Australia Gets Tough on Foreign Government Intimidation of Cambodian, Rwandan Diasporas

The country’s minister of home affairs has spoken out about those who are being “threatened, harassed, or intimidated” because of diaspora protests in Australia.

Diasporic communities in democratic countries are a soft target for foreign authoritarian regimes. These communities are often small, widely dispersed, and don’t add up to a significant political constituency. They usually don’t get much media attention, either in their adopted countries or back home. Diaspora members often have family members and business interests in their countries of origin. So, they are an easy target for foreign dictatorships keen to stifle dissenting voices and opposition fundraising.

The picture has started to change with a speech on February 14 by Australian Minister of Home Affairs Clare O’Neil. She spoke of diaspora communities and their families back home being “threatened, harassed, or intimidated” because of protests in Australia. “This type of foreign interference is commonplace, it is happening around our country every day,” she said.

O’Neil named Iran as an offending government, and ABC reported that China, Cambodia, and Rwanda are also countries of concern. Iran and China will always get media attention because of their geopolitical importance. Diasporas from smaller countries are the easiest, and usually ignored targets.

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