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Look for my commentary about

The Cambodia Spring

in the Editorial Page of The Phnom Penh Post

(entitled "Cambodia's Tipping Point")

on Wednesday, 14 Aug. 2013

In KI-Media


The Cambodia Spring:

Why This July 2013 Election is the Tipping Point

Ms. Theary C. Seng







Cambodia is undergoing a phenomenon, the beginning of “Cambodia flourishing”, if you will.

Even amidst the current high-tension of political brinkmanship, Cambodia has reached the tipping point that is slowly but surely ushering in the Cambodia Spring. However, the season of spring of flourishing must first be preceded by the season of discontent, the period we are in now.

Recently, I witnessed first-hand this season of flourishing when I rode in the back of the pick-up truck carrying Sam Rainsy from the airport to Democracy Square upon his return from exile on 19 July 2013, and again at Democracy Square the day he left for the United States for his daughter’s wedding of 6 August 2013. On both occasions, crowds in the hundreds of thousands openly, fearless convulsed onto the truck and stage demanding change. Their passion, palpably pulsating and electrifying the Cambodia air, acts to diminish the prior existing fear.

This season of discontent will be here to stay for some time, and will likely snowball into a monsoonal downpour of discontents, until there is a complete change of leadership. The people demand a surgical reformation in the formation of a government led by CNRP Sam Rainsy, and not band-aid changes the CPP will need to and has started to undergo in the inserting of a newer crop of parliamentarian sons.

Here are the factors and their admixture ushering in the Cambodia Spring.


2. Social Media + Smart-phones + Khmer Unicode + Rising English Usage


The previous elections did not have a public venue where Cambodians, particularly young people, could exchange information and be part of something larger than themselves.

This public venue is closely connected to the growing comfort level and increasing number of Cambodians proficient in English, not only to be on Facebook, but also to have access to a broader array of information (which are mainly in English).

Even if English is the still dominant language of social media, the comfort level and increase quality of the Khmer Unicode also facilitated the growing use of Social Media.

As recent as five years ago (the last national elections), Cambodians were mired in the pictorial typing system symbolized by the Limon font. Typing Khmer was basically inhibited to drawing a letter in order to compose each word. For anyone to access a Khmer language document on the internet meant that that document had been uploaded as a JPG or a PDF.

All to say, as recent as five years ago, Cambodians could not search the internet in the Khmer language nor write posts or comments on Facebook in the Khmer language, as the pictorial Limon typing system could not facilitate such endeavors.

A few years ago, the posts and comments on Facebook were written in broken English by the Khmer Facebook users; now the majority of posts by Khmer users are in the Khmer language.

The ease of language capability in both Khmer and English is greatly inter-linked with Smart-phones which allow for instant, engaging sharing of images along with a narrative in the Khmer Unicode with an exponential multiplying impact. We are right to worry about the vulgar, violent, crude or empty content and posts on social media, particularly on Facebook -- from soft to hard pornography, from foodstuff to graphic traffic deaths of mangled bodies and bloodied, cracked skulls -- that were initially sent en masse and continue to exist to a horrifying extent, despite social media’s attempts to curb such vulgarity, violence and lewdness.

And the fear of information overload is a real concern.

However, in a place like Cambodia during this time, social media, as everyone has acknowledged, has been a major factor in ushering the Cambodia Spring.

3. The Arab Spring and other Mass Protests around the World

Freedom is an innate aspiration, but also we are all copycats, particular us Cambodians. We witnessed the mass protests elsewhere around the world and they capture our own imagination. It was only an issue of time; the July 2013 gave us the opportunity to usher in our own Cambodia Spring.

4. Father-figure Vacuum

The massive outpouring of public grief during the passing of King Father Sihanouk Norodom took everyone by surprise, even if some of it was exaggerated high emotions. It brought to consciousness of both Cambodians and the Cambodian watchers of how much King Sihanouk’s rhetoric and treatment of Cambodians over the years as his “children” have shaped our identity as exactly that, oftentimes to our peril in stunting our social and political development and maturity.

Hun Sen tried excruciatingly hard in filling that void by giving himself grandiose, lengthy titles and naming educational institutions after himself – but basically to no avail as reflected by the humiliating rejection by the people of him during the July 2013 elections.  It is rumored that he regretted allowing the national TVK during the grieving week to play daily old Sihanouk movies, as these films further endeared the people to the King Father with all his public works, giving Cambodians images of a more idyllic era of charm, of genuine regal elegance, of wooded forests and exotic jungles, of a Phnom Penh that is exotic and aesthetically beautiful.  And these idyllic images greatly contrasted with Hun Sen's shortcomings: his grasping of royal titles, his naming of schools after himself minus content and quality, the vast pervasive deforestation, the gaudiness of new buildings chaotically sprouting and overshadowing the colonial charm. [All blue ink means that I forgot to add this in the original submission to The Post.]


I’ve stated oftentimes that Cambodia is a land of orphans – literal and emotional ones. We do have a high rate of individuals who do not have a mother, father or both. But even ones who do have a parent, the parents are not parenting as they themselves are adult infants unconsciously grieving the loss of any parenting figure in their own lives.

Then, came Sam Rainsy back from four years of self-imposed exile. Here is a father figure orphaned Cambodians could be proud of to have as their ideal father – intelligent, courageous, dignified, non-violent, nationalistic. Sam Rainsy returned on the heels of the passing of the King Father who had left a father-figure vacuum. He naturally, unconsciously filled this vacuum in the psychology of the needy Cambodians.



Go to CIVICUS Cambodia, or

KI-Media, or

The Phnom Penh Post

for the complete commentary



. . .

The Tension from the Political Brinkmanship is REAL

...BUT mass violence is HIGHLY unlikely to result from it. If I am to put a percentage (if anything like this is quantifiable !), I'd say the tension (creative, on the part of the Cambodian National Rescue Party) will lead to political negotiation (95%) rather than the eruption of mass violence (5%, a generous assessment).

On this Tuesday, one day after the National Election Committee announced the official election results which basically echoed that of the Cambodian People's Party, reports of more military build-up, of another layer of security fence being constructed around the parameter of the National Assembly, and rumors of fringe paramilitary movement surfacing, only feed into what the CPP wants the people to feel -- FEAR and its PREEMPTIVE efforts to prevent any inevitability of mass protests from erupting.

As I've stated publicly on countless occasions before and will state more confidently again -- in spite of the build-up of armed forces in the capital -- it is the CPP that has EVERYTHING to lose, rather than the CNRP, and thus, the CPP will make sure that mass protests which could explode to mass violence, will be more of a last-resort option than the CNRP, which has publicly, consistently stated that mass protests is a last-resort option for them.

Let me be clear:  the eruption of mass violence arising out of mass protests is a real possibility and a real threat.  But if the possibility can be quantifiable, based on risk analysis and in light of the new social/political environment, it is at most at 5% possibility.

My intuition is further confirmed this morning by the overt, physical erection of a 2nd layer of security fencing around the National Assembly and the posting of 2-3 military police at the corner of major stoplights in Phnom Penh.  IF the CPP is really concerned about the eruption of violence, it would NOT be the National Assembly that they would first protect but their personal property -- their business buildings, their villas.

- Theary C. Seng, Phnom Penh, 13 Aug. 2013


. . .


Grand Plans for $80-Billion Capital City Fit for a Techo

The Cambodia Daily | 9 August 2013


Our Megalomaniac Selves

A Reflection by Theary C. Seng


This story reported in The Cambodia Daily reminds me of a thought I often have, particularly when I am sitting in the window seat looking out, while ascending from or descending into Phnom Penh -- or at the other end of the spectrum, into a large cosmopolitan city like NYC or London or Paris -- and I think of all the megalomaniacs who strut around these cities with their hangers-on, their bling-bling, their women, and their big boys' toys.


I think of their megalomaniac language, their megalomaniac demeanor, their megalomaniac membranes' outgrowth in their megalomaniac mind. I think of how they must think they are so invincible and so unique and so special, divinely appointed, mystically anointed.


It is not random that this thought of megalomaniacs and their outsized egos intrudes while I have a bird's-eye view of the city where everything is miniaturized and appears like papermache cut-outs, and these out-sized egos within a blink of an eye dissipate into a speck of dust lost in the below Lego-land -- fragile, insignificant -- a breath here now, vaporized the second after.


And I think of all the megalomaniacs throughout history separated by decades, centuries and millennia, independently thinking and possessing the same megalomaniac mentality of special, unique divine gifting.


And then I think of the Megalomaniac of megalomaniacs, Satan himself, who was not content to be an arch angel over a dominion of other angels, near the Throne of God; he wants to dethrone God; he wants to be God.


And then I would close my thought with the mind-blogging, humbling thought of Jesus, God himself putting on human flesh for 33 years, debasing himself in order that He can relate with us (and we with Him), and show us the way out of the prison of this MEGALOMANIAC PRIDE that WE ALL possess in our dominion -- great or small, with the consequences on one or on millions -- into SHALOM, life flourishing.

- Theary C. Seng, Phnom Penh, 9 August 2013

. . .




As it appears that the Cambodian political impasse will likely lead to mass protests, let's be reminded of two famous and successful NONVIOLENT CHANGE movements as our model:

(i) the U.S. Civil Rights Movement led by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which fought for racial equality and less than 50 years later opened the door for Barack Obama to become the first African American President;

- How Long?  Not Long speech (or officially, Our God is Marching On! -- full speech) - in KI-Media


- Letter from a Birmingham Jail

(ii) Satyagraha ("truth force" or "soul force") led by Mahatma Gandhi which brought down the British Empire and won independence for India.


-  Gandhi:  Civil resistance, not passive non-violence.  "Satyagraha is a weapon of the strong; it admits of no violence under any circumstance whatsoever; and it ever insists upon truth."

. . .

Disturbing Report

of Planned Assassination

of Sam Rainsy


Radio Free Asia (RFA)'s great video broadcast of mass gathering at Democracy Square (Phnom Penh, 6 Aug. 2013).  I am in the white blouse immediately behind Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy.


Images from Democracy Square, 6 Aug. 2013

Waiting for arrival of Sam Rainsy with a Grandma who was dancing up a storm to rap music

Standing immediately Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha at Democracy Square, 6 Aug. 2013

More images and captions at Facebook.



. . .


Theary Seng riding in the back of the truck carrying Sam Rainsy from airport to Democracy Square on 19 July 2013

CNRP President Sam Rainsy's and Vice-President Kem Sokha's

Schedule to Thank Supporters

The CPP and NEC Soften Their Stance this Saturday from their Thursday night/Friday Steely Positions

Saturday, Aug, 3 -- Sam Rainsy gave a powerful, fiery speech to an electrified mass in Koh Thom of Kandal Province.

The NEC must have seen the CNRP Schedule to Meet Supporters and other defiant messages on the various Social Media sites, including KI-Media and my various missives ; ) because the NEC Secretary General Tep Nytha gave a statement this Saturday saying that NEC welcomes a Joint Commission to inquire into election irregularities.


However, this Commission will be composed of members only from CPP, CNRP and NEC; the national and international institutions working on election-related issues can monitor the process.

As much as this is a welcome about-face, it is not enough.


The composition of the Joint Commission MUST include other stakeholders of the elections -- the Cambodian people as represented by civil society and the international community who has invested billions in democracy in Cambodia beginning with the Paris Peace Agreements, UNTAC and to this day funds HALF of Cambodia's national budget at USD ONE BILLION a year.

- Theary C. Seng, Phnom Penh, 3 Aug. 2013 early evening


. . .


Political Brinkmanship


Political brinkmanship... Within recent hours, Hun Sen has been emboldened by China's congratulations of his premature win and its fresh supply of arms, and there are talks that he is arming the CPP youth wing.


Hun Sen is playing a very dangerous game of chicken where he and the CPP have the most to lose.


For 2013 is not 1997.  Hun Sen and the CPP know this -- particularly Hun Manet and his generation who were only teenagers in the late 1990s and since have enjoyed the spoils of elite education in the States, travels around the world, particularly to the US, Canada, and Europe, and real estate amassed in Phnom Penh, the countryside, and overseas, including the US -- and they think no one else knows this?


They not only have these material plunders to lose, but also their ability to clean and clear their reputation from their bloody blood ties, the sins of their fathers (and mothers -- think acid attacks and Piseth Pilaka).


And they risk the International Criminal Court which could not retroactively try the crimes of 1997, but has the jurisdiction to try mass crimes after July 2002.  It can be argued that they can limit the violence so that it does not lead into ICC jurisdiction.


But, one, no one can contain or predict the boundary of mass protests.


And, two, international law is in flux, not an exact science with the crimes not neatly defined with exact figures of body count limiting culpability.


Also, the CPP is not monolithic as it wants the public to believe.  Many times in recent years, we the public are given glimpses into the schism within the party, despite its effort at discipline through fear and patronage.


There are many CPP, both of the new and old generations, who are no longer of the falsetto communistic "everyone's equal, but some more than others" mentality.  These falsetto communists have become more capitalistic in their greed than the traditional ones -- unrestrained greed which have made them fabulously wealthy.


Their voracious appetite in 2013 is more risk-averse than in 1997; they will be extremely reluctant to risk this lifestyle which they have been accustomed to with violence that could come with a confrontation with the mass.  A mass that feels greatly aggrieved -- not only by the gross cheating and stunningly audacious fraud of the elections, but by the violations accumulated over the years.


It can be argued that they may risk the violence to losing the election which also poses great risks for them.


Yes, but the issue is balancing of risks.  The risk of violence which cannot be contained and predicted is more immediate and clear, whereas an election loss may ultimately be the way to salvage their spoils (see below my offer of an Exit Strategy to the CPP).


As I've stated even before election day, it will be suicide on all fronts for the CPP, especially the new generation, should they corner themselves into a political impasse forcing a mass demonstration.


The violence will be attributed to them, not the CNRP, as the CNRP has always been for peaceful resolution, does not possess weapons, does not employ fear.

- Theary C. Seng, 2 Aug. 2013 afternoon


. . .

Hun Sen vows to rule Cambodia

with or without opposition support

following election

The Sydney Morning Herald | 2 August 2013

. . .

The Humbling of Hun Sen

The Economist | 3 August 2013

. . .

Extra seats won spread across country: CNRP

The Phnom Penh Post | 1 August 2013

. . .


Hun Sen Welcomes International Investigation


The Phnom Penh Post | 31 July 2013

. . .


យើង ទទួលបាន ជ័យជំនះ

នៅក្នុង ការបោះឆ្នោតនេះ,

ហើយ ពេលនេះ,

យើង ត្រូវតែ ការពារឆន្ទ: របស់ ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរ។

We won this election

and now we must defend

the will of the Cambodian people.

- Sam Rainsy, 31 July 2013 approx. 11 a.m. on Facebook


. . .


Both Sides Claim Victory in Cambodia Murky Elections


The Independent | 30 July 2013


. . .



Ruling Party Orchestrated


Vote Fraud


Donors Should Demand Independent Investigation of Election Irregularities

Human Rights Watch | 31 July 2013

All allegations of election fraud and other irregularities, including bias in the election machinery, should be promptly investigated by an independent commission.

The opposition has claimed widespread fraud and called for the creation of an independent expert body that includes the United Nations and nongovernmental groups to examine the results and address irregularities.

“Senior ruling party officials appear to have been involved in issuing fake election documents and fraudulently registering voters in multiple provinces,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “And people from the party seem to have been turning up in places where they clearly don’t live and insisting on voting – not to mention the many other claims of fraud around the country.”

A CPP village chief, who asked for anonymity to protect his security, gave Human Rights Watch an insider’s account of how ruling party authorities in his district engaged in electoral fraud by issuing fraudulent “Identity Certificates for Elections” (ICE) before the July 28 elections. The certificates allow people whose names appear on voter registration lists to vote even though they otherwise lack proper identification documents.

. . .


Cambodian Opposition

Rejects Election Results

The New York Times / International Herald Tribune | 29 July 2013

Mr. Sam Rainsy, who said the party had calculated that 1.2 million to 1.3 million would-be voters had been omitted from voter rolls, called for the creation of a special committee to deal with irregularities and to decide whether new balloting or recounting was necessary. He proposed that the committee include members of both parties, as well as independent election observers, both Cambodian and foreign, and that the committee finish its work before Aug. 31.

“We acknowledge that there were irregularities,” said Thun Saray, the president of the board of directors of Comfrel, a Cambodian election monitoring organization. He said there were many reports of duplicates in the voter rolls that appeared to have allowed more than one vote per person.

A survey by the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, an American organization that promotes elections, found that at 60 percent of polling stations, citizens with adequate, valid documentation were turned away. And in a quarter of the polling stations, people were allowed to vote without a valid ID.

“The overall picture is both disenfranchisement, illegal voting and sporadic chaos at the polls,” said Laura Thornton, the head of the institute’s Cambodia office. “There needs to be an independent investigation into these irregularities.” She described the opposition’s proposal for a committee to investigate the election results as "reasonable.”

. . .


Cambodia - a Kind of Triumph


James Pringle | Asia Sentinel | 29 July 2013

[A BRILLIANT PIECE. Veteran correspondent Jim Pringle quoted me but failed to mention my name as he forgot to ask first if he could]

And his three sons, who are each being groomed for authority, one a military graduate at West Point, are also unlikely to attain the positions Hun Sen seeks for them, including succeeding him. Still, some analysts here say that it is thanks to these sons, and their overseas education, that there has been so little violence in this election. "It seems the sons didn't want to be associated with anything that would lead to people being killed, and that Hun Sen listened to them," noted a human rights lawyer here.


. . .


CNRP Press Conference on its position of Election Results, 29 July 2013. More photos...

The CNRP is Right

to Contest the Election Results

Theary C. Seng, 30 July 2013

According to the provisional election results announced by the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP), the democratic opposition CNRP lost the popular votes by the razor-thin margin of 200,000 -- a difference of as little 0.6 percent.

On Monday (July 29) at a press conference, CNRP president Sam Rainsy rejected the election results due to the gross irregularities prior to and during election day: “Fifteen per cent of voters – about 1.2 to 1.3 million – were unable to vote because of list irregularities. There were also about 1 million ghost names on the voter list and about 200,000 duplicate names.”


(Here, we have not factored in the grossly manifested uneven playing field, a powerful election machinery that systematically favors the ruling CPP: CPP-biased National Election Comittee, all the 10+ state-affiliated TV stations, most radio stations, state resources marshaled for CPP campaigns, the hundreds of millions of dollars, the military PLUS FEAR, the chiefs of the commune and village level controlling the registration/information/financing apparatus, how certain mobile companies shut off the ability for voters to use their phones all day till night time, etc.)


NDI's Voter Registry Audit raises many concerns, one of the more glaring ones is the over registration across the country, in certain places reaching 200 percent (see the detailed, well-researched, well-analyzed Phnom Penh Post article "Giving More than 100%")


The CNRP is right to contest the election results in light of the gross, numerous irregularities. Not only is it politically correct to do so, but it is the CNRP's moral imperative if it is to respect the will of the people.


The people spoke loud and clear prior to election day amidst fear and intimidation that they want change. They not only spoke loudly, they acted loudly by going to the polls and exercised their legal right, and every indicator said they voted CNRP, despite the powerful CPP election machinery and threat of civil war.


The CNRP is also right to call for a joint commission to inquiry into the many irregularities. It is not only right, but reasonable... AND NECESSARY IF THE CPP is serious about stability and wise about its survival and legacy.


The highly contentious preliminary election results may have a razor-thin margin of 200,000 votes, but this translate to a loss for the CNRP with the CPP at 68 seats to the CNRP's 55 seats in the National Assembly.


And in real terms for Cambodians, it means CAMBODIA FLOURISHING or the continuation of CAMBODIA DYING.


A Cambodia ruled by CNRP with Sam Rainsy at its helm means CAMBODIA FLOURISHING. In real terms, we will see a drastic decrease in corruption, a rise in quality education, a diminishing trade in human trafficking, a rise in human social development at every level, in every sector.


This is why the CNRP needs to contest the highly-questionable election results.

Theary C. Seng after the CNRP Press Conference, borrowing CNRP's wifi and room to catch up on work, while waiting for the heavy traffic into the city center to pass (Phnom Penh, 29 July 2013)

. . .


Opposition Rejects Election Results

The Phnom Penh Post | 30 July 2013

“Fifteen per cent of voters – about 1.2 to 1.3 million – were unable to vote because of list irregularities. There were also about 1 million ghost names on the voter list and about 200,000 duplicate names.”

All matters must be resolved in order to respect “the will” of the people, he added.

. . .


The Cambodian People Have Spoken,

Time to Level the Playing Field

TIME Magazine | 29 July 2013

Sam Rainsy challenged the official election result on Monday afternoon and called for an independent investigation involving the U.N. into “ghost” voters, incomplete registration lists and other alleged irregularities. Now is undoubtedly the time to ramp up the pressure on Hun Sen.

. . .

Voters Turnout Keeps Falling

The Phnom Penh Post | 30 July 2013

That trend continued unabated on Sunday as only an estimated 68 per cent inked their fingers.

But some analysts attributed this year’s low turnout – which dipped about seven per cent from 2008 – to an increase in the number of obstacles thrown at would-be voters rather than a decrease in political interest.

Election watchdog Comfrel and Transparency International both reported widespread complaints from registered voters turned away from polling stations for not having proper ID or not appearing on the polling station’s voter list.


. . .

U.S. State Department's Daily Press Briefing

Washington, D.C., 29 July 2013

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Sure. Well, let me first say that the United States commends the Cambodian people for their active and peaceful participation during the Cambodian national election. We urge all parties and their supporters to continue to act in an orderly and peaceful manner in the post-election period.

We are concerned by numerous reported irregularities in the electoral process. We have consistently called on the Royal Government of Cambodia to addresses systematic flaws – systemic flaws, such as problems in the voter registry and unequal access to the media. We call for a transparent and full investigation of all credible reports of irregularities.

QUESTION: Okay. Does that mean that you do – that you support the opposition’s call for some kind of a special inquiry?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we will be closely monitoring, of course, the information released – let me just say this, because I wanted to add it – by the National Election Committee. We have seen – and in light of the reported irregularities, we call for a full and transparent investigation that will be reviewed as credible by the Cambodian people. It’s not about supporting one call, it’s about the fact that we did have concerns about reported irregularities, and we believe that, of course, the Cambodian people should have confidence in the outcome of the election.

QUESTION: Okay. And sorry, I think you slightly just misspoke. You meant that will be viewed by the Cambodian people and not reviewed, right?

MS. PSAKI: Viewed. Sorry. I added an r-e there. My apologies.

QUESTION: Viewed by the Cambodian people as transparent.



. . .


The Dark Magic of the NEC/CPP


Theary C. Seng, 28 July 2013


I call this "NEC/CPP dark magic". And here's a real-life illustration of how it works.


In the 2008 national elections, Gen. Nhek Bunchhay ran as a royalist Funcinpec candidate and lost in the province of Banteay Meanchey at the first instance of counting with all the monitors there immediately after voting on election day. But the ruling CPP needed him to win as he individually and his royalist party Funcinpec -- for their pliancy -- were needed by the CPP to form a coalition government.


So, the day after voting, the National Election Committee announced that in fact Nhek Bunchhay won a parliamentary seat after it (NEC) recounted the votes (on its own in the dark). Magic! NEC/CPP magic.


- Theary C. Seng, 10 p.m. 28 July 2013


. . .


An Exit Strategy for Hun Sen

and His Cronies

Pro Bono Wisdom for the CPP Elites


by Ms. Theary C. Seng, 22 July 2013

(a work in progress)


Before I offer my advice of an exit strategy to Hun Sen and his cronies, I'd like to address the grossly underestimated figure of 100,000 for the crowds that came out to welcome Sam Rainsy on Friday, 19 July 2013.

In 2007, I gave a speech at a rock concert in Germany before an estimated crowd of 80-100,000 large-set Germans, comfortably spaced out on a grassy field. (Click for video and photos).

Now, compare this crowd of 80,000 with the DENSE, shoulder-to-shoulder PETITE-sized Cambodians lining the streets of Airport and the crowd in Democracy Square -- it's SIMPLY INCORRECT to estimate the Cambodian crowd welcoming Sam Rainsy on Friday at only 100,000. It was AT LEAST HALF A MILLION, if not a million or more!

In all seriousness, the best thing Hun Sen could do for himself, his children and grandchildren and the generations to come--

As well as, the best thing Hun Sen could for those within his inner sanctuary, along with their children and grandchildren and the generations to come--

That is to say, the best thing Hun Sen could do for the personal LONG-TERM welfare of his family and those close to him is to undo the systematic damages of gross election rigging (what can be undone anyway within this month) and let the people freely vote their conscience for the CNRP. This undoubtedly would lead to a landslide victory for the CNRP (in spite of the unequal level playing field of resources and media which couldn't be undone within the week).

Yes, let me repeat this: It is to Hun Sen's LONG-TERM personal interests of survival for himself and his future generations, as well as of those around him, to lose the election by letting the people freely vote their conscience without any more rigging of the votes or vote counting, after undoing some of the harm which already have been systematically put in place.


(I am speaking now in HIS INTERESTS based on what I know of our society and the fast-changing world, and in light of what I've witnessed of past elections and of recent days, and of what I know intuitively of all the factors enumerated below.)


Let me tell you why this would be the wisest and most rationale (even if at first blush it seems irrational and naive) strategy for him, which is to exit legitimately via a lost election this July 2013:


1. The Syria and Qaddafi Examples


2. The Sam Rainsy Character (and the Union with Kem Sokha that will not break, unlike past unions)


Let me tell you in sum what I know of Sam Rainsy since I've heard of him in 1994 and known him in 1995, and since have befriended him (me, as a nationalist) and have studied him (me, as a political scientist, as it was a student at Georgetown University when I first met him):


Sam Rainsy is not going to back down. Period. Especially after the rapturous hero's welcome reflecting his popularity, with this popularity cutting across the provinces. He has the people behind him -- no longer the SILENT majority, but loud, vivacious youth who are coming of political age in the social media era. This is his moment, his only moment. The accumulation of his decades of sacrificing and struggling for Cambodia politically.


It is also Cambodia's moment. And he knows it. He is a student of history. He is a student of Cambodia history. He is a student of world history.


As much as many other leaders exist, most due to open space and conditions he helped to create since UNTAC, they still possess great limitations and cannot compare to him (or his wife Saumura) in terms of soft and hard skills.


3. The World in 2013 (particularly in ASEAN)


For all Burma's paranoia and delusion of the North Korea brand, a sliver of rationality pierced through to the heart and mind of the president and after weighing his options, he wisely chose the conciliatory and reform process for Burma.


Hun Sen can learn from his next-door dictator.


4. The Cambodian Population as Glimpsed into this Friday, July 19.


This Season of Discontent is here to stay and will only accumulate into the monsoonal downpour of more and deafening discontents.


5. The Judicial Equation:


Yes, on the one hand it opens up Hun Sen and his cronies to litigation. But, on the other hand, escalating the matter into greater and greater violence will only provide more impetus and evidence for future litigation. It is better to appease and to blunt any litigation with a legitimate election loss. Loss of face is not an issue, as they have already lost face and will only continue to lose face with the growing animosity and vehemently growing anti-Hun Sen sentiments that is finding greater and more powerful expressions in more-difficult-to-restrict venues of social media.


They, the CPP, must also keep in mind that whatever violence they commit could fall under the power of the International Criminal Court, which has the temporal jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed on or after 1 July 2002.


Within recent days, there's growing talk about the use of force or a military coup should the CNRP win the elections. It's understandable even if it's deplorable that the CPP should use this scare tactics of civil war. But seasoned correspondents are also reporting of the possibility of a coup similar to 1997, a good remind for caution, but unrealistic.


The main reason the CPP will not exact mass violence similar to 1997 is the INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT. If we can try the Khmer Rouge leaders of crimes committed 35 years ago when international law was still nascent (as it only proliferated in the 1990s), with no social media and limited evidence, then be sure of this, we can try crimes committed in the glare of thousands capturing images for evidence -- maybe not immediately or the year after, or even the decade after... It may be 3 decades after like the Khmer Rouge, but it will happen.


Hun Manet and Hun Manit and their generation know this. The generals of the 1997 may be in their 60s, 70s and some 80s years of age, but these younger generals and political leaders know they will be held legally responsible -- maybe not immediately, but later -- for these crimes.


6. Escalation leads to Cornering of Themselves into An-All-Or-Nothing Scenario Sooner or Later.


Better to exit than to push themselves into a corner where they risk losing everything -- not only their positions and wealth, but their very legacy and possibly lives. Think Syria.


A couple of days after Sam Rainsy's rapturous welcome and before we could see the similar electrified provincial reception, Kavi Chongkittavorn of The Nation wrote: In the final analysis, Hun Sen's Cambodia dares not jeopardise its current political stability and continued economic growth and investment.


Let me briefly illustrate what the next few weeks and months will look like when it is assessed that the CPP has won by grossly cheating the people of their votes. Sam Rainsy will either outright refuse to recognize the elections as free and fair from barring him as a candidate as well as from the massive cheating or will contest the results in part.


Either way, there will be mass demonstrations. And if the demonstrations -- which this time will have the energy of fearless youth coming of political age who will be easily convinced by the evidence that they been cheated of their voice and future -- lead to a political stalemate or impair the CPP's "victory" in anyway, the CPP will be forced to use violence.


But the problem with violence is that they cannot control the crowd or limit its effect.


And here is the clincher. Any mass violence, unlike 1997, could potentially fall under the ICC jurisdiction. They cannot limit the violence; it is a high risk they will make with any step toward violence, because they cannot limit it. Think of Tunisia, how one person set off a whole country's dignity revolution.


The Cambodian youth of today, as we have witnessed in recent days, are not of the same emotional fabric as their parents -- deeply traumatized, uninformed, hopeless.


And in all of this, Sam Rainsy, civil society and the international community will not sit quiet.


CONCLUSION: Election Loss Exit Means Survival and Potentially Honored Legacy

In sum, Hun Sen and his cronies are given the rare and best (among not very good, not many) options to exit via this election. It is the most face-saving option, and potentially most honorable in salvaging their goods and legacy -- in letting the people freely vote their conscience.


- Theary C. Seng, Phnom Penh, updated 26 July 2013


. . .


Sam Rainsy Returns

to a Rapturous


Hero's Welcome


Photos: Theary C. Seng, 19 July 2013

(Airport VIP Lounge, and from the back of the Pick-up Truck carrying Sam Rainsy from airport to Democracy Square in city center)

More images taken by me from the truck carrying Sam Rainsy at my Facebook accounts and in KI-Media 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Sam Rainsy flashing CNRP no. 7 in the back of the pick up truck carrying him from airport to Democracy Square (19 July 2013)

I'm at the back of the truck where Sam Rainsy is standing on a raised platform, supported by bodyguards and his CNRP officials. The security surrounding his truck were amazing in protecting the truck from being flanked by frenzied supporters all the way from airport to Democracy Square, over 10 kilometers.

Tens of thousands waited and greeted Sam Rainsy at Democracy Square in the city center, here we are on stage after having arrived 5 hours later from the airport due to the throngs of supporters all along the way.

MORE PHOTOS and narratives



. . .


Why This July 2013 Election Could Be the Tipping Point


A Living, Personal Reflection by Theary C. Seng

This election is different. This election could be the "tipping point".


1. The Voters who have no direct experience of the Khmer Rouge.

- 3.5 million of the country's 9.5 million registered voters are between the ages of 18 and 30

- 1.5 million, or 15% of the electorate will be first-time voters

What do these numbers tell us?

One, these 3.5 million registered voters below age 30 are not directly traumatized by the Khmer Rouge. Moreover, many of them were children during the turbulent years of the 1990s, with some only coming of age in the last election 5 years ago. They, unlike their elders, have not accumulated the fear and trauma of having lived through the Khmer Rouge and having witnessed election violence and murders confronting the voters in living colors of prior elections.


All to say, I have witnessed first-hand the conditions across Cambodia through these 18 years and have paid acute attention (for personal and professional reasons) to the voices and yearnings of the people in trying to understand for myself and for my work these seemingly intractable problems in search of solutions.

And one of my strong beliefs in light of what is happening now in July 2013 is this: we are witnessing a new phenomenon -- the manifestation and timing of it could not have been perceived till it is actually happening, as it is now.


BUT this phenomenon did not happen out of the blue, magically; it grew organically and was nurtured along the way.


It is part and parcel of all the educational efforts and advocacy and challenging of the status quo and the demanding of each dollar raised to the wage of workers and hotel staff, of each improper land concession.


Then we are given the tools of social media and Smartphones and Unicode and English, etc. to set it off, fueled by the energy of the youth coming of age.

2. Social Media + Smart-phones + Khmer Unicode + Rising English Usage

The previous elections did not have a public venue where Cambodians, particularly young people, could exchange information and be part of something larger than themselves.

This is closely connected to the growing comfort level and increasing number of Cambodians proficient in English, not only to be on Facebook, but also have access to a broader array of information (which are in English).

Even if English is the still dominant language of social media, the comfort level and increase quality of the Khmer Unicode also facilitated the growing use of Social Media.

This is greatly inter-linked with Smart-phones which allow for instant, captivating, engaging sharing of images along with a narrative.

We are right to worry about the vulgar, violent, crude or empty content and posts -- from soft to hard pornography, from foodstuff to graphic traffic deaths of mangled bodies and bloodied, cracked skulls -- that were initially sent en masse and continue to exist to a horrifying extent, despite Facebook's and other attempts to curb such vulgarity, violence and lewdness.

Horrified by the improper and wasted use of such powerful media, I made a conscious effort to make Facebook a major part of my CIVICUS Cambodia work and to inject educational content in an unassuming manner that was chatty and in small dosage, thus more palatable (than the institutional issuing of statements).

3. Tourism and Urbanization of Garment Workers from the Provinces

4. Accumulation of Human Rights Abuses - Land, Trafficking, etc. - before heard, now directly felt by every Cambodian

5. The Knowledge (human rights education, tourism, province-city exchanges) stored in the Heart and Mind now Finds Expression

6. The Admixture of the Above

- Theary, Phnom Penh, 17 July 2013


. . .

Political Analysis and Petition


A Living Reflection

By Theary C. Seng


In short, it was the recent deafening crescendo of strong public pressure -- popular support for Sam Rainsy, condemnation of Hun Sen -- informally on social media and formally by the US Congress -- that tipped the scale for Hun Sen to succumb to granting the royal pardon.

Since Sam Rainsy's vow to return, Hun Sen's only rational option was a political settlement, e.g. the royal pardon, as the other two options of assassination or imprisonment would pose serious risks to his and his inner circle's political and economic demise.

Hun Sen was check-mated to grant the royal pardon.

Sam Rainsy's Immediate and Long-Term Position

"But Im Soursdey, chairman of National Election Committee, told Kyodo News on Friday that Sam Rainsy 'can join election campaign as can all ordinary Cambodians, but not as a parliamentary candidate because his name is not on the election candidate list of the Cambodia National Rescue Party.'

"The election law states anyone running for office who has been convicted of a crime must be pardoned or amnestied more than seven months before voting day." -- Kyodo News

If the CNRP wins, it will immediately need to amend the Constitution in order for Sam Rainsy to become Prime Minister, as the PM is culled from the National Assembly (Art. 119 new, formerly Art. 100).

Now, as it stands, Sam Rainsy will campaign to strengthen his hands in the political negotiation that is to follow, in addition to the short-term negotiation that is under-going for his return, in order he can become at least deputy Prime Minister and for other posts for his CNRP -- political appointee positions in the various Ministries that are to be negotiated in the coalition government that is expected to be the result of the elections.


Theary, 10 July 2013 (updated July 12, July 16)


. . .


[My email to elected MP Saumura Tioulong, July 6]

Elect-Member of Parliament for Phnom Penh, Saumura Tioulong, the equally formidable, brilliant wife of democracy leader Sam Rainsy


Dear Nekbong Saumura,

If there's any public meeting or rally, particularly at the return of your husband, Lauk Prothean Sam Rainsy, to Cambodia, where I can lend my public support in standing alongside you with him, it'd be my privilege to do so as a concerned Khmer citizen (who also happens to hold a U.S passport).

Thank you for all that you and Lauk Rainsy have done and continue to do for Cambodia.

With my warmest regards and deep respect,



. . .

Why I believe in only CNRP Sam Rainsy

(or, his equally formidable, brilliant wife CNRP Saumura Tioulong)

as Prime Minister of Cambodia


A Living Essay by Theary C. Seng

(in installments)


Background info on this topic already addressed by Ms. Seng:


To Lead is To Serve

(Phnom Penh Post, July 20o8)

(or, here or go to Ms. Seng's Facebook accounts, if your ISP censors KI-Media)


Sam Rainsy's Curriculum Vitae

Saumura Tioulong's Curriculum Vitae

It has been said that Cambodia's problems of the past and present can be summed up in the weaknesses of its leaders. It has been and is currently said that we Khmers deserve the leaders we have.


Rather than react defensively, meditate on whatever degree of truth is in these statements and do something about it.

This leads me to why I believe only in CNRP president Sam Rainsy (or, his equally formidable, brilliant wife CNRP Saumura Tioulong) as the Prime Minister of Cambodia.



First, the reason is one of education. Education provides "the basic mental ingredients" to lead. Individuals who lack quality education tend to have an intellectual deficit, lacking the "mental equipment to govern".


What David Brooks writes of the radical political Islam is also true of many Cambodian politicians and leaders, in that "once in office, they are always going to centralize power and undermine democracy that elevated them." Oftentimes, the intellectual DNA is missing in Cambodian leaders, certainly true of the current ruling regime, the CPP.


Here's the basic outline in terms of names and degrees for Sam Rainsy:


. . .


My Analysis

of the Political Situation


Theary Seng speaking at a Fundraising Dinner for CNRP in Sydney, lending her support as civil society leader, with Sam Rainsy, Saumura Tioulong, Kem Sokha, Khmer Post Meach Sovanara, among the generous, active Sydney Khmer democrat supporters and hosts (Oct. 2012)


The heat is ratcheted up to its limit now on Hun Sen and the CPP with the impending return of Sam Rainsy back into Cambodia after 4 years of self-imposed exile. The announcement of his return has left the population momentarily breathless and the welcome can only be a frenzy of populous support for the CNRP.


The risk on his life is high, as well as on outspoken voices--be they in politics (most vulnerable are those of a certain rank, without the additional layer of protection, a western passport) or in civil society, like mine (not immune, but they will have to think twice) as the CPP now can be liken to a wounded dog who will attack. They need to send a strong message of fear, like they did in the cold-blooded, overtly political assassinations of Chea Vichea, Om Radsady, to name but two.


They, the CPP, have been restraint up till now, but they will act fatally, not necessarily at the very top leadership (save possibly Sam Rainsy, but only if they want to commit political suicide), but well-known enough to have the message resonate immediately, with limited political costs and social and economic repercussions (not that they're concerned about the larger population, but to them and their families).

BUT the only answer to FEAR and cowardice acts of violence is GREATER COURAGE and PUBLIC SOLIDARITY.

There is one difference from the violent times of the past: this CPP and their children who are coming of age with degrees from and connection to the West and are enamored with West, are more aware of the long arm of justice, timelessness of international law, social media's multiplying power assisted with instant Smartphone images -- the ubiquity, immediacy as well as the eternity of unlimited recycled, unrestricted news.



In sum, Sam Rainsy will return; his statement this time is no longer one of testing the waters.


The CPP has 3 options: assassination to rid immediately of its most powerful political nemesis, imprisonment, or political negotiation.


An assassination comes with an extremely high risk and cost to the CPP -- it's own suicide -- even if it is the most politically expedient -- and making Sam Rainsy a martyr, forever securing his hero status.


Moreover, no one can predict the degree of mass crowd reaction, exponentially assisted by social media and a restless, fearless young population coming of political age. The CPP and Hun Sen overestimated their ability to control the crowd reaction in the Thai riots, this being pre-social media. In recent time, as no one could have predicted the crowd mentality in other parts of the world -- from across the Middle East to Turkey to Europe, etc. -- so, no one can predict it here, even if we are not technologically as sophisticated as the other countries in the world.


Imprisonment also comes with a very high political risk and cost to the CPP, as the physical presence of Sam Rainsy in the country, will only ignite greater populous support immediately before and after the elections, eating into the CPP diminishing support.


The issue of Sam Rainsy did not go away when he was thousands of miles away; it certainly will not go away with him in the cell next door, with his supporters already riding on the pre-election's frenzied momentum, with civil society abounding in presence, and with the international community's pressure and presence. Imprisonment would only prolong the CPP's Sam Rainsy "headache" (migraine is still putting it mildly, cancer is probably more accurate) with little political return for them.


The only reasonable option is political negotiation leading to a political compromise and settlement. Politics is after all the art of the possible, and Sam Rainsy is shrewd in strengthening his hands in the process leading to this political settlement.


- Theary, Phnom Penh, 7 July 2013 (updated July 9, July 12)

Theary Seng proudly donning her CNRP cap, 7 July 2013

. . .


Global Convening to End Mass Atrocities

Istanbul (16-21 June 2013)

Istanbul, Turkey's largest city at 15 to 17 million people, is magical, as exquisitely stunning as one can imagine it to be and more (!!). Also known as Constantinople, named after the Roman Emperor Constantine who converted to Christianity in 4th century, it has now only one percent Christian out of 55 Million population.

Theary's presentation, during exchange with participants


I'm presenting on 19 June 2013 "Reconciling Peace with Justice in Cambodia: the Limitations of Tribunals to Address Mass Crimes"



Theary Seng near Taksim Square on Istiklal Blvd. in front of the graffitied French Consulate (around noon-ish after service at Union Church in the vicinity, 16 June 2013)


Click here to read narratives and see more photos, or go to Ms. Seng's Facebook accounts


. . .



Theary C. Seng and the Road Ahead in Cambodia

By Michelle Phipps-Evans

Asian Fortune News, 3 Feb. 2013

Theary C. Seng (Photo: Roland Neveu, Dec. 2009)

The name Theary Chan Seng generates a fervor approaching reverence in the Cambodian community here and abroad. She is the Cambodian-born, American-educated lawyer and civil rights activist who founded the Cambodian Center for Justice & Reconciliation. It is a major component of another organization she serves as founding president, CIVICUS: Center for Cambodian Civic Education. This nonprofit group is dedicated to promoting an enlightened and responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles. It is actively engaged in the practice of democracy and reconciliation in Cambodia and the larger, globalized world.

So who really is Seng, the person? She is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge (KR) regime, and has spent almost two decades advocating for its victims, many of whom were orphaned, widowed, abused or molested—victims who were like Seng herself.

Read full article

In KI-Media


. . .

Obama, in Cambodia for a Meeting,

Sidesteps the Ghosts of History


International Herald Tribune (Peter Baker, November 20, 2012)

Theary Seng, president of the Association of Khmer Rouge Victims in Cambodia, said, “President Obama should have met with the human rights community and activists challenging the Hun Sen regime, and while then and there, offer a public apology to the Cambodian people for the illegal U.S. bombings, which took the lives of half a million Cambodians and created the conditions for the Khmer Rouge genocide.”


Click here to read this complete news analysis


. . .


Kissinger in Cambodia:

Protests Greet Obama's Visit

International Herald Tribune / New York Times

PHNOM PENH — Theary Seng was taking aim with precision and anger. The 41-year-old U.S.-trained lawyer and a regular on Cambodia’s crowded protest circuit was about to throw a dart at a poster of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Kissinger is one of 13 politicians and senior Khmer Rouge leaders in a dart game created by Poetic Justice, a nongovernmental organization run by Theary Seng that highlights deficiencies of the special U.N.-backed tribunal judging the Khmer Rouge’s crimes. Each player gets five throws. A bull’s-eye is worth seven points. The highest score wins.

Last Sunday afternoon, Theary Seng and three members of her staff were playing on Phnom Penh’s riverfront opposite the storied Foreign Correspondents’ Club. On this occasion — the fourth time the game has been staged in public — the point was to draw attention to the narrow scope of the Khmer Rouge tribunal ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit for a summit meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Click here to read full article.


. . .


Interview by Mike McRoberts of TV3, New Zealand standing on what was formerly the capital's largest natural lake, place of violent forced evictions (Phnom Penh, 20 Nov. 2012). Theary: "The international community gives muscles to this dictatorial regime to repress its own people. Before the government represses with Cambodian riels; now it's empowered and given muscles with NZ dollars, US dollars, Euros..."

Watch the TV3 New Zealand broadcast

with Mike McRoberts (aired 21 Nov. 2012)

At ASEAN summit, trade overshadows human rights

In solidarity with courageous protestors of Boeung Kak Lake, here sitting on what was formerly the capital's largest natural lake, with Council of Ministers facing it, with Bopha's mom and son (Phnom Penh, 20 Nov. 2012)


. . .


Open Letter

to U.S. President Barack Obama

Published in The Phnom Penh Post, 20 November 2012

Read letter in KI-Media


. . .


CJOReillyGlobal: #Theary Seng being questioned by Police of her possessions ahead arrival of #Obama. If only they knew her rights. Nov 19, 2012, 10:23 UTCMs.

Theary Seng and some 30 security (plus more embedded in Wat Phnom Penh and Sunway Hotel)

Narrative of harassment and images of

Ms. Theary C. Seng's stand-off

with at least 30 big bulky, heavily armed security

in front of US Embassy Phnom Penh

(Tuesday, 19 Nov. 2012)


Theary Seng (reddish-orange blouse to right) and 30+ security next to US Embassy Phnom Penh, 19 Nov. 2012

. . .


Emotional Violence of Past Poetic Justice Dart Games

flared into Physical Assault on Ms. Theary C. Seng

and those around her

along the Riverfront, Sunday, 18 Nov. 2012

A plain-clothes Cambodian police officer, left, pushes away Theary Seng, center, an organizer who was about to stage a protest in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. Cambodia broke up a protest organized by her Sunday that was meant to highlight the alleged oppression of Cambodia's people by political figures, including former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and the late despot Pol Pot (AP Photo).

See more photos

See film of violence

See Opinion by Heng Soy on the vulgarity attempting to undermine Ms. Seng and the global attention on the Poetic Justice dart games

Theary Seng and Poetic Justice dart game (Photo: John Vink / Magnum Photos, 18 Nov. 2012)


. . .


. . .Spirit of Humanity Forum


Reykjavik, Iceland


4.15 - 5.45 pm Led by Miriam Subirana, Foundation for a Culture of Peace

The session includes:

Theary C. Seng, Founder, Centre for Justice and Reconciliation, Cambodia

Theary Seng with Princess Martha Louise (only daughter of Norwegian King and Queen), a genuine "people's princess" full of warmth and personality (Reykjavik, 15 Sept. 2012)


. . .



"Take that, Kissinger!" Poetic Justice dart games filming for ABC News.

More at Association of Khmer Rouge Victims in Cambodia...

"Cambodia's Khmer Rouge Court 'Dying'

ABC News film, aired 16 Oct. 2012


. . .


Khmer Rouge defendant Ieng Thirith ruled unfit for Cambodian genocide trial due to dementia

The Washington Post, 13 Sept. 2012

Of course if she is seriously ill with Alzheimer’s, she should be released. There is no point in trying an incapacitated person,” said Theary Seng, a human rights advocate representing some victims who are allowed a role in the proceedings. “The point is the (tribunal) is so late in coming. The political foot-dragging and inertia has caused this travesty of justice.”



. . .


Poetic Justice

and Civil Party Withdrawal

in the News

Nov. 2011

Ex-leader: Khmer Rouge atrocities are 'fairy tale'

AP Newswire, 23 Nov. 2011

"I'm not surprised that Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary continue to deny their crimes as the charges against them of genocide, war crimes are very serious," said Theary Seng, a Cambodian lawyer and human rights activist who lost family members under their regime.

"Even if I am not surprised, I am however disgusted by their lack of remorse for the suffering they caused. They are delusional in their denial in light of the weight of evidence against them - the mounds of skulls and bones, the horrific testimonies from every survivor of cruelty, the magnitude and scope of evil unleashed by them across the whole of Cambodia."


. . .


"Khmer Rouge trial is failing Cambodian

victims of Pol Pot's regime"

Human Rights Watch Brad Adams' editorial

The Guardian, 26 Nov. 2011

. . .

"Justice Denied"

Douglas Gillison, Foreign Policy Magazine, 23 Nov. 2011

. . .

Deputy President of Victims Association, a Civil Party of the Orphans Class, Mr. CHEY Theara, Withdraws Civil Party Status, Denounces ECCC as Political Farce





Full statement in both Khmer and English in KI-Media.

Here, if ISP censors in Cambodia.


. . . . .


Khmer Rouge Trial Missing a Marquee Defendant

Wall Street Journal, 21 Nov. 2011

“The release of Ieng Thirith is only one reflection of how incredibly late these trials are coming into place,” said Theary Seng, founder of the Cambodian Center for Justice and Reconciliation and herself, too, a victim of the Khmer Rouge regime, having lost her parents and spent five months in prison. She has withdrawn from the tribunal process, and instead put her energy into organizing public games of darts featuring the faces of the Khmer Rouge leaders along Phnom Penh’s riverfront – a “way of release” following victims’ frustrations with the trial process, mixed with “dark humor,” she said.


Theary Seng BBC News filming, Nov. 2011

Watch the BBC News coverage

But the trial - a joint enterprise between the UN and Cambodia - has been heavily criticised. Theary Seng, whose parents were killed by the Khmer Rouge, said putting three people on trial for the deaths of 1.7 million simply wasn't enough. (BBC News, 21 Nov. 2011)

Poetic Justice German Filming, 18 Nov. 2011
Filming for German DW-Global with Bastian and Sarin, 18 Nov. 2011. More photos...

Filming by BBC with Guy DeLauney, 17 Nov. 2011. More photos...

Khmer Rouge Trial: Cambodia Awaits Answers

BBC News, 21 Nov. 2011


. . .

Crying for Justice

AFP, 21 Nov. 2011

Khmer Rouge survivor Theary Seng told AFP she was "frustrated beyond words" that only Khieu Samphan looked likely to shed light on what happened. "The people want to know who is behind the Khmer Rouge, we want to see and understand the larger picture and we're not going to get that," she said.

From Tragedy to Sham in Cambodia

Asia Times Online, 19 Nov. 2011

In KI-Media

Others have gone further, arguing that the time might be ripe for the UN to pull the plug on the controversy-plagued court altogether. Last week, Theary Seng, a Cambodian-American survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime and a prominent advocate for victims' rights, withdrew her status as a civil party to the court, describing the proceedings as a "complete sham".

She said the UN should threaten to withdraw after setting some clear conditions for its continued participation. By pressing ahead, Seng said, the world body runs the risk of rubber-stamping a flawed process and further embedding cynicism in the Cambodian population.

"I understand the unwieldiness of any large bureaucracy, but at the end of the day it comes down to personalities, and there have been extremely weak personalities," she said. "In this regard, the UN is complicit."



In the End, Loss of Faith in Tribunal: Former Complainant

Hello VOA Special with Theary Seng, 16 Nov. 2011

Khmer Rouge Victim Quits Tribunal Saying UN-backed Court is a Sham

DPA, 15 Nov. 2011


Prominent Victims' Advocate Quits Khmer Rouge Tribunal

VOA International/English, 15 Nov. 2011

KRT Critic Offers 'Poetic Justice'

The Phnom Penh Post, 16 Nov. 2011

Theary Seng Denounces Tribunal; Introduces Dartboard Scheme

The Cambodia Daily, 16 Nov. 2011


Theary Seng's Press Conference, 15 Nov. 2011
More photos from Poetic Justice/ECCC Withdrawal Press Conference, 15 Nov. 2011

Poetic Justice
Front pages of The Cambodia Daily and The Phnom Penh Post, 16 Nov. 2011


. . .

Click here to read the full press release...


More information at "ECCC Civil Party"

More information at Association of Khmer Rouge Victims in Cambodia

In KI-Media

Theary Seng Criticizes KRT

as "Political Farce"

The Phnom Penh Post, 10 Nov. 2011


Radio Free Asia (both AM and PM broadcasts on 10 Nov. 2011)


Cambodian-American Lawyer Withdraws her Civil Party Status

Voice of America Khmer Service, 10 Nov. 2011








* * * * * *


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Theary's BLOG

Caroline Kennedy Delegation to Palace; Love; I support CNRM; New Year Video Message; Challenges are Opportunities; Free James!; Proportionality; Wolves in Sheep's Clothing; Entrapment; Prince Sirivudh

Kennedy-Niinami Delegation to Khemarin Palace 11 February 2018   Click to watch TVK clip of royal audience with the King and Queen Mother     Prime Minister Son Sann, Jacqueline Kennedy, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Princess Norodom Mo [ ... ]

January 7; Kramanation; 47; Kampot Vegetable Sellers; No more selfies; Facebook Profile Name Change

Theary C. Seng, 11 January 2012
Chaktomuk Theatre, Phnom Penh, January 2010

January 7 is indeed a significant day for survivors of the Khmer Rouge. It arrested the macabre convulsions that would have swallowed all of us into a hellish hole if the [ ... ]


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