July 22, 2015

Freedom Park 11 jailed


CNRP member Meach Sovannara is escorted out of Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday afternoon after he and 10 others were convicted on insurrection charges. PHOTO SUPPLIED



“The court seemed to hatch a plot to close this case [yesterday] even though there were no lawyers present,”

Eleven opposition activists, including a US citizen, were handed lengthy prison sentences yesterday for their roles in a protest at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park last year that turned violent and left dozens injured.
In a decision that came as a surprise to many, judge Lim Makaron ruled that the Cambodia National Rescue Party members were guilty of trying to foment an “insurrection” by taking part in a demonstration led by CNRP lawmakers at the public square on July 15, 2014.
“The 11 activists were sent to jail after the lawyers boycotted the trial today,” Sam Sokong, lawyer for the defence, said after the ruling.
He added that the lawyers had boycotted the proceedings because the court had called for the trial to resume on a daily basis.
“The court did not listen to the lawyers and continued the trial.… They moved quickly and decided to issue a guilty verdict,” he said.
Meach Sovannara, a Cambodian-American and head of the CNRP’s information and media department, was convicted of “leading an insurrection” and sentenced to 20 years in jail. CNRP activists Oeur Narith and Khin Chhumroeun, the president of the party’s youth wing, received the same sentence.
Eight other party activists were sentenced to seven years for joining the “insurrection”.
Observers have long asserted that the case against Sovannara and the other activists was being used by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party to exert pressure on the opposition during the long negotiations over new laws governing elections.


In April, the activist was released on bail just hours after the formation of the new National Election Committee – a key part of the negotiations – leading some to express optimism that the case would be thrown out amid a “culture of dialogue” between Prime Minister Hun Sen and CNRP president Sam Rainsy.
Thirty-nine security personnel and at least six protesters were injured when opposition demonstrators turned on a group of notoriously violent Daun Penh district security guards at the July protest following a scuffle between the rally-goers and the advancing guards.
CNRP member Meach Sovannara (centre) stands in the street near Freedom Park in July last year where a Daun Penh security member was beaten after a protest that turned violent .
CNRP member Meach Sovannara (centre) stands in the street near Freedom Park in July last year where a Daun Penh security member was beaten after a protest that turned violent . Heng Chivoan

The main contingent of the guards quickly retreated as the protesters fought back, leaving several ill-equipped guards among them to suffer the full force of the CNRP supporters’ rage, pent up over months of violent crackdowns on opposition protests.
Sokong yesterday said that his clients should have been afforded more time to seek additional legal assistance before a sentence was passed.
“The court seemed to hatch a plot to close this case [yesterday] even though there were no lawyers present,” he said. “If lawyers boycott the court, it must give them more time.”
The case has been heard intermittently since December, with questionable evidence presented to the judge, according to rights groups.
Jamie Meach, Sovannara’s wife, who resides in the US, said yesterday that she had lost all confidence in the Cambodian justice system and would now seek urgent consular assistance from the US Embassy and from Washington if her husband wants to leave Cambodia.
“I relied on the lawyers and the court in Cambodia, but I have lost hope. So I must seek intervention from this side, but I don’t know if he will be able to come back [to the US] or not,” she said.
“If he wants to come back, I will seek help from the US Embassy and US Congress, because he is an American national. If he wants to come, it will be OK.”
Judge Makaron could not be reached for comment.
CNRP spokesman Yem Ponharith declined to comment on the decision, saying the party’s “culture of dialogue” with the CPP “is in the interests of the Khmer people”.
Rainsy, who last night left for a three-week trip to France, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Phay Siphan, Council of Ministers spokesman, said the detente between the two parties could not be allowed to interfere with the judge’s decision, because political leaders “do not have superiority over the courts”.
Local advocacy group Licadho decried yesterday’s proceedings as “a show trial with a predetermined ending, apparently set up only to intimidate the CNRP”, and called for the verdicts to be overturned.

1 comment:

Kim Ea said...

This is a pure revenge from fascist regime. They hang these diehard opposition supporters this time to exchange and stop the wave of CNRP and Khmer patriot movement,who stand up and challenging the government wrongful border demarcation . The same trick they play many time after his election lost, but the opposition with no plan and less strategy still not learn the SAM COCK this dictator play . Fist to brake the mass of protest for recount and change the regime, they use third hand brutal killer to shoot and kill many as they can,arrest imprison and terrorize the movement as hard as possible. The used of force to kill and imprisoned the diehard head of movement signal to us that the fascist strategy fall down to the utmost impact of no return resource to stabilize the none control political situation. This is the test ground of the regime to see did Khmer population with the lead opposition can sustain with this and dare to continuous with more sacrifice life or they're will back down? The CNRP leadership just created in a few weeks, with less experience and less gut chose to back down instead of pushed for more confrontation . This is a failed leadership and less gut from the part of CNRP parties. Dictator saw his test successfully work they put more and more pressure by inciting their third hand thugs to squeeze more, put obstacle to your articulation . They start to use brutal force beating up or arrested more even your elected members and any one have courage to stand up with his ruling power . The CNRP start to fall a part from the policy and politic stand point. The tenacity, the boiling sentiment of recounted and Change from millions Khmer people supporters got twist, fade away , back down instead of confrontation . Hun Sen saw his SAM COCK ( wrong spelling) work well with less experience new political machine, that caught him in surprise off guard in the daunting but agitate election . He keep used this same articulation mechanism again and a gain . This is the result of choosing coward mood to back down instead of stand strong hand to hand with dignity of Khmer population, right now the flamboyant sentiment of change is nowhere to exist again. the dictator get stronger and stronger every day, they maneuver a new strategy to shut you up, tie your hand down , step by step they introduce a new law to tie the hand and shut the mouth of the NGO , accuse all your fanatic supporter as treason fellow and put in prison for 20 years.The congress was in their hand even they ban their ministers to respond all your duty question . what else you have in your hand? Oh by the way the CNRP have achieved the change of new NEC , a new dream of TV and and a culture of peaceful negotiation. Did all of these are a joke of the century ? you guy fall flat the the trick of communist regime . Your French education is less value than the Communist brainwash Hanoi . I'm so sorry to trash you, my dear compatriots , I love the creation of CNRP and support you since, and i never change my temptation or have no any intent to run away from this Khmer patriot party , but wrongful decision from your party leadership caught my eyes in the fashionable intolerable . I saw in the past you change from one goal post to another in just a short period and your enemy Yuon strategist ,who's hiding be hind the scene to manifest his puppet political well being, advise their subordinate to wait patiently and striking back when the situation are right . Your guy fall to Khmer people who dare sacrifice life for your patriot cause . Learn the deep flaw lesson if you want to confront with this monster killer government . You may be don't have a happy ending if you conduct this kind of politic of move the goal post like this . Thank you for sincere reading this opinion .