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Beehive Owner To Return to Cambodia Despite Threat

Giant panda Yuan Yuan sleeps next to her baby panda at the Taipei City Zoo, Taiwan.
Giant panda Yuan Yuan sleeps next to her baby panda at the Taipei City Zoo, Taiwan.

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.”