On Sunday, local elections will take place across Cambodia—a precursor to the crucial national election next year. These elections will gauge the state of democracy in the country and, in a new era of U.S. isolationism, will be a key test for the West’s commitment to human rights.
The Cambodia Daily reported last Friday that Prime Minister Hun Sen gave a speech to 4,000 faithful of Cambodia’s Christian Community on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich island.
He claimed that only a Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) win in the upcoming elections will ensure peace and development in Cambodia. Mr. Hun Sen then expressed his willingness to “eliminate 100 or 200 people” if the opposition were to take any actions that would lead to the “overthrow” of the CPP.
Last week it was revealed that the Co-Investigating Judges (CIJ) of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) confidentially informed the parties in Cases 003, 004, and 004/02 and the Office of Administration that they were considering invoking what amounts to a nuclear option: a permanent stay of the proceedings due to a lack of funding. Submissions were invited.
Court-watchers and “experts” immediately weighed in with claims of political interference. Judge Martin Karopkin, a reserve Judge of the Trial Chamber, joined the fray. Disquieting as his remarks may be, I admire Judge Karopkin’s honesty.
In the early 1990s, the microcredit model pioneered in Bangladesh by Dr. Muhammad Yunus came to Cambodia.
Today, Cambodia possesses one of the world’s largest and most profitable microcredit sectors. Recently, however, it has faced serious criticism for high levels of individual over-indebtedness, steep interest rates and high profits made by the largest microcredit institutions, many of which are now owned by foreign investment houses and commercial banks.
Today, the region’s richest and most powerful meet for the start of the World Economic Forum on Asean at the Sokha Hotel on the Chroy Changva peninsula in Phnom Penh, the site of protest in November 2015 and the subject of a land dispute with the local community.
About 20 km away is Prey Sar prison, where four staff of Cambodia’s oldest human rights organization, Adhoc, are being detained without trial on charges widely believed to be politically motivated. In the same prison is land rights activist Tep Vanny, imprisoned for her role as a community leader challenging corruption and unjust evictions. Meanwhile, a journalist on Sunday returned to the U.S. in fear of his safety, after a court summons was issued for his arrest related to a prison visit he made to see political prisoners. Trade unionists likewise face intimidation and prosecution for unfair charges.
I would like to contribute to the debate about war and peace in Cambodia and write this letter to my fellow Cambodians.
I have an extensive background in armed conflict and genocide research, both in my education and work. I would like to say that peace is fragile.
War can happen easily.
Western and Eastern scholars study war and peace and they have never reached any real conclusion on how to prevent war and sustain peace. Everyone should read Russian author Leo Tolstoy’s novel “War and Peace” to get a better understanding of how difficult it is to maintain peace and prevent war.
No one who knows me would call me a supporter of Prime Minister Hun Sen. Usually, he greets any attempt I make to ask a question with a snarl, though once he talked to foreign correspondents quite openly.
However, in the case of Americans killing children, women and men in Cambodia (and in Vietnam and Laos), “Prime Minister Rails Against Deaths of Children in US Wars” (March 2), I can say that Mr. Hun Sen is absolutely correct. During the Vietnam War, Americans killed children with abandon over Cambodia, and the other two countries of Indochina.
On the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the Paris Peace accord, I would like to recall, in the shadow of past events, Buddha’s teaching: hatred is not ended by hatred; hatred ends only when hatred ceased to exist.
Distrust breeds distrust and contention breeds distrust and contention breeds contention. karma ends without take vengeance.
The man started off as one of the needy,
But he is ambitious and greedy,
Not long before he became so rich and so mighty.
He has assumed a grand title of feudality,
Enjoying pomp and pageantry,
Together with flattery and sycophancy.
To him, adversaries are his enemies to be destroyed without mercy.
He changes the law to obliterate them without pity.
To hell human rights and liberty!
He cares little about honor and dignity.
He sets to rule until he is ninety
And build a dynasty of his family.
His regime is not much different from tyranny.
Spies are everywhere to snoop into your privacy.
His word is law and his men’s duty
To punish any disobedient, even if charges are flimsy.
His reign has created notorious inequality.
Some enjoy prosperity
And are living in luxury,
Grabbing much of the wealth of the country.
Conspicuous spending is visible in the city.
Many are not so lucky.
And are grinding in poverty.
Above is what happened in Hitler’s Germany,
But it may well happen in this country.
Beware of the Fuhrer’s fury
And mind your own safety!
Hitler’s Minister of Justice Franz Gurtner, when firing a judge who questioned the legal basis of the euthanasia program, said to him: “If you cannot recognize the will of the Fuhrer as a source of law, then you cannot remain a judge.”
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Cambodia Daily.
On Saturday night, I was lucky enough to attend the premiere of “First They Killed My Father” and I had the privilege of bringing my family with me. By my side was my wife Sophea born exactly nine months after the fall of Phnom Penh my children and my mom.
My two daughters, Sayana, 13, and Clara, 6, and my son Eden, 11, were all born in Cambodia and have lived here all their lives. My mother was born in Siem Reap. She lived in Cambodia through the whole period of the war, survived and immigrated to Canada with me and my dad.