One of Cambodia’s last independent media outlets has been shut down | CNN Business

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Considered one of Cambodia’s final remaining unbiased media retailers has been shut down by Prime Minister Hun Sen forward of nationwide elections in July, in a transfer condemned by rights teams as a blow to press freedom.

Based mostly within the capital Phnom Penh, Voice of Democracy (VOD), an area outlet run by the Cambodian Heart for Unbiased Media, revealed radio and on-line experiences about labor and rights issues, environmental crime and political corruption.

It reported final week that Hun Manet, son of the prime minister, allegedly signed an settlement to donate support to Turkey, which was struck by a catastrophic earthquake final week. The report alluded to an obvious overstep of his authority.

Hun Sen refuted the report and issued statements on Facebook accusing the outlet of attacking his son and hurting the “dignity and repute” of the Cambodian authorities.

He additionally refused to simply accept an official apology from VOD and added that its newsroom workers “ought to search for jobs elsewhere.”

Authorities officers revoked VOD’s working license on Monday and blocked its web sites in English and Khmer.

A number of VOD workers took to social media to share information of the corporate’s sudden closure.

“It has reached the tip level,” wrote Mech Dara, considered one of its reporters, on Twitter. “I (thought) we’d have survived longer.”

He advised CNN that many journalists have been “nonetheless in shock” after Monday’s occasions.

“We have been anticipating it to occur however not so rapidly,” he stated. “We fought for the reality. We all the time have however clearly some individuals couldn’t deal with it.”

“There are such a lot of tales to be advised about Cambodia from Cambodia and this extends to the broader area – international locations like Myanmar and Vietnam,” he added. “It’s an area that’s getting narrower and narrower and voices are stifled in order that the surface world can’t see in.”

“We’ve to face the truth and the challenges that come together with it however we are going to take it someday at a time.”

The prime minister’s workplace hasn’t but responded to a CNN request for additional remark concerning the VOD closure.

Hun Sen has served because the nation’s prime minister since 1985, making him one of many world’s longest serving leaders.

Throughout his tenure, a number of unbiased newspapers and web sites have been shut down and dozens of opposition figures jailed or forced into exile.

“Voice of Democracy has served as an vital mainstay of unbiased investigative reporting and goal criticism for years,” stated Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Hun Sen’s closure of VOD is a devastating blow to media freedom within the nation and can have an effect throughout Cambodian society.”

“The Cambodian persons are the last word losers as a result of they’ve misplaced one of many final remaining sources of unbiased information on points affecting their lives, livelihoods and human rights.”

Amnesty Worldwide stated the closure served as “a transparent warning to different vital voices” months earlier than nationwide elections in July.

Supporters hold placards in front of the Voice of Democracy office in Phnom Penh on February 13, 2023.

“The Prime Minister ought to instantly withdraw this heavy handed and disproportionate order,” it stated.

Exiled former Cambodian opposition chief Sam Rainsy stated VOD’s closure was “clearly politically motivated.”

“Considerably all of Cambodia’s media is now authorities managed,” he advised CNN. “It additionally happens within the context of [the] ongoing wrongful imprisonment of opposition supporters and routine intimidation of those that proceed to function.”

“Governments [around the world] should educate residents concerning the risks of [those in power in] Cambodia as a result of the Cambodian authorities gained’t play its half in doing so.”

Western ambassadors within the nation expressed their considerations concerning the closure of VOD.

“We’re deeply troubled by the abrupt determination to revoke VOD’s media license,” based on an announcement from the US embassy in Phnom Penh. “A free and unbiased press is the cornerstone of any functioning democracy, offering the general public and determination makers with info and holding governments to account,” it added.

“We urge the Cambodian authorities to revisit this determination.”

“Germany believes within the free entry of knowledge as the premise without spending a dime and truthful elections,” stated the German embassy. “The liberty of press in Cambodia has misplaced considered one of its final remaining unbiased media retailers.”

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