Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gov’t rebukes HRW director

Gov’t rebukes HRW director

People prepare to place a wreath at Chea Sim’s funeral in Phnom Penh.
People prepare to place a wreath at Chea Sim’s funeral in Phnom Penh. A new CPP president will be elected later this week. Heng Chivoan

Gov’t rebukes HRW director

As the ruling party prepares this week to elect a president and deputy president following Chea Sim’s death on June 8, the Ministry of Interior has lashed out at an international rights group that last week linked Sim to Khmer Rouge abuses.

Though he was lauded by some as a national hero, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Sim of committing “serious international crimes” during his years as a Khmer Rouge official.

HRW said Sim was never charged despite his complicity in the arrest, torture and execution of political opponents, ethnic minorities and members of the Kingdom’s pre-revolutionary upper-class during his tenure as secretary in Ponhea Krek district in Democratic Kampuchea’s Eastern Zone.

“Chea Sim’s passing is a reminder that virtually all former Khmer Rouge officials have gone unpunished for the millions of deaths and incredible suffering of ordinary Cambodians during Khmer Rouge rule,” said Brad Adams, HRW’s executive director of its Asia division.

The Ministry of Interior on Saturday wrote to Adams in response to his article published the week prior and titled “Cambodia: Chea Sim Death Shows Failings of the Khmer Rouge Court”, accusing HRW of skewing the facts about Sim’s past.

“The article was premeditated with the intent to distort the facts and displayed a personal anger towards the top leadership of the Kingdom of Cambodia,” the letter read. “[Sim] is a well regarded patriot who helped rebuild, restore, develop and maintain peace and security of the nation with all his sincerity.”

The letter also stressed that Sim was merely a district official during the Khmer Rouge and not a senior leader. It also said that Sim, as well as his family, were along with millions of other Cambodian citizens victims of the murderous regime, and went on to suggest that HRW might be better off without Adams.

“Human Rights Watch knows better about the human rights situation in Cambodia. The organisation may have a better reputation without your representation as your action has deviated far from moral principles and brought shame to Human Rights Watch.”

Meanwhile, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan yesterday confirmed that 545 members of the CPP’s Central Committee will convene on Saturday to select a new leader. He declined, however, to name candidates the party was considering.

“Before the Central Committee congress, the party’s standing committee would [usually] meet to prepare the list of candidates,” he said. “So far, that meeting has yet to take place because of the funeral.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced in April that he would take over the party presidency in the event that Sim passed away.

Sim, who was party president since 1991, died on June 8 at his home, aged 82. Once called Cambodia’s “strongman”, he was considered by many to be the second-most-powerful figure in the Kingdom following the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime.

In a previous version of this story, the lead paragraph mistakenly attributed the government response to Human Rights Watch to the Ministry of Information. It was, in fact, the Ministry of Interior. The Post regrets any confusion that error may have caused.

MOST VIEWED

  • Guards protest dismissals, reject claims of sharing naked photos of child

    Some 20 former security guards at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh protested on Tuesday against their dismissal. They accused their employers of falsely claiming they had viewed and shared child pornography from their mobile phones as grounds for their termination. In total, 32 personnel were dismissed

  • We’re going to Wisney World!

    More than 6,000 mostly Chinese attendees witnessed the inauguration ceremony of a $1 billion Sihanoukville resort project called Wisney World in the capital on Wednesday. The event on Koh Pich, attended by several senior Cambodian government officials, is a joint venture between China’s AMC International and

  • Funcinpec urges probe into deadly Preah Sihanouk accident

    THE Funcinpec party has urged the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, to investigate the traffic accident in Preah Sihanouk province which left Prince Norodom Ranariddh badly injured and his wife Ouk Phalla dead. Funcinpec Vice President You Hokry told reporters at Botum Votey pagoda,

  • Gov’t continues China tilt as ties with the US slide on ‘interference’ in Kingdom’s internal affairs

    CHINA has granted some $131 million in aid to the Cambodian military. It comes as yet another sign that the Kingdom is strengthening strategic ties with its Asian neighbour to counter increasingly cold relations with the United States. The aid was announced as part of a