Some 35 former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) members in Kampong Thom province expressed concern for their safety on Thursday after authorities watched over several of their gatherings and questioned them.
Thai Thim, a former CNRP provincial councillor, claimed that some former CNRP members met on Wednesday for a meal, with their meeting watched over by police.
“We met at four different locations in Baray district to eat Khmer noodles, but two of the four locations were interfered with by 20 members of the authorities. The group was afraid and went to eat Khmer noodles at my home,” Thim said.
He said after their meal, one of the group dared not leave as police were waiting outside his home.
Thong Vibol Sokhom, a former CNRP council member based in Kampong Thom province, told The Post on Thursday that in a separate incident on Sunday, the authorities had also watched and questioned a group of former CNRP members after they had gathered to eat at his house.
“If we cannot eat Khmer noodle or gather together in one place, our freedom is getting worse because we cannot walk anywhere or meet with people. Some of our people have been summoned. They are afraid to do things now,” he said.
Hak Monghout, Kampong Thom province’s Baray district governor, told The Post that no authorities had stopped people from eating noodles.
“We need to monitor any meeting that might harm people’s safety. No authorities have free time to watch over them [constantly] because people are entitled to their freedom."
“If they did not do anything illegal, they should not be worried. Sometimes, the monitoring was for prevention because this was a political campaigning period. They were questioned because of some concerns about their gathering,” he said.
Sok Rotha, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said Cambodian laws defend the rights of citizens, adding that if the accusations were true, it was a violation of the law.
“When we looked at the former CNRP members’ activities, they had only gathered to eat Khmer noodles only. It should not be watched as if it is an actual crime by itself."
“Therefore, the authorities should not continue to watch over them and should not summon them for questioning to clarify anything as it affects their human rights,” Rotha said.
Since April, Battambang provincial court and Kampong Thom police have in total summoned some 70 former CNRP activists and members to answer questions regarding an alleged violation of the Supreme Court ruling that dissolved the party and banned its activities.
On Sunday, The Post reported a further nine former CNRP members in Battambang province were summoned by the provincial court for questioning for allegedly violating the Supreme Court ruling.
Former CNRP member in Battambang province Suon Chamroeun said that the latest nine had been summoned by provincial court prosecutor Chheun Sophon to appear at court on Friday morning for “disrespecting the Supreme Court’s ruling”.