Cambodian Activist Mam Sonando Tells VOA He Won’t Give in to Pressure

Mam Sonando in the radio booth with VOA reporter

Mam Sonando on the Khmer Service’s “Hello VOA,” answering questions from listeners.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Cambodian activist and independent radio station owner Mam Sonando, who was recently released from jail, told VOA Monday that Beehive Radio will continue to air stories on sensitive subjects, despite pressure from authorities.

Speaking in Washington on the Cambodian language program, Hello VOA, Mam Sonando said, “We have a clear target, which is to protect the freedom of expression, making sure that people are able to have access to news on Beehive Radio, a station that is independent and promotes democracy in Cambodia.”

Mam Sonando, who has been arrested on three separate occasions, was jailed in July 2012 for allegedly leading a secessionist plot. While in prison he was visited by BBG Board member Victor Ashe for 30 minutes in January. Mam Sonando was released in March after an Appeals Court ruling. BBG Board members hailed his release and encouraged him to carry on in his mission.

“He is extraordinarily brave to speak his mind on the need for democracy and human rights – to  fight against corruption – and to continue to do so even after being jailed on trumped up charges,” said VOA Director David Ensor after meeting with Mam Sonando.

Activist, Mam Sonando, meets Director David Ensor at VOA's Khmer Service after his interview on

Activist, Mam Sonando, meets Director David Ensor at VOA’s Khmer Service after his interview on “Hello VOA.”

Beehive Radio is one of the few remaining independent broadcasters in Cambodia and airs programming from the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, Radio France International and others.  The station often reports on government corruption and other sensitive issues.

During his VOA interview, Mam Sonando took questions by phone from the audience in Cambodia and through Facebook.  He said the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party must change its own tactics, stop giving in to intimidation by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, and stand up for the rights of the people.

“When the government does things that are unlawful, we have to hold a demonstration, but not violently,” he said. “We have to hold demonstrations within the framework of the constitution. We don’t need to beat others; we’d rather let others beat us. We’d rather go to jail and let them shoot at us, so that we can achieve our goals.”

Mam Sonando expressed doubt over the fairness of the upcoming national elections in July. That’s in part due to the National Election Committee, he said.
VOA’s Khmer Service is one of the most popular independent sources of news in Cambodia.

For more information about this release contact Kyle King at the VOA Public Relations office in Washington at (202) 203-4959, or write kking@voanews.com.   For more information about VOA visit our Public Relations website at www.insidevoa.com, or the main VOA news site at www.voanews.com.

(This release published originally on www.insidevoa.com)

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