Statement

Mr. Mom Sonando, Director of Sambok Khmum Radio (Beehive Radio) must be Promptly Released
Cambodia Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC)

February 4, 2003 - The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), a coalition of 18 local NGOs, was deeply disturbed by the violent demonstrations which occurred on January 29, 2003, causing serious damage to the Royal Thai Embassy, Thai- owned hotels and other Thai companies based in Phnom Penh.

CHRAC expresses its condolences to the Thai businessmen, and the Khmer and Thai citizens whose interests were seriously harmed due to the aforementioned event.

CHRAC deeply regrets that the relevant authorities were negligent in taking timely action to prevent the demonstration from turning violent and causing damage.

CHRAC strongly opposes the violence which caused damage of public and private property and resulted in a deterioration of the relationship between Cambodia and Thailand. CHRAC supports efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.

CHRAC is very concerned about the arrest of at least 158 people. These arrestees have been detained by the police and the gendarmerie, but human rights groups have not been allowed to visit them. Of these people, 47 were charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and sent to the Prey Sar Prison.

CHRAC calls upon the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to issue a warrant to promptly release Mr. Mom Sonando, the director of Beehive Radio, from Prey Sar Prison because the arrest and detention of Mr. Mom Sonando is groundless and proper legal procedure was not followed. His arrest violates the UNTAC penal law in article 19, paragraph 1.3 and violates the freedom of the press in Cambodia.

Mr. Mom SONANDO, the director of Beehive radio, FM 105, was arrested on January 30, 2003 at 8:00 PM at his house. Mr. In Chan Sivutha, Editor of Reaksmey Angkor Newspaper was arrested on January 31, 2003.

On January 31, 2003 the Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged Mr. Mom Sonando with three offenses: 1.) announcing false information, 2.) inciting people to discriminate, and 3.) inciting people to commit crimes.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court detained Mr. Mom Sonando based on the evidence that on the night of January 29, 2003 at 8:40 PM, a person calling himself “a Khmer child” telephoned to participate in the “Public Opinion” program of Beehive Radio. The person said by telephone that he had heard that the Khmer Embassy in Bangkok had been burnt down and some Khmer diplomatic officials had been killed by Thai citizens. Because of the violent demonstrations and the burning of the Thia Embassy happened on January 29, 2003 at about 6:30 PM, prior to the telephone call by the aforementioned person to Beehive Radio, the radio station’s “Public Opinion” program cannot be construed as a cause of the demonstartions and destruction of the Thai Embassy.

CHRAC calls upon government authorities, especially the courts, to find the persons responsible and to bring the perpetrators of the violent demonstrations to justice.

For more information, please contact:
• Mr. Chun Sath, Acting Coordinator of the Action Committee, Tel: 012 802 506
• Mr. Ny Chakriya, Tel: 012 920 730

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