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Cambodian PM orders search for 'violent' Facebook poster

Newspaper names a former CNRP opposition activist as the alleged offender

UCA News reporter

UCA News reporter

Published: October 11, 2021 10:18 AM GMT
Cambodian PM orders search for 'violent' Facebook poster

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen gestures during a press conference at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on Sept. 17. (Photo: AFP)

Cambodian leader Hun Sen has ordered authorities to find the owner of a Facebook account, believed to be in Thailand, who posted a poem with “violent” words on the prime minister’s page and news feed regarding his grandson.

According to one government-friendly publication, the holder of the account is a 35-year-old male activist from the former Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) named Voeun Veasna.

“Please, compatriots, read this article, which is full of violence. This is why I have to eliminate extremist theories and activities at all costs,” Hun Sen said on his Facebook account.

“I have already disbanded a Khmer Rouge political and military organization that made Cambodia as peaceful and developed as it is today.

“Now there are extremist rebels left that need to be eliminated for peace to be maintained. Hopefully the police will find this person.”

The CNRP, the main political opposition party in Cambodia, was dissolved by the courts ahead of elections in 2018 when Hun Sen’s long ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won every seat contested at the poll.

Cambodian activists and artists have also come under pressure for using social media to protest

Since then its leader-in-exile Sam Rainsy has threatened to return and stage a popular rebellion aimed at ousting Hun Sen, which resulted in more than 100 CNRP supporters being rounded up by police and charged with incitement and in some cases treason.

The Khmer Times said the Facebook account was under the name Prey Lang Kranhung and Hun Sen had produced a document showing the real owner of the account was Voeun Veasna.

It said Voeun Veasna was issued with a warrant by Phnom Penh Municipal Court on May 2 ordering authorities to arrest him on charges of “obstructing the implementation of measures and inciting serious social unrest.”

Voeun Veasna is currently living in Thailand and is a member of the CNRP TV group, it said.

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Cambodian activists and artists have also come under pressure for using social media to protest against the government and for highlighting social issues.

Last month popular rapper Kea Sokun, whose controversial lyrics and songs were critical of the Cambodian government, was granted an early release from prison after spending almost a year behind bars for an incitement conviction.

One offending song has garnered more than 4.2 million views on YouTube and under Cambodian law warranted an 18-month jail term, minus time already served. One of his songs is titled “I’m opposed to the dictator”.

Meanwhile, Sam Rainsy has accused Hun Sen of changing the law to prevent his return.

Hun Sen has said laws will be changed to mandate that only senior leaders with single Cambodian citizenship will only be allowed to hold office. This followed criticism of CPP members who held dual citizenship.

“Such a law would be useless because, if relevant, I would abandon my French citizenship before taking up my position as prime minister,” Sam Rainsy said in an email received by UCA News.

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