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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Letter from Tioulong Saumura to the Cambodia Daily

Phnom Penh, 31 March 2008

Letter to the Editor,
The Cambodia Daily

Dear Sirs,

In its issue dated 31 March 2008, The Cambodia Daily reported that I was "implicated in detention claims" made by former SRP commune councillor Tim Norn, who alleged that I "detained her in Phnom Penh to prevent her from joining the CPP".

Had I been contacted by your reporter*, I would have brought the following information to his knowledge:

  1. On Saturday 16 February, Ms. Tim Norn came to the SRP headquarters and requested a meeting with me. She told me that former SRP MP for Kompong Thom Sok Pheng had convinced her to defect to the CPP and gave her $200, but that she regretted her decision and was scared because she had already taken and spent the money. She asked me to give protection to her and her family

  2. I replied that she has the right to choose which political party she wants to be a member of, she has the right to then change her mind, resign and join another party. But, once she has resigned from SRP and put her thumbprint on a written statement saying that she joins CPP, she is now a member of CPP and nobody at SRP has anything to do with her anymore.

  3. As she seemed frightened and kept on repeating that she did not want to go back to her village in Baray district, I said that we are a political party, not a shelter and advised her to submit her case to a human rights organisation such as Licadho or the UN Centre for Human Rights. I phoned Licadho to check whether it was open on Saturday.

  4. Ms. Tim Norn went to Licadho's office by her own means. Later, I joined her when she was talking to Licadho's staff, confirmed that she was a former SRP activist, made sure that she was taken care of, and came back to my office.

The claim that I detained Tim Norn does not make sense:

  1. I have no means to force anyone to stay anywhere against his/her will. I don't even know how long she stayed with Licadho, when she left and why.

  2. The Sam Rainsy Party is an organization made-up of volunteers who adhere to the ideals advocated by President Sam Rainsy. What binds us together is the common faith in the ability to bring about changes by peaceful, legal, non-violent and democratic means. The strength of the party is based on the free will of our members. In our party, nobody can "force" anyone of us to donate our time, effort, money, and risk our assets, peace of mind, lives. So, there is no rationale for me to try to keep someone by force.

  3. Tim Norn having ceased being one of our members, I still wanted to help her on humanitarian grounds, which is what I often do when I meet people needing assistance. That is why I advised her to seek assistance from a human rights organization and from the UN Centre for Human Rights.

In your article, you quote SRP Secretary General Eng Chhay Eang saying that he did not know when I would return to Cambodia. Actually, I am leaving Paris tomorrow 1st April, arriving on the 2d. My schedule is linked to the preparation of the autobiography of MP Sam Rainsy. The deadline of the French publisher was today 31 March. MP Sam Rainsy had to attend the commemoration of the grenade attack on 30 March, I took care of the final round of proof-reading before giving the imprimatur today.

Yours sincerely,

Tioulong Saumura, MP (Ms.)

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