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In an apparent reference to Sam Rainsy and his supporters, Commissioner General of National Police Neth Savoeun has demanded vigilance along the borders to prevent “malicious people” from entering Cambodia.
PHNOM PENH--Commissioner General of National Police Neth Savoeun on Sept. 23 ordered the police force along Cambodia’s borders to remain vigilant against the threat of malicious people attempting to enter the country and cause unrest and insecurity.
Savoeun claimed that rebel groups would never give up their goal of destroying what he called the legitimate government, so by not allowing them to come in, they won’t be able to destroy the well-being of the people.
The commissioner’s remarks were made at the appointment ceremony held for Battambang’s new Provincial Police Commissioner Sat Kimsan. Savoeun warned Kimsan to prevent any attempt to destabilize the people, particularly he emphasized the threat posed by rebels without naming them.
He said that after nearly 500 years, Cambodia has only just gained security, so it is absolutely necessary to protect the peace that comes from this hardship.
Savoeun's orders came just days after former opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who is currently in exile in France, announced another plan to return to Cambodia. Rainsy may not have succeeded in returning as promised in November 2019, but his attempt prompted Prime Minister Hun Sen to deploy the military along the border with Thailand and issue travel ban requests to regional neighbors.
The former opposition leader did not specify an exact date for his latest attempt at returning home, but said that it would happen “very soon.”
Similarly, eight ex-CNRP members sentenced to prison for plotting against the government this month alone and Savoeun is not the only official seeking to tighten the government’s grip.
On Sept. 14, Deputy General Commissioner of the National Police Chhay Kimkhoeun urged security departments to strengthen the security provided for diplomats and potential government targets, but did not specify what threats he perceived.
Recent months have seen an increase in dissent as the COVID-19 pandemic has wrecked the economy and seen a renewed crackdown on critics of the government. Protests have grown in size and frequency, resulting in a string of often violent arrests.
LICADHO, a human rights NGO based in Cambodia, recently published data detailing the arrests and sentencing of 19 activists, artists and human rights defenders who have been detained since July 2020.
“These are the men and women who have lost their freedom while exercising their fundamental rights,” LICADHO’s report explained