Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen lashes out at US for deportations

Hun Sen lashes out at US for deportations

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
US Ambassador to Cambodia William A Heidt speaks to members of the press at the US Embassy last week in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Hun Sen lashes out at US for deportations

Prime Minister Hun Sen continued to criticise the US on Friday over its decision to suspend certain visas for Foreign Ministry officials due to the Kingdom’s unwillingness to take back Cambodian citizens that the US wants to deport, appearing to allude to the possibility of protests should the ban remain in place.

During a wide-ranging speech at Vattanac Industrial Park on Friday, the premier said the US’s actions went “too far”, and accused the US of splitting up families.

“Separating father and child, and wife and husband is not virtuous and very immoral,” Hun Sen said. “We don’t expect the US to have no virtue . . . when it’s always talking about morality and human rights.”

The US’s efforts to deport Cambodian nationals with felony convictions have been panned by critics, who point out that most of the deportees arrived in the US as refugee children fleeing the Khmer Rouge, having lived their entire lives as US permanent residents and do not speak Khmer or have family in Cambodia.

On Friday, Hun Sen said Cambodia may rejoin a programme to find and repatriate the remains of American military personnel who died in the Vietnam War if the US rescinds the visa ban.

“If you [the US] provide visas for me, I will provide the cooperation to look for [the soldiers’] bones for you,” he said on Friday, using a Khmer word for “bones” instead of a more polite term that means “bodies”. “I do not want to have the 1964 and 1965 incidents repeated,” Hun Sen added, referring to violent demonstrations against the US Embassy instigated by then-King Norodom Sihanouk.

Ambassador William Heidt, speaking to reporters after a swearing-in ceremony for Peace Corps volunteers on Friday, said the visa ban was part of US President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigrants residing in the US illegally.

“Elections have consequences in the US, and that’s his policy,” said Heidt, who called the escalation in tensions between the US and Cambodia “unfortunate”.

“We need to sit down across the table and talk it out,” Heidt said.

US State Department officials have maintained that the visa ban is unrelated to rising political tensions in Cambodia following the arrest of opposition leader Kem Sokha.

David Josar, deputy spokesman of the US Embassy, said discussions are ongoing about the timing and logistics of Cambodian officials travelling to the US to interview about 28 Cambodian nationals facing imminent deportation.

MOST VIEWED

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • Second Hungary business forum set for H2

    Cambodia has asked Hungary to provide GSP- (Generalised System of Preferences) Plus facilities for when the Kingdom sheds its least-developed country (LDC) label, as the two countries prepare to hold a second business forum in the second half (H2) of this year to expand trade

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports

  • CPP sets out five primary strategic goals for 2023-28

    The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) on January 29 concluded its two-day extraordinary congress, setting the party’s priority goals for 2023-2028. The ruling party’s congress was attended by more than 3,000 members from across the Kingdom, including the members of the permanent and central committees,