Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman Sok Eysan accused human rights groups on Sunday of practising “double standards” for failing to criticise the “tough crackdown” by French authorities on the “Yellow Vest” protests rocking that country.
Writing on Telegram on Sunday, Eysan, who is also a senator, said the Kingdom’s government would be immediately censured for taking such measures, and that nowhere in the world would the authorities allow “demonstrations or riots” to affect public order.
“This problem is normal for all countries around the world, but it is really strange that incidents that happen the same receive different evaluations depending on [what human rights advocates want to say],” Eysan said.
He was referring to evaluations by various human rights organisations on the state of human rights in Cambodia after the Kingdom’s authorities took action against former opposition party demonstrations in Phnom Penh.
After protests following national elections in 2013, and commune elections in 2014, Human Rights Watch criticised “the Cambodian government’s latest crackdown” on dissent and urged foreign donors to condemn an “escalating wave of abuse” against peaceful protesters.
Following those elections, supporters of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), led by Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha, took to the streets of Phnom Penh to march against the official results of the 2013 polls, in protests that turned violent.
Hun Sen’s ruling CPP won the July 2013 polls, garnering 68 seats to the CNRP’s 55.
While Eysan did not mention any country by name, he referred to “Yellow Vest” demonstrations.
In France, protests against fuel tax rises, dubbed “Yellow Vest” demonstrations after the high-visibility safety vests worn by those taking part, have seen 126 people injured and almost 1,000 arrested by police nationwide on Saturday.
Police in Paris have fired “rubber bullets and tear gas”, the BBC reported, in the fourth weekend of violent anti-government demonstrations across France that has seen one person killed.
An estimated 125,000 protesters gathered nationwide, with around 10,000 in the French capital, Paris, alone.
“At the moment, a so-called developed and democratic country in Europe is using tough crackdown measures on Yellow Vest protesters and there are dead and injured people, and many have been arrested. Tear gas and other crackdown materials were used. However, no one says that it is ‘hell’,” Eysan said.
“However, in Cambodia, they are good at looking and blaming the government immediately and without delay to condemn [such measures] as human rights violations on innocent protesters. This is the double standard of human rights advocates,” he said.
However, Soeung Sen Karona, a spokesperson for local rights group Adhoc, said that the implementation of laws regarding protests differed between countries.
“Normally, once a protest happens and leads to violence, the authorities have to intervene, but crackdowns in each country vary. Crackdowns in some countries show a balance of force in accordance with UN principles,” he said.
“It depends on the actual situation. Large democratic countries also launch crackdowns, but theirs comply with international law, especially human rights principles,” he claimed.