HRW denigrates Cambodian PM's 30 years of rule

Among raft of allegations, claims was involved in suppression of Cham Muslims during Khmer Rouge rule

HRW denigrates Cambodian PM's 30 years of rule

World Bulletin/ News Desk

A new report claims that Cambodia has been mired in human rights abuses, corruption, violence and repression under Prime Minister Hun Sen, who will mark 30 years in power Wednesday.

"Thirty Years of Hun Sen,” which was released by Human Rights Watch on Tuesday, is a withering account of three decades of rule, during which Hun Sen’s main tactic has been to use “threat and the use of force” to silence his detractors and strengthen his grip on government.

It also dredges up allegations that he was involved with the suppression of Cham Muslim villagers in the Khmer Rouge regime’s eastern zone, where he was deputy commander of a regiment overseeing three battalions in what was known as Sector 21.

Hun Sen has “repeatedly denied any forces of his regiment were involved,” the report notes, but goes on to list differing witness accounts that implicate one of those battalions in the attack and the killing of hundreds of Cham villagers.

HRW said that such violence constitutes crimes against humanity.

The prime minister is also accused of having overseen the establishment of “death squads” to snuff out members of various political parties during the UNTAC period, when United Nations-assisted elections were held in Cambodia in 1993. 

The report says he also orchestrated a 1997 grenade attack on an opposition party rally, in which 16 people were killed and at least 150 seriously injured, as well as a “wave of extrajudicial killings” in the wake of a coup d’etat that same year.

“Instead of devoting his time as prime minister to equitably improving the health, education, and standard of living of the Cambodian people, Hun Sen has been linked to a wide range of serious human rights violations: extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, summary trials, censorship, bans on assembly and association, and a national network of spies and informers intended to frighten and intimidate the public into submission,” the report says.

It adds that over the 30-year period “hundreds of opposition figures, journalists, trade union leaders, and others have been killed in politically motivated attacks” and that impunity continues to reign, as most go unsolved or properly investigated.

CNRP President Sam Rainsy and spokesman Yim Sovann could not be reached, but party lawmaker and public affairs head Mu Sochua told The Anadolu Agency on Tuesday that Hun Sen’s “time is up.”

“I think [the report] is quite significant. Thirty years of what? And when you look at the recent events; killings and crackdowns on protesters and striking workers, how many people are still in jail who are considered as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International? Therefore, the 30 years is not over yet and it doesn’t look like any lessons have been learned in terms of dealing with governing with democratic principles,” Ms Sochua added.

She said she believes Hun Sen has occasionally reflected upon his many years in power, as evidenced by his pledges to tackle corruption and land issues, but that the public is ready for change.

“It’s Mr. Hun Sen who should be looking at an exit strategy,” she added. “I don’t think he can continue for another mandate, the electorate are very informed. People are not afraid to march for kilometers to be heard.”

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan could not be reached for comment.

Last Mod: 13 Ocak 2015, 15:03
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