Cambodia’s opposition staggers on in face of Hun Sen crackdown

Outside a Cambodian provincial court late last month, Kong Mouyly pleaded with journalists and civil society to help secure her father’s release.

Just minutes before, Kong Sam An had been among five opposition supporters sentenced to seven years in prison for allegedly plotting to overthrow Cambodia’s government.

“My father is not guilty. Please, NGOs help us,” Mouyly, 31, pleaded in a video released on social media. Next to her, Mouyly’s 65-year-old mother Eab Sour held her hands together and begged: “Please help us.”

Such cries of desperation are becoming increasingly common in Cambodia, where long time leader Hun Sen and his Cambodian People’s Party appear to be pursuing an unrelenting campaign to wipe out all opposition to their rule.

The main opposition party – the Cambodian National Rescue Party – was dissolved in 2017, and its members and supporters have been targeted by authorities ever since.

Kong Sam An and his co-defendants were among more than 140 CNRP activists arrested in September. Officials in the governing party have made it clear it is determined to completely eradicate the organisation.

“CNRP’s supporters, if they continue to support the party, continue to stay in jail.”

The CPP – in power for four decades – wants to avoid the threat it faced in 2013 when the then-recently-formed CNRP came close to ousting it from power in that year’s general election.

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