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

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,