The House of Representatives today passed a bipartisan resolution authored by Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) which denounces the political repression of the current Cambodian government while calling for free and fair elections in Cambodia.
“The 30-year government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, through intimidation, repression, and violence, has created an environment that abridges the right of every Cambodian citizen to participate in fair and free elections,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “If Cambodia wishes to become a full-fledged and respected member of the international community, the government of Hun Sen must respect the rule of law, human rights, and democracy.
The resolution points out that under the rule of Hun Sen, political freedom in Cambodia has been under increasing threat.
Last year, the non-profit Freedom House rated Cambodia as “Not Free” in its “Freedom in the World 2015” report, noting that in Cambodia “political opposition is restricted,” “harassment or threats against opposition supporters are not uncommon,” “freedom of speech is not fully protected,” and “the government’s tolerance for freedoms of association and assembly has declined in recent years.”
To read the entire resolution, which includes numerous details of the Hun Sen government’s repressive actions, click here.
“As the upcoming elections draw closer, we must do everything we can to assure that the people of Cambodia are able to express their voices fully and fairly at the ballot box, without the fear of intimidation, violence, or retribution,” Congressman Lowenthal said.
The credibility of the last general election, held in 2013, was criticized by numerous domestic and international organizations, and since then the political opposition to the current government has faced increasing restrictions that have also been levied against members of civil society, nongovernmental organizations, and the independent media.
Since the 2013 elections, opposition parliamentarians have been expelled from parliament, harassed by the government, and even attacked in the streets of Phnom Penh. Dr. Kem Ley, a noted political commentator and critic of the government, was assassinated in broad daylight in Phnom Penh earlier this year.
The resolution is cosponsored by 21 House members, including House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) Chairman Ed Royce (CA-39), HFAC Ranking Member Eliott Engel (NY-16), HFAC Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05), Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (MA-03), and Congressman Steve Chabot (OH-01), who along with Congressman Lowenthal, is a founding member and co-chair of the Congressional Cambodian Caucus.