A bit of a Baracking

November 28, 2012

So, Phnom Penh is winding down from the excitement of having Barack Obama in town. And when I say excitement, I mean profound irritation.

We had high hopes for Obama’s visit, the only time a serving president of the USA has ever come here. Many people hoped that the president would raise some concerns over human rights; perhaps make a statement against the abuses that flourish here. As it was, eight protestors were jailed for painting the letters SOS on their rooftops, out near the airport, hoping that Obama would see it: they are due to be evicted shortly to make room for some private development.

As it was, those interested in human rights here got precisely nothing. No rousing speech, no statement of support. Instead, people have had to take comfort from the fact that Obama looked a bit unimpressed when he met Hun Sen, and that the White House has put no pictures of Hun Sen on their website story detailing the president’s trip to SE Asia. Hooray for freedom!

What we did get was total traffic gridlock as motorcades swept along the boulevards and the closure of the airport for many hours, stranding passengers here and at various airports around the region.  Local and international journalists were pointlessly hassled, (I was told at a press conference to take my sunglasses off my head, as it was “against protocol.”) inconvenienced and kept away from anything interesting.

But human rights? Well apparently Obama brought them up in a meeting with Hun Sen, which might explain their frosty body language. But we have no idea what might have been said, or what any reaction might have been.

The organisation Human Rights Watch released a report a couple of days before Obama’s arrival, which alleged that since 1991, more than 300 people have been killed in political attacks in Cambodia. The long, fully referenced report names a lot of names, including that of one Mok Chito. It says: “Mok Chito is now a three-star general in charge of the criminal department of the Ministry of Interior and oversees the criminal, economic and anti-human trafficking police. ‘He is the ultimate fox in the chicken coop,’ said a US diplomat. The United Nations and nongovernmental organizations have documented the involvement of Mok Chito in kidnapping, extortion, and killings over many years.”

We ran the HRW story, of course, being fearless, and Mok Chito himself responded by writing a letter to us. This is surprisingly acceptable, in terms of his usual alleged modus operandi. It also made me laugh, and I quote some of it here:

“I want to unleash strong criticism of The Phnom Penh Post, which published such a cheap, unreal, distorted, immoral, unethical and idiotic article in which the Post’s knowledgeable and scholarly human resources were, unbelievably, lobbied by the anger and insults of an international organisation that is known to be a promoter of human rights. [my italics]

My perception is that this attempt … to distort and defame my reputation, and the reputations of other high-ranking people, is a trick to obstruct the victorious progress of the Kingdom of Cambodia  … and especially to obstruct the path to success of the government led by Premier Hun Sen.

I should lodge a complaint about the stupid and distorted writing and publication of these cheap, tricky people.

But I feel sympathy for such people, who live in the darkness and complete unconsciousness of stupidity and who lack even the values of human conscience.

Finally, I want to pray for the God to give me justice and to reveal and punish the bad people and keep them in the darkness of life with no beam of light, faced with failure for their entire lives and living without happiness and tranquillity.

All these words come from the bottom of my heart, although they may not be as attractive as those of the authors.

I also insist that the editors-in-chief publish this entire letter in the interests of raising the awareness of these unwise people, as well as national and international public opinion, so they can judge the real situation of our whole society at the present time.”

What more can you say?

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2 Responses to “A bit of a Baracking”

  1. Manners, Richard said

    Rupert – top respect to you. Be careful. We need you to stay in the light! X

  2. Catherine Klingel said

    Good Lord Rupert…be careful…he sounds insane!

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