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Rights Abuse Critic Threatened With Gun

Heang Rithy, president of the Cambodian National Research Organization a critic of the government’s human rights record, said Monday he was threatened by gunpoint Thursday night.

The organization documents human rights abuses, especially in the growing problem of land-grabbing. Heang Rithy is an outspoken critic of the Cambodian government.

Heang Rithy filed a complaint with the Ministry of Interior Friday, claiming he had been driving to his office Thursday night, in Chamkar Mon district, when a luxury car with military police plates pulled in front of him and stopped. The driver pointed a pistol at him and told him to step out of his car and threatened to shoot him, according to the complaint.

Heang Rithy said Monday he was worried the threat was related to his work, especially radio broadcasts on Beehive Radio FM105 criticizing the government’s human rights efforts and detailing rights abuses.

Ministry of Interior officials could not be reached for comment Monday, a national holiday.

Maj. Huot Sam Ol, commander of Chamkar Mon military police, said he received a direct complaint from Heang Rithy.

“But I think it is not a political threat,” he said. “Just a traffic incident.”

Military police would investigate, he said.

Heang Rithy said the threat was not traffic related.

Chan Soveth, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc, said Monday he received a complaint from Heang Rithy but had not yet opened an investigation. It was difficult to judge whether the threat was political or traffic related.