THE Sam Rainsy Party has postponed a trip to Svay Rieng province, scheduled for today, to visit two villagers sentenced to prison earlier this year for their participation in an SRP-led protest in October, opposition officials said Monday.
The SRP delivered a request earlier this month to Kaen Savoeun, chief of the Svay Rieng provincial prison, asking for permission to send a delegation to visit the pair, Meas Srey and Prum Chea, both residents of Svay Rieng’s Chantrea district. SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that Kaen Savoeun had passed the request to the Court of Appeal, which had then passed it to the Department of Prisons at the Interior Ministry.
Yim Sovann said the SRP was frustrated by the bureaucratic hurdles it was being forced to negotiate as it seeks to visit the villagers. “I feel so sorry to see the weak administration system in our country. The system is not clear,” Yim Sovann said. “Do they intend to allow us to visit the prisoners or not?”Heng Hak, director of the Department of Prisons, could not be reached for comment Monday, though he said last week that he would consider the SRP request whenever he received it.
Yim Sovann said that the SRP plans to send a letter to Minister of Interior Sar Kheng today, asking him to grant permission for the visit.
In January, Svay Rieng provincial court sentenced Meas Srey, 39, and Prum Chea, 41, to one year in prison after they joined opposition leader Sam Rainsy in uprooting six temporary border posts in Chantrea district in October. Villagers say the posts were placed in their rice fields illegally by Vietnamese officials.
Sam Rainsy, who was sentenced to two years prison in the same case, is currently living in self-exile in France.
A group of SRP parliamentarians and doctors visited the villagers in March, accusing prison workers of providing the pair with inadequate health care.
Chhoeung Sarin, Prum Chea’s wife, said Monday that she was happy to hear of the SRP delegation’s plans to visit her husband. “I still support the SRP for its efforts to help my family get our rice fields back, and for not abandoning us when we have a problem,” she said.