Prime Minister Hun Sen lashed out at an unnamed human rights organization on Saturday, accusing it of criticizing the government in an effort to appease the US.
Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a bridge in Kratie province, Hun Sen said the rights group constantly chastises him and the Cambodian government unfairly.
“They never dare to curse America, even though America bombed Cambodia, because they are afraid that America will not offer them aid,” he said, referring to the US bombing of Cambodia in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
He added that the group reported all its activities to the International Republican Institute, a US-based group whose board of directors is chaired by US Republican Senator John McCain, a known critic of the Hun Sen-led government.
“You just made a report to the IRI [about] what you did and what you could not do. I knew,” Hun Sen said in a broadcast on Apsara television. “It is unbelievable that the NGO reported to [the IRI].”
Hun Sen accused the group of blaming the government for the country’s depleting fish stocks, caused by locals illegally fishing.
“They destroyed [the stocks] by themselves [but the rights group] blamed the government. The human rights group always makes this statement,” he said.
He went on to say that the group constantly criticizes the government for inaction.
“They said that the government has done nothing,” he said.
“They always curse us everywhere. They use the word dictatorship [for the government] while they are cursing us. This is the democratic process.”
However, Hun Sen added, the government “never takes action” against the offending rights organization.
In a speech earlier this month, Hun Sen blasted human rights groups in general, accusing them of frequently overstepping their bounds.
In November, the prime minister also criticized an unidentified human rights worker in a speech, believed to have been directed at Kem Sokha, director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, for verbally assaulting him over the nation’s radio airwaves.
Kem Sokha on Sunday said Hun Sen’s latest statements also seemed to be directed at his NGO, since the CCHR is funded by the IRI and frequently reports its activities to the US organization.
He alleged Hun Sen was attempting to take aim at the US by criticizing the CCHR.
“He is using an ideological war with America. It has nothing to do with me,” Kem Sokha said. “He uses my NGO because it receives funding from America.”
He said: “We welcome [criticism] from him, but not any violent action…. We never curse [Hun Sen]. That is impolite.”