General Hing Bun Hieng, commander of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit, yesterday vowed to suppress any US nationals tied to a colour revolution attempt in the wake of the US slapping him with financial sanctions.
Gen Bun Hieng issued a personal statement yesterday in response to the sanctions, which were announced on Tuesday over his alleged involvement in multiple attacks on unarmed Cambodians for many years, including in 2013 at Wat Phnom and in 2015 in front of the National Assembly, where CNRP lawmakers were beaten.
On Tuesday, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said that in the 2015 incident, three members of Mr Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit were imprisoned after they confessed to participating in an attack on CNRP lawmakers Kong Saphea and Nhay Chamroeun.
Gen Bun Hieng flatly denied that he committed the human rights violations, and noted that he did not have any assets in the US.
“I am ready to fight back at any American who do not respect the sovereignty of an independent country and have ambition to invade my country and incite traitors inside Cambodia,” Gen Bun Hieng said.
“I am ready to prevent traitors and opposition groups who have intended to create a colour revolution in Cambodia, which foreigners are behind,” Gen Bun Hieng said.
The US has been accused of colluding with former CNRP leader Kem Sokha to topple the government through a colour revolution.
Mr Sokha was arrested on treason charges in September and remains in jail. The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November.
Gen Bun Hieng added that the sanctions, which ban Americans from doing business with him, will have no effect on his life.
“There is no need to give me a visa because I don’t want to go to the US and they have banned American people from contacting me and there is no need for me to contact American people, either,” Gen Bun Hieng said. “I do not intend to visit the US because I suffered too much when it inflicted suffering on me, my family and my country by dropping millions of bombs to kill Cambodia people in the 1970s.”
The sanctions drew the ire of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet, the Defence Ministry and Foreign Affairs Ministry on Wednesday.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement saying that the sanctions were baseless and a move to undermine the government ahead of the national election in July.
“The ministry categorically dismisses the purported engagement of Cambodia armed forces in a series of serious violation abuses,” it said.
Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath yesterday said that the government should have responded by seeking a resolution rather than deteriorating the situation.
“I think the government statements will not lead to the sanctions being lifted,” he said. “And the US does not care about [Gen Bun Hieng’s response] because it wants to restore democracy.”
US embassy spokesman David Josar declined to comment.
“We don’t have any further comment at this time; if that situation changes, I’ll let you know,” he said.
Kong Saphea, the former CNRP lawmaker who was beaten by protesters in 2015 while they were demanding that Mr Sokha step down, said yesterday that he supported the sanctions.
“I have hope to receive justice,” Mr Saphea said.