Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (left) said on Monday it was “a fact” that the main opposition party would be dissolved as he spoke on the anniversary of the peace agreement that established multiparty democracy, Reuters reports. Critics should prepare their own coffins if they continued to oppose the regime, he added.
“As I used to say before, to protect happiness and peace for the people, and not to let people be killed, we dare to eliminate some ill-willed people if it’s necessary,” he said.
His comments came as an open letter signed by more than 50 civil society and human rights groups called on chairs of the Paris Peace Agreement to reconvene to ensure that the “democratic vision for Cambodia outlined in the agreement is not completely forsaken,” according to reports.
“Twenty-six years later, there is an urgent need for decisive action from the international community, to ensure that the democratic vision for Cambodia outlined in the Paris Peace Agreements is not completely forsaken,” the letter states:
We respectfully submit that your obligation to take concrete action under the Paris Peace Agreements has now been triggered as a result of the severe deterioration in the state of human rights and democracy in Cambodia in recent weeks and months, which has led to clear violations of the Paris Agreements. Specifically, Article 29 of the Agreement on a Comprehensive Political Settlement for Cambodia (the “ACPS”) provides.
Activists and parliamentarians have called on the European Union to react “very soon” with concrete actions in response to the Cambodian government’s moves to dissolve the country’s main opposition party. But Western democracies’ leverage has been limited due to China’s support for Hun Sen.
In the face of the Western criticism since the arrest of Kem Sokha, China has given verbal support to Hun Sen’s government. China is by far the biggest donor to Cambodia and its biggest investor, Reuters adds:
China’s influential Global Times tabloid said in an editorial on Sunday that Cambodia’s “growth trend should not be interrupted by the country’s rising political tension”. “As an important economic partner of Cambodia, China will pay close attention to the situation in the Southeast Asian country and willingly provide the necessary help,” it said.
In Cambodia, China hasn’t slowed its investments despite Hun Sen’s crackdown on democracy and basic freedom, one analyst observed:
Facing vocal challenges from opposition groups ahead of next year’s general elections, he has begun actively silencing pro-democracy institutions, expelling the U.S.-funded National Democratic Institute [a core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy], forcing Radio Free Asia to close its Phnom Penh office, shuttering the The Cambodia Daily, jailing opposition party leader Kem Sokha on allegedly phony charges of treason and collusion with the United States, and calling for the withdrawal of Peace Corps volunteers.