Hun Sen: Olympics No Time for Protests

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday warned against using the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing as a platform for protesting Chinese activities in Tibet or the Darfur region of Sudan.

“I don’t agree with any attempt to prevent Olympic activities such as taking the Olympics hostage for Sudan and Tibet issues,” Hun Sen said at the groundbreaking ceremony for a $57 million, Chinese-funded road from Tbeng Mean­chey to the Preah Vihear temple.

Hun Sen denied that his comments were influenced by China’s financial support and said no country can use Cambodia as a vehicle to protest issues in other countries.

“Cambodia is not a foundation for a country to use against another country,” he said, pointing to the decision by the government to stop a January torch-lighting ceremony organized by US group Olympic Dream for Darfur at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.

“There was an attempt in Phnom Penh to force the Chinese government to pressure the Sudan government,” he said. “I told the Minister of Interior [Sar Kheng] that Cambodia doesn’t allow any such dispute.”

SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said by phone Sun­day Hun Sen’s comments prove Cam­bodia is not a democratic country.

“It is a communist country if we cannot express any opinion,” he said.

Chinese Embassy Third Sec­retary Qian Hai said by telephone that phone he agreed with Hun Sen’s comments, reiterating that “the Olympic Games is just related to sports and does not regard politics.”

Bun Sok, secretary of state for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, said Cambodia’s Olympic athletes are not allowed to use their participation in the games as a platform for political protests.

Dream for Darfur invited three of Cambodia’s four Olympic athletes to participate in its January ceremony, but the Ministry of Education did not allow them to do so, Bun Sok said.

Theary Seng, executive director for the Center for Social Development and Dream for Darfur’s Cambodian representative, could not be reached for comment Sunday.

(Additional reporting by James Welsh)

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