October 14, 2017

Peace accords a ‘ghost’, says Hun Sen, dismissing treaty that established democracy in Cambodia

Prime Minister Hun Sen signs the Paris Peace Accords in 1991, ending 21 years of civil war in Cambodia. Gerard Fouet/AFP

Ben Sokhean and Erin Handley, The Phnom Penh Post
Thu, 12 October 2017

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said the 1991 Paris Peace Accords – often held up as the founding document that brought peace, democracy and human rights to modern Cambodia – was dead in the water.

Speaking to some 20,000 factory workers in Phnom Penh yesterday against the backdrop of the most aggressive crackdown on the opposition in years, the premier told the beleaguered Cambodia National Rescue Party and the international community to stop “dreaming” and harking back to the ideals enshrined in the agreement.

The current situation, he admonished, will not be solved by talking.

“Don’t imagine you can hold a meeting like the Paris Peace conference again because the Paris Peace agreement is like a ghost,” he said.

The agreement, which was painstakingly put together in a bid to end the country’s civil war and extract foreign influence from the Kingdom in a waning era of Cold War realpolitik, pushed for a government to be elected through democratic polls and espoused the ideals of human rights.

Hun Sen, however, said the agreement held little relevance 25 years on, in part because the Soviet Union – one of more than a dozen signatories to the treaty – had disbanded.

The Khmer Rouge – which was still a formidable armed force in the 1990s – was also out of the picture now, so the agreement was useless “unless the Khmer Rouge returns”, he added.

The premier then went on to take a swipe at the apparent hypocrisy of the United States and the United Nations, calling “shame” on the latter for continuing to recognise the murderous Khmer Rouge – rather than his own band of Vietnamese-backed Khmer Rouge defectors – as the legitimate government of Cambodia throughout the 1980s.

“Now we just use the law to protect the . . . security and peace of our country, but they said that we violate human rights. But [the US] shot, killed and dropped bombs on our people,” Hun Sen said, echoing a familiar refrain of his often discursive speeches over the past 12 months.

He maintained the government had followed the agreement and “all the elements have been merged in the constitution of Cambodia already”, but it was his symbolic attack on the landmark accord that concerned the opposition and analysts yesterday.

Cambodia National Rescue Party Deputy President Mu Sochua, speaking from Berlin yesterday after fleeing Cambodia last week to avoid imminent arrest, said the peace and principles enshrined in the agreement were not dead but were under threat.

“We don’t want to go back to the Khmer Rouge years – that is why we continue to use the Paris Peace agreement. As long as there aren’t free and fair elections the constitution is violated,” she said, referring to draft amendments leaked yesterday that would redistribute her party’s seats to smaller parties that collectively won little more than 6 percent of the popular vote at the last national election.

“This is such a blatant, blatant robbing of the constitution,” she said.

“[For] the people of Cambodia right now, the silencing, the fear, the intimidation – that is reminiscent of years past.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks to the members of the garment industry at an event yesterday in Phnom Penh. Facebook

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said the agreement still held relevance, and suggested that the powers that be in Cambodia had done the opposite of implementing human rights and multiparty democracy by rewriting laws to legitimise political purges.

“In this agreement, first, it determines to [adopt] multiparty democracy. Second, the regime needs to respect the human rights and rule of law – the rule of law in the democratic society, not the communist one, [which] is wrong,” he said, likening the current situation to “the rule of law in a communist state”.

Paris was contentious from the outset – particularly the inclusion of the Khmer Rouge, who oversaw the death of at least 1.7 million people – and its impact has been questioned repeatedly over the past quarter century.

Australian scholar Lee Morgenbesser claims the deal was dead in 1997, when Hun Sen – then Second Prime Minister to Funcinpec’s Prince Norodom Ranariddh – launched a bloody coup to seize control of the country. The violence 20 years ago, observers argue, left the 1991 Paris Peace Accords in tatters.

Just last year, Human Rights Watch Asia Director Brad Adams opined that the 25th anniversary of the agreement required a requiem, not a celebration.

In an article for the now-shuttered Cambodia Daily, he wrote “the leader of the opposition is in exile, politicians and human rights activists are in prison, and dissidents continue to be killed . . .Why did Paris fail to deliver democracy and human rights?

“Hun Sen has consistently broken the fundamental promise of Paris: that the country’s future would be decided by ballots instead of bullets.”

Sebastian Strangio, author of Hun Sen’s Cambodia, pointed out the armed Cambodian factions were “pressed to the table” to sign on the dotted line.

“The CPP played along with Paris, they played along with the system of democracy, but now that they are no longer reliant on Western aid, they are starting to be much more open about their distaste for this settlement and their desire to unpick what remains of its legacy,” he said.

“The government made this argument before, and tended to make it in a more subtle way . . . but he’s coming out and giving vent to a deeply rooted anger about perceived Western double standards and treatment of Cambodia in the 1980s.”

He added what made Hun Sen and the ruling party’s latest crackdown on the opposition different to their pre-election strategy in the past – after the 1997 fighting, for instance, Ranariddh was coaxed back to join the 1998 elections, and the flow of foreign funds resumed – was a “sense of permanence”.

“It symbolises a full repudiation of the Paris agreement and the principles they espouse. It really is an exclamation mark on the political crackdown that has escalated significantly over the past two or three months.

“The government is continuing to tighten the screws on the opposition, which at a certain point they’ll relax, but over time with this cycle of repression, we have seen a steady shift to more open forms of authoritarianism.”


sam said...

Peace accords have made Hun Sen and his family filthy rich beyond their imaginations, now they no longer need those accords.

KhmerBTB said...
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KhmerBTB said...
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KhmerBTB said...
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KhmerBTB said...
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Narin Vong said...

Whethet we like it or not, Hun Sen will be himself until he decides to quite serving the country.

Hun Sen deserves credit for liberating the country from repression and killing. Without him the country would have a civil war long ago.

No one should be concerned on how much money he has. If you are on the same position, you would do the same to stay in power and doing so would need the money.

Yes, Paris Peace Accords is irrelevant to the now modern society where is full of multi businesses and jobs for many of us.

The country now is peace and stable so far. But if you break the law, you must be arrested. CNRP leaders have the attitude that Hun Sen needs to step down and we must take your place is dumb and dumber. CNRP must respect our leader, the flag, and the country that we fought for with our blood.

Hun Sen needs to stay in power to control those who intend to violate our law. Yes, some of you are not happy, but many of us want it this way, jobs and security.

Narin Vong said...
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Kohtral said...

Ah choy mray Narin Vong

Kim Ea said...

I am very disappointed that Khmer have one imbecile kid who decided to abandoned their common sense and grab treacherous way of life . like i said before and now, Khmer old with intelligent and education and a eyes witness involving in the treaty under auspicious of the UN team to propelled a mechanism in solving our nation future. They all stupidly and blindly or incompetently let the two communist treason, speared head a fake democracy. I said like this because they all believed that Sihanouk and Yuan Puppet Hun Sen diligently work to save Khmer nation, but in facts both of this traitors colluded in secret with invaders Vietnam behind the scene and completely stole the show in front of hundred dignitaries foreigners and Khmer . This was a disgusting and stupidity ,i ever seen . For 30 years the kept faking that Khmer have a real constitution, and the treaty still have mandatory power . Every Khmer criticized me for attacking this treaty years after i criticized this , as a ploy between traitor Sihanouk and Yuan servant Hun Sn .Now every Khmer can see this fake ruse blow in your face now . At last Vietnam have a full hand and grab all power they want , and Vietnam federation will coming soon .

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't care less about what AH Kook Hun Cent Vietcong slave dictator has to say. He can say that Cambodia ceases to become a country or a province of Vietnam. It is the nature of AH kook Hun Cent Vietcong slave dictator always pick the most destructive options for Cambodia and Cambodian people to please his Vietcong boss otherwise the dictator can never gain anything from Cambodia and Cambodian people! Over more than 30 years of dictatorship rule, Cambodia is at the mercy of the dictator...and million of Cambodian people are forced to migrate illegally or legally to other countries in search of jobs, victimized by illegal land grabbed, lack of employment, no opportunities...the destruction of Cambodian forest fail to produce the job for Cambodian people...while AH Kook Hun Cent Vietcong slave dictator gained personal fortunate in billion of dollars. Why Cambodian people must wait to find out what the dictator has stolen from Cambodian people illegally?

Please don't blame the foreigners because it is AH kook Hun Cent Vietcong slave dictator that allowed the foreigners to take advantage of Cambodia and Cambodian people whatever that conform with their national or business interest...

Please don't blame dirt poor Cambodian people for being so stupid and so uneducated for not voting the right way but the ballot box or the voting system were owned by the dictator for the past 30 years...and only now that the NEC is controlled by a group of people who supposed to be neutral...but in politic there is no neutrality!

Please don't blame Cambodian constitution or Cambodian law for not good enough to protec the right and the safety of Cambodian sovereignty and Cambodian people! Because AH Kook Hun Cent Vietcong slave dictator has never followed Cambodian constitution or Cambodian law...because the dictator always changed the f..cken Constitution or laws to fit his needs and wishes! The Cambodian constitution is the moral compass which all Cambodian leaders and Cambodian people must follow!

AH Kook Hun Cent Vietcong slave dictator always used the laws to persecute his opposite but at the end, the opposition can always use the law to persecute the dictator too. Now, this is not hard to hard to do...

Welcome to Cambodian twilight zone!

Human Right said...

Great news. silencing, fear, intimidation, enriching his family members for 30 more years. Sar Thouk.....

KhmerBTB said...

Hun Sen is the one who has been breaking the law more than anyone else in the whole country .

Bong Song said...

Hun Sen is worst than Pol Pot. He is treason.