A court in Phnom Penh convicts about 60 opponents, including candid U.S. and Cambodian activists, in a large-scale trial on Tuesday, and long-time leader Hun Sen cracks down on opposition ahead of next year’s national elections. ..
Opposition leader Sam Rainey, who has lived in France since 2016 to avoid imprisonment for politically motivated convictions, has added another eight years to his existing ruling.
Outside the courtroom, the American Cambodian lawyer and activist Theary Seng, dressed as the Statue of Liberty, was suddenly dragged into a car by police after being sentenced to six years in prison for treason.
“I’m ready to be convicted because this administration doesn’t free me,” Searly Sen said before her conviction.
“Because I am innocent and the others who have been charged with me are innocent, it will be an unfair and unjustified verdict,” the 51-year-old added.
US Ambassador to Cambodia Patrick Murphy tweeted that he “has a serious problem” in his verdict against Sen Cary.
“Freedom of speech, freedom of association, and tolerance of dissent are important elements of democracy,” the ambassador called for her release.
-“Living in a dictatorship”-
Theary Seng is one of the scores involved in the push to detain and arrest dissenting opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) former members, human rights advocates, and opposition to the administration.
The incident is related to Sam Rainsy’s failure to return to Cambodia in 2019. This is a move characterized by the government’s suspension of bidding to overthrow Hun Sen.
The accusations faced by those convicted on Tuesday ranged from treason to incitement and conspiracy.
Several defendants have already been imprisoned, but many remain in large numbers or have fled Cambodia.
“A large trial against opposition lawmakers is to prevent election opposition to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s rule, but Cambodia’s democracy,” said Phil Robertson, a spokesman for Human Rights Watch. It has become a symbol of death. “
“By creating political dynamics that rely on intimidation and persecution of government critics, Hun Sen shows that he is completely ignoring democratic rights.”
The prime minister has been in power for 37 years and is reportedly one of the longest-serving leaders in the world, grooming his eldest son to pull reins.
Theary Seng was charged by the Phnom Penh City Court with a treason conspiracy and a felony incitement.
“We live in a dictatorship,” she said, claiming that the Hun Sen administration “uses the law as a weapon against its own people.”
“This regime imprisons freedom and freedom,” she added.
Prior to a recent local poll, the UN Human Rights Agency said it was confused by reports of opposition interference in a “paralyzed political environment.”
Hun Sen’s party later announced a landslide victory.