Says dissenters jailed, killed or forced into hiding
OPPOSITION leader Sam Rainsy this week accused the government of using lawsuits, jail sentences and assassinations to silence critics.
Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) in Bangkok on Tuesday, Sam Rainsy said grassroots activists, politicians and village leaders have been killed, jailed and forced into hiding for disagreeing with the ruling party.
The government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, he said, is trying to silence growing discontent over land confiscation and the fact most Cambodians are not benefiting from the growing economy.
Part of the problem, he said, is that many of Cambodia’s leaders are former Khmer Rouge.
“They still have the Khmer Rouge mentality,” he told Thai media.
“They do not tolerate critics, and they are paranoid. They see enemies everywhere around them, and they take preemptive moves to eliminate their enemies or potential enemies by killing them or silencing them.”
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, dismissed Sam Rainsy’s claims on Wednesday, saying they were false accusations that lacked any factual basis.
“[Sam Rainsy] discriminates against the government, but he can move freely around the country. The government does not discriminate against him,” he told the Post, insisting that freedom of expression was not suppressed in the Kingdom.
Chea Vannath, a political analyst and former president of the Centre for Social Development, acknowledged that Cambodia’s approach to governance was less than perfect.
“Cambodia is a post-conflict country and not a mature democratic country, so there is room for improvement for the ruling party,” she said.