Paris Peace Accords 23 Oct. 1991

Monday, January 8, 2018

Activist makes ‘soft’ bid for pardon by congratulating Hun Sen on anniversary

Ex-CNRP activist Meach Sovannara (right), seen at the Supreme Court last year, congratulated Prime Minister Hun Sen on his wedding anniversary in a bid to shorten his prison term. Pha Lina

Activist makes ‘soft’ bid for pardon by congratulating Hun Sen on anniversary

Phnom Penh Post | 8 January 2018

Jailed ex-opposition figure Meach Sovannara has written a letter congratulating Prime Minister Hun Sen on his recent wedding anniversary in an apparent bid to secure a reduction in his 20-year prison term. 

Sovannara has spent the past three years in jail, and was sentenced to two decades behind bars for leading a so-called “insurrection” at Freedom Park after a demonstration there turned violent in 2014. 

“Highly respected Samdech! Prisoners of conscience are like a poor bird in a cage waiting for someone with divine power,” he wrote, adding that he and 14 other prisoners have nothing to offer the premier but “a drop of blood in this dark prison”

“I almost forget the birthday of my wife and my youngest beloved daughter, but I, Meach Sovannara, still remember the special day for you Samdechs, the 5th of January which transformed from the days of struggling together to be a day of happiness together.” 

The dual Cambodian-US citizen’s letter comes more than two months after the release of former opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour, who wrote a conciliatory letter to the premier last September apologising for posting an inaccurate version of a border treaty with Vietnam, which landed him in prison for “forgery” and “incitement”. Sovannara’s missive, however, stops short of making an apology. 

Sovannara’s assistant, Chhim Kim Try, verified the authenticity of the prison letter, adding it was intended as a “soft” request for a pardon. “In reality, his attempt was to get a pardon, but he cannot make a request frankly,” Kim Try said. “The meaning is that he is playing soft to look for a solution.” 

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said any pardon was “up to the prime minister”, even though such pardons are formally signed by the King, adding that there are no political prisoners in Cambodia – not even jailed Cambodia National Rescue Party President Kem Sokha, who was arrested on allegations of “treason” last September. The party, which Sovannara also belonged to, was dissolved in November for allegedly fomenting “revolution”.

“They are put in jail according to their own motives if they do something against the law,” Siphan said. “Some groups see political motives, but the judge sees something different.” 

Siphan suggested Sovannara would have to serve at least a third of his 20 years in prison before he would be considered for a pardon, but legal expert Sok Sam Oeun said pardons had been delivered with no time served – for example, the pardon of Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh in 2008. 

“I don’t think that just this letter can help, unless there is somebody to lobby for him . . . some close person with the family of the prime minister, or maybe embassy people,” Sam Oeun said, adding that it could “depend on the political situation and foreign relations pressure”. 

Political analyst Ou Virak said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Sovannara were released, despite the current anti-American sentiment and opposition crackdown. 

“Strategically, the opposition movement has been neutralised. It’s time to just make sure there [are] no major reactions or sanctions from the international community,” Virak said. 

“Releasing political prisoners would make sense. There needs to be . . . calm now. Prisoners’ release before the election is not unprecedented,” he added, referring to this year’s scheduled national ballot. “In fact, it’s been the case in previous elections.”


  1. Anonymous7:50 AM


    The hyena Hun Sen is simply a tool for the evil Yuon Vietnam to use to swallow Cambodia.

    Khmer people, if they really love Cambodia, should step up their efforts and courage denouncing Ah Kwack Hun Sen's recent unconstitutional acts such as the dissolution of the CNRP.

    To save Cambodia from Yuon's annexation, Khmer people need to take some concrete steps to prevent this one eye monster Hun Sen from stealing the election:

    - Seven days before the 2018 election, Khmer people have to mount a nationwide peaceful protestation condemning the dissolution of the CNRP and firmly demand the REINSTATEMENT of the CNRP.

    - Demand that all political prisoners who were wrongfully persecuted by Hun Sen must be

    - Demand that the newly created party laws must be rescinded as well.

    Notice that we start making the demonstration 7 days prior the election date and go on peacefully until the election day - MAKING THE ELECTION IMPOSSIBLE. We must have a rigid discipline to stay peaceful, bravely weathering Hun Sen's violent suppression. This is the right time to sacrifice our life while the international community is ready to support our struggle for justice.

    If there was no election, Hun Sen and his master Yuon, under heavy international pressure, will have no choice but to reinstate the CNRP so that it could participate in this upcoming election.

    Nothing will drop from the sky to help us. We must exert our concert efforts to stop this illegitimate election from happening
    Hun Sen is so cheap. He will grab the power after the election, no matter how low the people turn out at the polling stations.
    So, if there is no CNRP, there will be NO ELECTION. Khmer people must make it happens.

    Bun Thoeun

    1. Anonymous4:10 AM

      Bun Thoeun, I demand you go to the Fredom Square and do some demonstration, some protest. You are all talks and no action.

  2. Anonymous6:04 AM

    Those two guys look very violent. Lock them up for good.

    1. Anonymous7:30 PM

      And lock you up, too, Vietcong poster @Anonymous6:04 AM.

    2. Anonymous7:58 PM

      Only you, a Yuon slave @Anonymous6:04 AM, need to be locked up.