As Cam­bo­dian democ­racy weak­ens, US sanc­tions official

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - News - Photo: AP

con­nec­tion to a 1997 grenade at­tack on an op­po­si­tion rally that killed 16 peo­ple and wounded more than 100.

The at­tack, still un­solved and un­pun­ished, in­jured an Amer­i­can democ­racy ac­tivist, Roy Ab­ney. The Trea­sury De­part­ment state­ment refers to him as a “US cit­i­zen” who suf­fered shrap­nel wounds. The US govern­ment has so far “been re­luc­tant to make this al­le­ga­tion public,” said Se­bas­tian Stran­gio, a jour­nal­ist who has writ­ten a book on Hun Sen. “That it is do­ing so now speaks to how far re­la­tions be­tween Ph­nom Penh and Wash­ing­ton have frayed.”

But the choice of Bun Hieng is some­thing like a warn­ing shot, Stran­gio said. While Bun Hieng “oc­cu­pies an im­por­tant and sym­bolic part of Hun Sen’s per­sonal se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture and is al­leged to have had a hand in a long list of hu­man rights abuses,” Stran­gio said, he is a mar­ginal eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal fig­ure whose black­list­ing is un­likely to cause a rup­ture be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Ph­nom Penh.

Nev­er­the­less, Cam­bo­dia’s govern­ment was quick to crit­i­cise the sanc­tions. The Cam­bo­dian De­fence Min­istry is­sued a state­ment on Wed­nes­day say­ing the US ac­tion was a “stupid de­ci­sion that Cam­bo­dia can­not ac­cept,” ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press.

Hun Sen’s govern­ment is likely to cite the sanc­tions as fur­ther ev­i­dence of US bias against his govern­ment. The United States has be­come some­what of a bo­gey­man, an­a­lysts say, as Hun Sen stokes an­tiAmer­i­can sen­ti­ment in Cam­bo­dia ahead of elec­tions there on July 29.

– The Wash­ing­ton Post

Gen. Hing Bun Hieng, com­man­der of Hun Sen’s body­guards, at­tends In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tions in Ph­nom Penh, Cam­bo­dia, in 2016.

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