Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Government ups plot accusations with new video linking CNRP and US groups to ‘colour revolutions’

Government ups plot accusations with new video linking CNRP and US groups to ‘colour revolutions’

A screenshot from a video posted by the Press and Quick Reaction Unit, which alleges that the CNRP, a host of American organisations, a local NGO and others have been involved in a conspiratorial plot to foment ‘colour revolution’. Photo supplied
A screenshot from a video posted by the Press and Quick Reaction Unit, which alleges that the CNRP, a host of American organisations, a local NGO and others have been involved in a conspiratorial plot to foment ‘colour revolution’. Photo supplied

Government ups plot accusations with new video linking CNRP and US groups to ‘colour revolutions’

In the latest attempt to push its narrative of an impending “colour revolution”, the Press and Quick Reaction Unit released a sweeping, nearly hourlong video, broadcast on multiple television stations on Monday night, attempting to link the opposition’s activities to protest movements in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Created by the Council of Ministers’ media arm, the video, which is similar in style to previous broadcasts of war in Syria and protests in the United States, first shows demonstrations in countries such as Libya, Tunisia, Syria, Serbia and Ukraine and links them to US State Department-funded organisations such as the National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute and National Endowment for Democracy.

Special focus is given to nonprofit Canvas and political organisation Otpor!, which were part of these movements in the Eastern Europe. The video points out both their logos – clenched fists – suggesting that they are “symbols of colour revolutions” and then shows Cambodia National Rescue Party President Kem Sokha and other lawmakers with raised fists of their own.

It also singles out Sokha, former CNRP President Sam Rainsy, current Deputy President Mu Sochua, and Sokha’s daughters Kem Monovithya and Kem Samathida, as some of the conspirators in this revolution.

“After the CNRP lost the [2013] election, the colour revolution took place in Cambodia. This revolution is no different from other countries’ revolutions, including the symbols used, music, slogans and the speaking of negative chants in the streets,” a voiceover says in the video, as split-screen images of rallies in Cambodia and Eastern Europe are shown.

In documents obtained this week by The Post, the message channelled in the video is similar in tone to the lessons in training materials for police nationwide, which lay out a conspiratorial plot featuring the opposition, local and international NGOs, Western governments and media outlets all working together.

The only local NGO mentioned in the video is the Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community, which it accuses of attempting to recruit about 70,000 observers with international funding for a “green revolution” ahead of the 2017 commune elections.

Theng Savoeun, the group’s president, said it was only working to improve the livelihoods of farmers. “I denied the accusation and what we do today is for farmers, who are our members,” he said.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A screenshot from the video showing CNRP members with clenched fists.

Tith Sothea, spokesman for the Press and Quick Reaction Unit, did not address the veracity of the video’s claims, saying that it was a compilation of “colour revolution activities”, but was not investigatory in nature.

“The video is to explain what are colour revolutions in other countries and the colour revolution that has happened in Cambodia – this is the only goal. Just to produce a video and not to investigate any people,” he said.

Nonetheless, the video directly accuses the CNRP of using media outlets such as Radio Free Asia, Voice of America, Voice of Democracy, the Cambodia Daily and The Phnom Penh Post to push its agenda.

Portions of the video were broadcast yesterday on CNC TV and Bayon TV. Yesterday, CNC adviser Huy Vannak defended the channel’s broadcast of the video, saying media outlets that ran the segment worked in accordance with the government’s principles.

“When we see the nature of this politics that can bring risk for the society, therefore we need to promote it by broadcasting,” said Vannak, who is also an Interior Ministry undersecretary of state and the president of the Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia.

The CNRP’s Sochua doubted the “propaganda” would sway viewers.

“It’s pure propaganda [and] communist style to broadcast all pictures and stories they call colour revolution,” she said. “Their [government-aligned] media don’t have a choice but to show.”

Human Rights Watch’s Phil Robertson said the video was evidence of an attempt to whip up fervour over what he says is a nonexistent movement, and to put pressure on security officials to develop “lists of enemies” to pursue.

“This is increasingly looking like a witch-hunt against any NGO or activist who ever demanded the government respect human rights, called out corrupt officials, or organised joint actions with others the government didn’t like,” he said.

Many of the same themes within the video can be found in the National Police training documents obtained on Monday.

In the slideshow, an organisation with the acronym “DCA/CA” is listed as an alleged source of funding for revolution. That acronym matches international Danish NGO Dan Church Aid/Christian Aid, but is also similar to USAID’s Development Credit Authority, which recently funded three microfinance institutions for agricultural projects. The document points to three unnamed financial institutions as being part of the alleged scheme.

Representatives from the three institutions, AMK, RMA Financial and LOLC did not respond to requests for comment. Charles Van, president of the Association of Banks in Cambodia, said he was unaware of any investigations into members of the group.

European Union Ambassador George Edgar refuted any involvement in any political conspiracy, saying instead it had put significant resources into the development of Cambodia, with most of its assistance going straight to the government.

“There is no truth in any suggestion that the EU supports or has supported a ‘colour revolution’ or any kind of revolution in Cambodia,” he said in an email.

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