Amnesty International on Thursday issued a call to action, urging people to appeal to Prime Minister Hun Sen and other high-ranking government officials for the release of jailed radio station owner Mam Sonando ahead of his retrial next month.
Mr. Sonando, 71, was imprisoned for 20 years on October 1 for his alleged involvement in an insurrectionist movement in Kratie province.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court verdict was met with widespread condemnation, including from Washington, and Mr. Sonando’s appeal date has been set for March 5.
In the “urgent action,” as Amnesty International called it, people are asked to write to Mr. Hun Sen, Interior Minister Sar Kheng and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, “Demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Mam Sonando, who is a prisoner of conscience, and that his conviction is overturned.”
The “prisoner of conscience” appeal also urges participants to call on the authorities to “protect, respect and promote the right to freedom of expression in Cambodia.”
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan dismissed the Amnesty appeal, reiterating a long-held position that Cambodia is a sovereign state and, as a result, would not bow to international pressure.
“They should leave Cambodia by itself; don’t urge Cambodia to do what it’s supposed to do,” Mr. Siphan said.
“It’s Cambodian sovereignty and an internal issue…. It belongs to the affairs of the court,” he added.
Another well known Amnesty International prisoner of conscience was Burma’s pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who was awarded the status from 1989 to 1995, from 2000 to 2002, and from 2003 to 2010 while imprisoned under house arrest in Rangoon by the military junta.
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