1133, Atlantic Street at 3 p.m., about the developments which led to the creation of the Human Rights Party. Long Beach is the most important point for Mr. Kem Sokha to seek support from the Khmer community in the United States of America. This is the second time in one year that Mr. Kem Sokha has been to Long Beach. Concerning the national elections to be held in 2008, Mr. Kem Sokha hopes that his Human Rights Party will become a party to participate in the competition.

“It should be noticed that there are pretty many opposition parties in Cambodia, but the biggest opposition party is the Sam Rainsy Party. After leaving politics in 2002, Mr. Kem Sokha has gained great popularity in the country, especially in rural areas, because he is an important person doing advocacy for human rights and democracy. It can be said that Mr. Kem Sokha’s group has held public forums countrywide where the people could express their difficulties in their everyday lives. The contents of the discussions in all public forums contained criticism of the Hun Sen government, and they were broadcast through the Voice of Democracy radio program.

“On 21 April 2007, Long Beach Press Telegram [?] quoted from Mr. Kem Sokha’s speech:‘For almost five years, I have educated citizens about human rights and democracy. Now the citizens ask me to enter politics.’ According to the same speech of Mr. Kem Sokha, more than 200,000 citizens signed a joint petition asking Mr. Kem Sokha to create a party like what he told the Long Beach Press Telegram, ‘I told them that I don’t want to create a party. I want them to create a party themselves and then I help them.’

“Mr. Kem Sokha is not a stranger to or new in politics. He had been a parliamentarian after the 1993 elections, which was organized by the United Nations; in 2002 he became a senator. He used to be the chairperson of the Senate Committee for Human Rights and Complaints.

“However, his political standing was fragile, partly because of his opinions reviewing democracy. In July 2006, he was jailed for 17 days based on defamation charges, and then the charges were dropped. When Mr. Kem Sokha was released, the international community immediately condemned the arrest and the jailing , as he was an activist on behalf of human rights and democracy.

“In 1997, Mr. Kem Sokha escaped from the country while Mr. Hun Sen conducted a bloody coup to remove Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh as first Prime Minister. In 1998 he sheltered in the American Embassy in Phnom Penh [reason not mentioned]. Mr. Kem Sokha’s criticism raised some doubts about the reasons, especially as he created the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, while some thought that the Cambodian Center for Human Rights was just a temporary shield of Mr. Kem Sokha on his way towards politics.

“Now the Sam Rainsy Party, which is a shrewd opposition party against the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, expressed its neutral position towards all political parties which adhere to democracy.

“Mr. Chrea Sochenda, a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Kandal, told Radio Free Asia: ‘The Sam Rainsy Party welcomes all political parties that respect the policy of democracy like we do. In general, the Sam Rainsy Party does not worry about the creation of any party or about any person creating a political party.’

“Mr. Kem Sokha has recently commented on the second term commune and subdistrict elections which were complicated for many voters. He said that more than 2.5 million Khmer citizens, who have the right to vote, failed to vote. This is a loss of their rights. Mr. Kem Sokha added, ‘I want the 2.5 million citizens to vote in the 2008 elections, which is to provide hope and proper choices for democracy.’” Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #382, 24.4.2007

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Chakraval, Vol.15, #2673, 24.4.2007

  • [More than 20] Chinese Workers of Iron Heating Factory Protest Opposite Chinese Embassy for Salaries
  • Most Phnom Penh Residents No Longer Need Funcinpec [according to Funcinpec’s decline of votes in commune elections]
  • Kien Svay District Police Announce Riel 2 Million [US$500] Reward for Arrest of Anyone Who Disturbs Police Handheld Radio Network [Kandal]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.6, #1321, 24.4.2007

  • Khieu Kanharith [CPP spokesperson]: Those Who Want to Create Alliance of Politicians [or a collection of democratic movements] Are Like Sharing 500-Riel Note [costing US$0.12] with 10 People
  • Lu Laysreng Wants to Invite Samdech Krom Preah to Lead Funcinpec Again [after Prince Thomico’s appeal for royalist parties to join with each other]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3140, 24.4.2007

  • Yuon [Vietnamese] Communist Authority Continues to Surround Khmer Pagodas in Kampuchea Krom Land – and Arrested and Defrocked Four More Monks

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4266, 24.4.2007

    • Samdech Hun Sen: ‘Peace and Political Stability Brought Happy Atmosphere during Khmer New Year’
    • Mr. Sar Kheng Welcomes Mr. Sam Rainsy Who Wants to Discuss Decentralization
    • Three Vietnamese Dead; Office of Fisheries Officials Burned [in a conflict between officials and fisherpeople during suppression of illegal fishing in Krakor, Pursat]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.14, #3018, 24.4.2007

  • Voters’ Lists Are in Serious Disorder under National Election Committee [which caused 2.5 million people to fail to vote – according to an NGO official]
  • Corruption Provides Possibility to Dishonest Businesspeople and International Criminals to Use Cambodia as a Place to Produce Drugs
  • Yuon [Vietnam] Arrests and Defrocks Four More Kampuchea Krom Khmer Monks While Demonstrations Are Held Worldwide

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #382, 24.4.2007

  • Kem Sokha Seeks Support for His Human Rights Party in the USA
    Chea Sim Wants to Give Position of President of CPP to Sar Kheng but Hun Sen Refuses [according to Khmer Intelligence network]

Go to last week’s editorial

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