Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Embassy in Thailand rejects reports of migrant workers leaving in large numbers

The Cambodian migrant workers returned home across Poipet border checking point. Stringer

The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand has rejected local news reports that Cambodian migrant workers there had returned to Cambodia in large numbers in recent days ahead of the promised return of exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy and other senior party leaders.

“Currently, Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand are working as usual. They haven’t traveled back to Cambodia in large numbers, as some media have reported,” the embassy said in a statement on Wednesday.

The statement did not say which media outlets reported the story.

Soum Chamkea, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc in Banteay Meanchey province, which has the main border crossings with Thailand, said on Thursday that he had not noticed any unusual flow of people in and out there.

“I didn’t see people coming in large numbers. I didn’t see anything unusual,” Chamkea said. “People go out and come in as normal.”

Senior leaders of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which was dissolved in 2017, have vowed to attempt to return to the country on Nov. 9.

However, Mu Sochua, the CNRP’s vice president, was blocked from entering Thailand last week after flying in from Malaysia. Sochua has said, without elaborating, that she would try again to enter Thailand before marching the border into Cambodia.

Rainsy, the party’s acting president, said in his latest video appeal to the international community on Tuesday that he was prepared to sacrifice even his life in his return attempt and asked for support for peace and freedom.

“On November 9 — which is Cambodia’s Independence Day — the world’s democrats will be commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a universal symbol of freedom restored. Please also have Cambodia in your thoughts on that day,” Rainsy said in the video, which was posted on Facebook.

“I am prepared to sacrifice my freedom — and even my life — to give democracy a chance, to help ensure freedom for my unfortunate people,” Rainsy added.