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Veiled Threats Aired in YouTube ‘Rights’ Video

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The government upped the ante in their efforts to stop growing protests against them and justify their harsh response to demonstrations on Sunday night when they released a video titled, “2016 CIVIL RIGHTS: On Using The Rights In An Anarchic Way.”
 
The video, produced by the government-run Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC), shuffles through images of Syria and Libya before and after their recent civil wars while ominous music plays. It goes on to say that the destruction seen by both countries was “the result of how the rights were misused.”
 
“The excessive use of rights will bring about destruction,” says the video. “As a result, all the rights were lost.”
 
It did not say which “rights” it was referring to, but implied later on that the right to protest, and maybe even freedom of speech, should be curbed in order to protect “the stability of the nation and all other rights.”
 
The video ends with a speech by Defense Minister General Tea Banh who discusses “color revolutions,” an oft-used term by government officials referencing a series of political and social movements in former Soviet Union states during the 1990s and early 2000s.
 
Although Black Monday protesters have stressed that their demonstrations are specifically about human rights officials now detained in prison, the government continues to imply that the protesters are aiming for “regime change,” because of their thematic use of color in the protests.
 
“The issue of color revolution comes in several forms. We want to make clear that we will not allow it to take place in the Kingdom of Cambodia,” Gen. Banh said in the video. “We have to prevent the second return of the genocidal regime in Cambodia.”
 
Chak Sopheap, the executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), said younger Cambodians are tired of hearing warnings from the government about the country slipping back into the horrors of the Khmer Rouge.
 
“The goal of this video is clearly to intimidate ordinary people from the full and peaceful exercise of their human rights, and represents a serious misrepresentation of both domestic and international human rights law,” she said. “It is a rather unsubtle reminder that this government is not beyond resorting to serious violence, if necessary, to hold on to power.”
 
In addition to its veiled threats, Ms. Sopheap said the CHRC’s shoddy production – many of the images representing Libya are actually photos of Singapore – only “reinforces the image of an institution that is unfit for [its] purpose.”
 
Despite the video’s pledge to “stabilize the country for brothers, sisters, and children of the next generation,” Ms. Sopheap said the government is so preoccupied with its past successes that it fails to look forward to the future.
 
“I believe that most of Cambodia’s young population is tired of hearing how the government ‘saved’ the country from Pol Pot,” she said. “Young Cambodians are full of aspirations and much more interested in looking to the future. It appears increasingly obvious that the government is out of touch with this reality.”

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