Cambodian Americans and Canadians united in Washington, D.C. to protest the current Cambodian government under Prime Minister Hun Sen and his party Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), reports VOA Cambodia.
Hun Sen, according to BBC, was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1979–when Vietnam replaced the Communist Party of Kampuchea (more commonly known as Khmer Rouge) with a new government–until 1985 when he became the prime minister. Before holding these roles in the post-Khmer Rouge era, however, Hun Sen himself was a Khmer Rouge troop commander under the leader Pol Pot from the 1960s until the 1970s. It is likely that a rift occurred between Hun Sen and the Khmer Rouge because in 1977, Hun Sen turned against his organization and left Cambodia to fight with Vietnamese troops against the Khmer Rouge.
After his return to Cambodia, Hun Sen has used violence to maintain his grip on power. According to BBC, in 1993, when Hun Sen lost the elections, he rejected the results. The Funcinpec Party’s Prince Norodom Ranariddh won the 1993 elections, but Hun Sen negotiated to place himself as the second prime minister with Prince Ranariddh being the first. In 1997, however, he led a coup to oust Prince Ranariddh, becoming the only prime minister after Prince Ranariddh left Cambodia. Exactly two decades later when the voters’ support for CPP’s opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) grew, Hun Sen again used his power to arrest CNRP leader Kem Sokha, alarming other opposition politicians to leave Cambodia. By dissolving Kem Sokha’s CNRP, the Supreme Court supported Hun Sen’s actions.
The Cambodian American and Canadian protestors, according to VOA Cambodia, want Kem Sokha to be released from jail and CNRP to be restored.
American Association for Human Rights and Democracy President Yap Kim Tung, reports VOA Cambodia, was present at the protest and said that “the Cambodian government’s non-compliance with the international community showed further action must be taken.” By “international community,” Yap Kim Tung is referring to European and North American governments. It is unlikely, however, that European and North American governments will take any action soon. After all, the U.S. is in the middle of a government shutdown, Canada is engaging in a potential economic war with Saudi Arabia, and the European Union is in the middle of Brexit negotiations.
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