Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen himself praised the 2017 ban on opposition Cambodia’s National Rescue Party in his New Year’s speech on Thursday, saying that the group sought to sow chaos in the country, while the Observers urged both sides to pursue political reconciliation in the interests of the nation.
On the eve of the Cambodian New Year on April 14-16, Hun Sen thanked King Norodom Sihamoni, the armed forces, civil servants and Cambodian people for their support.
He pledged to work to improve all aspects of the country, while at the same time ensuring peace, maintaining national integrity, protecting Cambodian territory and preventing any interference in the internal affairs of the country. .
“The government is strongly acting against any attempt to color revolution or provoke against the constitution and democratic principles that contribute to destabilization, including political and social chaos,” he said.
“As a result, Cambodia has maintained its security, independence, national and territorial integrity while avoiding any unnecessary disasters.”
Cambodia’s Supreme Court dissolved CNRP in November 2017 and banned its members from participating in political activities, two months after the arrest of party chairman Kem Sokha for his role in a conspiracy. accused of overthrowing the government of Hun Sen. The ban, coupled with a broader crackdown on non-governmental organizations and independent media, paved the way for Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to gain all. 125 seats in the country’s 2018 general election.
Since then, dozens of CNRP officials and supporters have fled abroad or been surrounded by authorities for “inciting” after expressing their criticisms of Hun Sen’s rule.
The 36-year-longest serving prime minister in the world, Hun Sen and his party are hardly run ahead of next year’s communal elections and a general election in July 2023.
Call for mediation
Speaking to RFA’s Khmer Language Service on Thursday, Klaing Bunlay, director of CNRP in Bangkok, Thailand, said that Hun Sen’s message was “aimed at dividing Cambodian solidarity” because he “feared that CNRP would continue to exist and affect”. He said the opposition party continues to attract support because Cambodians “want social justice”.
“Hun Sen’s message does not come from the heart,” he said. “Hun Sen ignored the needs of the people and arrested them, acts that cause pain.”
Soeung Sengkaruna, spokesperson for the Cambodian human rights group Adhoc, said that leaders of the opposition and ruling party should take advantage of the Choul Chnam Thmey time to exchange best wishes and work to resolving the political stalemate of the country.
He said that Hun Sen’s message could create more pressure, negatively affect the people, the economy and the development of the country.
“We don’t want to see any harm to Cambodia. We want to see a true democracy, which involves challenging power through mutual understanding, ”he said.
“The winners should win with dignity and the losers should accept the results so that everyone can exercise their rights under the constitution and the state can guarantee those rights.”
Political analyst Kim Sok told RFA that Hun Sen’s message is also intended to appease the public who are suffering from difficult conditions in the economic downturn prompted by the latest coronavirus outbreak and the country’s most dangerous.
He said that Choul Chnam Thmey is the time for Hun Sen to give a message of national reconciliation for people so that the country can strive to restore the economy when the pandemic ends.
Cambodia, which is virtually unaffected by coronavirus in 2020, recorded its first death from COVID-19 – a viral disease – last month, a year until the day of the Organization of the Health The world considers this an epidemic. Since then, 24 people have died, and the number of deaths in Cambodia has risen to more than 3,000.
Distributed assessment of governance
Hun Sen’s speech comes as the London-based human rights organization Amnesty International makes a harsh assessment of his governance in an annual report, emphasizing the enhancement of by 2020 on what it calls “the extreme restrictions on civil and political rights that have been in place since 2017”.
The group introduced a controversial Emergency Law, enacted against the spread of coronavirus, which, according to them, “seriously affects human rights.”
Also in 2020, human rights defenders, peaceful protesters and members of the CNRP continue to face harassment and intimidation through a judicial system that belongs to the government, while Women’s rights were “under constant attack” after Hun Sen led a campaign to punish those who did not follow arbitrary interpretations of “tradition” and “culture”.
“Members of the banned CNRP continue to face arbitrary criminalization and increasing levels of physical violence,” said the group.
“The practice of judicial harassment against former politicians and activists by CNRP increased in November when at least 126 individuals affiliated with the CNRP were summoned in a series of mass trials. have a political motive for treason and agitation ”.
Amnesty noted that some CNRP officials and activists were the target of serious physical attacks, and authorities did not arrest or investigate anyone who carried out the attacks.
The group also criticized the country’s Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGOs), which are believed to continue to be used to prevent freedom of association, as well as arbitrary arrest and assault. Environmental activists work to expose illegal logging by state agencies and actors’ businesses.
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Language Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.