Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned European parliamentarians who are calling for aid funding to Cambodia to be dependent on the country’s human rights situation improving not to make “threats” – while noting that China has never made such demands.
“Don’t scare me. Don’t threaten me. Don’t threaten Cambodia by cutting off aid,” the premier said yesterday during a speech to nearly 4,000 graduating students on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich, where the Chinese ambassador was also in attendance.
“I have never been afraid of China, and China has never made a threat to Cambodia and has never ordered Cambodia to do something. I am just saying that the other [donors] should not make threats to Cambodia.”
He then added: “You threaten to cut off aid; please cut it and the first person who will suffer will be the people who work with NGOs.”
The European Parliament passed a motion on Thursday condemning a raft of “politically motivated” legal cases against opposition party members and government critics, and calling for aid funding to be dependent on Cambodia’s human rights record.
The EU’s legislature is independent from the union’s executive branch, which decides upon aid distribution contributed by member states.
Noting the seperation, the EU ambassador to Cambodia, George Edgar, yesterday said the June 9 resolution expressed the concern of European parliamentarians over recent developments in the Kingdom and made recommendations for Cambodian authorities, the EU and its member states.
“It would not be appropriate for me to comment further,” Edgar said, via email.
Both Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy and deputy president Kem Sokha currently face criminal charges, which have been widely criticised as politically motivated.
The former has fled abroad while the latter remains holed-up at the party’s headquarters, after facing a slew of allegations in relation to a an alleged sex scandal that has also landed an opposition commune chief, four human rights advocates and an election official in prison.
Two opposition lawmakers are in prison for criticising the government’s handling of the Vietnam border issue.
The CNRP has threatened to hold a mass demonstration if Sokha is arrested.
The premier yesterday lashed out again at the opposition for protecting Sokha, reiterating that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party would not negotiate with the CNRP to end the legal action, and emphasised that royal pardons were out of the question.
“This is an individual case of an affair with a mistress,” he said, adding a demonstration would “not be tolerated”.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday released a stinging four-page statement, saying that they were “astonished” at the European Union parliamentary resolution, which they claimed was based on “many false accounts”.
The statement set out a legal justification for the criticised cases, which it argued were in line with European norms.
Additional reporting by Shaun Turton