Editorial | Articles about Cambodia | Khmer

Friday, October 20, 2006

Cambodia in a new Cold war

CFC/CBC 23 10 06-1A
Distributed on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Paris Agreement on Cambodia

"Cambodia in a new Cold war"

A telltale sign: through an Anukret (“sub-decree”) dated February 2005, Mr. Hun Sen decided to cancel “October 23” as a celebration date for the signing of the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement on Cambodia, whereas, on the other hand, “January 7” which constitutes nothing more than an official dedication of the 1979 occupation of Cambodia by Vietnamese troops, is maintained as a “national holiday” for the Kingdom.

Recalling that the Paris Peace Agreement on Cambodia which was adopted on October 23, 1991, had stipulated to all signatory countries two principal sets of obligations which are essentially linked to each other, as follows:

  1. To maintain, preserve and defend the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and inviolability, neutrality and national unity of Cambodia, against all external aggressions and interferences – from Vietnam, in particular, even though this country was not explicitly named;

  2. To restore and maintain human rights, pluralism democracy, the rule of law, … “in order to prevent the return of past practices.”

    However, what did actually happen to Cambodia 15 years later? How about tomorrow, and for the years to come, what will be the fate in store for the Cambodian people?

Prior to the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement, communist Vietnam which was condemned by the entire international community for its occupation of Cambodia, had a very tough time maintaining its grip on this country. Following the Paris Agreement, with the undeniable complicity of the CPP – the former People’s Revolutionary Party of Kampuchea (PRPK) – and with the compliant and disastrous power sharing of the royalist Funcinpec party, Vietnam paradoxically found itself in a more comfortable position to pursue and to consolidate its domination of Cambodia in every fields, and in particular, in politics, military, social and economic issues, and even on cultural and religious issues as well. The wild colonization by almost 5 million – i.e., 35% of the total population – of Vietnamese in Cambodia (1) was “ratified” by the leading Cambodian political community. At the height of its triumph, in November 2005, Hanoi, with the help of Mr. Hun Sen and the CPP’s “handy works,” was able to obtain the “humble” acceptance of its 1980s territorial treaties by all of the highest national institutions of the kingdom, even though some of these institutions were fierce opponents to these same treaties prior to 1991.

Furthermore, Hanoi continues to maintain, without exchanging a single firearm shot, its annexation of the Cambodian islands of Koh Tral and Koh Krachak Ses, as well as 30,000 square kilometers of Cambodia’s maritime domain, and the absolute control, through an “agreement” concluded with Hun Sen in 1982, of 10,000 square kilometers of the so-called “Historical Waters.” Better yet, under this “agreement,” Vietnam concluded on August 11, 1997 (6 years after the Paris Agreement), a maritime agreement with Thailand while bypassing over Mr. Hun Sen altogether. The agreement between Vietnam and Thailand allowed the latter to expand, to the detriment of Cambodia, its maritime domain by 30,000 square kilometres into Cambodia’s water territories.

On internal level, Mr. Hun Sen was busy maintaining Cambodian citizens in a weak state, in poverty, as they are tormented by all kind of insecurities, thus making them unable to defend themselves against his power abuses and aggressions from his foreign friends. Thus, Mr. Hun Sen’s regime became the “paradise” for corruption, deforestation, human rights violations, land grabbing, mining (bauxite, tin, iron, coal) and oil prosperities (even though they do not follow the basic rules of bidding process), human trafficking, drug trafficking, “dirty jobs” perpetrated by an arrogant, violent and clannish-style government. In the complete absence of the rule of law, personal, wealth and job securities are at the mercy of the high ranking leaders of the regime, all discontent or protest demonstrations are systematically repressed by gun-toting or, at least, electric baton-wielding police force, and by preventive jail sentence. Pluralism democracy is only but a ridiculous claim prescribed in the Constitution as the entire country becomes more and more submitted to the whim of the CPP. The latter is found everywhere, it dominates all its competitors and it crushes all political and social opposition at the National Assembly, in the Senate, at the Constitutional Council, at the Supreme Council of Magistracy, in the government, in the provincial, district, commune administration offices, as well as in all villages in the country.

The corrupt and tyrannical system established by Mr. Hun Sen is the complete opposite to what was envisioned by the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement “in order to prevent the return of past practices” – a euphemism created to alleviate the genocidal crimes committed by Mr. Hun Sen’s communist henchmen. Hun Sen is regularly denounced by the entire national and international opinion and even by the successive UN Special Representatives on Human Rights in Cambodia. Nevertheless, to the denunciations made against him, Mr. Hun Sen distinguishes himself by voicing with impunity, intimidations and death threats, and even scandalous insults on diplomats from the world highest body.

Indeed, Mr. Hun Sen found his “legitimacy,” his “strength,” and even found the guarantors of his impunity in some of the Superpowers who were signatory to the very same Paris Agreement, and who, through their “indulging” silence, band together to pay “subsidies and bonuses” in the form of periodic aid – amounting to several hundreds of million of dollars – and who are expecting to guarantee in this fashion, a “semblance of stability” in the kingdom, a stability which the Cambodian nation and people must carry on their own the heavy burden and the price to pay, while they subsist in a state of permanent poverty, uncertainty, and insecurity. Cambodia and her people, still in their hardships, at the end, find themselves becoming the hostages and the victims of a new cold war among the Superpowers.

The 1991 Paris Peace Agreement on Cambodia had foreseen to set up sanctions against all violation to its stipulations, in particular:

  • “In the event of a violation or threat of violation of the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and inviolability, neutrality or national unity of Cambodia, or of any of the other commitments herein, the parties to this agreement undertake to consult immediately with a view to adopting all appropriate steps to ensure respect for these commitments and resolving any such violations through peaceful means.”

  • “In the event of serious violations of human rights in Cambodia, they will call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such other steps as are appropriate for the prevention and suppression of such violations in accordance with the relevant international instruments.”

The Paris Agreement was not prepared or adopted solely for the governments, but also in view of the citizens’ Right and Action who can find in it their inseparable references and guarantees. Cambodian citizens must continue to protest, and to support the legitimate protests by the victims, they must demonstrate against the government and their accomplices. They must protest against the Superpower governments which maintain the corruption and the dictatorial regime of Mr. Hun Sen and his CPP party, they should at least write to these governments, on their personal behalf if need be, to alert them and to demand from them to honor their engagements for a just application of the Paris Agreement which they have also signed, and most of all, to tell these Superpower governments that their support to the tyrant must come to an end, if they sincerely want to see to peace and happiness for the Cambodian people and for Cambodia.

Paris, October 23, 2006

Sean Péngsè

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