September, 2017

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Posted by: | Posted on: September 19, 2017

Cambodia is in need of this Sergei Magnitsky Law to Responding Current Political Setback


  • Canada should not be used by those foreign nationals who grossly violated internationally recognized human rights, as a safe haven for themselves and their families, or to hide away the proceeds from their illicit activities;
  • The U.S. has promulgated the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, Estonia has adopted a similar law, and Great Britain and Norway are considering actions, aiming at establishing restrictive measures towards those who violated internationally recognized human rights. It is expected that other countries which value respect for human rights will follow suit;
  • As Canada celebrates its sesquicentennial (150th) birthday, there is no gift to those who aspire respect for human rights everywhere in the world more precious than a law passed by its Parliament to promote respect for human rights; and
  • Officials in the Communist regime in Vietnam systematically violate human rights by brutally suppressing political dissidents. They should also be subject to the restrictive measures called for in both Bill S-226 and Bill C-267.
We, the undersigned, citizens and permanent residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to pass Bill S-226 and Bill C-267, also known as the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law).
Magnitsky Case 1 PETITION NO.: 421-01389
DATE: MAY 29, 2017
Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs SIGNATURE Minister or Parliamentary Secretary
SUBJECT International sanctions
Canada has always been a strong advocate for human rights and anti-corruption internationally. Canada has repeatedly and forcefully spoken out against human rights violations around the world, including in Russia, where Canada has called for accountability for those involved in the Magnitsky case.
That is why the government supports Bill S-226, which would authorize the imposition of sanctions specifically for violations of international human rights obligations in a foreign state or for acts of corruption.Magnitsky Case 2
Canada has a wide range of tools to promote and protect human rights, and will continue to consider how to most effectively respond to situations of human rights violations.
Canada actively engages with Vietnam on the protection of human rights at all levels. As an example, the Canadian Embassy in Vietnam is part of the “Group of Four” (Canada, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland), which works closely together in support of human rights and is part of a larger group of like-minded countries working on this issue in Vietnam.
The government is committed to ensuring that Canada plays a leading role with its allies, in responding effectively to international crises, including through an effective and coherent Canadian sanctions program.
Posted by: | Posted on: September 18, 2017

An open letter to Hun Sen by Phnom Penh Post

An open letter to Hun Sen by Phnom Penh Post

18 Sep, 2017 –

Dear Prime Minister,

Prime Minister Hun Sen addresses a crowd of garment workers on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Boulevard last week, making a speech in which he vowed to hold office for another 10 years. Facebook

Prime Minister Hun Sen addresses a crowd of garment workers on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Boulevard last week, making a speech in which he vowed to hold office for another 10 years. Facebook

You say your recent actions are to avoid the repeat of Cambodia’s tragic history. However, your actions may ultimately lead to the repeat of that tragic history. You see the dangers posed by others, but yet you disregard the dangers you are creating for your own nation and people. You have condemned your predecessor’s dependency on a foreign power, which led to Cambodia’s genocide. Yet, you chose to follow the footsteps of your predecessors by creating a dependency on another foreign power. With your recent actions, you have disregarded the friendly hands of Western nations that would have mitigated Cambodia’s dependency and have instead allowed Cambodia to fall into the open arms of China.

You are about to place Cambodia into such a tight corner that when China sneezes, all of Cambodia will feel it. And if war breaks out between China and our neighbours over the Spratly Islands, you can be sure China will be knocking on Cambodia’s door asking Cambodia to return the favour (ie, perhaps to become its military base).

For centuries, Cambodia has been dependent on one foreign power in one form or another (Thailand, Vietnam, France and the United States), and you have continued this terrible legacy by adding China to this list. The disastrous consequences of your decisions today probably won’t be felt by you, but it will be paid for by future generations to come.

To maintain your definition of peace and stability, you have chosen to divide Khmers and create an environment for them to fight one another. You have chosen to silence a large portion of your people by imprisoning their elected representative. Let it be known, prime minister, there is no stability when you choose to silence and divide your people.

You once again walk in the wrongful path of your predecessors by choosing oppression over engagement and the spirit of compromise. And, like your predecessors, you will leave the next generation with a broken and divided nation. Your failure to unite and heal the hearts and minds of your people will forever haunt your legacy.

Prime minister, it is not too late for you to become a leader that represents all Khmers (present and future), your love for Cambodia must be more open, your vision for Cambodia must include the generations to come and Cambodia must be a friend to all nations. Most important of all, Khmers do not need to step on one another to succeed as a nation.

On behalf of the future generation,
Ms Ratha Panh,
A staffer at an international development organisation.

Posted by: | Posted on: September 18, 2017


Op-Ed: Khmer Oversea


ជាបថម ខ្ញុំព្រះករុណាសូមក្រាបថ្វាយបង្គំព្រះសង្ឃគ្រប់ព្រះអង្គ

សូមគោរពឯកឧត្តមយឹម សុវណ្ណ និងបងប្អូនជនរួមជាតិទាំងអស់ជាគោរពរាប់អាន

Sophan ថ្ងៃនេះខ្ញុំបាទសេង សុភ័ណ មានកិត្តិយសដែលបានធ្វើបទបង្ហាញដោយសង្ខេបអំពីកិច្ចខិតខំព្យាយាមរបស់គណកម្មការដើម្បីសិទ្ធិបោះឆ្នោតរបស់ពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្រៅប្រទេសនិងព្រឹត្តិការណ៏ថ្មីៗដែលកំពុងកើតឡើងនៅកម្ពុជា។

ខ្ញុំព្រះករុណាខ្ញុំបាទសូមអរគុណឯកឧត្តមយឹម សុវណ្ណដោយផ្ទាល់ ដែលលោកបានចុះហត្ថលេខាក្នុងចំណោមតំណាងរាស្រ្តទាំង៣៣រូបដែលផ្តួចផ្តើមឡើងដោយឯកឧត្តមសុន ឆៃ ក្នុងការដាក់សំណើរពង្រាងច្បាប់ទៅរដ្ឋសភាដើម្បីធ្វើវិសោធនកម្មច្បាប់អោយពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្រៅប្រទេសបានមានសិទ្ធិចុះឈ្មោះបោះឆ្នោតនិងបានបោះឆ្នោតដោយងាយស្រួល។ គណកម្មការអចិន្ត្រៃយ៏បានអនុមត្តិសម្រេចហើយ សព្វថ្ងៃកំពុងឋិតក្នុងដៃរបស់គណកម្មការនិតិកម្ម។ បើយោងទៅតាមបទបញ្ជាផ្ទៃក្នុងរបស់រដ្ឋសភា គណកម្មការនីតិកម្មមិនអាចប្រើពេលវេលាយូរពេកទេ ដើម្បីបញ្ជូនទៅសភាពេញអង្គធ្វើការបោះឆ្នោតសម្រេច។ តាមមាត្រា៤០នៃនីតិវិធីបោះឆ្នោតក្នុងការធ្វើវិសោធនកម្មច្បាប់ម្តងៗ ទាមទារអោយមានការបោះឆ្នោតជាសំងាត់ ដើម្បីរក្សាការពារសុចរិតភាពរបស់តំណាងរាស្ត្រម្នាក់ៗ។

សំរាប់ការចាប់ខ្លួនឯកឧត្តមកឹម សុខា ជាតំណាងរាស្ត្រនិងជាប្រធានគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិ គឺមានលក្ខណៈស្រដៀងគ្នានឹងការគំរាមកំហែងដល់លោកសម-រង្ស៊ី អោយលោកនិរទេសខ្លួនឯងអោយនៅក្រៅប្រទេសក៏ដូចជាលាឈប់ពីប្រធានគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិ។ គោលបំណងនៃការចាប់នេះគឺជាគំរាមកំហែលដល់ប្រព័ន្ធបោះឆ្នោតនៅកម្ពុជាក្នុងការធានាអោយមានសេរីនិងយុត្តិធម៍។ សូមបញ្ជាក់ថាបើការបោះឆ្នោតធ្វើឡើងគ្រាន់តែបង្គ្រប់កិច្ចអោយជនផ្តាច់ការជាអ្នកឈ្នះទេ នោះមិនអាចហៅថាប្រជាធិបតេយ្យទេ។ ឆ្លើយតបនឹងបញ្ហានេះដឺស៊ីរ៉ក់បានធ្វើលិខិតទៅឯកឧត្តមស៊ិក-ប៊ុនហុក ប្រធានគណកម្មការជាតិរៀបចំការបោះឆ្នោត ដើម្បីចង់ដឹងថាគ.ជ.បគួរផ្អាកការបោះឆ្នោតឬគួរបន្តកិច្ចការរបស់ខ្លួនក្នុងកាលៈទេសៈបច្ចុប្បន្ននេះ ដោយសួរទៅរដ្ឋាភិបាលអំពីសមត្ថភាពក្នុងការរក្សានូវលទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យសេរីពហុបក្សនៅកម្ពុជា? គណកម្មការយើងខ្ញុំមិនទាន់ទទួលបានចំឡើយទេមកទល់ពេលនេះ។Sophan Yim Sovann

• ស្របតាមលក្ខណ្ឌបច្ចុប្បន្ននិងហេតុការណ៏រដ្ឋប្រហារនៅឆ្នាំ២០០៧ លោកហ៊ុន-សែន ប្រើអំណាចក្រៅរដ្ឋធម្មនុញ្ញដើម្បីគំរាមកំហែងនិងកាត់បន្ថយកំឡាំងដៃគូរប្រកួតរបស់គាត់ ហើយធ្វើខ្លួនឯងអោយមានភាពប្រាកដនិយមថាខ្លួននឹងឈ្នះនៅរាល់ការបោះឆ្នោតតែប៉ុណ្ណោះ។
• គណបក្សសង្គ្រោះត្រូវមានភាពប្រាកដនិយមនៅក្នុងខ្លួនជានិច្ច ស្របតាមតំណាងរាស្ត្រទាំង៥៥កៅអីដែលខ្លួនមានបច្ចុប្បន្នអាចបន្តការងាររបស់ខ្លួនយ៉ាងណាដើម្បីធានាថាជនមានអំណាចមិនអាចប្រើអំណាចក្រៅរដ្ឋធម្មនុញ្ញរបស់ខ្លួនបាន។ បញ្ហានេះ ខ្ញុំបានសរសេរនិងធ្វើបទវិភាគច្រើនណាស់តាមរយៈ ចាប់តាំងពីការចូលសភានៅឆ្នាំ២០១៤មកម្លេះ។
• ក្នុងចំណោមអ្នកនយោបាយខ្មែរគ្រប់គណបក្សនយោបាយទាំងអស់ ជាពិសេសបក្សដឹកនាំរដ្ឋាភិបាល គឺមានតែប្រហែលមិនដល់១០ភាគរយផងដែលរមែងប្រើអំណាចក្រៅរដ្ឋធម្មនុញ្ញដើម្បីសំរេចបំណងនិងមហិច្ឆិតារបស់ខ្លួន សុទិដ្ឋិនិយមគឺថាតើចំនួនជាង៩០ភាគរយទៀតគួរធ្វើកិច្ចការអ្វីខ្លះដើម្បីអោយអ្នកទាំងអស់គ្នាមានសុខដុមរមនាក្រោមឆ័ត្ររដ្ឋធម្មនុញ្ញតែមួយទាំងអស់គ្នា?
• ជាការត្រេកអរដែលគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិមានគោលជំហរនឹងមិនលៈបង់ការតស៊ូរបស់ខ្លួន បន្តការងារទៅមុខទៀតឈានទៅរកការបោះឆ្នោតដើម្បីការផ្លាស់ប្តូរនៅឆ្នាំ២០១៨។ រដ្ឋមន្ត្រីក្រសួងយុត្តិធម៏ រដ្ឋមន្ត្រីក្រសួងពត៍មាន ឬក៏ប្រធាននាយកដ្ឋានពន្ធដាររឿងកាសែតខាំបូឌៀដែលលី ឬក៏អ្នកដែលរមែងប្រើពាក្យថាបដិវត្តព៍ណដោយខ្វះទំនួលខុសត្រូវជាដើម គួរត្រូវហៅមកសាកសួរនៅរដ្ឋសភាស្របតាមរដ្ឋធម្មនុញ្ញដើម្បីបញ្ជាក់ពីគោលជំហរនិងការបំពេញតួនាទីរបស់ខ្លួនអោយបានត្រឹមត្រូវតាមច្បាប់។ល។និង។ល។
• ថ្ងៃ២៣ ខែតុលា ខាងមុខ យើងខ្ញុំនឹងជ្រើសយកទីនេះម្តងទៀតដើម្បីរំលឹកខួប១៧ឆ្នាំនៃកិច្ចព្រមព្រៀងសន្តិភាពទីក្រុងប៉ារីស។ យើងខ្ញុំសូមអំពាវនាវដល់បងប្អូនទាំងអស់ចូលរួមអោយបានច្រើនកុះករដើម្បីចូលរួមជាមួយបងប្អូនខ្មែរយើងជុំវិញពិភពលោក រំលឹកនិងជំរុញអោយមានការបដិបត្តិតាមកិច្ចព្រមព្រៀងដែលមានជាធរមាននេះអោយមានផ្លែផ្កាជាវិជ្ជមានសំរាប់នាវាកម្ពុជា។

ទីក្រុងវ៉ែនកូវើរ ថ្ងៃអាទិត្យ ទី១៧ ខែកញ្ញា ឆ្នាំ២០១៧


សេង សុភ័ណ

បទបង្ហាញពិសេសដោយសង្ខេប in pdf file

Posted by: | Posted on: September 17, 2017

Should Western countries impose sanctions on Cambodia?

Op-Ed: Asia Times
Kongkea Chhoeun Cambodian politics reached a new boiling point with the arrest of the opposition leader last week. Kem Sokha was handcuffed in the middle of the night in his house and accused of “treason” by the government.

Foreign governments have reacted to the arrest, and members of the opposition have called for them to take action against the Cambodian government. The questions now are these: What actions should the West take? And how tough should these actions be?

Political conditions in Cambodia have worsened in recent years, most notably after local-government elections in June this year. The 2013 national elections and the June 2017 local-government elections threatened the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which has been in power since the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979.

Among a range of actions to weaken the opposition, in July this year, despite a boycott by the opposition, the CPP passed an amendment to the Law on Political Parties. The amendment allowed the government to ban convicted political leaders from running for political office, while  the parties run by them would be disbanded altogether. Sam Rainsy, the former opposition leader, had to resign from his Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) to save it from being dissolved.

Last week, the CPP regime jailed Kem Sokha, Sam Rainsy’s successor, and charged him with colluding with a foreign power to topple the government. The accusation appears to be based mainly on a speech Kem Sokha made in 2013 to his supporters in Australia. At that time, he had boasted of the support he receives from Americans to advance his political career and unseat the CPP.

His arrest followed the government’s expulsion of a US-based non-governmental organization and the closures of The Cambodia Daily and local radio stations linked to Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America.

A number of foreign governments reacted promptly to the arrest. Australia and Japan expressed their concerns about the deteriorating political conditions in Cambodia and suggested that the CCP-led regime maintain a political environment favorable for a free and fair national election, to be held next July.

The US and the European Union went further, calling for the immediate release of Kem Sokha, but stopped short of announcing punitive measures if the government ignored their call.

China, however, opted not to pressure the Cambodian government and promised to stand by its side.

US Ambassador to Cambodia William Heidt speaks during a press conference at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on September 12, 2017, sharply denying ‘extraordinary accusations’ that the US was involved in a plot to overthrown the government.

Members of the opposition are calling for the international community to take tough action against the Cambodian government, but have fallen short of prescribing specific actions. Nevertheless, it is customary for the opposition to seek international intervention when their political fortunes are under threat from the CPP-led government. Sam Rainsy called on the West to cut off aid and impose economic sanctions on Cambodia on many occasions in the past. Similar appealshave been made now in the aftermath of the arrest of Kem Sokha.

The question now is this: Should the West impose sanctions on Cambodia to restore political order?

Some countries, such as Japan, are certainly facing a dilemma, and their policy options are limited. The West and for that matter Cambodian citizens have to make a hard choice between accepting the status quo and potentially pushing Cambodia into China’s complete sphere of influence and wiping out the gains made in the past two decades in terms of economic development and democratization.

Slashing aid and imposing economic sanctions would definitely undermine Western countries’ past efforts to contribute to the development of Cambodia, which have been significant over the past two decades. They contributed to peace-building processes that  culminated in the October 1991 Paris Peace Accords. They aided the reconstruction of postwar Cambodia, channeling significant development assistance to the country. (Western aid accounted for more than 60% of the total in 2015.)

The United States’ and the EU’s special preferential trade agreements helped Cambodia develop its export sector, particularly the garment and footwear sector and related industries, which account for about 80% of the country’s exports.

The US extended Most Favored Nation status to Cambodia in 1996 and the Generalized System of Preferences last year. The EU extended its Everything but Arms scheme to the country in the early 2000s. Cambodia exported more than 60% of its products to the US and European markets in 2016.

Cambodia has also benefited from the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, but its exports to China accounted for only 6% of the total last year.

Garment workers walk in front of factories in Phnom Penh in October 2015 after government promises of wage increases fell short of their demands.

Thanks in part to Western assistance, the Cambodian economy has grown extraordinarily well over the past decades, averaging 7% per year since 1993 and helping poverty to fall more than 1 percentage point per year on average since 2003. Cambodia graduated from the status of a Least Developed Country in 2015.

In the event of Western economic sanctions, parts of the Cambodian export sector are most likely to collapse. In the short to medium terms, Cambodia is unlikely to be able to count on China to fill the vacuum left by the US and the EU, given that the two Asian countries are competitors in the global garment and footwear market.

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Posted by: | Posted on: September 16, 2017

How the nation became a graveyard for democracy

Op-Ed: Khmer Times

How the nation became a graveyard for democracy

May Titthara / Khmer Times Share:    


Ear Sophal. Supplied

In two months, three presidents of political parties in Cambodia have been arrested and detained. May Titthara speaks to US-based academic Ear Sophal.

KT: Could you please give an overview of the current situation in Cambodia politics?

Mr Sophal: I think we’re back to square one or close to it. Twenty-five years after UNTAC and it looks like game over. UNTAC lost. The last vestige of western political liberalism has been extinguished from Cambodia. Rest in peace, democracy in Cambodia. It was a nice one-generation ride.

KT: What do you think about the arrest of Kem Sokha?

Mr Sophal: It’s terrible. I guess it means the authorities are going all the way with respect to destroying Cambodian democracy. For them, 25 years is enough. One generation. The end. After 2013 and 2017, it became clear that no matter what was done to the opposition, it only got stronger by gaining votes, so the answer became let’s just decapitate the opposition. We’ve exiled its former leader, now we’ll jail its current leader on some “smoking gun” treason charge. Well, it’s not clear his supporters will consider that to be credible stuff. They’ve known that tricks like this have been used since 1995. Back then it was a voice recording about an attempt on someone with an antique rifle.

KT: As you know, the accusation goes back a long time and has just been revived. What do you think is behind the Kem Sokha arrest?

Mr Sophal: It’s like old wine in a new bottle. You can always come up with some crazy reason. I remember back in 1995, it was Prince Sirivudh and an antique rifle and alleged murder plot that was audio recorded. It’s always the same tricks.

KT: Why has Mr Sokha been arrested at this time?

Mr Sophal: Because someone needs to show Cambodia who is boss. It’s time to crush the opposition in that person’s view. In Cambodia, might makes right.

KT: Do you think Mr Sokha’s arrest is an application of the law or a political trick? And why?

Mr Sophal: It’s not the rule of law. More precisely it’s the rule of man.

KT: If he is found guilty, what is the future of the CNRP?

Mr Sophal: Bleak. One leader was exiled and had to resign. The other was arrested and will no doubt soon be convicted of treason in a show trial. The CNRP will remain alive, like Funcinpec remained alive after July 1997. When your leader is exiled or arrested, how can you operate?

KT: What does such an arrest mean for the ruling party?

Mr Sophal: What it means is getting rid of the ruling party’s biggest domestic enemy. The charismatic leader of the CNRP has been put away under lock and key. Hooray, the ruling party can sleep at night. Or can it? Won’t this infuriate his supporters? They’ve now made a political prisoner out of him. Will Kem Sokha be Cambodia’s Nelson Mandela? If anything happens to him, he’ll be the martyr and the Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino of Cambodia.

KT: Is it fair enough for opposition parties who have no power to take revenge?

Mr Sophal: Not sure what kind of revenge they can enact. It’s not as if they have guns. They come to a fight bringing loudspeakers when the other side has guns. Might makes right in Cambodia. In love and politics all is fair. The only way to ensure victory for the ruling party is to eliminate the CNRP completely before the July 2018 election. The opposition party, even hollowed out, might be able to get votes, and that would be a huge embarrassment if they somehow won despite being decapitated.

KT: How will this affect civil society sentiment?

Mr Sophal: Civil society is already in a funk from all the beatings it has received — metaphorically and sometimes literally — and this is going to further depress them. Civil society’s main allies, The Cambodia Daily, Radio Free Asia, Voice of America, Voice of Democracy, National Democratic Institute, etc., are under assault so they probably feel like someone’s punched them in the gut. Civil society is the soul of Cambodia. Without civil society the country is morally bankrupt. It will be like Year Zero again. In any case, who is next? The Phnom Penh Post allegedly has received visits from the tax man, and I know for a
fact that Transparency International Cambodia has too. Is Khmer Times too free-thinking? Time to go to a re-education camp.

KT: Do you think the upcoming election will be free and fair?

Mr Sophal: No, it will not be free and fair. They’ve never been except for 1993. They are already the un-freest and un-fairest, if such words even exist, of all. You cannot have a skating competition where your boyfriend hires a goon to go and club the ankle of your opponent, as happened in 1994 to figure skater Nancy Kerrigan. It’s just not right, not fair, and not a free competition.

KT: In what way can we rescue such a bad situation in politics right now?

Mr Sophal: Release Kem Sokha, permit the return of Sam Rainsy to politics without conditions, withdraw the $6 million bogus tax bill to the Cambodia Daily (I mean, why not $60 million or $600 million or for that matter $6 billion?). Who doesn’t know the Daily has run at a loss for years and years and its foreign reporters get paid $1,000 a month since the 1990s. This is less than a high official spends on cognac and ladies of the night at an average dinner these days. Stop harassing NDI, RFA, VOA, VOD, and all the radio stations broadcasting them. Expelling the messenger does not solve the problems people face. The problems are still there. They don’t go away because no one is reporting on them. They will still be there tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year, when the election takes place, and even after the elections have come and gone. These are big problems that will take everyone’s imagination and ingenuity to solve, including the opposition’s.

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Posted by: | Posted on: September 14, 2017

The Guardian view on Cambodia: a local crisis and a regional shift

Op-Ed: The Guardian

The Guardian view on Cambodia: a local crisis and a regional shift

The government has charged the opposition leader with treason and silenced independent media as strongman Hun Sen tries to hold on to power. But its actions reflect a broader dynamic
Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen
 Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen: more than three decades in power. Photograph: Samrang Pring/Reuters

Cambodia’s Hun Sen is one of the world’s longest standing leaders. His party has been happy to hold elections as long as it knows it is going to win, and to embrace underhand tactics or outright force  when things don’t go quite as planned. Another poll looms next year and, after more than three decades in his post, the prime minister and former Khmer Rouge commander says he has decided to continue for 10 more years to ensure stability.

Voters seem less keen on his unending tenure – and the Cambodian People’s Party knows it. A gradual expansion of space for civil society, activism and political activity went into reverse after the opposition united and did better than expected in 2013’s poll. The process accelerated last year as the CPP grew more nervous. It suffered again in this year’s local elections. It has overseen strong growth and reduced inequality. But there is widespread anger over rampant corruption and land grabs. An overwhelmingly young and increasingly urban population, more knowledgeable and sophisticated than their parents thanks to city life, social media and travel, feel they owe the government little.

Now the government has charged opposition leader Kem Sokha with treason, punishable by up to 30 years in jail, and has threatened to dissolve the Cambodia National Rescue Party if it does not disown him. He is accused of plotting with the United States to topple the government. Hun Sen’s real concern is clear and – as the previous opposition leader Sam Rainsy could testify – the tactics look awfully familiar.

Meanwhile, independent media have been silenced: a staggering $6.3m tax bill forced the Cambodia Daily to close , and radio stations carrying programmes from Voice of America and Radio Free Asia were shut down for supposed technical and administrative violations. Attacks on NGOs are intensifying.

The real shift in Cambodia is towards less western involvement, not more. The economy has grown and aid flows have diminished, reducing the government’s need to placate western donors. Meanwhile, China has pumped up aid, trade and investment without airing inconvenient human rights concern. These dynamics are evident elsewhere – look at the Philippines, Thailand or Myanmar– and the environment for human rights defenders is increasingly grim. The Trump administration’s lack of interest in human rights and own authoritarian tendencies fuel the long-term trend.

Some hope the CPP may yet pull back a little having made its show of strength. Pressure from diplomats has had some effect in the past. But the broad tendency across the region is undeniable and alarming.

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