Former opposition leader Kem Sokha’s daughter has appealed to the public and to former members of the CNRP to stop defaming her father after Mr Sokha said he would not join the Cambodia National Rescue Movement created by Sam Rainsy.
Kem Samathida said that on behalf of Mr Sokha’s family, she wanted to emphasise that all her father’s decisions were his own. She added that he never decided to do anything contrary to his will or out of fear for his safety.
Mr Sokha has been jailed since September on treason charges.
“I would like to make this public right now so people will not be confused any more: my father has a strong mind and a philosophy that nobody can control,” Ms Samathida said.
“I urge all members of the CNRP to respect the rights of individuals in their decision-making, to support or not to support something, and to pursue their own social and political activities without being attacked or dismissed.”
Ms Samathida added unity does not mean people need to think the same, but rather that they do not persecute each other, especially when facing grave issues. Mr Rainsy, the former president of the CNRP, made a post on his Facebook page yesterday saying that if one were to put oneself in Mr Sokha’s shoes, it was obvious that regardless of his real feelings, he could not express his support or willingness to join the CNRM.
“It would be very dangerous for him to do so given the fact that he is in Hun Sen’s hands, while the CNRM’s declared objective is to bring an end to Hun Sen’s authoritarian rule,” he added.
“I appreciate the effort of Kem Sokha’s lawyers to confuse Hun Sen’s CPP so as to distract their attention away from our jailed president.”
He added that, for security reasons and for the newly created CNRM to operate effectively, he has asked most CNRM’s real leaders in Cambodia and abroad not to express their support publicly and not even reveal their names.
Last week, Mr Rainsy tweeted that the CNRM would provide a new structure that nobody could harm or dissolve.
CNRM members include Mr Rainsy, his wife Saumura Tioulong, and two former deputy presidents of the CNRP, Eang Chhay Eang and Mu Sochua.
Mr Sokha’s lawyer, Pheng Heng, told Khmer Times after meeting Mr Sokha in prison on Friday: “He said that he will not join or support any new movement.”
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said that Mr Sokha and Mr Rainsy were targeting the CPP, and needed to be careful about their activities, so as not to damage the political and democratic development of the country.
“When Kem Sokha was arrested, Sam Rainsy turned his back on the so-called Cambodia National Rescue Party, which was supporting Kem Sokha,” he added.