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Autistic son of jailed Cambodian opposition member attacked

The 30th attack on CNRP members and their families leaves 16-year-old Kak Sovannachey with a fractured skull

UCA News reporter, Phnom Penh

UCA News reporter, Phnom Penh

Published: April 28, 2021 07:14 AM GMT

Updated: April 28, 2021 07:46 AM GMT

Autistic son of jailed Cambodian opposition member attacked

Prum Chantha and her son Kak Sovannachey sit at a Buddhist temple near Prey Sar Prison in Phnom Penh in October 2020. (Photo: Radio Free Asia)

The autistic son of a jailed member of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was attacked with a brick by two men on a motorbike while traveling with his mother, leaving him with a fractured skull.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) said the attack on Kak Sovannachey, the 16-year-old son of former senior CNRP member Kak Komphear, was the 30th on CNRP members and their families over the past year.

He was taken to a hospital in capital Phnom Penh, where he required 20 stitches. The men fled the scene of the attack, his mother Prum Chantha told RFA.

“If our country has rule of law and our leader is a good man, please take action. Don’t allow them to get away with this kind of inhumane and vengeful attack,” she said.

Most of the attacks are in the capital and often carried out by men on a motorbike targeting the heads of their victims. Two suspects have been arrested following an assault in the central province of Kampong Chhnang.

Prum Chantha said she believes the assailants initially meant to hit her. “The CPP asked me to defect and I felt intimidated by them, but I did not agree, so they attacked us. Why would they attack the family members of a politician? It’s disgusting.”

The courts dissolved the CNRP before the 2018 election when the CPP won all seats contested in the National Assembly

Hundreds of CNRP supporters have been detained and charged with incitement following a failed attempt by the party’s leader in exile Sam Rainsy to return to Cambodia, stage a popular uprising and overthrow Prime Minister Hun Sen in what the government says was a “color revolution”.

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has also attempted, with some success, to cajole former CNRP members into defecting to the government ranks. The courts dissolved the CNRP before the 2018 election when the CPP won all seats contested in the National Assembly.

A royal decree issued in mid-April will enable seven former CNRP members — Yem Ponharith, Muth Chantha, Chum Chandarin, Tuot Yoeut, Lat Lithey, Long Kimkhon and Yong Phannet — to re-enter politics after they are “rehabilitated”.

“To strengthen democracy and political space in the kingdom, the government amended [the] law on political parties to pave the way for the former opposition to re-engage in politics,” the government-friendly Fresh News outlet reported.

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“The amended Article 45 of [the] law on political parties allowed the banned individual to request rehabilitation from the king through [the] prime minister or minister of interior.”

Many of those politicians are forming new parties and intend to contest the commune elections next year and the next national election due in mid-2024.

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