Posted on 11 June 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 616
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 616
“Recently [4 June 2009] there had been a discussion [on Undermining Democracy - 21st Century Authoritarians] organized by the research organization Freedom House and international radio stations such as Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Liberty at the US House of Representatives, evaluating the activities and ways of new-era dictatorships implemented to shut up critical voices and opponents. According to the discussion, it was said that strengthening dictatorship in this 21st century includes the providing of aid to poor countries and not caring about corruption. This disrupts the task of international organizations like the United Nations, and cheats the eyes of the public about the meaning of democracy, and their controlled broadcasts try to change history.
“Some non-government organizations see another means that dictators use – it is the use of the court system which is controlled by them to intimidate political critics through suing them for defamation. The Chief of Mission of the Cambodian Action Committee for Justice and Equity, based in the USA, Mr. Sourn Serey Ratha, noted this in their statement of 8 June 2009 about the court cases against journalists and opposition party politicians as a strategy used in communist countries which does not benefit the Khmer nation at all. What Mr. Sourn Serey Ratha said clearly shows problems happing in Cambodia, especially the court actions against parliamentarians from the Sam Rainsy Party, the opposition party.
“Mr. Sourn Serey Ratha said that now Cambodia is stepping backward to the era of the socialist leadership and regime, following communism where the three institutions of the state [legislative, executive, and judiciary] are used to restrict citizens’ freedom.
First, they use the court system to shut up the voice of opposition politicians, journalists, and civil society organizations who dare to express opinions to protect the benefit of the citizens, and who dare to publish real information for the readers, learners, and researchers concerned with the national interest.
Secondly, they use the local authorities to press civil society organizations and politicians to do things in accordance with the policy of the communist politicians.
“Third, as for religion, they restrict the freedom of nationalist monks and make them serve the policy of the monks of the 7th January Association [commemorating the toppling of the Khmer Rouge by the Vietnamese military intervention in 1979], created by the communist party of Cambodia to serve the policy of the Ho Chi Minh Yuon [Vietnamese] group that is conducting the Vietnamization in Cambodia. Some observers agree with Mr. Sourn Serey Ratha, because at present, the ruling party of Cambodia controls all power – the legislative body, the executive, and the court system – and it seems to be walking out of the track of democracy. Obviously, expressions of opinion by opposition party parliamentarians are used against them to sue them by government officials for defamation, and civil society officials, who dare to do activities against corruption are under threat.
“There is criticism that there is political interference at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and now, foreign lawyers had received dependable information that the Khmer co-prosecutor, Ms. Chea Leang, had been instructed by the government not to indict more people who were involved in the crimes of the Khmer Rouge regime. According to a local newspaper published last week, defense lawyers of a former Khmer Rouge high ranking leader claimed that they have evidence to prove that the government prevent judges to interview Prime Minister Hun Sen and some other former Khmer Rouge cadres. This shows that political influence interferes in the affairs of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal strongly, which can make this special tribunal lose its independence in finding justice for the victims of the Khmer Rouge Regime.
“Observers said that the political situation in Cambodia at present is not different from what the Freedom House and Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Liberty had mentioned recently. Obviously, recently, high ranking officials of the Hun Sen government as well as Prime Minister Hun Sen himself had sued Mr. Sam Rainsy and other Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians for defamation and provocation. Even Ms. Mu Sochua’s defense lawyer, Mr. Kong Sam On, is under the threat that his profession as a lawyer may be terminated, because he dares to defend Ms. Mu. Sochua, who is a parliamentarian from the opposition party.
“Some politicians with long experience criticized that senior military officials of the Cambodian People’s Party sued Mr. Ho Van, a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh. But Mr. Ho Vann had already clarified that journalists had quoted his speech wrongly. In the case that Prime Minister Hun Sen sued Ms. Mu Sochua for defamation, it seems an extreme action, since Ms. Mu Sochua is the real victim, but she is accused of defamation. The act of Prime Minister Hun Sen seems to be trying to hide his embarrassment using the court system, which is known as a tool of powerful officials and of the ruling party. It is said that it can be a means by which the Prime Minister uses the court system to silence Ms. Mu Sochua so that she does not dare not sue him while he his in control of the power.
“Some observers said that in this 21st century, there is a new dictatorship that uses the court system to silence critics and opponents. The court system of Cambodia is being used by the powerful to conceal their evil acts and to silence critics and opponents, so that they cannot disclose their bad acts. However, at present, democracy is stronger than dictatorship in many countries, even though now in Cambodia, democracy is still weaker than communism. That means democracy, or good deeds can really overcome dictatorship or bad deeds, because dictatorial leaders of some countries eventually fell from their power, because people needed real democracy and freedom.”
Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3780, 0.6.2009
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