Cambodian court sentences American lawyer amid crackdown on dissent : NPR

Cambodian American attorney Theary Seng and dozens of others have been convicted of treason past Tuesday, as Primary Minister Hun Sen continues to crackdown on dissent.


A courtroom in Cambodia’s funds, Phnom Penh, on Tuesday, convicted a Cambodian American attorney and activist of treason. Dozens of others were also convicted as Prime Minister Hun Sen carries on his crackdown on dissent. Michael Sullivan reviews from Bangkok.

MICHAEL SULLIVAN, BYLINE: The verdict was under no circumstances substantially in doubt, which is why a tiny around a year back, Theary Seng took a pair of scissors to her flowing brown hair, anticipating jail and prison lice.

THEARY SENG: You know, I like prolonged hair. I glance like Peter Pan ideal now. And even although I’m preserving a whole lot of cash on shampoo, which is a superior thing, I wished to communicate with this regime that I do not panic it and I do not fear struggling with jail on unjust rates.

SULLIVAN: The court sentenced her on Tuesday to six decades. She and a lot of of the many others have been charged in link with a unsuccessful endeavor by an opposition leader to return from exile in 2019. The opposition social gathering was disbanded just forward of the 2018 normal election Hun Sen’s get together then swept.

PHIL ROBERTSON: The verdict against Theary Seng and the around 50 other individuals who were being convicted in court docket – these are primarily based on bogus expenses.

SULLIVAN: Phil Robertson is deputy Asia director for Human Rights Enjoy.

ROBERTSON: The court is considerably from impartial. In reality, it is really a kangaroo courtroom. It truly is a little something that does the bidding of the ruling political occasion and the prime minister. It seems that Hun Sen and his government are attempting to wipe out any vestige of the political opposition.

SULLIVAN: Throughout the months-prolonged demo, Theary Seng doubled down on her defiance, showing in front of the courtroom in different costumes, from time to time as a conventional Cambodian dancer, yet another time in jail garb and in Chinese peasant clothing, suggesting Prime Minister Hun Sen has mortgaged his country’s future to China. As the trial progressed, a lot of of the accused chose to flee into exile. Theary Seng advised me that wasn’t an solution for her.

SENG: This is house. No a single can power me to go away my household.

SULLIVAN: It can be a household the U.S.-educated attorney experienced to flee when right before, following the genocidal Khmer Rouge killed her mothers and fathers. And that is a different sore place for her, the Khmer Rouge tribunal that was supposed to uncover justice for the survivors, but right after 15 yrs, only managed to convict 3 growing old adult men.

SENG: The Khmer Rouge tribunal was our only chance, seriously, for reconciliation, for justice. And it turned out to be a important sham.

SULLIVAN: A sham, she stated, simply because the United Nations approved the idea of a hybrid U.N.-Cambodian tribunal less than Cambodian regulation, 1 that authorized Primary Minister Hun Sen to correctly decide who would and would not be experimented with. She also instructed me previous yr she believed her U.S. passport purchased her some protection. But Phil Robertson from Human Rights Watch suggests her lengthy sentence reveals Hun Sen could only be embarrassed publicly for so extended.

ROBERTSON: They are sending a information that they do not care what the worldwide community thinks when it comes to main difficulties of political power.

SULLIVAN: But Theary Seng was defiant to the close, standing outside the house the courthouse the early morning of the verdicts dressed as Lady Liberty.


SENG: Now, this autocratic routine desires to imprison liberty.

SULLIVAN: She was dragged off by law enforcement soon right after and has been sent to a remote prison in the North, where accessibility to her attorney and U.S. consular officials will be tough.

Michael Sullivan, NPR Information, Bangkok.


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