Prime Minister Hun Sen once again spoke on weighty matters of war and peace, reiterating that development and democracy would not be possible without peace.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Choam Chao interchange in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district on March 31, the premier pointed out that the war between Ukraine and Russia that is currently raging has resulted in the loss of shelter, the separation of families and total disrespect for human rights.

“Now, please go ask Ukraine where human rights are. The Russian army has been bombing and shelling children, who are now hiding underground.

“There are no schools, no clean water. Refugees have fled Ukraine, including students of African countries who were studying in Ukraine and who were then discriminated against on the European continent, a place that considers itself pro-democracy and respectful of human rights,” he said.

Hun Sen added that many Syrian and Libyan refugees were still living in refugee camps and the question to be posed to European countries is why do they have such obvious double-standards?

The prime minister said that at this point it’s not certain that those who talk about discrimination, democracy and human rights are actually practicing what they preach.

Hun Sen further stated that the world is crying for peace and striving for peace at a time when instability due to the war in Ukraine and the possibility of a third world war or an outbreak of nuclear war are very real.

“The value of peace that I talk about today is not some problem of mine or some value that I only I hold. But I contributed to bringing peace to the Cambodian people, which was hard to achieve, so let’s talk about peace first,” he said.

“We demanded peace. Having found peace, we’ve tried hard to talk about how to protect that peace at all costs until they say that we only think about peace and that we’ve forgotten about democracy and human rights. Yes, I acknowledge those criticisms, but let’s talk about peace first,” he continued.

He reiterated that he would again run for Prime Minister in the upcoming 2023 national election, while Hun Manet – his eldest son – will be his party’s candidate to succeed him, which is a normal thing in many countries.

“When it comes to peace – it is a universal value that all nations in the world have always strived for. When we do not have peace, we cannot talk about anything, whether it is human rights or democracy or sustainability. Those things can only flourish when there is peace, which is the most important fundamental right there is in life,” said Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia.

“If a nation is not at peace, I ask whether the right to life or the well-being of its people can be guaranteed? Truly, it cannot be guaranteed. That is why peace is so valuable and important for development,” he added.

He said that the west has tried to teach endless lessons to the rest of the world about human rights, democracy and equality – but they are also the countries that discriminate the most. They only value their fellow European nations, while other nations are treated as inferior to them.

“As we have obviously seen, the refugee crisis from Syria and from other countries in the Middle East – which were facing war and violence – and the crisis that led to the influx of refugees from Ukraine shows how the earlier wave of refugees were discriminated against by Europe,” he emphasised.