MEPs' call for Rainsy's safety not European Parliament position

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The European Parliament has said that a statement by 56 Members of the European Parliament calling for guarantees of Sam Rainsy’s freedom and safety should he return to Cambodia did not represent its position. AFP

The European Parliament said on Friday that a statement by 56 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) calling for guarantees of Sam Rainsy’s freedom and safety should he return to Cambodia did not represent its position.

Delphine Colard, the European Parliament’s press officer told The Post that the statement came from the "personal activities" of the MEPs concerned.

Rainsy, the "acting president" of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), said on Facebook on Thursday that 56 of the 751 MEPs had signed a statement calling on Prime Minister Hun Sen to ensure his safety and freedom as the opposition's top leadership attempts to return to the Kingdom after years in self-exile.

“We the undersigned call on the authorities of Cambodia and neighbouring countries to permit Sam Rainsy and colleagues from the opposition CNRP free and peaceful entry into their native Cambodia on November 9, 2019, and to ensure their safety and free movement when in the country,” the statement said.

It said the signatories were concerned by the recent actions of the Cambodian government, which included an increase in the "harassment" and "detention" of opposition activists, the deployment of national security forces, the threat of violence against Rainsy and declarations of his arrest on "trumped-up" charges.

“We express our expectation that Prime Minister Hun Sen and the government apparatus will act in conformity with the Cambodian Constitution and accept international civilised norms and allow Sam Rainsy to meet with supporters of the now-banned CNRP unhindered and without harassment from the authorities or their agents,” the statement said.

It also called for the release of CNRP co-founder and president Kem Sokha, who has been charged with treason, and respect for the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements.

In clarifying the European Parliament’s position, Colard said: “This statement was done on a personal capacity and not on behalf of an official committee or delegation. It does not represent [the European Parliament's] position.

“Mr Rainsy was apparently in Brussels on Monday and met with some Members of the European Parliament as part of their personal activities.

“One of these circulated the statement for signatures and collected the support of 56 members, with it then sent to various representatives of the Cambodian, Thai and EU authorities,” she said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Friday that Cambodia had made it clear many times that Rainsy is a convict who intended to topple the legitimate government on his return.

“He has announced that his return is in the name of innocent people and he will be entering Cambodia in good faith. So no one cares about the appeal in the statement.

“The Cambodian government will do whatever [is necessary] to ensure peace, safety and social stability for the country,” Kuong stressed.