A Khmer National Liberation Front member freed from prison last month has fled to Thailand, claiming that he received death threats from anonymous government officials.
KNLF member Thuy Vy was recently released from prison after serving an 18-month stint for incitement. Mr Vy had attempted to organise a press conference with NGOs in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district but was arrested.
Authorities claimed that the press conference was meant to incite the public and cause chaos. In court, Mr Vy said that the press conference was meant to issue a request for the government to release political prisoners and human rights defenders.
After serving his sentence, Mr Vy vowed to create a political party and lobby the government to delist the KNLF as a terror organisation.
“I want the government to acknowledge that the KNLF is not a terror group,” he said last month. “I will gather our members and form a political party and meet the requirements of the law. I will also write a letter to request for the release of other KNLF members.”
Speaking yesterday as he was crossing the border into Thailand, Mr Vy said his life was in danger.
He said that he received death threats for attempting to register the KNLF as a political party under the leadership of their exiled leader Sam Serey.
“I received a phone call from a man last week, I think he was a government official,” Mr Vy said. “He did not want me to form the Khmer National Liberation Party.”
He noted that the caller told him to distance himself from the KNLF or any political party, or else he would face death.
“The caller said he would gather evidence in order to have me prosecuted or killed,” Mr Vy said. “I fled to Thailand alone while other members are hidding in Cambodia. I think the best thing I can do is stay here for a while.”
Exiled KNLF leader Mr Serey said that Mr Vy was to become a spokesman for the party.
Mr Serey said yesterday that he was informed of the death threat, but told Mr Vy not to be worried about it.
“I see the recent positive signs that political prisoners are being released. I am optimistic that I will be pardoned and that other KNLF members will be released, and the Interior Ministry will allow us to register as a political party,” he said. “I hope that they will consider and stop prosecuting us because we are innocent.”
Interior Ministry spokesman General Khieu Sopheak declined to comment yesterday.
Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoeun, spokesman for the National Police, yesterday said it is plausible that Mr Vy had made up a story to attack the government in order to seek asylum in a foreign country.
“No one knows if he is telling the truth. To be precise, who threatened him? Does he have evidence? He was just making things up,” Lt Gen Kim Khoeun said. “He is clearly finding excuses to attack the government.”