Reporters Without Borders ‘Concerned’ by Threats

Source: The Cambodia Daily / July 20, 2016 by

International media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said in a statement released on Tuesday that it was concerned by what it characterized as a “surge” in threats against journalists and news organizations in Cambodia in recent weeks.

The statement noted that such threats appeared to be on the rise in the wake of a July 7 report by Global Witness detailing the manifold business interests of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his family.

After local newspapers covered the release of the report, members of Mr. Hun Sen’s family accused them of colluding with Global Witness, while government spokesman Phay Siphan said he did not want “the messenger to get killed,” in an apparent reference to the press.

Reporters Without Borders said these and other developments were worrying.

“The reactions of all these officials and members of the prime minister’s family are outrageous even if not entirely surprising,” Benjamin Ismail, the head of the organization’s Asia Pacific desk, said in the statement.

“We caution Hun Sen’s government against any judicial reprisals against media outlets,” he said. “Gagging the press would just make things worse for him.”

Mr. Siphan said on Tuesday that his complaint was only with reporters who “abuse their own ethic[s] and professionalism.”

“Who is in jail because of their reporting?” he asked. “They are corrupt, yes, they abuse their professional[ism], yes. You have to be fair with the government, too,” he said.

“White people speak very good English and twist the story—I don’t like it.”

Reporters Without Borders ‘Concerned’ by Threats

US Envoy Urges Government to Release NGO Staff

Source : The Cambodia Daily / July 20, 2016 by  

A visiting U.S. human rights envoy on Tuesday urged the government to release and drop charges against five current and former rights workers arrested in April amid what he called a deteriorating political situation in which the courts have disproportionately targeted state critics.

The four employees of local rights group Adhoc were arrested along with a former Adhoc officer now working for the National Election Committee (NEC) and charged with bribing a witness for allegedly paying a woman to deny an alleged affair with deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha. Adhoc has rejected the accusation, which has been widely condemned as politically motivated.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski (C), leaves after he paid his respect to the body of Kem Ley, an anti-government figure and the head of grassroots advocacy group "Khmer for Khmer" at a pagoda in Phnom Penh July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
US Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski attends the wake of slain political analyst Kem Ley in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (Pring Samrang/Reuters)grassroots advocacy group “Khmer for Khmer” at a pagoda in Phnom Penh July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

Tom Malinowski, U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said he had petitioned government officials to release the rights defenders.

Continue reading “US Envoy Urges Government to Release NGO Staff”

US Envoy Urges Government to Release NGO Staff

Witnesses Tell of Suspected Assassin’s Flight

Source : The Cambodia Daily / July 19, 2016 by

After allegedly executing political analyst Kem Ley at a gas station in Phnom Penh, witnesses say Oeuth Ang strode down Mao Tse Toung and Sothearos boulevards, alternatingly brandishing and concealing a pistol as ever more motorbikes jumped on his trail.

He was confronted three times by security guards and police but did not stop moving until he reached a pagoda, where he was cornered and beaten bloody by a crowd that believed they had been following a thief, witnesses said.

Kem Ley’s body lies on the floor of a gas station convenience store in Phnom Penh after he was shot dead on the morning of July 10. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Since Kem Ley’s death on the morning of July 10, authorities have said little about the 30 minutes between the murder and the arrest of the suspected shooter, who provided his name as “Chuop Samlap, or “Meet Kill.”

Witnesses along the two busy boulevards, however, provided dramatic accounts of the gunman’s 1.5-km flight.

After the fatal shooting, the gunman burst out from the convenience store at the Caltex station and began running along Mao Tse Toung, pursued by customers and others, said laborer Ly Chhorng Sokha, who watched the incident unfold from a construction site across the road.

As he passed a Brown Coffee outlet directly behind the gas station, the gunman pointed his pistol at passersby as a warning against coming closer, Mr. Chhorng Sokha said.

“People were shouting ‘Thief!’” he said, adding that once the gun came out, “people backed off.”

Continue reading “Witnesses Tell of Suspected Assassin’s Flight”

Witnesses Tell of Suspected Assassin’s Flight

Kem Ley’s students pick up mantle

Source: The Phnom Penh Post / Mon, 18 July 2016 by

Meas Ny speaks about Kem Ley’s death during a Young Analysts Group forum at Phnom Penh’s Meta House over the weekend. Chhay Channyda

Young analysts and students of the late Kem Ley have vowed to continue his work, particularly in the provinces, after the political analyst and grassroots organiser was gunned down last week at a petrol station in the capital.

Meeting on Saturday morning, the Young Analysts Group – dressed in black and white with ribbons pinned to their clothes in mourning – said they would not be deterred by the violence that silenced their mentor.

“We consider Dr Kem Ley a hero of freedom of expression in Cambodia,” said the group’s president, Hang Vitou.

“The assassination of intellectual, political, environmental activists, such as against Kem Ley, is the biggest threat to democracy in Cambodia . . . it is part of the Cambodian disease.”

A number of the young analysts pledged to follow Ley’s mission of social research and analysis, promising not to exchange their knowledge for money or promotion, and not to cease speaking out of fear.

“We promise to wipe away our tears and go further,” they said.

The group, a subset of about 50 within the Khmer Student Intelligent League Association, were joined by Dr Meas Ny, an analyst who presented alongside Ley during his final radio appearance, which addressed the Global Witness report highlighting Prime Minister Hun Sen’s family’s business ties.

Ny said he had never seen a larger outpouring of public grief than after Ley was slain last Sunday, excepting the death of King Father Norodom Sihanouk. “He was just a simple person, he was not a king,” he said. “Leaders also use the strategy of killing one, thinking that when they kill one person, they can threaten so many other people . . . the question is, are we among those 1,000 people that are afraid of expressing our opinions and ideas, or are we the ones that can stand up and take action?”

He added the public were now “seeking the truth” by accessing information online, rather than swallowing the narrative spun by leaders. “We in Cambodia have seen so many regimes related to wars. Today is not a physical war, but a psychological war,” he said. “This is not a colour revolution, this is a thinking revolution.

“The death of Kem Ley is a catalyst for the government to think of another way to lead this country, rather than just threatening people to scare them.”

The young analysts pledged to gather documents and research upon which to base their ideas, as well as make regular trips to the provinces and share their views on radio broadcasts.

They were also hopeful of educating Cambodia’s large youth population ahead of the 2018 national election.

Kem Ley’s students pick up mantle

Moniker a Morbid Fit for Kem Ley’s Fables

Source: The Cambodia Daily / July 18, 2016 by

When Kem Ley’s alleged murderer provided his name as “Chuop Samlap”—or “Meet Kill”—after fatally shooting the popular political analyst on July 10, it was met with shock and bafflement.

“This name, we can’t believe it,” said Phnom Penh municipal police chief Chuon Sovann at a news conference later the same day. “For a long time, people have never given the name ‘samlap’ to children.”

A police van arrives at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last Monday carrying the man suspected of fatally shooting Kem Ley. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“Who is the sick person [who] came up with this? Who jokes like this? Who?” asked Kem Monovithya, the opposition CNRP’s deputy public affairs chief, on Twitter.

A simple investigation by But Buntenh, a dissident monk, had by the next day already revealed the suspected killer’s real name to be Oeuth Ang. But authorities seemed unmoved and on Wednesday charged him with murder using his chilling moniker.

Yet if the official use of “Chuop Samlap” seemed inexplicable, there was one place it would not have appeared out of place—among the 19 searing critiques of government leaders that Kem Ley published as fables in the two weeks before his death.

Using biting names such as “Uncle Five Villas” for one high-ranking official or “Does Not Care” for a less-than-conscientious political leader, the fables attracted attention for both their humor and their messages.

Continue reading “Moniker a Morbid Fit for Kem Ley’s Fables”

Moniker a Morbid Fit for Kem Ley’s Fables

Phnom Penh governor criticises Kem Ley funeral

Source : The Phnom Penh Post / Mon, 18 July 2016 by

People gather in front of a portrait of slain political analyst Kem Ley yesterday afternoon at Chroy Changvar’s Wat Chas pagoda. Heng Chivoan

The continued presence of the body of slain political analyst Kem Ley at the capital’s Wat Chas pagoda, where thousands have converged to pay their respects over the past week, is nothing more than a politicised money grab, City Governor Pa Socheatvong said yesterday.

Socheatvong’s remarks came after the committee tasked with overseeing details of the funeral balked at an agreement to send the body for interment to Ley’s home province of Takeo.

An at-times strident critic of the government, Ley was shot dead while drinking coffee at a Phnom Penh petrol station last Sunday.

While City Hall on Friday said they had reached an agreement that the procession would take place yesterday, the funeral committee – a group of more than 20 family members, friends and colleagues – decided more time was warranted for the public viewing. Socheatvong yesterday slammed the change of heart as politically motivated.

“The interference of those people has become the subject of political interests,” he said, claiming the decision-making process had been taken out of the hands of the family. “It benefits their financial interests . . . they store the body to earn money, and it can earn $10,000 per day; they do not store the body for letting his soul rest in peace.

“Some politicians try to take advantage, and they said [Ley’s] body is the public’s body. But the body is still a human body and the family has the right to decide.”

Continue reading “Phnom Penh governor criticises Kem Ley funeral”

Phnom Penh governor criticises Kem Ley funeral

Kem Ley’s Final Fables

Source : The Cambodia Daily / July 16, 2016 by

In the two weeks before political analyst Kem Ley was shot dead in a gas station convenience store last weekend, he posted 19 political “jokes” to his Facebook page, having announced plans to write 99 and then publish them in a book at the end of this year. The final joke, commenting on the way a small group can control a population through killing people and spreading fear, was posted the day before he was murdered.

Most of the jokes, each posted with a photograph, use animals or oddly named villagers to tell their stories, but are nonetheless timely commentaries on political affairs. They grew popular not only for their droll punchlines but for the way in which Kem Ley provided searing criticisms of Cambodia’s political leaders in a way that he could not have if he named them. The following is a selection of six, translated from Khmer to English.

Kem Ley speaks to disgruntled CNRP supporters during a forum in Kompong Speu province in October 2014. (Alex Willemyns/The Cambodia Daily)

Fable 3: Who do the Vietnamese vote for?

June 28, 4:18 p.m. (Posted with a photograph of him and traditional musician Kong Nai)

Three Vietnamese women are arguing about elections. The first Vietnamese woman, whose name is Teuy but who goes by “Phalla,” says it’s so hard to do business these days and that her younger brother has been here for three months without getting a job. The second Vietnamese woman, whose name is Phuong but who goes by “Chenda,” says: “Cambodia’s leaders are too busy arguing, and business is hard no matter where you go. I vote for our party [the ruling CPP] and they say we will be happy, but we still can’t do business. My sister just came from Vietnam and her coffee and Banh Hoy sandwiches won’t sell.”

Continue reading “Kem Ley’s Final Fables”

Kem Ley’s Final Fables