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Cambodian Leader PM shuts down a radio station

In Cambodia, one of the last free press outlets, Voice of Democracy (VoD) has ceased operations after Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the closure after a story about aid to earthquake-affected Turkey was misreported.

Moreover, the story, which was also posted on the official website of VoD, claimed Hun Sen’s son, Lt. Gen. Hun Manet, had authorized a $100,000 donation for earthquake relief on behalf of his father.

A Chinese article misinterpreted Hun Sen’s position on foreign aid. Hun Sen said he was the only one with the authority to make decisions on foreign aid. While VoD acknowledged making a mistake, that did not satisfy Cambodia’s premier, who has been oppressing critics and independent media for 38 years.

Hun Sen’s son leads the army and will succeed him when he steps down, according to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. In later this year’s general election, the prime minister is certain to lead his party to another victory after silencing most opponents, including the only credible opposition party.

A variety of sensitive issues have been covered extensively by VoD, including land grabbing and online scams targeting foreigners in near-slave conditions. As a result of the media clampdown, several outlets have already been forced out of business on the disputed grounds that their taxes had not been paid on time.

VoD’s license was revoked by the Information Ministry on Monday “because it has seriously violated the ethical standards of professional journalism and failed to correct it in accordance with the press law.”

In a letter to Human Rights Watch (HRW) deputy Asia director Phil Robertson stated that the Cambodian government does not like VoD’s reporting. Given Hun Sen’s authoritarian attitude toward independent media, VoD may have been living on borrowed time.

However, that doesn’t excuse this ridiculous and outrageous order to shut them down based on the silliest of logic regarding a government document giving aid to Turkey. According to him, the government’s real intent is to further suppress media freedom in spite of this flimsy and absurd decision.

HRW’s official said Hun Sen and his party have traditionally cracked down hard on independent voices before national elections.

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