H UN SEN has sent a blunt message to Western countries not to tie aid donations to
human rights conditions, and appealed for a Cambodian "patriotic movement"
to protect Khmer national sovereignty.
"If you're happy, give [aid] but if you're not, don't talk about our affairs,"
the Second Prime Minister said in the first of two speeches last week.
He singled out the US and France for particular criticism, saying that if they were
unhappy with Cambodia they should stop giving aid.
But he said the US should still pay "compensation" of at least $20 billion
for its past damage to Cambodia.
"You created war in Cambodia. I will complain about this. You investigate Pol
Pot's crimes, you must investigate the beginning when you created Pol Pot."
Noting that he himself had lost an eye during the American bombing of Cambodia in
the 1970s, Hun Sen said: "You are [now] talking about human rights but when
you bombed Cambodia you did not think in what state Khmer lives were."
Of France, Hun Sen said: "They have interfered in Cambodian affairs too much,
it's impossible to remain patient. Samdech Krom Preah (Prince Norodom Ranariddh)
and I can no longer remain patient."
Hun Sen called for demonstrations at embassies of foreign countries which "interfered"
in Cambodia's affairs.
"I prepare for the people to stage demonstrations to support the Royal Government
in preserving independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, because the sovereignty
is being severely trampled," he said in a speech to Kandal villagers Dec 5.
His comments sent a shudder through Phnom Penh's expatriate community as rumors spread
of possible protests. There was no official diplomatic reaction to his speech, but
UN agencies advised their staff not to go to work before noon on Dec 8 as rumors
peaked of potential trouble.
By the Post's press time, the feared demonstrations had not occurred and Hun Sen
had insisted that he had never suggested anything other than peaceful protests.
"Compatriots throughout the country, be prepared for demonstrations at one time
when I will appear [to speak] on television and radio," Hun Sen said in his
Dec 5 speech.
He referred to a demonstration in France in support of Prince Norodom Sirivudh, and
to public reservations expressed by US senators about giving most favored nation
(MFN) trading status to Cambodia because of its human rights situation.
"I have told the French Embassy that 'If your country has the right to stage
demonstrations, so do I ' ".
In reference to the US, he said that his message to American senators was: "You
want to help, then help. If you don't, no problem."
Later in his speech, he said: "For Americans, if they talk too much about Cambodian
affairs, we'll stage another demonstration demanding them to pay us compensation
[for the war]. How much? It's only $20 billion - compensation for what they did to
Hun Sen told the crowd that Minister of Commerce Cham Prasith had telephoned him
to talk about delays to the US granting MFN to Cambodia.
"I said 'Your Excellency, you and I used to eat rice porridge together. Be patient,
we're used to difficulty.
"We're not going to die if they give MFN or not. For how many years have we
survived... During the State of Cambodia era, we lived in a time when they attacked
us, they surrounded us, they imposed sanctions against us. We survived [then] and
why can't we survive now?"
Hun Sen warned the US not to rely on being a super-power, saying: "Or [do] you
want to bring your planes in here again? You lost once already."
He made no complaint against Asian nations, and specifically praised Japanese aid
"Don't protest against Japan, it does not interfere, it is very good,"
he said to villagers' applause. "Japanese assistance is the only one which does
not have conditions [attached to it]."
Four days later, Hun Sen gave another speech in which he complained that he had been
misquoted as advocating the "storming" of foreign embassies in Phnom Penh.
"We can organize a non-violent demonstration and send petitions to those embassies,
but we cannot enter the premises".
"All embassies, don't worry. I'm not against [you]...What I want to do is [at]
the level of a great movement to protect independence and sovereignty of the country,
stopping you from interfering in the internal affairs and from considering my country
as a small one of yours.
"...I never act covertly. If I do [organize demonstrations], I will declare
it through the microphone."