UN Rights Envoy Claims General Election ‘Not Genuine’ Without Banned Opposition Party

UN Rights Envoy Claims General Election ‘Not Genuine’ Without Banned Opposition Party

UN Envoy on Human Rights Rhona Smith at a press conference on human rights in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 14, 2018. (Hul Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)
UN Envoy on Human Rights Rhona Smith at a press conference on human rights in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 14, 2018. (Hul Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)

Rhona Smith said the government must immediately release the detained opposition leaders and lift a ban on the opposition taking part in the July 29 general election.

Rhona Smith, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, has said that the country’s forthcoming national election will not be “genuine” without the participation of the banned Cambodia National Rescue Party.

The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court last November after its leaders were charged with treason for their alleged role in a foreign-backed plot of overthrow Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“No election can be genuine if the main opposition party is barred from taking part,” she said in a statement.

Smith stressed that the government must immediately release the detained opposition leaders and lift a ban on the opposition taking part in the July 29 general election.

“Those who currently rule the country have one final opportunity to reverse the current trajectory, and return instead to the constitutional path of multi-party democracy and genuine elections —ensuring a level playing field for all political parties,” she added.

The appeal to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party came on the same day that the National Election Committee (NEC) announced the start of official registrations for the election, which is due to be held on July 29.

However, Hun Sen defended the process, saying in a speech that any delay to the election would be unconstitutional.

“The constitution must be changed for a delay. The law must be changed for a delay. The National Election Committee has no right to delay [the election] because this procedure is set by the law we made,” he said.

“A dead person that passed away was burned without knowing the whereabouts of the bone. It will not survive. Only the real parties can stand for the election. Thus, [we] see it in black and white,” he added, referring to the CNRP.

Hang Puthea, NEC spokesman, said Smith may have misunderstood legal proceedings in Cambodia, saying “at least ten political parties intend to take part in the election.

Overseas Cambodians Step Up Activism in Light of Gov’t Crackdown

Overseas Cambodians Step Up Activism in Light of Gov’t Crackdown

Op-Ed: VOA Khmer

Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer

In March, a group of Cambodians in Europe gathered to protest at the United Nations Human Rights Council office in Geneva, Switzerland, as the body was due to review human rights situation in Cambodia.

Cambodians living overseas have increased their activism since a government crackdown on dissent began last year, according to activists.

Cambodians in Europe protested against political repression in Cambodia. (Courtesy photo)

Cambodians in Europe protested against political repression in Cambodia. (Courtesy photo)

Last month, a group of Cambodians in Europe gathered to protest at the United Nations Human Rights Council office in Geneva, Switzerland, as the body was due to review human rights situation in Cambodia.

Other demonstrations took place in the days leading up to the meeting, in Sydney, Australia, as Prime Minister Hun Sen attended a summit of Asean and Australian leaders.

Holding placards in support of political prisoners, including the jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha, protesters chanted anti-Hun Sen slogans.

“We, the Khmer people living abroad, do not forget our motherland and what’s happening there,” said Thay Makara, a Khmer community leader in Europe. “With social media, the connection with our countrymen remains close. We feel miserable to see our people suffer abuses.”

The Supreme Court dissolved Sokha’s party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, in November and banned 118 senior party officials from politics for five years. The government has also used tax laws to pressure independent media and civil society groups into silence.

Activists have organized public forums and met their representatives in the United States and Canada to urge them to apply diplomatic pressure on Phnom Penh.

“At this point, our strategy is to demand a review of the Paris Peace Agreement in order to have a free and fair election, not the Russian-style one,” said Seng Sophoan, president of the Committee for Election Rights of Overseas Cambodians (CEROC).

The Vancouver-based CEROC has been working for years to demand voting rights for Cambodians overseas.

“What we have been doing is to urge donor countries to review the Cambodian government’s recent actions,” said Men Vannak, another community organizer, from Lowell, Massachusetts. “This government abuses democrats, civil society groups, and the opposition party.”

Cambodian community leaders from around the world gathered in Melbourne, Australia, for a three-day conference to discuss ways to tackle the challenges facing Cambodia in terms of its growing economy and society, including health, education, rural development, migration, and immigration.

Hong Lim, a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly and the main organizer, hoped that the “World Khmer Conference” would find a way to address these challenges, which he considered “terribly troublesome” issues.

“We, the owners of our country, must be brave to face these challenges,” Lim said. “We must dare to find a solution together.”

The Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Cambodia’s democracy at 124 out of 167 countries, down from a “hybrid government” to a “dictatorship”, after it dissolved the main opposition party.

Many opposition politicians have fled the country to escape persecution and to continue their political activism, while some of their colleagues remain in the country.

“These are peaceful and non-violent protests by Cambodians overseas,” said Kuch Schanley, an independent analyst in Maryland. “The worrying trend is that the Cambodian government will continue to do whatever they want. They don’t want to listen to demands by people in and outside of Cambodia.”

“I believe that Cambodians inside the country can play a significant role, too, since the conflict is actually there,” he added.

Schanley said that overseas Cambodians from the US, Australia, Germany, Canada, and France, cannot fully help them alone.

“Once Cambodians inside the country call for external help, they should help themselves, too,” he said. “They have no strength and resources, but their compatriots outside can shake up the international community to provide protection so that they can overcome their fear and stand up to protect their national interest.”

Continue reading Overseas Cambodians Step Up Activism in Light of Gov’t Crackdown


Op-Ed: VOA Khmer

បាតុកម្មថ្មីៗនេះ បានកើតមានឡើងនៅទីក្រុងហ្ស៊ឺណែវប្រទេសស្វ៊ីស និងនៅទីក្រុងស៊ីដនី ប្រទេសអូស្ត្រាលី ក្នុងខណៈពេលដែលលោកនាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រី ហ៊ុន សែន កំពុងចូលរួមកិច្ចប្រជុំកំពូលរវាងមេដឹកនាំអាស៊ាននិងអូស្ត្រាលី។

ម៉ែន គឹមសេង
VOA khmerកាលពីថ្ងៃច័ន្ទដើមសប្តាហ៍នេះ ពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅអឺរ៉ុបបានមកជួបជុំគ្នាតវ៉ានៅទីក្រុងហ្ស៊ឺណែវប្រទេសស្វ៊ីសដើម្បីទាមទារឱ្យអង្គការសហប្រជាជាតិជួយដោះស្រាយវិបត្តិនយោបាយនៅក្នុងប្រទេសកម្ពុជាឱ្យបានឆាប់។

បាតុកម្មស្រដៀងគ្នានេះបានកើតមានឡើងកាលពីចុងសប្តាហ៍មុននៅទីក្រុងស៊ីដនី ប្រទេសអូស្ត្រាលី ក្នុងខណៈពេលដែលលោកនាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រី ហ៊ុន សែន កំពុងចូលរួមកិច្ចប្រជុំកំពូលរវាងមេដឹកនាំអាស៊ាននិងអូស្ត្រាលី។ ពួកគេបានប្រឆាំងនឹងវត្តមានរបស់លោកនៅទីនោះ។

បាតុករបានស្រែកព្រមៗគ្នាថា៖ «….Hun Sen, Go home! Hun Sen, Go home!‍» ដែលមានន័យថា«ហ៊ុន សែនត្រឡប់ទៅប្រទេសលោកឯងវិញទៅ!‍»

ទាំងនេះជាសកម្មភាពមួយចំនួនដែលសហគមន៍ខ្មែរនៅក្រៅប្រទេសបានធ្វើក្នុងពេលដែលវិបត្តិនយោបាយបានផ្ទុះជាថ្មីឡើងវិញបន្ទាប់ពីរដ្ឋាភិបាលកម្ពុជាបានធ្វើទុកបុក្ខម្នេញគណបក្សប្រឆាំង បណ្តាញសារព័ត៌មានឯករាជ្យនិងអង្គការសង្គមស៊ីវិល។

លោក ថៃ មករា តំណាងសហគមន៍ខ្មែរនៅអឺរ៉ុបបានបញ្ជាក់ប្រាប់ VOA ថា៖

«បងប្អូនកូនខ្មែរទាំងអស់គ្នាដែលបានចេញមកក្រៅប្រទេសនេះមិនបានភ្លេចពីទឹកដីដែលខ្លួនបានកើតនោះទេគឺទោះបីជាយើងមកដល់ទីនេះមានការហូបចុកត្រឹមត្រូវ មានផ្ទះសម្បែងស្នាក់នៅ មានការងារធ្វើឡានជិះអីរៀងៗខ្លួន ប៉ុន្តែយើងនៅតែនឹកស្រណោះទៅដល់ប្រទេសរបស់យើងជានិច្ច ហើយជាពិសេសក្នុងសម័យនេះដែលជាសម័យយើងអាចមានទំនាក់ទំនងគ្នាទូរស័ព្ទទៅថ្មើម៉ានក៏បាន ទំនាក់ទំនងតាមបែបហ្វេសប៊ុកក៏បានគឺកាន់តែធ្វើឱ្យយើងមានភាពក្តុកក្តួលថែមទៀត នឹកអាល័យស្រុក នឹកប្រជាជនខ្លួនឯងថែមទៀតផងនៅពេលដែលឃើញគេធ្វើបាប‍»។

តុលាការកំពូលបានរំលាយគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិដែលជាគណបក្សប្រឆាំងដ៏ធំកាលពីថ្ងៃទី១៦ ខែវិច្ឆិកា ឆ្នាំមុនហើយបានហាមឃាត់មន្ត្រីជាន់ខ្ពស់គណបក្សចំនួន១១៨នាក់មិនឱ្យធ្វើនយោបាយរយៈពេល៥ឆ្នាំ។ រដ្ឋាភិបាលកម្ពុជាបានប្រើប្រាស់ច្បាប់ពន្ធដារជាលេស ដើម្បីគាបសង្កត់សារព័ត៌មានឯករាជ្យមួយចំនួនឱ្យបិទទ្វារ ក្នុងនោះមានកាសែតជាភាសាអង់គ្លេស The Cambodia Daily និងវិទ្យុអាស៊ីសេរី។

សហគមន៍ខ្មែរនៅអាមេរិកនិងកាណាដា ទីដែលមានពលរដ្ឋខ្មែររស់នៅច្រើនជាងគេនៅក្រៅប្រទេស បានធ្វើសកម្មភាពជាច្រើនដើម្បីឱ្យមានការគាំទ្រពីរដ្ឋបាលក្រុងវ៉ាស៊ីនតោននិងក្រុងអូតាវ៉ា។ សកម្មជនបានធ្វើបាតុកម្ម រៀបចំជាវេទិកាមហាជន និងជួបជាមួយនឹងអ្នកតំណាងរាស្រ្តដើម្បីស្នើសុំឱ្យមានការដាក់សម្ពាធលើរដ្ឋាភិបាលកម្ពុជាឱ្យកែប្រែស្ថានការណ៍មកដូចដើមវិញ។

លោក សេង សុភ័ណ ប្រធានគណៈកម្មាធិការដើម្បីសិទ្ធិបោះឆ្នោតរបស់ពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្រៅប្រទេស (The CEROC) ដែលមានមូលដ្ឋាននៅទីក្រុងវែនគូវើ ប្រទេសកាណាដា ធ្លាប់តែបានបំផុសពលរដ្ឋឱ្យចូលរួមសកម្មភាពនយោបាយនិងទាមទារសិទ្ធិបោះឆ្នោត ប៉ុន្តែការរំលាយគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិបានធ្វើឱ្យទិសដៅនៃការតស៊ូមតិមកជាការទាមទារឱ្យមានការគោរពលទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យនិងរដ្ឋធម្មនុញ្ញប្រទេសកម្ពុជា។ ក្នុងបណ្តាសកម្មភាពមានការធ្វើញត្តិតាមបណ្តាញអ៊ីនធឺណិតទាមទារឱ្យប្រទេសម្ចាស់ហត្ថលេខីនៃកិច្ចព្រមព្រៀងសន្តិភាពទីក្រុងប៉ារីសសើរើពិនិត្យមើលការអនុវត្តនេះឡើងវិញជាដើម។

លោក សេង សុភ័ណ បានបញ្ជាក់ថា៖

«អីចឹងទេ យុទ្ធសាស្រ្តរបស់យើងគឺយើងបត់បែនទៅរកការទាមទារឱ្យមានការសើរើឡើងវិញនូវកិច្ចព្រមព្រៀងសន្តិភាពទីក្រុងប៉ារីសឱ្យមានការបោះឆ្នោតមួយដោយសេរីនិងយុត្តិធម៌ត្រឹមត្រូវ មិនមែនសេរីយុត្តិធម៌តាមបែបប្រទេសរុស្ស៊ីតាមបែបប្រទេសចិនទេ។ យើងអត់ចង់បានទេព្រោះមិនមែនជាការបោះឆ្នោតមួយតាមលទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ ជាការបោះឆ្នោតបែបបក្សតែមួយឬការបោះឆ្នោតដោយបក្សកុម្មុយនិស្ត»។

លោក ម៉ែន វណ្ណៈ សកម្មជនសហគមន៍ខ្មែរនៅទីក្រុងឡូវ៉ែលរដ្ឋម៉ាស្សាឈូសិតតែងតែដឹកនាំការធ្វើបាតុកម្មជាច្រើនក្នុងពេលកន្លងមក។


«អ្វីដែលយើងបានធ្វើនិងបន្តធ្វើគឺយើងធ្វើដដែលៗគឺសុំយ៉ាងណាដល់ប្រទេសដែលធ្លាប់ផ្តល់ជំនួយទៅប្រទេសកម្ពុជាសុំឱ្យគេត្រួតពិនិត្យមើលឡើងវិញថារដ្ឋាភិបាលបានធ្វើអ្វីខ្លះ។ ធ្វើទុក្ខបុកម្នេញអ្នកប្រជាធិបតេយ្យយ៉ាងណា លើអង្គការសង្គមស៊ីវិលនិងគណបក្សប្រឆាំង។ នេះគឺជាការងារដែលយើងធ្វើជាប្រចាំតាំងពីដើមមក‍»។

នៅចុងខែមីនានេះតំណាងសហគមន៍ខ្មែរនៅទូទាំងពិភពលោកនឹងមកជួបជុំគ្នានៅទីក្រុងម៉ែលប៊ន ប្រទេសអូស្ត្រាលីដើម្បីចូលរួមក្នុងសន្និសីទរយៈពេលបីថ្ងៃ ដើម្បីពិភាក្សាស្វែងរកវិធីដោះស្រាយបញ្ហាប្រឈមដែលប្រទេសកម្ពុជាកំពុងជួបប្រទះខាងផ្នែកសេដ្ឋកិច្ចនិងសង្គមកិច្ចដែលក្នុងនោះមានវិស័យសុខាភិបាល អប់រំសិក្សាធិការ អភិវឌ្ឍន៍ជនបទ ចំណាកស្រុក និងជនអន្តោប្រវេសន៍ជាដើម។

លោក ហុង លីម អ្នកតំណាងរាស្រ្តអូស្រ្តាលីដើមកំណើតខ្មែរនិងជាអ្នករៀបចំ«សន្និសីទពិភពលោកសម្រាប់ការអភិវឌ្ឍនាពេលអនាគតរបស់កម្ពុជា‍» យល់ថា ជាការប្រមូលផ្តុំបញ្ញាស្មារតីខ្មែរដើម្បី កែប្រែលម្អបញ្ហាប្រឈមទាំងនេះដែលលោកចាត់ទុកថាជា«បញ្ហាដ៏តក់ក្រហល់ជាបញ្ហាប្រឈមមុខយ៉ាងខ្លាំង»របស់កម្ពុជា។


«ដូច្នេះយើងជាម្ចាស់ស្រុក យើងជាខ្មែរត្រូវតែហ៊ានចាត់ប្រឈមមុខយកបញ្ហានេះយកមកគិតហើយគិតហ្នឹងគិតដោះស្រាយទោះអ្នកណាមិនដោះស្រាយក៏ដោយក៏បញ្ហាហ្នឹងវានៅ តែជាបញ្ហាដែលយើងនៅតែដោះស្រាយ‍»។

អង្គភាពស៊ើបការណ៍សេដ្ឋកិច្ចបានវាយតម្លៃថា លទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យក្នុងប្រទេសកម្ពុជាបានជាប់ចំណាត់ថ្នាក់១២៤ក្នុងចំណោម១៦៧ប្រទេសដោយធ្លាក់ចុះពី«រដ្ឋាភិបាលកូនកាត់‍»មួយមកជារបប«ដឹកនាំផ្តាច់ការ‍»ដោយសារបានរំលាយគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិដែលជាដៃគូប្រកួតដ៏ធំមួយរបស់គណបក្សកាន់អំណាច។


Continue reading ខ្មែរ​ក្រៅ​ប្រទេស​សកម្ម​ពេល​អ្នក​ក្នុង​ស្រុក​រង​ការ​គាបសង្កត់

Michael Sullivan, Cambodia Votes: Democracy, Authority, and International Support for Elections (Book Review)

Op-Ed: Brill Online Book and Journal

Michael Sullivan, . Copenhagen:  Press [Governance in Asia series 5], 2016, xviii + 341 pp.  9788776941864, price:  60.00 (hardcover), 9788776941,  18.99 (paperback).

Michael Sullivan 1Michael Sullivan has written an exceptional chronicle of Cambodia’s modern electoral history, one that will serve as a reference for future scholars of Cambodia who may wish to study what democracy looked like, despite all its limitations, when it still existed in the country. (Full disclosure: I am a Trustee of the Center for Khmer Studies in Siem Reap where Michael Sullivan served as an Executive Director several years prior to my joining the Board.)

Systematically going from the  election of 1993 to the 2013 election, Sullivan details the inner workings of what Prime Minister Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party have done to ruthlessly amass power by hook and by crook. His Introduction has a good summary of the chapters that follow and provides a roadmap for what to expect. The chapters provide a lot of information—even I had trouble keeping-up with the details. (Thankfully, it was easy enough for this reader to remind myself of the events and to see them chronicled so richly and reconciled with my own understanding of the situation when they unfolded.)

From the very beginning, Sullivan makes clear that he ‘seeks to understand and explain the impact the 1993 elections had on the subsequent development of electoral politics in Cambodia up to and including polls in 2013’ (p. 2). He argues that ‘Beginning with  in 1993, the book argues that internationally supported elections have been the central site in a struggle between opposing political and civil forces for access to and control of the Cambodian state’ (p. 2),

There were two reasons for this. ‘Firstly, the Cambodian experience is unique in the fields of political transitions and electoral studies. International involvement and control of the transitional elections process was unparalleled in the early 1990s. Continued international technical and financial assistance for electoral development and engagement after is a key variable in understanding the ensuing struggle for control over the processes and outcomes of elections. Furthermore, new social and political forces that emerged from the  operation became significant players in the evolution of electoral politics’ (p. 2).

Secondly, ‘the Cambodian experience provides new insights into the inconsistencies and contradictions inherent in international support for multi-party democratic elections in conflict prone states. At the same time, the Cambodia case demonstrates that elections do hold out possibilities for meaningful social and political change despite manipulation and constraints placed upon them by authoritarian tendencies within the state apparatus.’ (p. 2)

The  period turns out to be a defining moment for Cambodian elections that goes well beyond 1992–1993, and would continue to impact Cambodia for a quarter century. ‘The question remained,’ ponders Sullivan, ‘what was the best way to handle  and the opposition parties?’ (p. 42). He posits that the biggest challenge to the  was the opening of new sources of information; what we might today in the age of Trump call “alternative facts”, instead of state propaganda. That information warfare continues to this day with a final assault on the , culminating in its closure on September 4, 2017, from a bogus $ 6.3 million tax bill, the banishment of Radio Free Asia and the National Democratic Institute. If one considers the  game plan, it has been and continues to be the elimination of all voices contrary to its own.

And what is old is once again new: Sullivan notes on page 93 that election monitoring of the past was characterized as suspect activity. Today this problem is simply repackaged when the “Situation Room”, a similar election monitoring meeting of like-minded s, was characterized as a threat by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Continue reading Michael Sullivan, Cambodia Votes: Democracy, Authority, and International Support for Elections (Book Review)

Cambodia election monitors say Russia’s election ‘free, fair’

Op-Ed: Phnom Penh Post

phnom penh postCambodian election observers declared Russia’s presidential elections to be “free, fair and transparent” in a statement released on Monday.

Officials from the Senate, National Assembly and National Election Committee travelled to Moscow on Sunday and visited a number of precinct-level election commissions on election day.

In its statement, the delegation concluded the election was “in accordance with democratic principles”.

The results of Russia’s election, won in a landslide by President Vladimir Putin, were largely seen as a foregone conclusion. One of the country’s most prominent opposition activists was barred from the ballot and reports of people being ordered to vote by their employers were widespread.

In an email, Astrid Noren-Nilsson, an expert on Cambodian politics at Lund University, said the visit was part of Cambodia’s pivot to Russia and China.

While China offers military and economic support, Russia offers “moral support and legitimacy”, including election monitors, which Russia pledged to send in November, she said.

Vladimir Putin’s Not So Shocking Electoral Win | The Daily Show With Trevor Noah

This Senate Election of 25 February 2018 is a farce

Courtesy: Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP)

Courtesy: Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP)

ការបោះឆ្នោតព្រឹទ្ធសភាថ្ងៃអាទិត្យ ទី២៥ ខែកុម្ភៈ ឆ្នាំ២០១៨ ខាងមុខនេះ៖

ការបោះឆ្នោតព្រឹទ្ធសភាថ្ងៃអាទិត្យនេះដោយគ្មានគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិចូលរួមដែលមានតំណាង៥០៦២នាក់នោះ គឺជាការបោះឆ្នោតបែបកុម្មុយនីសផ្តាច់ការ។

Senate election this Sunday, February 25, 2018: The Senate election this Sunday without participation of the 5062 voters of the CNRP is the election of communist single-party state.

Sunday’s election for 58 members of the 62-strong Senate will see 123 members of parliament and 11,572 commune councilors vote at 33 polling stations across Cambodia. Two Senate members each are appointed by the king and the National Assembly. But rights groups and opposition politicians say the Senate vote is a farce that shows Hun Sen, who faces a national election in July, is not committed to multi-party democracy. – Reuters

ក្រុមសមាជិកសភាអាស៊ាន ដើម្បីសិទ្ធិមនុស្សម្នាក់ទៀត និងជាសមាជិកសភាហ្វីលីពីន លោក ថម វីឡារីន (Tom Villarin) ថ្លែងថា ការបោះឆ្នោតព្រឹទ្ធសភានេះ គឺគ្មានអ្វីក្រៅតែជាការប៉ុនប៉ងរបស់គណបក្សកាន់អំណាចក្នុងការដណ្ដើមយកការគ្រប់គ្រងស្ថាប័ននេះ តាមរយៈអំពើនៃការលួចប្លន់ផ្នែកនយោបាយយ៉ាងគឃ្លើន។ – RFA Khmer

At the present, Cambodia is at a risky transition by current grip of power either moving towards one party state of communist style such as China, Vietnam and Lao, or towards junta such as Thailand and Burma, or towards terrorism states such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The Senate election on this February 25, 2018 is a farce as the key opposition party CNRP has not been participated when the state has marginalized 2062 voters the right to vote or representing about 23 Senate seats. It has enabled the violation over the national Constitution, over the political stance of neutrality of Cambodia’s international relations, and pushing Cambodia into the jaw of China inevitably –  Discern of the Analysis on Senate Election 2018