Weekly report: June 23rd, 2017

Cambodia On Wednesday it was announced that the 13-month investigation into the group of five human rights workers known as the ‘Adhoc 5’ had concluded. The 420-day detention of senior officials Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, Yi Soskan, Li Mony and senior election official Ny Chakrya has been criticized by several international organizations, including but not limited to the United Human Rights Office, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Earlier in the year, the five were in the running for the Martin Ennals award. On the same day, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen reaffirmed his promise to maintain power at any cost. Sen underscored that “As long as your tongue and your writing insult, I say that Cambodia is still at war,” and that “To protect the peace for millions of people if necessary, 100 or 200 people must be eliminated.” Meanwhile, several non-violent protests took place over the course of the week. In Kratie, 200 villagers took to the street to protest rubber planation company Doty Saigon-Binh’s attempt to limit their mobility. Ultimately, it was negotiated that villagers could travel freely 24 hours, but the time limit for the transportation of goods would remain limited. Likewise, over 500 garments workers for the company International Fashion Royal staged a walkout in response to the dismissal of Bo Thet, their union rep. According to reports, the company had prevented workers from paying their union over a seven month period. Later on Thursday, the Kampuchea Krom community was forbidden from protesting at the Nation Assembly in response to the continued human rights abuses of the Krum under present-day Vietnamese people. https://www.cambodiadaily.com/news/adhoc-5-investigation-concluded-trial-awaits-131614/ https://www.cambodiadaily.com/news/prepare-coffin-hun-sen-repeats-bloody-power-promise-131626/...

Weekly report: June 16th, 2017

Cambodia On Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen lifted an order exiling Sam Rainsy, the former opposition leader who previously served as the President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). It remains uncertain whether Mr. Rainsy will be imprisoned upon his return; without a royal pardon, the likelihood of arrest appears high in the face of numerous convictions amassed against him for criticizing the government and alleging the state had ordered the assassinations of political analyst Kem Ley. The local (commune) elections on June 4 led to a narrow victory for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party, but the process was criticized by Human Rights Watch as neither free or fair due to threats to free speech and imprisonment of political opponents. Nevertheless, the CNRP garnered almost half of the votes, signalling the possibility of strong competition in the 2018 Parliamentary elections. Mr. Rainsy has said he will run for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s position in next year’s elections. https://www.cambodiadaily.com/news/hun-sen-lifts-ban-but-will-sam-rainsy-come-back-131364/ https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/06/12/cambodia-commune-elections-not-free-or-fair Democratic Republic of the Congo Nine former African presidents and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan have warned that the ongoing political crisis in the DRC stemming from President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his constitutional mandate and the failure to organize an election to replace him puts the country’s future in “grave danger.” A December agreement between Kabila’s ruling coalition and opposition leaders requires that an election be held before the end of the year, however it appears increasingly unlikely that one will take place in the face of significant delays in voter registration and mobilizing financing. The DRC is also facing...

Weekly report: June 12th, 2017

Cambodia Cambodia had its nation-wide commune elections on Sunday which resulted in significant gains for the opposition CNRP party, despite a general victory for the ruling CPP. CNRP received 46 percent of the vote, an increase from 30 percent in the last local elections in 2012; CPP received 51 percent, down from 62 percent in 2012. The election had its fair share of problems, though they pale in comparison to the 2013 national elections which featured a riot in Phnom Penh, voters being chased from polling stations, widespread voter list problems, registration rates exceeding 125 percent in some provinces, and a yearlong opposition boycott of parliament over the results. This year, a handful of CNRP voters were temporarily detained, 12 election observers were illegally booted from their polling stations, and soldiers were seemingly stationed in communes with tight races in order to swat the vote in the ruling party’s favor. Still, the election proceedings earned praise from the UN for being successful. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/cambodia-opposition-claim-gains-local-elections-170604200114256.html http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/smooth-elections-sound-strategy-least-now Democratic Republic of the Congo On Friday the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called for an international investigation into widespread human rights violations and abuses committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Kasai region. At least 42 mass graves have been found in the area, which since last August has been facing increased violence between militia and government forces, and the UN fears that the actual number of graves may be higher. Violence in the DRC has risen nationally since President Joseph Kabila decided to stay in power beyond the end of his mandate, which ended in December...

Digital Tonto: Why Some Movements Succeed And Others Fail
By Greg Satell

Read the whole article here. By Greg Satell for Digital Tonto. On September 17, 2011, Occupy Wall Street took over Zuccotti Park, in the heart of the financial district in Lower Manhattan. Declaring, “We are the 99%,” they captured the attention of the nation. Within a few months, however, the park was cleared and the protesters went home, achieving little, if anything. In 1998, a similar movement, Otpor, began in Serbia. Yet where Occupy failed, Otpor succeeded marvelously. In just two years they overthrew the reviled Miloševic government. Soon after came the Color Revolutions in Eastern Europe and the Arab Spring in the Middle East. While Occupy certainly did not lack passion or appeal—indeed its core message about inequality continues to resonate—it was unable to translate that fervor into effective action. Otpor, on the other hand, created a movement of enormous impact. The contrast is sharp and it is no accident. Successful movements do things that failed ones don’t. Clarity of Purpose For Otpor, there was never any question about what they were setting out to achieve—the nonviolent overthrow of Slobodan Miloševi?—and everything they did was focused on that mission.The group also focused on specific pillars upon which the regime’s power rested —such as the media, bureaucracy, police, and military— to target their efforts. This clarity of purpose led directly to action. For example, rather than focusing on staging large scale demonstrations, in the early stages, Otpor focused on street theatre and pranks to embarrass the regime. When they were arrested, they made a point to be respectful of the police, but also made sure their lawyers and the press...

The Guardian: Authoritarianism is making a comeback. Here’s the time-tested way to defeat it
By Maria J Stephan and Timothy Snyder

Read the whole piece here. By Maria J Stephan and Timothy Snyder, for The Guardian. Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images. After the spread of democracy at the end of the 20th century, authoritarianism is now rolling back democracy around the globe. In the US, supporters of democracy disarmed themselves by imagining an “end of history” in which nothing but their own ideas were possible. Authoritarians, meanwhile, keep practicing their old tactics and devising new ones. It is time for those who support democracy to remember what activists from around the world have paid a price to learn: how to win. Modern authoritarians rely on repression, intimidation, corruption and co-optation to consolidate their power. The dictator’s handbook mastered by Orban in Hungary, Erdogan in Turkey, Maduro in Venezuela, Zuma in South Africa, Duterte in the Philippines and Trump here provides the traditional tactics: attack journalists, blame dissent on foreigners and “paid protestors,” scapegoat minorities and vulnerable groups, weaken checks on power, reward loyalists, use paramilitaries, and generally try to reduce politics to a question of friends and enemies, us and them. Yet tyrants’ tactics require the consent of large numbers of people. The first lesson, then, is not to obey in advance. If individuals make the basic effort to consider their own sense of values and patriotism rather than subconsciously adjusting to the new reality, aspiring authoritarians have a major problem. Good citizens will then ask: but what should we do? History provides an answer: civil resistance. Unarmed civilians using petitions, boycotts, strikes, and other nonviolent methods have been able to slow, disrupt and even halt authoritarianism. Civil resistance has been twice...