Hell Awaits Those Who Lie, Hun Sen Says

People who go overseas to tell “lies” about Cambodia could end up in the lowest level of hell, Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech yesterday.

The premier added that people in foreign countries now have access to television feeds from Cambodia, and would not be tricked by the “liars.”

Although he did not name anyone specifically, Mr Hun Sen’s speech came just days after three prominent Cambodians, including SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua, spoke before a US Congressional com­mis­sion on the state of human rights in Cambodia.

“Now, the people overseas can see everything in Cambodia directly, so those who lie to the people overseas cannot fool them,” the prime minister said.

“These lies, they should be stopped. It could become hell for them, because this season is Pchum Ben…and they might go to the abode of all demons,” the prime minister said.

“There are 250 levels of hell, the abode of all demons, and they could not return,” he added.

Last week, opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua, human rights group Licadho’s President Kek Pung, and Moeun Tola, head of the labor program at the Community Legal Education Center, testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Com­mission in Washing­ton. All three spoke about declines in Cambodia’s human rights ranging from unlawful evictions to court action against critics of the government.

Ms Sochua remains in the US and could not be reached for comment yesterday, but in an interview Sunday, she said that she was concerned about her safety upon her return to Cambodia. She added that she had been promised asylum at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh if required.

“I got very clear indication from Congress that if any one of the witnesses is persecuted, there would be serious consequences for aid to Cambodia,” Ms Sochua said.

After the hearing in Washington on Thursday, commission co-chairman Frank Wolf promised that the US Embassy in Phnom Penh would keep a close eye on the three witnesses and let the Cam­bodian government know that their safety is “very, very important” to the US.

Despite that assurance, spokes­man John Johnson said in an e-mail yesterday that the US Embassy would not comment on any measures being taken to protect Ms Sochua, Ms Pung and Mr Tola, or the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday.

SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann yesterday said that he was “very concerned” about Ms Sochua’s safety once she returns to Cam­bodia, and he dismissed any suggestion that she had lied in her testimony before the congressional commission.

“Mu Sochua went to the US to tell the truth to the world,” Mr Sovann said. “I think that [Hun Sen] should not use strong words to intimidate the people,” he said.

In his speech yesterday at the inauguration of the Prek Kdam bridge in Kandal province, Hun Sen also said that the new bridge was part of $200 million in loans promised by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao for road construction projects in Cambodia, adding that China will also loan $100 million to construct a road in Preah Vihear province.

The prime minister praised the generosity of the Chinese, saying that the country has loaned billions of dollars to Cambodia for projects ranging from road construction to tourism to hydropower dams. “China has no limit,” he said.


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