Supporters of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on Monday rallied on the streets of Tokyo, demanding Prime Minister Hun Sen’s resignation and urging the Japanese government to “save democracy in the Kingdom”.
Some 400 protesters in the rally, which was organised by the Cambodia National Rescue Movement in Japan and led by CNRP activist Hay Vanna, gathered for about three hours at Hibiya Park in Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward before taking to the streets nearby while being escorted by police.
Writing on his Facebook page, Vanna said the protesters called on Japan, one of the Paris Peace Agreement signatories, to save democracy in Cambodia, to monitor the return of CNRP “acting president” Sam Rainsy and his escorts, as well as to prevent any violent acts against them.
They also urged Tokyo to reject recognition of the current government that the supporters deemed “illegitimate”, he said.
Live video footage shared on the social media platform showed protesters chanting slogans in Khmer, Japanese, English and Korean, demanding Hun Sen resign as prime minister.
They also held banners, some of which said “Hun Sen is the killer in Cambodia”, “Hun Sen is [the] second Pol Pot”, “Cambodians are hungry for democracy” and “Shame on Hun Sen”.
Former CNRP vice-president Mu Sochua, who was in Japan to attend a forum before the protest, said she had not participated in the rally.
She noted that she would be in Japan again on August 21-22 to meet with some Japanese government officials, with whom she hoped to raise concerns about the political situation in Cambodia.
Sok Touch, president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the protesters ought to be reminded that democracy in the country was conceived out of people’s will.
“More than 83.2 per cent of all [registered] voters turned up . . . so what does that tell you? We can’t argue that our government was born out of a coup or rebellion.
“Cambodia cannot copy a model of democracy from Japan or other countries. The democracy model that the Kingdom embraces was born out of people’s will, through the elections,” Touch said.
He said the US had been practising democracy for “400 years” and so had Thailand for the last six decades. “Those countries keep improving their democratic practices, and so does Cambodia.”
Regarding Rainsy’s claim to want to return to Cambodia, Touch said: “This is just a political wave to make people believe that Sam Rainsy is not asleep.
“Whether or not he intends to return is up to him because he has the right to return as much as anyone else.”
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay, on the other hand, said the supporters ought to remain active in pressuring the government for their voices to be heard.
Their invocation of the Paris Peace Agreement would remind the signatories of their human rights obligations, Mong Hay said.
“The pressure is already on the Cambodian government. However, it chooses to ignore it so as to not give any importance to the opposition.
“Their [the CNRP supporters’] past invocation of the Paris Peace Agreement has not been in vain. The US refers to it from now and then when dealing with the Cambodian government,” he said.
Looking forward to return
Separately, government spokesperson Phay Siphan said on Monday that the government was looking forward to Rainsy’s return.
By returning to Cambodia, Rainsy would fulfil his duty at the court, Siphan said, referring to summonses issued by the courts against the opposition leader who fled Cambodia to live abroad to escape a slew of criminal charges and convictions.
“Democracy in Cambodia is every Cambodian’s treasure. Cambodians had made [a] decision through the elections. If they [CNRP supporters] admire and respect democracy, they must not forget their duties to the court.
“Cambodia is a sovereign state with the rule of law and can’t be interfered with by any groups or individuals,” he said.
Meanwhile, Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor Seng Kim Lak has resummoned Rainsy to appear in court on August 22 for questioning concerning Interior Minister Sar Kheng’s complaint, a court handout that The Post received on Monday said.
Sar Kheng filed a complaint at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court against Rainsy early last month, asking the court sentence him over the latter’s claims that the minister had supported a plot by Hun Sen’s son-in-law Dy Vichea to seek revenge against the prime minister.
He also demanded four billion riel ($1 million) in compensation.
Rainsy alleged Vichea wanted revenge against Hun Sen over his role in the 2008 death of his father, National Police chief Hok Lundy, in a helicopter crash.