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Top Advisor Accuses Amnesty International of Colonialism

A top adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen and head of the government's human rights committee Friday accused Amnesty International of colonialism, after the right group's sharp criticism of the government's rights record in 2006.

Amnesty released "State of the World's Human Rights 2007" earlier this week, in which it said rights abuses in Cambodia continue.

"I don't understand Amnesty International," Hun Sen adviser Om Yentieng said. "It wants to put colonial rule on Cambodia, and it seems like it is too much. It is about time this should stop, the urge to rule Cambodia. Please let Cambodia have its freedom for development, and don't bother it too much."

The Amnesty report cited the eviction of 10,000 urban poor from their homes in 2006, the loss of land and livelihoods of the rural poor, abuse of the courts and restrictions on freedom of assembly as evidence of ongoing human rights abuses.

"Land concessions and other opaque land deals between business interests and the authorities continued" in 2006, report says. "Long awaited reform including laws governing the judiciary and criminal justice system did not take place."

The report highlights the incarceration of Born Samnang and Sok Samoeun for the alleged murder of unionist Chea Vichea and cites death threats to journalist as further proof of abuses.

Agreeing with the findings in the report, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said the corruption law should be passed as soon as possible.

Seng Theary, executive director of the Center for Social Development also supported the report's overview.

"We appeal to the government and the leadership to pay attention to human rights issues and to our society in general," she said. "If we do not pay attention to human rights causes of individuals as a whole—the people in one society, one country—we cannot believe the country can progress in the field of the country's quality and way of life of the people."

Cambodia Center for Human Rights Director Ou Vireak said the country's powerful leaders "seem to use their power without reasonable limit."

"They use serious threats on local people," he said.