Human Rights

Second Day of Beehive Radio Trial Sees Witnesses for Defense

The court’s had expected around 100 witnesses in the case, but in the end heard from nearly 40.

A Cambodian supporter holds a banner reading: "The court system must be respected by the public not for..." as she sits with other supporters of Mam Sonando, one of Cambodia’s most prominent human rights defenders, in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Some 300 supporters gathered for prayer for local radio station owner Sonando,  who has been held in pre-trial detention for almost two months for insurrection charge, during his court appearance. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)A Cambodian supporter holds a banner reading: "The court system must be respected by the public not for..." as she sits with other supporters of Mam Sonando, one of Cambodia’s most prominent human rights defenders, in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Some 300 supporters gathered for prayer for local radio station owner Sonando, who has been held in pre-trial detention for almost two months for insurrection charge, during his court appearance. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
x
A Cambodian supporter holds a banner reading: "The court system must be respected by the public not for..." as she sits with other supporters of Mam Sonando, one of Cambodia’s most prominent human rights defenders, in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Some 300 supporters gathered for prayer for local radio station owner Sonando,  who has been held in pre-trial detention for almost two months for insurrection charge, during his court appearance. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
A Cambodian supporter holds a banner reading: "The court system must be respected by the public not for..." as she sits with other supporters of Mam Sonando, one of Cambodia’s most prominent human rights defenders, in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Some 300 supporters gathered for prayer for local radio station owner Sonando, who has been held in pre-trial detention for almost two months for insurrection charge, during his court appearance. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Heng ReaksmeyVOA Khmer
PHNOM PENH - Phnom Penh Municipal Court held a second day of hearings Wednesday against Beehive Radio operator Mam Sonando, who is being charged with leading a secessionist movement in Kratie province.

Witnesses for the defense told the court Mam Sonando’s Association of Democrats was not involved in a separatist movement, but had been dedicated to teaching villagers more about democracy.

The government says a violent clash between villagers and security forces in Kratie in May was due to the incitement of a separatist movement, but critics of this view say villagers were angered by a land grab there.

Witnesses for the prosecution say the association was forcing people to join it in the province and promising plots of lands to those who did. Other witnesses told the court that a man named Bun Ratha, who remains at large, was involved in leading the villagers in the clash.

Wednesday’s hearing was held amid tight security, with crowds of protesters gathering for the second day to demand Mam Sonando’s acquittal and release.

Chea Bamrong, vice president of the Association of Democrats, told the court that the group taught villagers the principals of democracy but had always respected the rule of law and was not opposed to the Cambodian government. Mam Sonando had never even visited Kampong Damrei district, in Kratie, and had not led a movement there. Mam Sonando, who is 71, was not in the country when the clashes took place, Chea Bamrong told the court.

Mam Sonando also testified on his own behalf. The court’s had expected around 100 witnesses in the case, but in the end heard from nearly 40. Ten of them appeared on Wednesday.

Chea Chin, a former village chief from the area and a witness for the prosecution, said Bun Ratha and his subordinates pushed villagers to become members of the Association of Democrats and promised them plots of land in return. The association set up checkpoints outside of villages and refused admittance to the area of people who were not members. Villagers were also forced to pay a land tax of about $1.25 per hectare within areas under the association’s control, he said. He never saw Mam Sonando, he said, but in a meeting at a pagoda in his village, Bun Ratha held up a picture of Mam Sonando as he described the association.

Rights workers have said the government is providing little physical evidence to support its claims against Mam Sonando. But not all witnesses have been heard at the court.
Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hunting for Wild Honey in Cambodia's Forestsi
X
17 December 2014
Cambodia is thought to produce the best wild honey in Southeast Asia, mainly due to its climate and topography. Most of it is harvested informally and sold cheaply at local village markets. Now, one company is helping some of the country's poorest people by employing them to hunt for honey, then selling it commercially. (AP, Koh Kong)

English with Mani & Mori

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
You've Got To Be Kidding (Movie: Bedtime Stories)i
X
01 December 2014
You can say, "What? You lost your passport? So, you're stranded in a foreign country, where you don't speak the language and you don't know anyone? You've got to be kidding me, right?" What does it mean? Watch here. For more videos - go to www.youtube.com/KhmerSpecialEnglish. To contact Mani & Mori - write to them at maniandmori@gmail.com.
Video

Video You've Got To Be Kidding (Movie: Bedtime Stories)

You can say, "What? You lost your passport? So, you're stranded in a foreign country, where you don't speak the language and you don't know anyone? You've got to be kidding me, right?" What does it mean? Watch here. For more videos - go to youtube.com/KhmerSpecialEnglish.
Video

Video All Thumbs (Movie: Minority Report)

You can say, "I was 'all thumbs' this morning when trying to tie this tie - I kept making mistakes and just couldn't figure a way to pull it together." What does it mean? Watch here.
See more >>>