|Cambodians in Tokyo’s Ginza district on June 17 rally against Japan’s support for a July election in Cambodia. (Video footage by Tatsuya Sato) Click to watch VIDEO.|
Cambodians protest Japan’s aid for Hun Sen’s ‘unfair’ election
| 18 June 2018
About 1,000 Cambodians in Japan protested Tokyo’s support for a July general election in their home country, saying voting will be held under unfair conditions created by oppression from the Hun Sen government.
The demonstrators chanted in Cambodian, “Fair election for Cambodia” and “We don’t need a dictator,” as they marched through Tokyo’s Ginza district on June 17.
They waved small flags of Japan and Cambodia, and many had their faces painted in the colors of the flags.
The messages on their banners included, “Japan must be a role model for democracy in Cambodia” and “Japan should not give Hun Sen (a) free ride.”
The rally was organized by the Cambodia National Rescue Movement in Japan. The group has about 100 members and was formed by Cambodians in their 20s and 30s living in Japan.
Cambodian media outlets critical of the Hun Sen administration have been forced to shut down. The Supreme Court in the Southeast Asian nation also ordered the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party to dissolve, agreeing with the Hun Sen administration’s claim that it was involved in a plot to overthrow the government.
With the fairness of the election in doubt, the European Union and the United States have halted their financial support for the poll, which will be held at the end of July.
Japan, however, has already decided to provide 800 million yen ($7 million) for ballot boxes and other purposes.
“I can already foresee the election results, with (Hun Sen’s) ruling party winning in a landslide,” said Vanna Hay, a 31-year-old office worker who leads the Cambodian group in Japan. “We want Japan, the top assistance provider to our country, to urge the Cambodia government to revive the main opposition party.”
Bora Nep, 38, a caregiver who lives in Saitama Prefecture, explained the difficulties of living under Hun Sen, who has been prime minister for more than three decades.
“It is hard for us to voice complaints against the government in our country,” she said at the rally. “I want changes in Cambodian politics so that we can say whatever we want to say.”