World Bulletin / News Desk
An ongoing crackdown against opposition politicians and activists in Cambodia has cast a "dark shadow" ahead of upcoming elections and is part of a wider authoritarian "disease" infecting the region, Southeast Asian politicians warned on Monday.
Cambodia has been ruled by strongman premier Hun Sen for more than three decades. His reign has brought stability and growth but been criticised as corrupt and autocratic.
The country's once fractured opposition took many by surprise in 2013 when it united to win 55 seats in parliament, an unprecedented move that rattled Hun Sen, a man unused to losing at the ballot box.
At a press conference in Bangkok on Monday, regional lawmakers said Hun Sen's administration has been hitting back ahead of the 2018 polls with measures to cripple the opposition's ability to contest his party.
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, a group made up of former and serving Southeast Asian lawmakers, said Hun Sen has "created a climate of fear, which casts a dark shadow over all of Cambodian society" adding that there was "an ongoing assault on parliamentary democracy".
Recent examples they cited included multiple opposition parliamentarians either jailed or facing court proceedings; recent legislation making it easier to dissolve opposition parties; physical attacks on lawmakers by members of the security forces and the ongoing detention of rights workers.
"Cambodians are facing grave threats to their fragile democratic institutions," Filipino lawmaker Tomasito Villarin told reporters in Bangkok, adding that court cases or the threat of legal action was used "like a Damocles sword" to stifle opponents.
Charles Santiago, a serving lawmaker in Malaysia, said attacks on the political opposition in Cambodia were part of "a new disease sweeping across Southeast Asia".
Examples he cited included recent sedition charges brought against lawmakers in Malaysia and the arrest of a prominent senator and government critic in the Philippines.
Former Thai lawmaker Kraisak Choonhaven said his own country had seen a similar descent into autocracy since the military's 2014 coup.
"We are being buried alive under authoritarian laws against democracy which each day are piling up higher and higher," he told reporters.
US continues to be supportive of addressing Turkey’s legitimate security concerns, says State Department’s spokeswoman
Terror organization shares images of its ‘child warriors’ in propaganda videos
Videos of people praying in Mecca for Turkey's success in 'Operation Olive Branch' are being circulated on social media
After a low-key campaign, opinion polls put the conservative in the lead as he claims credit for the island's economic recovery since its debilitating financial crisis of 2013.
‘US does not provide any support to PKK, a US-designated foreign terrorist organization,’ says Pentagon spokesman
Turkish Cypriots stand with motherland Turkey and Turkish soldiers at heart, PM Ozgurgun tweets.
The campaign named 'Dignity is Priceless' aims to attract new donors for Palestinian refugees
Last week, Israeli authorities refused a request to release Attallah from prison
The move came as Israel extended detention of 16-year-old girl Ahed al-Tamimi
‘We do not have people operating in Afrin, so that does not have a direct effect on what we are doing’, spokesman says
Arguments in case expected in April, final ruling expected by June
Sergey Lavrov, Ayman Safadi meet in New York, according to Russian Foreign Ministry statement
Police confirm detention of Turks without providing reason for move
Congress fails to reach agreement on short-term stopgap funding
Xi's eponymous "thought" was already enshrined in the Communist Party constitution at the 19th Party Congress in October, elevating him to the same status as modern China's founder Mao Zedong.
Separate roadside bombings in both provinces left three civilians dead, say security sources