Cambodium: freedom of the press

Daily observations from Cambodia and beyond.

When humans from the analog era stumble into the digital world, accidents can happen that leave them utterly befuddled. Rudy Giuliani (at one point in charge of cyber security!) tweeted and missed a space, inadvertently creating a URL that was quickly registered and went live with an anti-Trump message. Giuliani thought his tweet was hacked. It was not.

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A 9-minute film called “Psychological warfare and resistance, ‘Made in Cambodia’ (in three acts and an epilogue)” paints a bleak picture of the current social justice situation in Cambodia. A soundtrack worthy of a state funeral accompanies the documentary. @licadho Director Naly Pilorge explains that scare tactics work all too well in a deeply traumatized nation.

The film was made by Spanish journalist @martacheca for Equaltimes, the trilingual social justice news site.

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Future US ambassador to Cambodia W.Patrick Murphy was grilled during his Foreign Relations Subcommittee’s nomination hearings. Senator Marco Rubio wanted to know Murphy’s position on sanctions on Myanmar. Murphy served as the Deputy Assistant secretary of State for South East Asia during the first Rohingya atrocities. Rubio tried hard but Murphy, displaying diplomatic flare, repeatedly dodged the question.

Murphy’s position on free media and civic institutions in Cambodia, however, is no secret.

In prepared remarks he stated: “In recent years, regrettably, there has been backsliding in governance, rule of law, and corruption. The Administration has been clear in our concern that recent national elections fell short, in part because of the dissolution of the main opposition party; jailing of its leader, Kem Sokha; and banning of others.”

Prompted by Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey (D) on how he would respond to the “crackdown on the free press that had included the shuttering of the Cambodia Daily,” Murphy said that he would “strongly urge the authorities to resume and expand the space for media.”

Senator Markey wants Murphy to consider further sanctions to increase the pressure on the Hun Sen government.

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The Guardian composed a list of the 30-plus journalists who were intentionally killed in 2018. The paper memorialized nine of them with short biographies.

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