Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bun Heang mocks US, threatens its citizens in scathing open letter



Bun Heang mocks US, threatens its citizens in scathing open letter

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The bloodied face of Cambodia’s ‘rule of law’. Former CNRP lawmaker Kong Sakphea is helped into a medical clinic in October after he was attacked by men in the Bun Heang-led BGU. Heng Chivoan

Bun Heang mocks US, threatens its citizens in scathing open letter

After being hit with sanctions from the US Department of Treasury, Cambodian General Hing Bun Heang said he would retaliate against any US national who does not respect his country’s sovereignty, has ambitions to invade Cambodia or incites “traitors” in the Kingdom to do so.

Bun Heang is the deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit (BGU). The US sanctions against him include denying a visa and freezing any assets he has there.

The US Treasury cited Bun Heang’s role as a commander of a “Cambodian unit that engaged in a series of human rights abuses” as among the reasons he was a target of sanctions.

In a letter released on Thursday, two days after the US acted against him, Bun Heang said he preferred to be friends with the US, but is determined to defend and maintain the security and safety of the Cambodian people.

“I am ready to hit back at any American who does not respect the sovereignty of an independent country and has ambitions to invade my country and even supports, and incites the traitors who exist in Cambodia,” he said.

While reiterating that he sought friendship with the US, he stressed that he did not respect the country.

“I am a Cambodian citizen. So I cannot follow US laws while in my own country. Rather, I must absolutely respect the statutes of Cambodia, which is a country that operates within the rule of law on the international stage,” Bun Heang stressed.

In response to the freezing of his assets, he said he did not have them for the US to freeze, but urged the country to do so as soon as possible if it found any.

He also mocked the US for denying him a visa, saying he had no desire to visit anyway.

In the statement, he told the US about his and his family’s suffering at the hands of the superpower, which dumped millions of bombs on the Kingdom in the 1970s.

“I am ready to prevent and absolutely fight against traitors and opposition groups who intend to organise a color revolution in Cambodia, behind which are foreigners,” Bun Heang claimed.

He said he was absolutely committed to protecting Hun Sen and his family.

The US action against the high-ranking military official has caused unease in the country with a raft of statements condemning it.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan told The Post on Thursday that the Defence Ministry would make a request to the US State Department through the Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry to explain its actions against Bun Heang.

“We are not quiet . . . No one is friends forever and no one is the enemy forever either . . . In so far as Cambodia’s position is concerned, especially that of [Hun Sen], we do not see the US as Cambodia’s enemy,” Siphan said.

As various government agencies lashed out at the US for acting against Bun Heang, the Khmer Will Party (KWP), which considers itself the soul of the CNRP, supported the sanctions.

It said the move on the BGU commander was justified and urged the US to impose sanctions on all those who participated in the destruction of democracy and human rights.

An item posted on Wednesday on the Facebook page of Kem Sokha said his daughter Kem Monovithya met with Scott Busby, deputy assistant to the US State Department, to discuss Cambodia’s human rights record.

During the meeting, she requested that the US “continue to add other measures for the purpose of urging Cambodia to move back to democracy so that peace and unification can be maintained for the long term on the basis of mutual respect”.

Accused of treason, Kem Sokha is currently imprisoned in Tbong Khmum province, even as his trial continues.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants