Opposition Urges EU to Follow Suit in Cambodia After Decision to Pursue Sanctions For Belarus

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The European Union must sanction officials accountable for human rights abuses in Cambodia, the country’s banned opposition party said Wednesday, citing the bloc’s decision to prepare an inventory of Belarusian officials to be hit by sanctions after a post-election crackdown on demonstrators.

In a declaration, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) expressed”great concern” over improvements in Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko has suppressed protesters and strikers from the capital Minsk who’ve resisted what they say was a deceptive Aug. 9 election which led to an expansion of his own 26-year rule.

The current events had prompted a crisis summit Wednesday where Charles Michel, the head of the European Council, known as the surveys from Belarus”neither free nor fair” and guaranteed sanctions”on a considerable number of people responsible for violence, repression and election fraud”

“The events in Belarus remind us of those oppressive methods utilized from the Cambodian regime, which has seized the nation at the control of restricted circle of people near the dictator Hun Sen via misuse of associations as well as sham elections without involvement of the resistance,” that the CNRP explained.

“Both Belarus and Cambodia face orchestrated unconstitutional oppression of their taxpayers by dictators who recognize the country together and need to ruin any notion of free thought.”

The CNRP was dissolved in November 2017 because of its role in an alleged plot to topple the authorities. Together with a wider crackdown on the political opposition, NGOs, and the independent press –the elimination of this favorite celebration paved the way for Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to acquire most 125 seats in parliament from the nation’s July 2018 general election.

“Much like in Belarus,” the CNRP noted, government in Cambodia have lately been arresting individuals who speak out against Hun Sen’s almost 3 decades of principle and pushed a lot of the resistance into self-imposed exile to prevent the things that they say are politically motivated charges and convictions.

The resistance party pointed to the arrest two weeks ago of outspoken union leader Rong Chhun, who had been charged with”incitement to commit a felony or make social unrest” after alleging the authorities had permitted Vietnam to encroach on territory, also that of half his assistants who’d united near-daily protests from the capital Phnom Penh calling for his discharge.

“The problem in Cambodia, as the case in Belarus, necessitates the immediate attention of the global community,” the announcement said.

“Those who oppress the people can’t enjoy the rights of free communication, traveling, collaboration and company together with all the democratic world. They will need to bear the consequences of their activities, being severely sanctioned by the global community.”

The CNRP said it decided by the European Council to start the practice of sanctions against people in Belarus deemed accountable for violence, arrests, and fraud in relation to the election, in addition to forecasts from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to deliver”further sanctions against individuals who offended democratic values or mistreated human rights” from the nation.

European Council President Charles Michel gestures as he addresses a press conference in the conclusion of a European summit in Brussels, Aug. 19, 2020.
AFP

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EBA withdrawal

About Aug. 12, the EU implemented the withdrawal of duty-free, quota-free entry to the economy under the”Everything But Arms” (EBA) strategy for a few 20 percentage of Cambodia’s exports–a decision which has been declared in February.

The EU’s move came in reaction to the Hun Sen government’s failure to undo rollbacks on democracy along with other freedoms demanded under the transaction arrangement–needs that the prime minister has stated are an encroachment on Cambodia’s sovereignty. Affected exports comprise products from Cambodia’s crucial garment and apparel industries.

After the withdrawal, the CNRP last week condemned the authorities for failing to implement reforms demanded from the EU to prevent trade sanctions and called about the bloc into sanction Hun Sen and other officials deemed accountable for rights violations in Cambodia through visa restrictions and the freezing of the assets, stating that the tariffs would mostly only affect the nation’s employees.

But, the current developments in Belarus and the EU’s choice to pursue sanctions against officials at Lukashenko’s government for comparable offenses, motivated the opposition party to redouble its efforts Wednesday.

Reacting to the CNRP announcement, CPP spokesman Sok Ey San told RFA’s Khmer Service the situation in both nations is”entirely different,” including that the resistance from Cambodia is”jealous” of growth under Hun Sen’s government and will do whatever it could to disrupt peace.

“They envy uswhen they might not have electricity, they fled abroad and encouraged the EU to draw the EBA,” he explained. “And they want the EU to penalize Cambodia like Belarus.”

However CNRP Deputy President Mu Sochua told RFA that should Hun Sen doesn’t accede to EU needs, which also comprise the reinstatement of their resistance, he and his officers may also face sanctions.

“I think sanctions may include traveling to the EU and the freezing of the resources,” she explained. “All these sorts of sanction will not impact normal men and women.”

A study by Reuters last October demonstrated that Hun Sen’s niece Hun Kimleng and her husband, National Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun, were one of eight clinically connected Cambodians to attain citizenship in EU member state Cyprus via a controversial scheme which enables anybody eager to spend U.S. $ 2.2 million at the booming island country’s company or property businesses to get it.

Supporters urge the government to release and drop charges against union leader Rong Chhun at a protest in Phnom Penh, Aug. 3, 2020.

Supporters urge the authorities to release and drop charges against union leader Rong Chhun in a demonstration at Phnom Penh, Aug. 3, 2020.
Reuters

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Utilization of violence condemned

The CNRP call for EU sanctions arrived a day after a bunch of 80 Cambodian civil society groups issued a joint statement condemning the Cambodian authorities’ use of violence against peaceful demonstrators and the recent arrest of over a dozen activists because the arrest of Rong Chhun.

The groups reported that along with six individuals who’ve been transmitted into pre-trial detention after recommending for its union leader’s launch, police also have beaten and detained relatives–many of whom are girls –of former associates of the CNRP who had been discriminated against their relatives’ arrests.

“It isn’t a crime to phone for your loved ones to be released from prison. It’s not a crime to speak out against your buddies’ arrest. It’s not a crime to endure shoulder-to-shoulder with individuals on your community and need justice,” the announcement read.

“All Cambodians have the right to protest without being pushed, beaten or hauled off by authorities. We call on the authorities to immediately release those detained, drop charges against them and completely honor the Cambodian people’s rights to free assembly and expression.”

Reacting to the announcement on Wednesday, Ministry of Justice spokesman Chhin Malin called on the Ministry of Interior to investigate whether the civic society groups had broken principles of impartiality according to the controversial Law on Association and Nongovernmental Organizations (LANGO).

Chhin Malin reported that a few of the team who signed Tuesday’s announcement are”inactive” and sought to criticize the authorities”without foundation” He added that the Cambodia’s courts have been”separate” and wouldn’t yield to pressure from civil society.

“The government has implemented the legislation generally without targeting any particular group–if somebody behaves in breach of this law, they’ll be penalized,” he explained.

“The announcement from the civic society groups isn’t the legal means to shield a suspect in a democratic society. Should they wish to aid the defendants, they could only do this through due procedure.”

Koul Panha, the former executive director of and now an adviser to local electoral watchdog Comfrel, contested Chhin Malin’s right to make such an announcement on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.

“This association wasn’t established to shield the government’ activities; it’s supposed to maintain justice and human rights,” he told RFA.

“Our principle of law is quite weak.  The individuals can not require the government and the government does not know its role. The folks are feeble and helpless, and they do not know who to request assistance.”

supplied by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English from Joshua Lipes.


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