Crackdown on Opposition Has 'Deepened' Cambodia’s Political Crisis: Sam Rainsy

Email story
Comment on this story
Print story
CCP lawmaker Chheang Von gives a media briefing on the July 15, 2014 violence outside Freedom Park in Phnom Penh to reporters at the National Assembly.
CCP lawmaker Chheang Von gives a media briefing on the July 15, 2014 violence outside Freedom Park in Phnom Penh to reporters at the National Assembly.

Cambodia’s opposition leader Sam Rainsy warned Friday that the arrest and detention of seven lawmakers from his party has deepened the country’s political crisis, accusing the government of waging a “brutal attempt to eliminate the opposition.”  

He called on the international community to address the “deplorable” situation, saying the country’s democratization process guaranteed by the1991 U.N.-brokered deal that helped end decades of conflict has “completely derailed” and that the country had returned to a one-party system reminiscent of the immediate post-Khmer Rouge period and the Cold War era.

In his first statement since the arrest of the seven MP’s and another member from his Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) following violent protests outside Freedom Park in the capital Phnom Penh on Tuesday, Sam Rainsy said the latest government action has worsened the political turmoil since the disputed July 2013 general elections.

The United Nation's human rights office, meanwhile, said in a statement Friday that it was “alarmed” at the arrests of the eight and “concerned about the very serious charges” brought against them, including "insurrection," which carries a prison sentence of up to 30 years. All of them have been denied bail and detained indefinitely pending trial.  

“This most serious clampdown has deepened a political crisis whose gravity is unprecedented since the July 5-6, 1997 coup d’état,” Sam Rainsy said, referring to the bloody coup in which Hun Sen ousted prime minister Prince Ranariddh 17 years ago.

“It is time to properly address this deplorable situation for the sake of all the people of Cambodia and their friends," he said in his statement issued in Paris Friday before he headed home after cutting short his European trip.

Back to square one

Sam Rainsy referred to the 1991 agreements, saying 18 friendly countries, including all the world’s major powers, had committed themselves to ensuring that Cambodia follows a “system of liberal democracy, on the basis of pluralism.”

The country was supposed to move from a communist-type regime characterized by a one-party system towards a real and vibrant democracy following the organization of “free and fair elections,” he said.

“However, following the July 28, 2013 elections, which many independent observers have denounced as unfree and unfair, and following the increasingly brutal attempt to eliminate the opposition, Cambodia is—politically speaking—back to square one with the return to a one-party system reminiscent of the immediate post-Khmer Rouge period and the Cold War era,” he said.

Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) was declared the victor in the 2013 elections despite allegations of fraud, leading to a CNRP boycott of the National Assembly, or parliament.

Freedom Park, the only place where protests were allowed in the capital, was ordered closed in January after it became a focal point for protests against Hun Sen’s rule in the wake of the disputed polls.

At least 40 people were injured in clashes on Tuesday between CNRP supporters and security personnel guarding Freedom Park after the guards tried to pull down a banner hung during protests by the opposition calling on the government to reopen the park.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it found no evidence to suggest that any of the arrested lawmakers had incited or participated in the violence.

During dozens of public gatherings and events the CNRP has held, party leaders have consistently espoused nonviolence, it said.


On Friday, two CNRP lawmakers Long Ry and Nut Rumduol, who were arrested a day earlier, were produced in court for questioning for about an hour before they were denied bail and sent to Prey Sar prison. About 200 party supporters protested in front of the court.

CPP lawmaker Chheang Von, who is also spokesman for the National Assembly, the country parliament, held a press conference blaming the CNRP lawmakers for provoking the violence on Tuesday.

He said that the violence in which many security guards were wounded was more serious than a January government crackdown on striking garment workers that left five dead.  

“It was premeditated,” Chheang Von said. “They used sticks, rocks to attack security guards. It was inhumane and brutal,”  he said.

The U.S. State Department on Friday called for the release of the opposition politicians and condemned the violence.

Sam Rainsy said that the government’s relentless crackdown on the opposition was a mockery of the Paris accords signed 23 years ago.

“The international community would lose its credibility if the Paris Agreements on Cambodia were to be continuously violated or completely ignored,” Sam Rainsy said.

Anniversary of return

His statement came exactly one year after his return to Cambodia at the end of four years of forced exile to avoid a 12-year jail sentence he says was politically motivated. He was not allowed to stand in the general elections last year but managed to lead the CNRP to its best performance in years, denying the CPP of its traditional two-thirds majority.  

“Last year, my decision to return in spite of the pending jail sentence reflected my will to test the state of democracy in Cambodia in the campaign leading to the July 28, 2013 national elections,” he said.

“Today, I hope my return will help defuse the worryingly growing political tension, secure the release of all detainees allegedly linked to recent political violence, re-start negotiations aimed at breaking the current political deadlock, and begin a process of national reconciliation to bring peace and justice to the Cambodian people.”

The CNRP and CPP had been holding talks to break the political deadlock since the disputed polls but the discussions broke down after the CNRP demanded that all members of the country's election body should be endorsed by a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

Comments (9)

Anonymous Reader

What is this guy talking about? Is he on drug? So it's OK for the security force to slaughter Khmer People, but Khmer people are not allow to defend themselves? What an injustice? How much more pain & suffering can the Khmer people endue under this type leadership?

Jul 20, 2014 05:46 PM

Anonymous Reader

Ethnic minorities in central Vietnam is a citizen of the country of Vietnam, but has a particular length of history and native cultures. Therefore, Vietnam's history can not define privacy as the history of ethnic Vietnamese history that is common to all nations now on the strip this southern Vietnam, including ethnic Montagnard Degar, Cham, Khmer Krom.
Viet commie just cling to the doctrine Vietnam turned into minority ethnic Vietnamese, by removing all the elements of history and civilization of indigenous peoples, prohibiting all rights not mentioned history national defeat any attempt to prevent separatist autonomy and independence.

Jul 20, 2014 03:51 PM

Anonymous Reader

That's what it seems to be happening. Vietnam is slowly and stealthily erase the history of these people, hoping these people would forget their roots. Vietnam efforts is futile because it doesn't control history, a history that belongs to the world.

Jul 20, 2014 11:34 PM

Pol Pot

So far I know and fact remains fact that there's NO Khmer folk, but only a bunch of Khmer murderers when the Cloned Vietcong Pigs wouldn't intervene and you ain't here to complain or to agitate against a neighbor.

Jul 22, 2014 06:01 AM


from Providence , RI

This ugly thug fat face ccp psychopathic syndrome Chheang Vun who was the one stolen 2 U.N's cars landcruiser in 1993 during U.N peace keeping mission accomplished in Cambodia . Now he becomes Hun Sen top culprit predecessor " top jungle lawless school with comrade H.Sen " very aggressive person , mentally retard , very activities , very insults , narcissism ,no any psychotherapist can heal him and not loser than his thug H.Sen psychs . He learned a lot how to be next top H.Sen dictatorship with comrade Pay Siphan to topple H.Sen utopia psychic .

Jul 20, 2014 10:41 AM

Anonymous Reader

That's funny. I guess this thief got away too many times and he becomes complacence. Soon his criminal habits will catch up to him.

Jul 20, 2014 11:26 PM

Pol Pot

Khmer people seem to be totally apathetic and live for the past. They never ask themselves why the glory days of "Angkor Wat" were forever over? If the people are squeezed, enslaved and sucked by their "oligarchy" they peter out all their vital energy and become apathetic. And that is what we witness today: First Pol Pot, then Hun Sen? Rainsey? LOL...Pol Pot or Hun Sen with a new name. What else?

Jul 20, 2014 08:03 AM

Anonymous Reader

I don't know what planet you're on. In the age of internet and Facebook, these people are far from apathetic. Thanks to Facebook and the internet more and more people are informed. The more they are informed, the less they are afraid. Even the "oligarchy" trying to squeeze and enslave these people are beginning to think twice. The oligarchy may have money and connection, but they are no match with informed people. This is what's going on. Wrong observation. Nice try though.

Jul 20, 2014 11:18 PM

Pol Pot

To the fearful "Anonymous Reader"
LOL...Facebook? Are you a promoter of facebook? How much Mr. Zuckerberg pays you for your unsubtle service? The Khmer folk is pathetic and apathetic since a despot king who squeezed his people for his grandeur Angkor Wat. So pathetic and so apathetic that they even allow a genocidal slaughterer Pol Pot to murder them, and even you like it or not, the most hated Vietcong pigs rescued this pathetic and apathetic folk. Fact remains fact, don't deny it, my Dear. Hun Sen is only in this position because his pathetic and apathetic folk pathetically and apathetically lets him waltzes. And Rainsy? I bet that he's either a reincarnated Pol Pot or a new strongman who excels Hun Sen.

Jul 22, 2014 05:23 AM

Pol Pot

BTW, I'm living on the planet Earth, Definitely outside the Hell where Pol Pot was born. And you? Are you living in this wretched place?

Jul 22, 2014 05:57 AM


from Farfield

The worst enemy of my pple enemy is my friend ruthless dictator H.Sen who was in crown rein for more than 35 years in power " Cambodia " , more than of my aged .Absolute this thug ugly beast dictator who created by n-vietcong commie ruthless radical in southeast asia hemisphere . He was born to be a barbaric evil , be ruthless , crook , thief , vulgar , so rude , inhumane , traitor , tyrant , coward , violence , cruel , war crime behavior , war crime conspiracy and war crime against humanity and we're wishing him in hellhole sooner rather latter like his Gadhafi comrade .

Jul 19, 2014 09:55 PM

View all comments.





More Listening Options

View Full Site