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Posted by: | Posted on: October 19, 2019

Cambodia cracks down on activists as opposition leader plans return

For over two decades, Rainsy has been Hun Sen’s main opponent. In the general elections in 2013, the CNRP, the party co-founded by Rainsy and Kem Sokha, came close to victory, when it won 55 of the 123 parliamentary seats. During commune elections in 2017, the opposition party repeated that result, when it won almost 44% of all the votes.

Cambodia cracks down on activists as opposition leader plans return

By Ate Hoekstra (Phnom Penh) | 18.10.2019

Police stand guard outside Cambodia's Supreme Court

At least 30 opposition activists have been arrested this year and accused of plotting to overthrow the Cambodian government before the planned return from self-exile of Sam Rainsy, the main opposition leader.

Rong Chun has never been a man who is easily intimidated. Since the early 1990s, the labor activist and president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions has been involved in a battle for democracy, human rights and fair wages. “I want equality. I want all Cambodian people to have democracy and respect human rights,” he says. “Should I stop because I’m scared? I use my right to say what I want to say.” 

But for supporters of Cambodia’s main opposition party, the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), saying what they want to say has become increasingly dangerous in the past several weeks. Since CNRP leader Sam Rainsy announced that he would end his self-imposed exile and return to Cambodia on November 9, at least 30 opposition supporters have been arrested. Others have been called in by the police for questioning, are intimidated or have fled the country.

The Cambodian government accuses Rainsy, who has been living in exile for about four years, and his supporters of plotting a coup to topple the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power since 1985.

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