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Malaysia detains two Cambodian dissidents headed for Thailand

08 November 2019

Human Rights Watch deputy director for Asia, Phil Robertson, said the two detainees are members of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), which has been outlawed by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's government. They are led by party co-founder Sam Rainsy, who has been in exile since 2015 to avoid serving a prison term on charges that he says are politically motivated.

On Sept. 24, he used social media to appeal to the Cambodian armed forces to support the people in overthrowing Prime Minister Hun Sen on November 9, the date of his scheduled return that coincides with independence day.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said he could not allow interference into the internal affairs of Cambodia, a fellow member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Most if not all have convictions or charges pending against them, including inciting armed rebellion despite their avowedly nonviolent intentions.

"There are only three possibilities about the fate of a political leader in Cambodia". She holds dual Cambodian and USA citizenship.

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"We are risking our lives". Huge crowds came out in support when he claimed fraud had robbed his party of victory.

Phay Siphan, chief Cambodian government spokesman, said Tuesday that the government is "just enforcing the rule of law against those who want to stage a "coup" and destroy the country's peace and stability".

"We have asked neighboring countries to permit us safe passage to Cambodia and to have free movement when we are in Cambodia", she said.

At least 48 opposition activists have been arrested this year and accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

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Sochua announced at a press conference in the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, that she and her colleagues would also try to return to Cambodia on Saturday.

Cambodian police and soldiers have already been deployed at major crossing points with Thailand, including airports, over the past few days to prevent the banned politicians' return or arrest them if they do, while airlines have been warned not to allow them to board inbound planes.

Last week, immigration police in Thailand deported the opposition party's vice president, Mu Sochua, when she arrived at Bangkok's worldwide airport. He could face arrest amid a crackdown at home on members of his banned party and Malaysia's detention of two party activists also trying to return.

The embassy statement described that action as being "in true ASEAN spirit".

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Malaysia detains two Cambodian dissidents headed for Thailand