Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday complained to US Ambassador William Heidt about the lack of attention from media and rights group being paid to what he termed a “savage crackdown” on protests against US president-elect Donald Trump in the US.
Speaking at the opening of the new Coca-Cola factory in Phnom Penh, which the ambassador attended, Hun Sen also asked Heidt to take note of the fact that when post-election protests occur in the US, “crackdowns” are accepted.
“William A Heidt, I should ask a favour from you, if you do not mind, because the things happening in Cambodia have happened in the US,” Hun Sen said. “Demonstrations have taken place in many states after the US election, and it has not been small.”
“I want to ask you to note clearly the speeches of analysts and some human rights representatives who said . . . clearly that the crackdown in the US is correct, and does not violate human rights,” he added. “By doing so, there will be no double standards.”
Unlike Cambodia after the 2013 national election, no one protesting has yet been killed or severely beaten by the police in the US, or given jail sentences such as opposition official Meach Sovannara’s 20-year term for “leading an insurrection” for attending a protest.
Hun Sen yesterday also complained about a Post article about the US protests, which he said had downplayed the severity of the crackdown by showing a woman who did not appear to be a victim of repression.
“The demonstration in the US, they put a photo showing a woman with sunglasses and walking handsomely, while the media was widely broadcasting about the savage crackdown of the US police forces on tens of thousands of demonstrators,” Hun Sen said. “Is it fair the Cambodian media has not issued a photo showing the savage crackdown of the US police on the demonstrators against the election results, but instead used a photo of woman who looks like a tourist in a coastal area?”
US Embassy spokesman Jay Raman said via email he was not aware of what Hun Sen was referring to when he spoke of a “crackdown” in America, or of any other misconduct in the protests. “Protests related to the 2016 US elections were modest in scale and largely peaceful,” Raman said via email. “Some arrests have been reported, and these cases are being handled in accordance with legal procedures. We are not aware of any significant allegations of inappropriate police behavior or ‘crackdowns’ vis-à-vis the demonstrators,” he added.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALEX WILLEMYNS