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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen talks tough to the West

Hun Sen talks tough to the West

Hun Sen talks tough to the West

H UN SEN has sent a blunt message to Western countries not to tie aid donations to

human rights conditions, and appealed for a Cambodian "patriotic movement"

to protect Khmer national sovereignty.

"If you're happy, give [aid] but if you're not, don't talk about our affairs,"

the Second Prime Minister said in the first of two speeches last week.

He singled out the US and France for particular criticism, saying that if they were

unhappy with Cambodia they should stop giving aid.

But he said the US should still pay "compensation" of at least $20 billion

for its past damage to Cambodia.

"You created war in Cambodia. I will complain about this. You investigate Pol

Pot's crimes, you must investigate the beginning when you created Pol Pot."

Noting that he himself had lost an eye during the American bombing of Cambodia in

the 1970s, Hun Sen said: "You are [now] talking about human rights but when

you bombed Cambodia you did not think in what state Khmer lives were."

Of France, Hun Sen said: "They have interfered in Cambodian affairs too much,

it's impossible to remain patient. Samdech Krom Preah (Prince Norodom Ranariddh)

and I can no longer remain patient."

Hun Sen called for demonstrations at embassies of foreign countries which "interfered"

in Cambodia's affairs.

"I prepare for the people to stage demonstrations to support the Royal Government

in preserving independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, because the sovereignty

is being severely trampled," he said in a speech to Kandal villagers Dec 5.

His comments sent a shudder through Phnom Penh's expatriate community as rumors spread

of possible protests. There was no official diplomatic reaction to his speech, but

UN agencies advised their staff not to go to work before noon on Dec 8 as rumors

peaked of potential trouble.

By the Post's press time, the feared demonstrations had not occurred and Hun Sen

had insisted that he had never suggested anything other than peaceful protests.

"Compatriots throughout the country, be prepared for demonstrations at one time

when I will appear [to speak] on television and radio," Hun Sen said in his

Dec 5 speech.

He referred to a demonstration in France in support of Prince Norodom Sirivudh, and

to public reservations expressed by US senators about giving most favored nation

(MFN) trading status to Cambodia because of its human rights situation.

"I have told the French Embassy that 'If your country has the right to stage

demonstrations, so do I ' ".

In reference to the US, he said that his message to American senators was: "You

want to help, then help. If you don't, no problem."

Later in his speech, he said: "For Americans, if they talk too much about Cambodian

affairs, we'll stage another demonstration demanding them to pay us compensation

[for the war]. How much? It's only $20 billion - compensation for what they did to

damage [Cambodia]."

Hun Sen told the crowd that Minister of Commerce Cham Prasith had telephoned him

to talk about delays to the US granting MFN to Cambodia.

"I said 'Your Excellency, you and I used to eat rice porridge together. Be patient,

we're used to difficulty.

"We're not going to die if they give MFN or not. For how many years have we

survived... During the State of Cambodia era, we lived in a time when they attacked

us, they surrounded us, they imposed sanctions against us. We survived [then] and

why can't we survive now?"

Hun Sen warned the US not to rely on being a super-power, saying: "Or [do] you

want to bring your planes in here again? You lost once already."

He made no complaint against Asian nations, and specifically praised Japanese aid

to Cambodia.

"Don't protest against Japan, it does not interfere, it is very good,"

he said to villagers' applause. "Japanese assistance is the only one which does

not have conditions [attached to it]."

Four days later, Hun Sen gave another speech in which he complained that he had been

misquoted as advocating the "storming" of foreign embassies in Phnom Penh.

"We can organize a non-violent demonstration and send petitions to those embassies,

but we cannot enter the premises".

"All embassies, don't worry. I'm not against [you]...What I want to do is [at]

the level of a great movement to protect independence and sovereignty of the country,

stopping you from interfering in the internal affairs and from considering my country

as a small one of yours.

"...I never act covertly. If I do [organize demonstrations], I will declare

it through the microphone."

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