October 18, 2022
PHNOM PENH – More than 1,000 followers of League for Democracy Party (LDP) president Khem Veasna, whose doomsday prediction drew thousands of his supports to his plantation in Siem Reap province to escape the purported apocalypse, have refused to leave, according to provincial police chief Teng Channath.
Channath said such a mass gathering needs permission from the local authorities.
“Entering the plantation is forbidden unless Khem Veasna, or an LDP representative, submits a letter seeking permission from the authorities,” he said, adding that the letter needs to state the reasons for the gathering in order to comply with the law on assemblies by political parties.
He said the fact that Veasna’s supporters refuse to leave the plantation has prompted the authorities to implement measures to prevent new people from gathering there.
Channath said authorities are not allowing any more people to enter the plantation because they need to maintain the wellbeing of children and the elderly who are living at the location already.
However, he noted that the authorities would not take any action and would let them voluntarily leave the place.
Veasna, formerly a movie star in the 1990s before entering the political arena and who recently pronounced himself a “Universe Protecting Brahma”, said he considered the authorities’ banning of additional followers from gathering there an abuse of power.
Veasna last made headlines in August when he stirred up controversy by calling on his followers to gather at his sprawling plantation in Sor Ser village of Banteay Srei district’s Tbeng commune, near the foot of Kulen Mountain. He reportedly told them that only by following him could they escape “global tsunamis” that he said were about to occur.
Veasna’s claims were widely considered to be illegal acts that contravened public order and incited social unrest, but the authorities have not arrested him or forcibly disbursed the crowd there.
But back on August 31, Prime Minister Hun Sen suggested that authorities refrain from taking any tough action. He explained that it was a political trap and that what Veasna probably wanted was to trick the government into using force to disperse the crowds and arrest the LDP leader, thereby turning superstition into politics.