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Cambodia's Ruling Party Denies Hun Sen Crashed Banned Opposition Party's Online Meeting

2021-09-15 -- Cambodia's ruling party has denied that prime minister Hun Sen crashed a meeting of his political rivals from the country's banned opposition party, saying that viral video and audio of meeting was edited to appear real, RFA has learned.

In video and audio of the alleged incident shared widely on social media, Hun Sen appears, surprising a Zoom meeting of about 15 Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) activists and former lawmakers on Sept. 9, and tells them to stop spreading anti-government messages.

A spokesman for the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) denied that Hun Sen had interrupted the meeting, saying that the audio and video clips were an elaborate fabrication in a report by Voice of Democracy (VOD), a Cambodian independent media outlet started by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and operated by the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM).

"These are all exaggerations. It's made as if it's real, but it is not," VOD quoted spokesperson Sok Eysan as saying.

"[They're] exaggerating [to suggest] that the winner who has power in hand with the people's support across the country, turned to negotiate with those who ran out of the country. It never happened," he said, adding that the CNRP was "already dead and would never be revived."

Former CNRP lawmaker Long Ry, who lives in exile in Massachusetts, confirmed to RFA's Khmer Service that Hun Sen had interrupted the meeting

In video footage of the alleged incident obtained by RFA, while Long Ry is speaking, Hun Sen's face appears suddenly to interrupt.

In VOD's account of a 12-minute audio clip of the alleged incident, Hun Sen accuses the CNRP of making false reports about his death, and then launches into criticism of the CNRP's co-founder and Acting President Sam Rainsy, who has been living in exile in Paris, but has vowed to return to Cambodia to oppose Hun Sen politically.

Hun Sen then tells the meeting that he has been secretly watching them all along, the report said.

"I have been listening and have entered to listen many times already. Even last night, you, Long Ry, had a meeting with Mu Sochua to strengthen forces in Bangkok and the Philippines. I received that too," Hun Sen's voice says, referring to the CNRP's vice president, who lives in exile in the U.S.

"Nowadays, you all want to return to the country. Nowadays, you all want to reunite," VOD quoted the voice of Hun Sen as saying.

Long Ry told RFA that Hun Sen was able to join the Zoom meeting because one of his team members shared the meeting's link or password with others so that they could listen. He said he would be happy to invite Hun Sen to future meetings to discuss national issues.

"But morally, when people sneak a peak into our affairs, we are not happy. For example, when someone furtively watches naked people taking a shower, that's bad," said Long Ry.

"In politics, I think we should employ honest and straightforward methods, and not take advantages of others by secretly sneaking into their affairs," he said.

Cambodia's Supreme Court dissolved the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in November 2017 over an alleged plot to overthrow the government.

The move came amid a wider crackdown by Hun Sen on the country's political opposition, independent media, and NGOs that paved the way for his CPP to win all 125 seats in parliament in the country's July 2018 elections.

Reported by RFA's Khmer Service. Translated by Sok Ry Sum. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

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