Mam Sonando received b y supporters last week at Phnom Penh airport
Press Release – Phnom Penh, 15 July 2012
Arrest of Mom Sonando, a shameful attempt to muddy the waters over Kratie land conflict
Mam Sonando – the owner of Beehive Radio and President of the Democrat Association – was arrested at his home this morning by a group of around 20 police. The arrest – which comes three days after Mam Sonando’s return from a trip to Switzerland and the United States – represents yet another setback for Cambodia’s beleaguered democracy.
The arrest of Mam Sonando is connected to a long-running land dispute in Kratie involving a Russian company, Casotim, the beneficiary of a 15,000 hectare economic land concession. In May this year, a 14 year old girl, Heng Chantha, was shot dead when hundreds of armed police and military police stormed her village, Pro Ma village, in an effort to evict around 1,000 families living in the concession area. After the incident, police arrested a number of individuals from the area who they said were secessionists seeking to cut the area off from Cambodia. The so called secessionists were said to have been plotting with the Democratic Association. On 26 June 2012, during a public speech at the Koh Pich Convention and Exhibition Center, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for the arrest Mam Sonando, stating that he was leading a plot to overthrow the government and attempting to establish a state within a state.
On 6 July 2012, the Democratic Association held a press conference in which it denied any links between Mam Sonando and Bun Ratha, the man who has been identified by authorities as the leader of the so-called secessionist plot. In the press conference the Democratic Association stated that Bun Ratha was not an active member of the organisation. An arrest warrant has been issued for Bun Ratha but he has yet to be apprehended by the authorities.
Responding to the arrest of Mam Sonando, CCHR President Ou Virak stated:
“This is an extremely egregious case. The arrest of Mam Sonando is completely baseless, explainable perhaps only as an attempt by the authorities to lay the blame at someone else’s door for the killing of Heng Chantha. Since that disgraceful act, the authorities have gone to great lengths to create an alternative narrative – with creative accusations of secessionism and sedition and now this arrest – to what was clearly another case of Cambodian people being forcibly and illegally removed from their land in order for a private business to make money.”
For more information, please contact CCHR President Ou Virak via telephone at +855 (0) 12 40 40 51 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org