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Union calls for Kem Sokha’s release

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:

The Cambodian Confederation of Unions yesterday called on the government to release former CNRP leader Kem Sokha, who remains jailed on treason charges for allegedly conspiring with the US to topple the government though a colour revolution.

Rong Chhun, president of CCU, said that after Mr Sokha was arrested, the international community requested the government restore human rights and democracy to ensure that the national election on July 29 is free and fair.

“We see that the government is quick to say that Mr Kem Sokha committed treason, but there is no evidence against him,” said Mr Chhun, who resigned from the National Election Committee following the dissolution of the CNRP in the wake of Mr Sokha’s arrest.

“The international community wants to see Cambodia hold a free and fair election and respect the Cambodian people’s will,” he added.

Mr Sokha was arrested on September 3 last year after video footage from Australia-based CBN news was posted on Faccebook, showing the former opposition leader saying the US government had been helping him to push for regime change in Cambodian since 1993.

His arrest and detention was widely condemned by the international community, including the EU, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, United States and Australia, but China offered its support to the government on the issue.

The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November and its 118 senior party members were barred from politics for five years.

The International Federation for Human Rights released a statement last week saying that the UN body believes the detention of Mr Sokha is arbitrary, demanding that he be released.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called the arrest and detention of Mr Sokha politically motivated in the context of what appeared to be an escalating trend of the government’s suppression on criticism.

Prime Minister Hun Sen last week insisted that Mr Sokha must remain in jail on treason charges.

“Opposition party leader [Kem Sokha] came to a factory in Svay Rieng province to push workers to join demonstrations to overthrow the government,” Mr Hun Sen said. “So it is right that you are being jailed and you cannot be forgiven.”

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