Thailand: Cambodian rights defender assaultedEvent
- Initial Date
- Dec 31, 2023
- Event Description
Thai police have arrested two suspects in an attack near Bangkok of a Cambodian activist who has been leading civic workshops for Cambodian workers living in Thailand.
Srun Srorn and a co-worker were physically assaulted by unidentified men at a Buddhist temple in Thailand’s Samut Prakan province on Sunday, he told Radio Free Asia.
Srun Srorn said he was in the province for a workshop on Cambodia’s 1991 Paris Peace Agreement, which formally ended decades of war in the country and paved the way for parliamentary democracy in the country.
The attack came two days after Thai authorities raided another workshop given by Srun Srorn in Bangkok. The workshop – also about the Paris Peace Agreement – was attended by 30 Cambodian migrant workers and political asylum seekers on Dec. 29.
Immigration police arrested 10 Cambodians at that workshop who they accused of illegally staying in Thailand.
All 10 have refugee or asylum status from the United Nations refugee agency, or UNHCR, that gives them legal protection in Thailand, according to one of the arrestees, activist So Metta. Seven of the 10 are still being detained, activists told RFA.
Srun Srorn said the assault on Sunday left him with a cut on his head. Police phoned him on Tuesday to say that two arrested suspects had confessed to the attack, he said.
The officer added that the suspects said the assault wasn’t related to the workshop – they were angry over an argument that took place at a nearby restroom more than four hours earlier, Srun Srorn said.
An investigator at Phra Samut Chedi police station, south of Bangkok, told RFA on Wednesday that the attackers were two Thai men in their 30s or early 40s who turned themselves in on Tuesday.
“They were charged with physical assault. They hit him with a baton and kicked him as well,” police Capt. Suwit Pudonnang said.
The argument apparently started over Srun Srorn’s broadcast of a live video. Suwit Pudonnang said the two suspects told police they felt “repulsed” as Srun Srorn stared at them while doing the livestream.
“They hit him just once but were chased away, outnumbered by the Cambodians,” he said.
Srun Srorn said he was skeptical of that explanation. He said police sent him photos of the suspects, and the men looked like the attackers who he said had been following him since the Dec. 29 workshop.
“Why did they have a car waiting for them? Why did they have a gun and sticks?” he said to RFA.
“I noticed before that they were following me, but I thought they were Thai police officers who were just watching my activities,” he said. “I did not expect them to assault us like this. I don’t know what their nationalities were because when they attacked us they did not speak at all.”
Several Cambodians have said they were attacked in public in Thailand in 2023 because of their activism.
Dozens of pro-democracy Cambodian activists have fled to Thailand to seek asylum in recent years as the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, or CPP, has used intimidation and the courts to neutralize the political opposition. Thailand is also host to more than 1 million Cambodian migrant workers.
The arrests at the Dec. 29 workshop were made several days after nine minor political parties and 15 NGOs aligned with the CPP urged Thai authorities to monitor opposition activists in Thailand.
The workshops are part of efforts to educate Cambodians about the development of democracy in the country.
They come almost six months after a general election was held in which the main opposition Candlelight Party wasn’t allowed to field candidates because of a paperwork technicality. With no real competition, CPP candidates won 120 of 125 seats in the National Assembly.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Violence (physical)
- Rights Concerned
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Pro-democracy defender
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 31 December 2023, Srun Srorn, Cambodian pro-democracy defender, was assaulted by two men while in Thailand and attending human rights workshops in Samut Prakan Province, Thailand.