Prime Minister Hun Sen and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Friday met with British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire, who used a two-day visit to Cambodia to pledge more funds to the Khmer Rouge tribunal and enquire about the government’s violent and lethal response to garment and opposition party demonstrations in the capital.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told reporters that in addition to promising to encourage investment in Cambodia, Mr. Swire had asked about the post-election political deadlock and the suppression of protests. He said Mr. Namhong had shown Mr. Swire the Law on Demonstrations and explained that protest-related deaths were the fault of the organizers of demonstrations, not security forces who used live ammunition and killed them.
“The government did not stop the demonstrations; they just postponed them based on the law, because the demonstrations began affecting people’s human rights and damaging other people’s property and caused people to die, so we had to postpone until the situation is stable again—then they will have the right to demonstrate,” Mr. Kuong said.
Mr. Kuong said Mr. Namhong had thanked the U.K. for its financial contributions to Cambodia’s health sector and toward poverty and human rights issues.
He said Mr. Swire pledged $823,000 toward the cash-strapped Khmer Rouge tribunal, bringing to more than $10.5 million the amount the U.K. has given to the court since 2006.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said Mr. Swire had met with CNRP Deputy President Kem Sokha for an hour on Friday.
“They discussed the political situation in Cambodia, and [Mr. Swire] was very interested in how to find a solution to the political stalemate,” Mr. Sovann said. “We told him two points: We want a re-election and electoral reform…. He listened to us very carefully.”
He said Mr. Swire had echoed concerns made by the British Embassy last month in the wake of a violent suppression of garment protests in Phnom Penh.
The visiting diplomat also made a visit on Friday afternoon to Toul Sleng prison, but a reporter was asked not to approach him.
A meeting in the evening with Prime Minister Hun Sen focused primarily on trade and the Khmer Rouge tribunal, according to
Mr. Hun Sen’s assistant, Eang Sophalleth.
(Additional reporting by Lauren Crothers)