Sok Yoeun

Sok Yoeun to be released this month - KhmerIntelligence, February 13, 2004
KhmerIntelligence reports: Cambodian former opposition activist Sok Yoeun is expected to be released from his Bangkok prison on February 26... Sok Yoeun has spent more than 4 years in jail in Thailand pending an extradition demand from the Hun Sen government. After Amnesty International declared him a "prisoner of conscience" in 2002, he has received some 2,800 letters of sympathy from all over the world.

Hun Sen's face-saving decision concerning Sok Yoeun - January 20, 2004
Khmer Intelligence reports: On January 15, caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen wrote to inform King Norodom Sihanouk that he is now willing to drop the request the Phnom Penh government had made for four years to the Thai government to extradite Sok Yoeun (KI, 15 January 2004: "Sok Yoeun writes to the King of Thailand"). In fact, Hun Sen had been informed very recently that, in line with a November 28 Bangkok Court decision allowing them to decide on the case, the Thai government had decided not to send Sok Yoeun back to Cambodia given moral and international considerations. Therefore, the only honorable way out for Hun Sen is to officially ask the Thai government to "allow Sok Yoeun to go directly from Thailand to Finland" where his family is already settled.

Sok Yoeun: Extradition demand dropped - The Nation, January 17, 2004
Cambodian move will see dissident sent to Finland. Cambodia has agreed to drop a demand that Thailand extradite political dissident Sok Yoeun to face charges of trying to assassinate Prime Minister Hun Sen in 1998, King Norodom Sihanouk said yesterday...

Sok Yoeun writes to HM The King - January 16, 2004
Khmer Intelligence is carrying the letter Sok Yoeun wrote to HM The King: "I am a citizen of Cambodia who was arrested in Bangkok on 24 December 1999. I have been in prison ever since. At first I was charged with entering and residing in Your Kingdom illegally. It is true that I entered illegally but I had no choice because I feared for my safety in Cambodia where I had been falsely accused of staging a rocket attack on a motorcade carrying His Excellency Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was convinced that I would be at grave risk if I returned to Cambodia and granted me refugee status. Despite my refugee status the court system of Your Majesty's Kingdom has now ruled that I should be extradited to Cambodia (...). As an innocent and ageing person in deteriorating health, my only remaining wish is to be reunited with my family members who have been granted asylum in Finland. I humbly request and beseech Your Majesty to use the high powers of Your Royal office to make this possible (...)."

Thai trade for Sok Yoeun? - December 3, 2003
This latest bit of intelligence strikes us at as not being correct, but Khmer Intelligence does have some good connections and they have been right before, so readers can decide for themselves: Sok Yoeun in exchange for Preah Vihear - Some observers think that the Thai authorities have agreed to the Cambodian government's request for Sok Yoeun's extradition (KI, 30 November 2003: "Sok Yoeun could help speed up government negotiations") in exchange for the reopening of Preah Vihear temple to tourists coming from the Thai side of the border, which is going to be announced very soon.
In a similar type of exchange, the Thai government has supposedly accepted to stop demanding further investigation into and compensation for the attack on Thai interests in Phnom Penh on January 29, 2003, in exchange for Cambodian concessions concerning the delineation of the land and sea border between the two countries. Important offshore oil and gas deposits are at stake.

Latest speculation on Sok Yoeun - November 30, 2003
Khmer Intelligence reports the latest thoughts on why Thailand is apparently returning Sok Yoeun to Cambodia: According to Amnesty International, "two Thai television stations were tipped off by fax that a court hearing on his appeal against extradition would be held [on that day] but Sok Yoeun's own lawyer was not even formally informed". The human rights organization added that "Sok Yoeun's case is clearly highly political and normal judicial procedures have apparently not been followed."
Once back in Cambodia, Sok Yoeun will likely be forced to make false confessions that would allow the Hun Sen police to implicate SRP and Funcinpec leaders in the alleged assassination attempt on Hun Sen in Siem Reap province in September 1998. This maneuver is very timely since Sok Yoeun's "confessions" and their legal implications drawn by the CPP-controlled judiciary will be used to pressure Funcinpec and SRP into accepting any CPP's terms in the ongoing three-party negotiations to form a new government.
('Sok Yoeun could help speed up government negotiations,' November 30, 2003)

Saving Sok Yoeun
- November 29, 2003
Helping Sok Yoeun: It is terrible to hear that the Thai appeal court decides to extradite Sok Yoeun to Cambodia upon requested by Cambodian authority. From now Sok Yoeun is being risk with a deportation by Thai police.
Sok Yoeun's family in Finland is preparing to send an appeal letter to the Thai king to implore for his royal amnesty. The letter will send via Thai consular in Finland on Monday. Another two letters will send to Finnish Foreign Minister and European Commissioner president.
Sok Yoeun's family in Finland could be reached via:
Tel: (358)98133867 and (358)98137043
For more information please contact: Sophorn Sar
Tel: (31)492319170
Mobile: (31)641167752

Amnesty International on the events of Friday:
Shocking extradition decision by Thai judiciary - Amnesty International is extremely alarmed by the Thai judiciary's decision to grant the Cambodian authorities' request to extradite Sok Yoeun, a refugee recognized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, back to Cambodia. "Two Thai television stations were tipped off by fax that a court hearing on his appeal against extradition would be held today but Sok Yoeun's own lawyer was not even formally informed" said Amnesty International."His return to Cambodia where he would face an unfair trial and possible torture is a violation of both Thai domestic law and a fundamental principle of international law."
"Sok Yoeun's case is clearly highly political and normal judicial procedures have apparently not been followed," added the organization.
"This verdict is a rebuke to the UN and demonstrates Thailand's disregard for decisions taken by UNHCR," stated Amnesty International.
Sok Yoeun can now be deported within days. However, there are fears that following a similar case, he might be removed from his Thai prison much faster than this, possibly within 24 hours.
"Following this worrying development, Amnesty International is making a last-minute appeal to the Thai authorities to respect Sok Yoeun's advanced age and ill health and permit him to rejoin his wife and children who have been resettled by UNHCR in a European country."
The Sok Yoeun case is a tangled one. Last week it was clear there was some movement on the case and international organizations were pressing Thailand.

Sok Yoeun update - Khmer Intelligence, November 20, 2003
Latest on Sok Yoeun, a man who Amnesty International says is a "prisoner of conscience" being held in Thailand. The source is the shadowy 'Khmer Intelligence'...
Sok Yoeun defies Hun Sen from prison
The former communist CPP has always tried to crush the democratic opposition by all means. The case of SRP activist Sok Yoeun is revealing. Unjustly accused of attempting to kill Prime Minister Hun Sen in 1998, Sok Yoeun flew his native Battambang province and sought refuge in Thailand in September 1999. He was arrested in Bangkok on Christmas 1999 and put in jail for six months for illegally entering the country. When he was going to be released, the Hun Sen government requested the Thai authorities to send him back to Cambodia to face charges politically invented to intimidate SRP supporters. Pending a decision by the Thai court, Sok Yoeun - who has been granted
political refugee status by the UNHCR and declared a "prisoner of conscience" by Amnesty International - has been detained in prison until now. In the meantime, all his family has been resettled as political refugees in Finland. On 19 November 2003, unknown assailants tried to burn down Sok Yoeun's house, now occupied by his nephew, in Tuol Ta Ek commune, in the suburb of Battambang city (The Cambodia Daily, 20 November 2003). The incident happened only a few days after Amnesty International had called for the release of the old and sick Sok Yoeun to allow him to reunite with his family in Finland. Apparently, the ruling CPP does not forget that Sok Yoeun courageously gave his house to the fledgling opposition and rose the first SRP sign in
Battambang province in 1997. Since then, the opposition has continuously gained ground with Sok Yoeun being the symbol of the resistance to the current authoritarian regime. The results of the 1998 and 2003 elections show the counterproductive effect for the CPP of its policy of terror and intimidation. Silently but victoriously in defiance of Hun Sen, the fighting spirit of Sok Yoeun helped SRP secure a majority of the popular votes in his Battambang's Tuol TA Ek commune at the last election.

Amnesty International calls for release of Sok Yoeun - November 14, 2003
Four years after his recognition as a refugee by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Amnesty International once again calls for the immediate and unconditional release of prisoner of conscience Sok Yoeun, a member of a Cambodian opposition party, detained in prison in Thailand.

What's behind the Sok Yoeun case? -
Sok Yoeun is a Cambodian opposition figure who has been held by the Thais for some time. Now he is supposed to be sent back to Cambodia. Cambodian PM Hun Sen wants him for an alleged assassination plot and virtually everyone else (the Cambodian opposition, Amnesty International, the United Nations, the international press, etc.), seems to feel the charges were manufactured. For their part, the Thais have broadcast Sok Yoeun's allegedly coerced confession on TV. Now comes some tidbits about the case from that gives some insight you might not find elsewhere. We have not been able to determine who is behind the website. However, the info often seems correct and insightful. The English is edited to a higher standard than is usual for these kinds of sites. Other than that, like almost everything else on the net, it is rather anti-Hun Sen. If Sok Yoeun is recognized innocent, Chaowalit would definitely lose face and some unpleasant aspects of Thai politics would be exposed. An unusual deal between Thaksin Shinawatra and Hun Sen might have also played a role in the Sok Yoeun’s case. Earlier this year, a kind of conciliatory meeting between the two prime ministers took place in Bangkok during which the Thai premier reportedly recognized his involvement in the July 1994 coup d’etat against his Cambodian counterpart. Thaksin was then only a businessman frustrated by the situation in Cambodia where his business did not thrive the way he wanted. He reportedly showed his intention to put things right with Hun Sen for the 1994 incident and promised the latter a friendly cooperation from now on. The cooperation may have expanded to include the repatriation of Sok Yoeun, which is badly needed by Hun Sen to weaken his political opponents before the 2003 parliamentary election. Hun Sen can also count on the support of many Thai businessmen involved in dubious activities (gambling and money laundering, land confiscation and speculation along the border) and the plunder of Cambodia’s riches (deforestation and abusive mining and fishing).
Some background info: a good balanced article on Hun Sen (a rarity in the press) / a good balanced article on Thaksin.
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