US Congressman Calls for Hun Sen’s Resignation
By | January 7, 2014

The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs condemned Friday’s violence in Cambodia when military police shot dead five protesters, and called for Prime Minister Hun Sen to step down.

“Hun Sen has brought Cambodia to the brink,” Republican congressman Ed Royce said in a statement posted to the committee’s website on Sunday.

“No longer content to marginalize the opposition, the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) is now killing peaceful protesters, and has issued warrants for both Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha, both who have been forced into hiding because of the CPP’s crackdown,” he wrote.

“It’s time for Hun Sen to end his three-decade grip on power and step down. The people of Cambodia deserve better,” said Mr. Royce, whose district covers part of Long Beach, California, home to the largest Cambodian population in the US.

While Mr. Rainsy and Mr. Sokha have been summoned to appear in court on January 14, on allegations of inciting protests, warrants for their arrest have not been issued, contrary to the congressman’s claims. Also, Friday’s protests on Veng Sreng Streets were not peaceful, and involved dozens of youths throwing stones and crudely-made Molotov cocktails at the military police, who responded with live rounds killing five demonstrators.

It is not the first time Mr. Royce has voiced his support for the opposition CNRP. At a CNRP fundraiser in the U.S. attended by the party’s Vice President Kem Sokha in December, Mr. Royce also called for Mr. Hun Sen to step down, citing land grabs, corruption and fraud in the July 28 election.

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a statement Monday saying that France was following the situation in Cambodia closely.

“[France] deplores the violence which resulted in the death of several persons and reiterates its commitment to the freedom of peaceful demonstration,” the ministry said.

“It is essential that political dialogue can resume quickly in order for the different parties to work together for the proper functioning of the institutions, in a spirit of calm and restraint.”

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The government has failed in recent years to take steps to prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence committed during the Khmer Rouge, according to the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Three Vietnamese nationals were arrested in Sihanoukville on Wednesday afternoon for kidnapping two 34-year-old Vietnamese men and demanding a $7,000 ransom from each of their families after luring them across the border on the pretense of a gambling trip, police said.

About 50 fired factory workers protested in front of the Phnom Penh Municipal court Wednesday after two of the factory’s five union representatives were summoned for questioning following strikes in February.

The appointment of General Sok Phal to head the Interior Ministry’s newly formed department to monitor migrant workers has raised concerns over his close familial connection to a labor recruitment industry fraught with human rights abuses.

As military police with AK-47s descended on protesting garment workers during their nationwide strike on January 3, Sam Ravy, a manager at one of the many factories along Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Street, was on the phone with his mother-in-law.

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