Malaysia frees detained Cambodian opposition activists | Malaysia

Malaysia frees detained Cambodian opposition activists | Malaysia

One of them is Mu Sochua, the vice-president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, who was held last night at a Kuala Lumpur airport ahead of her planned return home to lead anti-government demonstrations.

By refusing Sam Rainsy entry to Cambodia and embroiling neighboring governments and threatening airlines, Hun Sen has broadened the scope of the issue.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia doesn't want to be used as a base for political activists from the region, after the No. 2 official of a banned Cambodian opposition party was detained at the airport as she and other exiles planned a return to their homeland in a challenge to an autocratic leader. Most if not all have convictions or charges pending against them in Cambodian courts, including inciting armed rebellion, despite their avowedly nonviolent intentions.

Members of the opposition are trying to get back to Cambodia to support their leader, Sam Rainsy, who wants to make a dramatic end to his exile this weekend to mark Cambodian Independence Day.

When Sam Rainsy tried to take a Thai Airways flight to Bangkok from Paris, where he lives in exile, Thailand's flag carrier told him "they had received from very high up the instruction to not allow me to board", he said.

"We hope that this will inspire Thailand to allow Sam Rainsy into the country and all other ASEAN countries to respect people's fundamental rights", he said.

Rainsy fled to France four years ago following a conviction for criminal defamation.

"I have no choice but to do so in the face of the treatment that many of my party's supporters have endured", he said in the letter dated October 31, adding, "My return is intended as a peaceful even which will provide an opportunity for political reconciliation and progress for all Cambodians".

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A Malaysian rights commissioner says the government will release senior Cambodian opposition official Mu Sochua and two other activists.

He also faces a five-year prison sentence in a separate case.

Malaysia's decision this week reflected that of Thailand's, which prevented Cambodian opposition officials from travelling through the country to Cambodia. "I think they are also paranoid that the United States and other Western governments might pull a Venezuela, and throw their support behind the opposition in the event of a large-scale uprising". "We follow things very closely but at the same time, we can not interfere with what happens in other countries".

"According to our commitment to ASEAN, we will not interfere in each other's internal affairs, and we will not allow an anti-government person to use Thailand for activism", the former junta-leader turned elected premier told reporters in Bangkok. I am a citizen, I have done nothing wrong so I must go back to Cambodia.

In response to Mr Prayut's denial of access to Thailand, Mr Rainsy told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday: "We have already committed that we will arrive in Cambodia to rescue Cambodian people".

"The Cambodian government has informed all Asean nations that those people are organised crime", he said.

The CNRP leaders had previously said they would enter Cambodia via its land border with Thailand. They said they want to spark a popular movement to oust long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has clamped down on his opponents. "I therefore have no option left but to return to Cambodia in a non-violent way to restore democracy", he added.

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