I'm currently considering an extended stay in Phnom Penh working for an NGO. But in light of the upcoming elections, should I be concerned about violence at political demonstrations or even the possibility of a civil war (or is this just the media taking things out of context and blowing things way out of proportion)? Are there any expats, NGO workers or other travelers out there who would be willing to provide their insights on this?
#1 CarolynTru has been a member since 13/5/2013. Posts: 2
There have been demonstrations against Hun Sen for a few years now. If they get in any way vociferous they are ruthlessly crushed by the Ministry of Interior police in their black SS style uniforms. The increasing wealth in Cambodia is not trickling down and on the contrary people are getting poorer as their land is forcefully taken from them by CPP cronies. Hun Sen has sworn to use extreme force on anyone who dares to challenge his hegemony. There could well be some sort of civil uprising but at the moment there is no cohesion between the different oppressed factions e.g. garment workers, small farmers, so I doubt it. You won't be affected by the demonstrations as long as you play no part in them (like some foolish Westerners did in Bangkok during the Red v. Yellow struggle.)
I would say you should always be concerned about violence at political gatherings but it is easy to spot them and avoid them. Nobody knows how bad things will get in Cambodia but I doubt you will involved. Just use your common sense and avoid places where there looks to be the potential for trouble.
p.s. I will be in Phnom Penh for the elections. An interesting time.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Sayadian.
Have you been in/will you be in Cambodia for long? If you were in the country for regional elections, I'd like to pick your brain about that too!
#3 CarolynTru has been a member since 13/5/2013. Posts: 2
Yes, I've been there awhile and will be back. You'll just love Hun Sen's rambling speeches on TV. Be back in two weeks. Once upon a time the government's favourite way of discouraging dissent was by rolling a grenade into the crowd. Haven't heard of that for awhile though. I think HS is aware that he's in the world's spotlight these days.Keep in touch.