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Japan has spent huge money for Cambodia since 1991 to help build democracy and national institution of this country. Now, it is critical time that Japan will never give up in paralleling their efforts with the West and America to renew such endeavours. Now, time is for HS to pick a dark road or a bright road. (Quote from a facebook page)
Kono urges Hun Sen to hold fair election
Op-Ed: NHK World Asia of Japan
Kono and Hun Sen met on Sunday in Phnom Penh.
International observers have expressed concern about the fairness of the election scheduled for July. The Cambodian government forced the largest opposition party to disband last year.
Kono said the election should properly reflect the will of the people. He quoted Hun Sen as saying that it will be free and fair.
Later on Sunday, Kono and Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn signed a document that says Japan will provide up to roughly 90 million dollars in yen-denominated loans to help build electric power facilities in Phnom Penh.
Kono told reporters that Japan is a longtime friend of Cambodia and doesn’t want to see the Southeast Asian country facing criticism.
He said Japan will keep monitoring the situation.
THE DUMPLING SHOP OWNER AT THE CENTER OF AN AUTHORITARIAN CRACKDOWN
BY JUSTIN HIGGINBOTTOM
The experiment in democracy that is modern Cambodia seems to have hit a bump in the road. Actually, if Cambodian democracy were a car, it would be in a rice-field ditch and the villagers (and international observers) smelling smoke. Twenty-five years after the United Nations Transitional Authority ended its stewardship of the country, and despite having a new constitution, years of relatively free elections and billions of dollars in foreign aid, residents are effectively living under single-party rule. The question on people’s minds is what comes next — a tow truck or an explosion.
One interested observer is Sin Rozeth. The 34-year-old former commune chief and once rising political star was given the same choice as other members of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party: defect to another party (preferably the ruling Cambodian People’s Party) or get out of politics. Rozeth chose the latter — she opened a dumpling restaurant in her old stomping grounds after the CNRP was forcibly dissolved in November — while looking for a way forward in the face of Cambodia’s increasingly totalitarian environment.
Rozeth opened a restaurant to support her mother, and to make up for the loss of her meager public salary. But her accusers say it’s a front for illegal political activities. “If this restaurant is used as a place to gather fire, it is really dangerous for Rozeth and it should not be tolerated,” Chheang Vun, a ruling party lawmaker, posted on Facebook. In response to claims that she’s harboring “rebels,” Rozeth hung a banner outside: “Rozeth’s shop welcomes all guests, but not rebels.” The tongue-in-cheek gesture earned her a reprimand by the city governor, who warned that using such language could damage the kingdom’s reputation. Rozeth says she feels threatened by the ongoing harassment, and a group of former CNRP members sent letters to several international bodies, including the United Nations Human Rights Committee, seeking help in pressuring the government to stop the “bullying.”
In the short term, at least, one-party rule will continue in Cambodia, says Sophal Ear, professor of diplomacy and world affairs at Occidental College. And mounting new opposition will be difficult. ”It’s like razing an old grove forest,” he explains. “You’re not going to get 100-year-old trees. You’ll have young trees, and they’ll be easy to bulldoze if they get too strong.” National elections are scheduled for this summer, and it’s unclear whether CNRP’s former supporters will turn toward another party or abstain from voting, says Sinthay Neb, director of the Advocacy and Policy Institute in Phnom Penh. Whatever happens, he believes the best way forward is for both sides to meet and work together — however unlikely.
For now, Rozeth refuses to give up: “As long as one still has breath, there is still hope for democracy.” She stays busy traveling to villages to perform charity work (this too, she says, is closely monitored). And she helps people who come to her shop, even if it’s only for a good meal.
Before I leave the noodle shop — which has filled with the evening crowd — I take a few photographs of the owner. Other patrons notice and pull out their phones. Seems they all want a selfie with the politician turned restaurateur now under fire.
“When ‘color revolution’ requires 132 pages to explain and defend as the basis of anything, someone’s working overtime to turn it into an excuse or ploy to crack down on the opposition, NGOs, the media and government critics,” said Sophal Ear, an associate professor of diplomacy and world affairs at Occidental College in Los Angeles. “The metaphorical hammer is being used on their heads.”
There was also the matter of a June 2017 local level commune elections that had the potential to build electoral momentum for the CNRP ahead of the national polls. The CNRP gained a strong foothold in the countryside, winning 5,000 seats. However, those and national level seats won in 2013 were given to smaller parties after the CNRP’s dissolution.
Hun Manith saw the commune elections as a potential springboard for an opposition uprising. “As you might be aware, this kind of regime change took place near and after an election, and Cambodia will have a commune election in 2017. Is it a coincidence?” he said in the 2016 interview.
“In order to succeed in mobilizing the people for regime change, they need to create a negative perception about the government, for locals and also in the international arena. Once the perspective succeeds, all the means and tactics for regime change will be justified.”
The CPP’s propaganda apparatus, including most notably the pro-government Fresh News outlet, was later mobilized to convince a skeptical public and an even more skeptical international audience that its moves against the opposition were warranted.
The Phnom Penh Post reported in March that Fresh News released a 700-page collection of open letters, commentary and political analysis spinning Cambodia’s recent political crackdown into a successful prevention of a color revolution.
Former Phnom Penh Post News Editor Sebastian Strangio, also the author of Hun Sen’s Cambodia, said Fresh News’ role was perhaps more important in shaping the news than it was in delivering it, saying “They don’t really do journalism.”
However, while the average Cambodian struggled to understand exactly what a color revolution was, Los Angeles-based academic and political analyst Sophal was under no illusions.
“The Cambodian people understand the term ‘color revolution’ insofar as it’s being used as a hammer swung on their friends’ heads, which is a whack-a-mole exercise that is more likely to result in their own heads being hit,” he told Asia Times.
“Some people are of course absorbing this and drinking the Kool Aid, but there’s also a sense that anything Fresh News and Khmer Times (newspaper) says is bad is actually good, and anything they say is good is actually bad.
“I never cease to be amazed at how smart Cambodians are at seeing through the fog. In a place where the Orwellian modus operandi that white is black and black is white prevails, Cambodians aren’t fooled for a second.”
While attempts to justify attacks on the CNRP continued and senior party members fled the country fearing arrest, the prime minister’s second son was promoted inside the military from Major General to Lieutenant General, recognition for his “good achievements”, including possibly his role in the successful suppression operation against the CNRP.
Dear Respectful Members,
This thread is to express my deep sorry and frustration that because of what I mentioned about “PM Hun Sen didn’t appear in the group photo because he said he was at the toilet?” that made Louk Pu BA faced removing from the Campro group (link 1, link 2). Whatever reasons his removal is referred to, I think that, this action is just a paralleled “victims are victimized” conduction in Cambodia society.
Op-Ed: Geneva Switzerland
Item 2 General Debate
37th Session of the Human Rights Council
Geneva, March 21, 2018
The international community has provided strong support for the development of democracy in Cambodia during the twenty-five years since the Constitution of Cambodia enshrined liberal multi-party democracy. Over the intervening decades, we have applauded the progress Cambodia had made since the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements in 1991. Positive indictors included a relatively successful national election in 2013, and communal elections in 2017.
As we near the elections scheduled for 29 July this year, our previous optimism has been replaced by deep concern about the recent serious decline of civil and political rights in Cambodia. These backward steps include signs of escalating repression of the political opposition, civil society and media. We share the concerns highlighted by the High Commissioner and the Special Rapporteur about actions taken by the Cambodian government that will undermine the conduct of credible, free and fair elections in July. For the Cambodian Government to retain its legitimacy, any elections must be free, fair and credible.
International human rights treaties ratified by Cambodia and the Constitution of Cambodia guarantee, and the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration affirms the rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association, and of citizens to participate in government through free, fair and credible elections that are periodic and transparent. However, we note with particular concern that in recent months:
- There has been a significant clampdown on the press and civil society across the country, including the closure or suspension of several NGOs and independent media companies;
- The Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Kem Sokha was detained on 3 September 2017, and since then has been deprived of his rights including access to his lawyers, and the right to defend himself through legal assistance of his own choosing.
- The court’s continued unwillingness to release Kem Sokha on bail during judicial proceedings is of concern especially in light of his deteriorating health.
- The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court on 16 November, 118 CNRP members were banned from political activity for five years, and the CNRP’s local and national seats were reallocated to unelected members of the ruling and other parties.
We are particularly concerned about the conditions under which opposition leader Kem Sokha is being detained following his arbitrary arrest: he is reportedly in isolation, without adequate access to health care, subjected to intrusive observation, and other conditions, such as constant light. We call for the immediate release of all political prisoners, including Kem Sokha.
We urge Cambodia to:
- Reinstate the CNRP and all elected members to their national and communal seats, and to
- Repeal the amendments to the Law on Political Parties which provided for expansive grounds for the dissolution of political parties.
An electoral process from which the main democratic opposition party has been arbitrarily excluded cannot be considered genuine or legitimate.
We call on the Royal Government of Cambodia to take all measures necessary, before it is too late, to ensure that the 2018 elections are free, fair and credible. In particular, we urge that the elections take place in a peaceful environment without threats, arbitrary arrests or acts of intimidation, and that all international human rights obligations important for successful elections, such as rights to freedom of expression, press, association and peaceful assembly, are respected, protected and fulfilled.
Further, we urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to refrain from using judicial, administrative and fiscal measures as political tools against the opposition, the media, civil society and human rights defenders and to further revise: the Law on Associations and NGOs (LANGO); the Law on Trade Unions; the Cambodian Criminal Code; and recent amendments to the Constitution. The political environment must be one in which opposition parties, civil society and media can function are able to carry out their legitimate roles without fear, threats or arbitrary restrictions.
We were heartened by the UN Special Rapporteur on Cambodia’s country visit that took place from 5-14 March. We strongly encourage the government of Cambodia to pay close attention to the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations from her recent visit. In this regard, we urge Cambodia to take all necessary measures to prevent and deter acts of intimidate and reprisals against those cooperating with the UN human rights mechanisms, including human rights defenders and other civil society actors. We stand ready to support the implementation of assistance that will strengthen Cambodia’s democratic systems.
We urge the continued attention of the international community to the current situation in Cambodia, and we will look to further consideration by the Human Rights Council if the human rights situation does not improve in the lead up to the elections in July. We encourage the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide an update on the situation in Cambodia in an inter-sessional briefing ahead of the June session of the Human Rights Council.
As Cambodia continues along the path of development, we urge the government to fulfill human rights obligations and commitments, in furtherance of a genuine liberal multi-party democracy as envisaged in the Constitution of Cambodia for the benefit of all Cambodians.
Thank you Mr. President.
More report by Reuters
The Candidate Countries, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia[*], Montenegro* and Albania*, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.
As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, the European Union reiterates its strong commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, emphasizing the role of the HRC as an important early warning tool, and welcomes this opportunity to discuss human rights situations that require the Council’s attention. With regard to the situation in DPRK, Iran, Myanmar/Burma, Eritrea, Syria, Burundi and South Sudan we would like to refer to our statements during the respective interactive dialogues.
The EU remains deeply concerned about the continuing deterioration of the political and human rights situation in Cambodia and the escalating repression of the opposition, civil society and the media. The EU reiterates its call for the immediate release of opposition leader Kem Sokha. The enforced dissolution of the main opposition party (CNRP) is a significant step away from the path of pluralism and democracy enshrined in Cambodia’s constitution. The EU reiterates that an electoral process from which the main opposition party has been arbitrarily excluded is not legitimate. The EU reiterates its call for the swift reversal of the dissolution of the CNRP and for the reinstatement of all CNRP members of parliament and CNRP local counsellors. The EU also expects the government to allow civil society organisations to fulfil their legitimate role.
While acknowledging the progress made on a number of areas of social and economic rights in China, the EU is concerned about detentions and trials of human rights defenders and lawyers Wang Quanzhang, Li Yuhan, Huang Qi, Yu Wensheng, Wu Gan and Tashi Wangchuk. The EU urges China to release all detained human rights defenders and to thoroughly investigate reported cases of mistreatment and torture while in detention. The EU is also concerned about the continued detention of the Swedish citizen Gui Minhai. The EU demands that he be allowed to meet Swedish diplomatic and medical staff and that he be released. The EU calls upon China to respect the rights of freedom of expression offline and online, and of religion, as well as cultural diversity, not least in Tibet and Xinjiang.
The EU remains deeply concerned about the high number of killings associated with the campaign against illegal drugs in the Philippines. The EU emphasizes the importance of carrying out the campaign with a focus on public health and in full compliance with due process, national law and international human rights law. It is imperative to conduct prompt, effective, impartial and transparent investigations of all cases of death leading to prosecution in all cases of unlawful killing.
On Venezuela, the EU is seriously concerned about the continued weakening of and non-respect for democratic institutions, the repression of political opponents and the obstacles to the opposition’s equal participation in elections. The adoption by the constituent assembly (not recognized by the EU and other international partners) of the “Law against Hatred” risks further restricting the freedom of expression and opinion. The EU is also concerned about persistent arbitrary detentions, reports of extrajudicial killings and widespread violations of the rights to food and to healthcare. The EU calls on the Venezuelan government to uphold people’s fundamental rights and freedoms, to facilitate external assistance to meet the pressing needs of the population, to release political prisoners, to respect democratic institutions and to ensure that elections are constitutional, transparent, credible and inclusive.
The EU recognizes Egypt’s efforts to combat terrorism and recalls the need to tackle it in full respect of international human rights standards and fundamental freedoms. The EU continues to call on Egypt to respect rights to freedom of opinion and expression offline and online, including for journalists and bloggers, and of freedom of assembly and association and to stop applying disproportionate legislation limiting them and unduly restricting space for civil society organisations. The EU calls on Egypt to continue their efforts to shed light on the circumstances of the death of the Italian citizen Giulio Regeni and the French citizen Eric Lang and bring about justice. The EU is concerned about the recent increase in death sentences and executions in Egypt and calls on Egypt to suspend the issuance and implementation of the death penalty.