Cambodian opposition leader turned away at Paris check

10 Novembre, 2019, 16:37 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Mu Sochua

THAI Airways not allowing Sam Rainsy on its route from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday is being used as an excuse to keep his standing among fellow coup plotters and his uninformed supporters as flights to non-Asean countries are available, an analyst said on Friday.

However, a THAI employee says Rainsy was not allowed to board the flight from Paris to Bangkok because his booking was not valid.

Hun Sen had declared that Sam Rainsy and his colleagues would be blocked from entering Cambodia and had informed neighboring countries that they were unwelcome.

The United States on Friday (Nov 8) expressed concern over Cambodia's crackdown on opposition to authoritarian leader Hun Sen, which has seen dozens of activists arrested and opposition leaders overseas preventing from returning.

The United States today expressed concern over Cambodia's crackdown on opposition to authoritarian leader Hun Sen, which has seen dozens of activists arrested and opposition leaders overseas prevented from returning.

"I am extremely shocked because the people need me in Cambodia", Rainsy, archrival of Prime Minister Hun Sen, told journalists at Charles de Gaulle airport after an agent at the Thai Airways counter turned him away.

Amnesty International, meanwhile, decried cooperation by Malaysia and Thailand to prevent foreign-based Cambodian opposition figures getting home to rally support.

She accused Hun Sen of violating Cambodia's constitution by closing the border to the opposition members - the strongman has deployed troops to his country's frontier with Thailand and has sent warrants for their arrest to neighbouring states. "I will never give up".

"Over the last eighteen months, we have seen the deterioration of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law in Cambodia", Vice President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini wrote in a press release launching the procedure to temporarily suspend trade preferences in February under the Everything but Arms initiative.

My request "is based on my responsibility to those supporters who have suffered so much, and to all Cambodians, who deserve a chance at a democratic debate over the future of their society", Rainsy wrote.

Hun Sen "cannot face free and fair elections, that is his fear, and that is why he has to destroy us, and that is why he does not want 9 November to happen", she added.

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He later made an online broadcast on Facebook, where he has nearly 4.8 million followers, calling on his compatriots not to be disappointed and remain strong.

On Thursday, Malaysia briefly detained Mr Rainsy's deputy Mu Sochua, vice-president of his outlawed party, who hoped to join him in Cambodia.

"I think no one should stand with Hun Sen - he is a dictator", the 70-year-old politician, who maintains dual Cambodian and French citizenship, said.

Hun Sen shows no signs of wanting to relinquish power.

Hun Sen said Sochua was stopped in Malaysia because authorities were upholding a tenet of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations not to "interfere in each other's internal affairs".

The government in Phnom Penh said it would arrest him and has asked all regional neighbours to bar him from entering.

Ms Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International's research director for South-east Asia, questioned the action by countries in the region to block opposition leaders and activists from travelling home.

The moves come shortly before Europe is expected to issue a decision on whether or not to pull Cambodia's preferential tariff status due to its deteriorating human rights situation, a move that could devastate its economy.

Lt Gen Srey Doek, commander of the Cambodian Armed Forces' Division 3, said the army is ready to arrest them. Most if not all have convictions or charges pending against them in Cambodian courts, including inciting armed rebellion, despite their avowedly nonviolent intentions.

Cambodia's Supreme Court dissolved Sam Rainsy's Cambodian National Rescue Party in 2017, paving the way for Hun Sen's ruling party to win all the seats in an election a year ago.

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