Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGOs see ‘opportunity’ for pressure at summit



NGOs see ‘opportunity’ for pressure at summit

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Southeast Asian leaders join hands as they pose for a photograph at the opening ceremony at Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders' summit in Manila in April this year. Mark R. Cristino/AFP

NGOs see ‘opportunity’ for pressure at summit

Human rights organisations are calling on states to take the upcoming Asean summit on Sunday as an opportunity to pressure Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to reverse what they characterise as the country’s ongoing backslide into authoritarianism.

According to a press release, Prime Minister Hun Sen will attend several Asean meetings between Sunday and Tuesday, and will meet the prime ministers of Australia, India, China and Russia and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

In a speech on Wednesday, the premier announced that he would discuss the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s budget with Guterres, but gave no other indication of his aims for the summit.

NGOs, meanwhile, see the summit as an opportunity for the international community to advocate for Hun Sen to reverse what has been widely criticised as a crackdown on the opposition, independent media and civil society in Cambodia.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said he expected no public statements condemning Cambodia’s political situation after the summit, and acknowledged it “may be a struggle to keep like-minded dictators from Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand from offering too much praise for Hun Sen’s brutal crackdown”.

However, he stressed that in bilateral meetings governments should “strongly demand that he immediately end the wave of repression of the political opposition [Cambodia National Rescue Party] and civil society”.

Chak Sopheap, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said the upcoming summit was “a golden opportunity” for “principled leaders of democratic countries . . . to voice their serious concerns about the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation”.

“It is imperative that this pressure continues if Cambodian democracy is to survive this onslaught,” she said.

Mu Sochua, a deputy president of the CNRP who fled the country after being warned of her imminent arrest, said she was “certain” concerns would be raised by foreign governments, and that if made “face to face”, would not go ignored.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry could not be reached yesterday.

Additional reporting by Ben Sokhean

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from