CAMBODIA - Paolo Marchetti Photographer

A Latent Dictatorship

Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy, King Norodom Sihamoni is a symbolic figure and in fact, he found himself monarch in 2004 following the abdication of his father and now lives a life almost like a prisoner in his royal palace, surrounded by allegations of his own subjects on his little desire to play the role he has.

It was January of 1985 when Hun Sen became prime minister of Cambodia, Today he is still in office and is the prime minister with the longest mandate on the planet. It is in the top ten rulers who have long held the executive power. Above him there are only dictators.

Now the leader of the Asian nation and head of the Cambodian People’s Party has called for the dissolution of the “National Salvation Party”, the only political opposition formation that can be a challenge to its power.
Hun Sen has been limiting the country’s spaces of freedom for years and this acceleration towards a complete and renewed dictatorship has actually begun at the end of summer 2017.
The current opposition leader, head of the “National Salvation Party”, Kem Sokha, was arrested on September 3 and is in prison, accused of high treason. His deputy Sam Rainsy is already in exile and has been joined by almost half of the party’s 55 parliamentarians.
Another opponent, Senator Sok Hour, is detained and was sentenced to seven years for spreading propaganda material on Facebook.
This campaign will allow the ruling party to win the 2018 political elections once again and the prime minister, who is now 65, has already announced his intention to govern for another decade.
The strong man Hun Sen owes his political longevity to the ability to reinvent himself. In 1975 it was in the ranks of the Khmer Rouge militias who conquered the capital Phnom Penh during the American bombing, ordered by Nixon, so Cambodia found itself in the throes of civil war.
The Khmer Rouge militias led by Pol Pot gained power and a genocide soon took place.
In recent years, according to major human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, it has maintained its grip on power thanks to violence, intimidation, corruption and influence over the courts.
Despite everything, Cambodia has gradually re-emerged from the dark years and from the war, knowing an encouraging economic development, the overwhelming recovery of tourism and joining the growth of the whole area of ??South-East Asia. The country that had become a horror regime during Pol Pot gained international credibility.
But after this era of adjustment and rebirth, democracy has increasingly become a façade, a well-set showcase.

The government has passed laws against all forms of criticism of political power. He has closed newspapers and radio stations. Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been expelled.
After the autocratic turn in 2013 was more decisive and violent, in 2015 two opposition MPs were attacked and beaten by the body’s guards. In July 2016, political commentator and activist Kem Lay was murdered in broad daylight in Phnom Penh and four members of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association were arrested without trial.
On the occasion of the local elections of summer 2017, Hun Sen returned after years to campaign, threatening the return to civil war, mobilizing the army in the circumscriptions that were not favorable to him.
One of the exiled opposition leaders Sam Rainsy said that “Hun Sen is in power because in 1997, when the UN left the country, it maintained control of the armed forces and effectively imposed a coup. Since then it continues to control the executive, legislative and judiciary power thanks to which it influences the decision of the Electoral Commission with which it could fix the elections”.

But the Cambodian population is young, 70% of the inhabitants are under 30 and young people want change “.
The UN Human Rights Council on September 29 decided that Cambodia will be the subject of a report on the state of rights in the country that will be presented before the political elections.

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