By Phok Dorn and Colin Meyn
March 19, 2013
Four Khmer Krom men were arrested by Thai authorities in Thailand’s
Pathum Thani province outside Bangkok and are being charged with what
Cambodian police claim are acts of terrorism and plans to attack Prime
Minister Hun Sen’s government.
The arrests come exactly a week after the arrests of two other Khmer
Krom men in the same province by Thai authorities on similarly vague
Khmer Krom, or lower Khmer, refers to the ethnic Khmer community in
southern Vietnam. Members of the Khmer Krom community frequently accuse
the Vietnamese government of human rights abuses and repressing their
The four men arrested Friday— Yorn Kimsrun, 27; Yorn Yoeub, 25; Theac
Kongphuong, 37; and Khem Ma, 28—will be extradited to Cambodia to face
a litany of charges, Cambodian National Police spokesman Lieutenant
General Kirth Chantharith said in a statement posted on the National
“The arrest of those people followed a court warrant for their
arrest, they are charged with terrorism, distributing leaflets,
possessing explosives, creating illegal armed forces and creating the
Khmer National Rescue Front that violates the rule of Cambodian law,”
the statement says.
Despite the police statement, no details regarding the alleged
movement, alleged attack plans or alleged act of “terrorism” have been
provided by police.
Taing Piseth, a representative of Khmer Krom refugees in Thailand
employed by the U.N., declined to comment on whether any of the six men
arrested were asylum seekers, saying that officials from the Office of
the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Thailand told him not to
speak publicly about the arrests.
One source close to the case said that the two Khmer Krom men
arrested last week were political asylum seekers and were to be
resettled in Australia in a matter of weeks.
James Heenan, the officer-in-charge of the U.N. human rights office
in Cambodia, said he was concerned by the arrests, but didn’t have
enough details to comment further.
Speaking by phone from Thailand on Sunday, Theach Tha, 52, the wife
of Theach Soeu, one of the men arrested on March 8, said that her
husband had been part of a group of Khmer Krom who were working to set
up a Khmer Krom advocacy association in Thailand.
“We created an association because we wanted to protect all Khmer
Krom people when we have problems, he was not against the government,”
Ms. Tha said.
Yun Tharo, a Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker and president of the Khmer
Kampuchea Krom Cultural Center, said the arrested men are innocent.
“They were not involved with criminal activities,” he said.