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Cambodia Accused of Rights Abuses

By Alex Johnston
Epoch Times Staff
Created: November 18, 2012 Last Updated: November 19, 2012
Related articles: World » Asia Pacific
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Cambodians shout slogans during a protest at the Boeung Kak Lake community in Phnom Penh on Nov. 18, ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s first visit to the country. Cambodian villagers threatened with eviction at the lake staged a rally with SOS banners urging Obama to press the government on land rights during his upcoming visit. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP/Getty Images)

Cambodians shout slogans during a protest at the Boeung Kak Lake community in Phnom Penh on Nov. 18, ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s first visit to the country. Cambodian villagers threatened with eviction at the lake staged a rally with SOS banners urging Obama to press the government on land rights during his upcoming visit. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP/Getty Images)

As President Barack Obama is set to visit Cambodia this week, the country was slammed by Human Rights Watch for its long record of abuse under President Hun Sen.

The New York-based rights group called on Obama to publicly express concern about Cambodia’s deteriorating rights situation.

Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for 27 years and said he would continue to hold power for another 30, was accused of running a one-party state that has jailed political prisoners, put a damper on elections, and confiscated peoples’ land.

Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch said, “Obama should publicly and directly say to the Cambodian people that the U.S. stands with them against political violence and a return to a one-party state.”

On Sunday, Cambodian police dispersed a demonstration in the capital of Phnom Penh where protesters were trying to show oppression carried out by political figures, reported The Associated Press.

“Dissenters and protesters in Cambodia are increasingly putting their lives and liberty on the line,” said Adams. “Cambodia is becoming a more dangerous place for those who speak out, particularly when economic interests are at stake.”

The biggest problem, said Human Rights Watch, is land confiscation. The Cambodian government has forced numerous families from their land and homes, affecting around 400,000 people since 2003.

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