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Comment: Cambodia's future: hate, fear and blood?

THE last Sunday of March will remain a bloody Sunday in the history of Cambodia.

At least 12 innocent people were killed and more than 100 were injured by four grenades

thrown by cowards obeying those who hate freedom and democracy.

Quid crimen prodest? asks the Latin proverb. Who takes advantage from this crime?

According to history and political science, the answer is crystal clear: the political

interests which want to throttle public discourse. Because the fear created by the

massacre will prevent anyone from daring to express a different opinion. This is

the rule of fear, not the rule of law. This is the common way those who support authoritarianism

use to stifle pluralism. For them, a good opponent is a dead one.

Cambodia is back to the rule of fear and hate. On this bloody Sunday, opponents of

free speech showed clearly that they are unable to deal with a peaceful public demonstration

authorized by government authorities. Terrorists tried to make the opposition silent

using whatever means to achieve their goal. Again, words of hate and violence are

creating the necessary fear by which those who oppose the Kingdom's transition to

democracy are maintaining their control on the population.

Is it for such a political system that the international community is spending millions

of dollars every month? Is the international community paying for the killing of

innocent Cambodians? Will the international community pay for unfree and unfair elections?

It is time for the too often cautious diplomats based in Phnom Penh to keep in mind

that, in the case of today's Cambodia, it is impossible to hide once more behind

the classical duty of non-interference. The Paris Agreement clearly says: "the

Signatories to this Agreement undertake to promote and encourage respect for and

observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cambodia as embodied in the

relevant international instruments and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations

General Assembly, in order, in particular, to prevent the recurrence of human rights

abuses" (article 15b). And article 17 specifies that: "After the end of

the transitional period, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights should continue

to monitor closely the human rights situation in Cambodia including if necessary

by the appointment of a Special Rapporteur who would report his findings annually

to the Commission and to the General Assembly." It is well known that the Cambodian

Government failed to implement any recommendations expressed by Michael Kirby and

Thomas Hammerberg. After the bloody Sunday, the international community can no longer

trust the Cambodian Government. Enough is enough.

There are genuine democrats within all the Cambodian political parties. It is time

for them to stand up and say no to those who used terror as a means of cowering the

innocent. Now. What is at stake is no less than to give a future of freedom, tolerance

and solidarity to this country, and not a future of hate, fear and blood.

- Raoul Jennar is a political analyst and author on Cambodia.

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