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Banks, businesses and MFIs latest suspects in ‘colour revolution’

Hun Sen speaks to the public during an appearance on the Chroy Changvar Peninsula yesterday. In a speech, he accused former opposition leader Sam Rainsy of fomenting ‘colour revolution’ and dared him to confront the military.
Hun Sen speaks to the public during an appearance on the Chroy Changvar Peninsula yesterday. In a speech, he accused former opposition leader Sam Rainsy of fomenting ‘colour revolution’ and dared him to confront the military. Facebook

Banks, businesses and MFIs latest suspects in ‘colour revolution’

Newly obtained National Police training documents reveal the government’s belief that a purported opposition-led “colour revolution” extends not only to foreign governments and NGOs, but to banks, businesses and microfinance institutions.

The National Police documents, used as slides to educate police around the country, match a government narrative about external and internal plots to overthrow the Cambodian People’s Party-led government, and contain information on specific groups and countries purportedly involved in the “revolution” and its alleged execution.

One slide features a flowchart of these operations, with the US and EU at the top, and a branch designating the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party as the political arm of the alleged conspiracy. The allegations have already seen opposition leader Kem Sokha jailed on widely condemned charges of treason, and filings made to the Supreme Court seeking the party’s dissolution.

On the funding side, the chart lists the State Department’s USAID, an organisation with the acronym “DCA/CA” – which seems to match that of Danish NGO DanChurchAid/Christian Aid – as well as four unnamed “big companies” and three unnamed microfinance institutions and banks, with the latter three listed as “secret” sources of money.

A country representative for DanChurchAid yesterday denied being part of any attempts at revolution and said the group worked with other local NGOs within the purview of Cambodian laws.

The document also claims 49 international NGOs are working against the government, though it only names the International Republican Institute, Peace Corps, American Center for International Labor Solidarity and the recently expelled National Democratic Institute.

On the local front, it names Equitable Cambodia, Housing Rights Task Force and land rights NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut – which was accused last week by the Defence Ministry of using American funds to foment demonstrations – as part of 250 groups and 11 unions working for the US and EU.

Media organisations Radio Free Asia, Voice of America and Voice of Democracy – all of which saw their broadcasts severely curtailed by government-ordered station closures – among others, are also listed as media actors seeking to undermine the government.

Kampong Speu Governor Vai Samnang yesterday confirmed that he had seen the document and that provincial officials were being informed of its contents. Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak expressed surprise when asked about the document and seemingly tried to downplay its contents.

“This is only what we have noticed [about the accused groups], but when they act on it, then we will take action, and we know who is who,” he said.

The document also calls out election monitor Comfrel for allegedly colluding with the CNRP, an allegation the NGO yesterday denied, saying it was focused on ensuring free and fair elections, as well as post-election monitoring of policies and elected officials.

“We firmly deny the accusation. What we have done and what we are trying to do is to share our contributions with the government in helping the Cambodian society,” it said in a statement.

Self-exiled former opposition leader Sam Rainsy also found himself the target of colour revolution accusations yesterday, with Prime Minister Hun Sen in speech yesterday returning to a 2011 video in which the CNRP co-founder calls for the army to turn its guns on the government.

While Rainsy was forced to resign as head of the CNRP in February – after the CPP rammed through controversial legal amendments that barred him from leading a party – he has only recently been dragged into the government’s detailed and conspiratorial theory that the US and CNRP are leading a conspiracy to topple the government.

“Please do not forget that you have no capability to topple Hun Sen through the army. If you dare to jump, you dare to die too, so prepare your coffin in advance,” the premier said yesterday at an event in Phnom Penh.

Unlike those who commit treason, he said, he preferred to implement the law rather than using the military to initiate violence, an act he said would backfire on the CNRP.

“And when the armed forces come out for the snake, they will beat it on its head and not the tail. If we beat the tail, it will keep biting. All the leaders will be beaten,” he said.

Rainsy reiterated yesterday that his words were taken out of context and that in the 2011 speech he was talking about historical trends that showed armies could defy the orders of the government when asked to act against the will of the people.

“In 2011 I just pointed at historical facts that implicitly – I didn’t make any specific call to anybody – could also materialize one day in Cambodia,” he said in an email.

At a press conference yesterday in Paris under the banner of his new Association for Democracy in Cambodia, he added that fear and anger had made the prime minister unable to digest criticisms.

“When people dare to say the truth and complain about what he has done wrong, or reveal his crimes, he gets very mad. He freaks out,” Rainsy said.

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