Lawmaker Traces Death Threat to Newspaper

Outspoken opposition parliamentarian Son Chhay said this week that he received another threat on his life—which he said he traced via his mobile phone to a local pro-CPP newspaper.

Son Chhay, a former Son Sann loyalist now affiliated with Sam Rainsy, said he received a telephone call Wednesday morning from a man who told him to “stop talking or I will really kill you.”

The lawmaker has a feature on his mobile phone that identifies the number of the caller. “When I called that number, the same voice answered and said it was Chakraval newspaper,” Son Chhay said Wednesday.

The threat came just days after Chakraval published an article stating that relatives of people allegedly killed by resistance General Nhiek Bun Chhay wanted Son Chhay to be shot to death as revenge if Nhiek Bun Chhay is given an amnesty.

“I said, ‘Why don’t you finish your talk, what is it that you really want to say?’” Son Chhay said, recounting Wednesday’s conversation.

The man didn’t respond, and their conversation ended. But about 10 minutes later, Son Chhay said he got a call back from the man.

The man, he said, de­nied making the threat. But Son Chhay said the cal­ler, pressed ab­out the article, ev­entually claimed that a long-time aide to Second Prime Min­ister Hun Sen had ordered it to be printed.

The aide on Thursday denied ordering such an article.

When contacted twice this week about the matter, Chak­raval Publisher Keo Sophoan said that he was too busy to talk and hung up.

Son Chhay said ear­lier this week that he re­ceived a tele­­phone threat about three months ago, and be­lieves he was followed Monday in Siem Reap by two men, one dressed as a policeman and the other as a civilian.

He has reported the incidents to rights workers and has been considering such options as leaving Cambodia and taking legal action against Chakraval.

“People followed me in Siem Reap and now I get the phone call. If this is the real thing, I am in real trouble,” Son Chhay said. But the “more they threaten me, the more determined I am to stay,” he said.

Rights workers said that the threats against Son Chhay must be taken seriously.

One rights worker has called on the National Election Com­mittee to denounce Chakraval so that such published threats won’t become a pattern. “It’s further evidence of a deteriorating atmosphere leading to the elections,” he said.

A media expert said this week that he believes the published threat violates article 11 of the press law, which states that the “press shall not publish anything which may affect public order by directly inciting one or more persons to commit violence.”

Khieu Kanharith, secretary of state for Information, was said to be out of town Thursday and un­available for comment. Leng So­chea, director of the press de­part­ment, declined comment.

Son Chhay said he still wants to participate in the scheduled July 26 elections if they are free and fair.

“But so far, we see intimidation and the rights of the opposition being taken away….We live under the thumb of a dictator.” (Add­i­tional reporting by Khuy Sok­hoeun)

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