Wed, Nov 06, 2019 - Page 9 News List

The fall and rise of Cambodia’s opposition

Exiled leaders of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party are preparing to return to defend their compatriots’ rights and freedoms

By Sam Rainsy

History shows that damaging economic developments can fuel social and political unrest, even under a harsh authoritarian regime.

The 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, which were triggered by rising wheat prices in Tunisia, are a case in point.

If Hun Sen cannot grasp the threat posed by the loss of Cambodia’s major export markets to the economy — and, indeed, to his own regime — he should make way for someone who does.

He must not allow Cambodia, scarred by past violence, to descend once again into bloodshed.

Cambodia is undoubtedly capable of nonviolent conflict resolution. Unlike many other former European colonies, we achieved independence peacefully, through a negotiated agreement. With genuine political will on all sides, that success can be repeated.

This requires, first and foremost, the release of Kem Sokha, the reinstatement of the CNRP and a (relatively short) timetable for a free and fair national election.

Far from supporting a peaceful resolution to Cambodia’s political and economic crisis, Hun Sen has promised to sever the fingers of anyone who flashes the “nine fingers” sign in support of our return and to arrest anyone who comes to greet us.

In that case, he will probably need a jail with space for at least a million people — and perhaps many more.

However, Cambodians should not be left to resist Hun Sen’s regime on their own. All friends of Cambodia, especially the 18 signatory countries of the Paris Peace Agreements, must do everything in their power to dissuade Cambodia’s dictator from using violence against his own people, simply for claiming rights and freedoms that are guaranteed by an international treaty.

When we arrive home this month, we will stand up for Cambodian democracy. We hope that the international community will stand with us.

Sam Rainsy is acting president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party.

Copyright: Project Syndicate

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