Politics

Beehive Owner To Return to Cambodia Despite Threat

Mam Sonando is the owner of Beehive Radio.
Mam Sonando is the owner of Beehive Radio.
Men KimsengVOA Khmer

Mam Sonando, the owner of Beehive Radio, says he will defy a government threat of prosecution and return to Cambodia from abroad this week.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has accused him of leading a secessionist movement, amid a crackdown of other alleged supporters of his Association Democrat in Kratie province.

Members say they have no intention of overturning the government, but Hun Sen has said Mam Sonando must be arrested, along with key members of the association, for attempting to create a state within a state.

“I am not only happy to go back to my country, but also proud to go back to the country,” Mam Sonando told VOA Khmer in an interview Tuesday. “I don’t care about any allegations whatsoever.”

He is scheduled to arrive in Phnom Penh on Thursday, when a major regional forum will be underway in the capital.

The Association Democrat has not stolen or encroached on any land, he said. The charges against him are an attempt to silence his support for villagers who have lost land to businesses and development.

Mam Sonando has been traveling in the US and Europe to meet supporters and investigate a story from an overseas Khmer movement that has filed complaints with the International Criminal Court over the current government’s alleged rights abuses.

He said Cambodians should not be afraid to “stand up, but not through violent means, to protect what we already have, such as laws and a constitution,” he said. “We have our freedom and we should not be afraid.”

He says he is not concerned about the arrest likely awaiting him when he arrives in Phnom Penh.

“Whoever stands up to love the nation and protect the country is always short lived,” he said. “And it is my turn this time.”

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Cambodia’s political deadlock has ended. For nearly a year, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has refused to join the government, calling for electoral reforms in a system it says was deeply flawed. Following nearly five hours of meetings between top opposition officials and Prime Minister Hun Sen, that deadlock has ended. The two sides finally reached agreement on a formula for selecting the National Election Committee, which the Rescue Party has said was biased toward the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. Hun Sen and Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy emerged from talks Tuesday smiling and shaking hands. “Victory,” Hun Sen told reporters after the meeting. “You can all applaud.” (Heng Reaksmey, Phnom Penh)

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