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US funds foes: Top official

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
Gen Phat listed organisations which had received funds from the US. Supplied

A senior Defence Ministry official said yesterday that the United States had provided financial assistance to its own organisations and to NGOs to carry out anti-Cambodian government activities.

Speaking at a presentation to several hundred military officers, secretary of state General Neang Phat said the US provided finance through national and international organisations to advocate an anti-government mindset among the public.

He said the US had provided funds to the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, Equitable Cambodia, Sahmakum Teang Tnaut and the Housing Rights Task Force, which he said all called for a colour revolution after the 2013 election, including the so-called “Black Monday” campaign.

“We have often seen Sahmakum Teang Tnaut incite people at grassroots levels,” Gen Phat said.

He said the NGO incited the movement of Boeung Kak, led by activist Tep Vanny, as well as the Borei Keila and Thmar Koul communities.

“Some organisations created a group that always held demonstrations,” he said.

“This group was hidden under organisations in a Black Monday plot by former STT executive director Ee Sarom.

“We detained and educated him. He confessed that he received annual funds of between $400,000 and $500,000.

“It had money to create all these movements to serve the strategy of the United States.”

Last year, police detained eight protesters including Mr Sarom. They were taking part in a Black Monday campaign on the way to Prey Sar prison to call for the release of five human rights defenders.

US embassy official in Phnom Penh David Josar said: “We support the peaceful resolution of land disputes, but are not familiar with the NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut.”

Mr Sarom fled the country, but STT acting director Soeung Saran denied his organisation’s activities were against the government.

“We did nothing wrong of which they are accusing us,” Mr Saran said.

“We have educated people to understand their housing and land rights, improving their livelihoods.”   

In his three-hour presentation, Gen Phat spoke of NDI and Equitable Cambodia, which the government has shut down.

“They trained people to look on the government as darkness,” Gen Phat said.

He expressed concern about the increase in communities advocating opinion against the government.

About 2,000 community organisations were doing anti-government work,” Gen Phat said.

“They have trained people in systematic advocacy. Their strategy is not a simple issue.”

He said that after the election in 1993, foreign organisations were set up.

“They carried out activities totalling about a million US dollars every year,” Gen Phat said.

He said the US created the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity, which had led to an opposition tendency among unions.

“They took care of workers by using the power of workers against the government,” Gen Phat said.

He said funds through USAID and Christian assistance supported opposition movements against the government.

“After they failed with a colour revolution in 2013, leaked information said USAID had changed its strategy,” he said.

He said USAID changed its strategy by inviting NGOs from Cambodia to meet in Thailand.

“They also used income from the Caltex petroleum company to support this activity. We have researched documents from overseas and from our intelligence service,” he added.

Gen Phat said also that former CNRP president Sam Rainsy had been appointed by the US as vice-president of the International Liberal Democratic Movement so that he could still carry out activities against the government.

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