EU Condemns the Cambodian Government's Recent Crackdown on Journalists and Opposition
On Monday, the European Union’s chief of foreign affairs and security policy Federica Mogherini restated a warning against the Cambodian government for banning its opposition party during a bilateral talk with Cambodian foreign minister at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).
Ahead of the national election on July 2018, the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) was dissolved by the Cambodia’s Supreme Court last week. This event follows a three month period of the government arresting critics and firing lawmakers from CNRP.
The National Assembly fired more than one hundred civil servants who were members of the CNRP this Tuesday, in addition to dismissing fifty-five lawmakers in the Parliament. The general secretary of the National Assembly announced that it has confiscated the party’s equipment, including five official party vehicles.
Kem Sokha, the party leader of CNRP was arrested on September 3rd, for allegedly conspiring with the US to overthrow the government—which the US denies. The US embassy in Cambodia issued a statement saying, “the United States has been subject to intentionally inaccurate, misleading and baseless accusations.”
In September, The Cambodia Daily—a news outlet that reported the arrest—was forced by the government to shut down. The European External Action Service issued a statement in response, saying that these actions represented “a significant blow to Cambodia’s media diversity” and that “a credible democratic process…requires pluralism in the media as well as among political parties.”
However, the crackdown on journalists continues. Although significantly less, The Cambodia Daily still publishes articles online, including the report on 60 Cambodian journalists calling for the bailout of two Radio Free Asia reporters. The said journalists could face up to fifteen years in prison.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has criticized the international community’s move to withdraw funds from Cambodian government. In response to the White House’s statement to end support for Cambodia’s National Election Committee and the current administration, he has argued that in the effect, “those who die first will be the NGOs that are plotting against us.”
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power since 1985. After the Cambodian civil war and Vietnamese invasion, the head of UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia, who oversaw the national election of May 1993, declared the election to be “free and fair.”