Subject: Alarming violations of human rights in Cambodia
Dear Senator [Senator name or Congressman name]:
I am one of your constituents, and I am very concerned about the state of human rights and democracy in Cambodia.
I would be very grateful if you could do everything within your power to help resubmit the HR 526 Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019, HR 1376 Cambodia Trade Act of 2019, S. 34 Cambodia Trade Act of 2019 and S. 3081 Cambodia Democracy Act 2019 and help pressure the Cambodian government to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and others held for the peaceful exercise of their basic rights.
I support the joint statement by the 18 Cambodian civil organizations residing outside Cambodia below.
March 23, 2021
Joint Statement on Alarming violations of human rights in Cambodia
We, the undersigned Civil Society Organizations, are writing to you to support for the protection of human rights and the development of democracy in Cambodia.
As the 30th anniversary of the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements on Cambodia is approaching, the agreements that the US helped shape, Cambodia is sliding backward to the total destruction of civil society and democratic institutions, including the outlawing of the political opposition and the mass criminal trials of its leaders and members on charges of “treason.” The US needs to demand the end of the mass criminal treason trials now taking place, the end of criminal prosecutions of critics of government policies, and an end to the debilitating restrictions being imposed on the activities of human rights and democracy support organizations.
The UN statement addressing the Hun Sen government in the 31st meeting of the 45th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council on October 1, 2020 was later affirmed and supported by the most recent joint statement of UN human rights experts and Special Rapporteurs, condemning the Hun Sen government of its action tightening restriction on civil society, and called for an immediate end to the systematic detention and criminalization of human rights defenders, as well as excessive use of force against them.
The UN statement also addresses that human rights defender, Mr. Rong Chhun was arrested on July 31, 2020 after taking up the case of farmers in Tbong Khmom province who had their land taken in connection with a border demarcation between Cambodia and Vietnam. Subsequently, several other human rights defenders who demonstrated against his detention were also arrested and detained.
The joint statement issued by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on November 16, 2020, expresses special concern about the widespread and increasing practice of arresting and intimidating the people who express views opposing the Hun Sen’s government policy, and the people who defend the exercise of free expression, association, and peaceful assembly. Arresting and detaining Mr. Rong Chhun, a prominent Union Leader, other human rights defenders and environment activists substantiate the repression on freedom of expression and association and peaceful assembly.
The Australian member of parliament member shares the similar concern and condemns the Hun Sen’s government for recognizing no limit as to who it will target and arrest, seriously the basic institution of civil society and a democratic system. Mr. Hun Sen also threatens the families of the activists in order to further suppress human rights defenders and criminalize their courageous efforts to protect the rights of others. On March 11, 2021, the EU echoes similar concerns.
Mr. Hun Sen‘s court began mass trial and convicted in absentia of the opposition officials, activists for treason and incitement. Long prison terms for former opposition leaders is appalling. What is also alarming is that Mr. Hun Sen exerts extra territorial judicial power to summon U.S. citizens to this mass trial as well.
The Cambodian constitution, the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international human rights treaties guarantee the rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association, and of citizens to participate in government through free, fair and credible elections that are periodic and transparent. The Cambodian people has recognized their rights and responsibilities as the citizens of Cambodia, but Mr. Hun Sen and his government have intentionally failed to fulfill their legal obligations.
We sincerely appreciate the U.S. Congress for initiating the HR 526 Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019, HR 1376 Cambodia Trade Act of 2019, S. 34 Cambodia Trade Act of 2019 and S. 3081 Cambodia Democracy Act 2019.
European Union took initial measure to withdraw 20% of Everything but Arms from Cambodia, but Mr. Hun Sen and his ruling Cambodian People Party (CPP) will never comply. Only severe sanctions against Mr. Hun Sen, his family members, his associates, including the senior leadership of the CPP ruling party, and their companies can restore the respect and the protection of human rights and democracy in Cambodia; a real democratic Cambodia will become a great friend of the US, giving the US another reliable partner in Southeast Asia.
For the above reasons, we respectfully request the US Congress, US Department of State, US treasury and US Administration to take the following measures until Mr. Hun Sen restores the rule of law and the respect for human rights and democracy in Cambodia:
- To place the CPP leaders, their senior leadership, their generals, their family members, their associates, and their companies on the sanction list under the Magnitsky Act for their human rights abuses, corruption, land grabbing, destruction of the environment and money laundering.
- Resubmit the HR 526 Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019, HR 1376 Cambodia Trade Act of 2019, S. 34 Cambodia Trade Act of 2019 and S. 3081 Cambodia Democracy Act 2019.
Cambodian Civil Society Organizations:
- Cambodia Border Institute (CBI)
- Cambodia Women Health Organization (CWHO)
- Cambodian Alliance for the Paris Peace Agreements on Cambodia (CAPPAC)
- Cambodian Americans for Human Rights and Democracy (CAHRAD)
- Cambodian Association of Victoria (CAV)
- Cambodian Australian Federation (CAF)
- Committee for Paris Peace Accords on Cambodia-Minnesota (CPPAC-MN)
- Foundation of Khmer Samaki (FKS)
- Khmer Alliance Foundation (KAF)
- Khmer Association of Hampton Road Virginia (KAHRV)
- Khmer People Network for Cambodia (KPNC)
- Khmer Unity for Cambodia (KUC)
- Khmer Veterans Freedom Fighters Association (KVFFA)
- MeBoun Foundation (MF)
- Our Mutual National Interests International (OMNI)
- Overseas Khmer Summit (OKS)
- Pro Démocratie pour le Cambodge du Canada (PDCC)
- Société Buddhiste Khmère (SBK)
 U.N Human Rights Council 21st meeting at its 45th Regular Session on Human Right Situation in Cambodia, (2020) http://webtv.un.org/search/id-human-rights-in-cambodia-31st-meeting-45th-regular-session-human-rights-council/6196565360001/?term=Rhona%20Smith&sort=date#player
 Cambodia: UN experts alarmed by civil society crackdown, attacks on defenders,(2020) https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26505&LangID=E
 Union Leader Appeal the Arrest, Detention (2020) https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtube+arrest+of+Rong+Chhun&docid=608003001210833719&mid=7E11F67A2A56567A008D7E11F67A2A56567A008D&view=detail&FORM=VIRE
 Cambodian Human Rights - The arrest of Rong Chhun is shameful, (2020) https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtube+arrest+of+Rong+Chhun&&view=detail&mid=BB10F8B5E3C3784B36BEBB10F8B5E3C3784B36BE&rvsmid=7E11F67A2A56567A008D7E11F67A2A56567A008D&FORM=VDQVAP
 Cambodia: Hun Sen Threatens Families of Activists, (2020) https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/10/28/cambodia-hun-sen-threatens-families-activists
 EU MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the mass trials against opposition, (2021) https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/B-9-2021-0185_EN.html
 Cambodian Court Begin Mass Trial of Opposition Officials, Activists for Treason and Incitement, (2020)
 Cambodia: Long prison terms for former opposition leaders appalling, say UN experts (2021), https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26848&LangID=E&fbclid=IwAR05vAiBWDo3drjdwoQTW07A-Vdabau1ud4e12rjL5JeOYf6Ha0tTFFMyY0