Cambodian police yesterday arrested an opposition senator after the country’s strongman leader accused him of “treason” for posting on social media a disputed document about the border with neighboring Vietnam.
The arrest of Senator Hong Sok Hour, who belongs to the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), comes amid an uptick in the campaign by the kingdom’s main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to combat alleged encroachment by Vietnam.
“He was arrested this morning” in the capital, Phnom Penh, Ministry of the Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said, adding that the senator faced treason charges. Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for three decades, is sensitive to criticism from his opponents that he is too soft on Vietnam over the disputed sections of the two countries’ border.
Anti-Vietnamese sentiment runs deep in parts of Cambodia and is often used by the opposition as a touchstone issue to rally support. On Thursday Hun Sen accused Hong Sok Hour of committing treason for posting a “fake” and “doctored” version of an old treaty about the border on his Facebook page.
It has not been possible to reach the senator for comment or verify the contents of any Facebook post he made.
Senators usually have immunity from prosecution during their terms in office, but Khieu Sopheak said the Hong Sok Hour would be stripped of that privilege because “he committed his offense red-handed.”
“His information [posted on Facebook] caused chaos in the country. It is an act of treason,” the spokesman added.
Any vote to rescind immunity would have to be taken in the Senate, which Hun Sen’s ruling party comfortably controls.
Chairman of the Senate’s anti-corruption committee Hong Sok Hour has played a key role in the CNRP border campaign in recent years. On Thursday the SRP issued a statement denying the senator committed treason.
Rhetorical and sometimes physical attacks by opposition lawmakers and activists on the Vietnamese border have become a common occurrence in recent years.
Last month Hanoi said 250 Cambodian activists, including a CNRP lawmaker, attacked Vietnamese police and citizens after illegally entering the country, strongly condemning the move.
Vietnam’s troops invaded to oust Cambodia’s genocidal Khmer Rouge regime in 1979 and stayed in the country for a decade before withdrawing in 1989.
Ties between Hanoi and Phnom Penh have remained friendly under Hun Sen who rose to power during the Vietnamese occupation and has run Cambodia for the last 30 years.
The CNRP formed following a merger between members of the SRP — named after the current CNRP leader Sam Rainsy — and The Human Rights party, ahead of 2013 elections.
The three parties remain in alliance.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications