HomeAFPProtestors stand up to Cambodia’s Hun Sen in Australia

Protestors stand up to Cambodia’s Hun Sen in Australia

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Hundreds of Cambodian-Australians gathered in Sydney Friday to protest the visit of Cambodian leader Hun Sen who is accused of overseeing widespread human rights violations in the Southeast Asian nation.

The strongman ruler — who is in Sydney for a special Australia-ASEAN summit — is travelling at time when his government has intensified an anti-democratic crackdown on the press, civil society and its opponents.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was disbanded following a court ruling last November not long after its leader was arrested on treason charges.

“We want the whole world to know that things are not what they seem in Cambodia,” Cambodian-Australian Victoria state parliamentarian Hong Lim told AFP.

“We want the world to stand by us and help send this powerful message to Hun Sen that you cannot get away with murder, you cannot carry on like this, the  whole world is watching.”

Hun Sen had reportedly threatened to “beat” protestors and warned he would “shame” Australia and block the release of a joint communique if he was embarrassed in any way.

Demonstrators held banners calling for an end to the rein of one of Asia’s longest serving leaders.

“Hun Sen Must step down. Hun Sen is a disgrace,” the banners read.

It is believed that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confronted Hun Sen about mounting oppression in Cambodia in a bilateral meeting with the leader on Friday.

Rights groups have been pressuring Canberra to do more at the summit, with Human Rights Watch warning that the government should not “dance with dictators”.

“Basically, Hun Sen is engaging in this crackdown because of the absence of a coordinated international response,” Elaine Pearson from Human Rights Watch told AFP.

“There needs to be targeted financial sanctions against senior members of the leadership,” she added.

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