Activists are planning demonstrations against the visit of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to a regional summit in Australia. The long-serving Cambodian leader has threatened to punish anyone who protests against his presence at the summit.
About 1,000 supporters of Cambodia’s banned opposition say they will protest Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Australia. They intend to rally outside the ASEAN summit in Sydney despite threats from the veteran Cambodian leader that he would follow them home and assault those who planned to burn his effigy.
“If you have the right to burn me, we have our right to beat you up. There is nothing wrong with that. I will follow them home and grab them," he warned.
Loyalists to his Cambodia People’s Party predict up to 3,000 supporters will join a counter rally in Sydney to support the long-serving leader.
His critics accuse him of a string of human rights abuses and believe his crackdown on dissent is tied to elections in Cambodia later this year.
Jimmy Neam, who fled Cambodia in the 1980s, says the Prime Minister should not be allowed into Australia.
“He should not be welcomed to this beautiful country. He got a lot of blood in his hands, I think he is a dictator," he said. " We know Hun Sen. Almost 40 years that he is in power, he ruled the country with (an) iron fist.”
Former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans has said the international community’s response to Hun Sen’s alleged abuses of power has been “impossibly limp.”
Another world leader who is also facing intense global scrutiny is also expected at the ASEAN summit in Sydney. Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi has been widely criticized for her apparent lack of action in the face of violence towards Rohingya Muslims. It will be one of her first foreign appearances since large numbers of Rohingyas were forced to flee Myanmar.
Philippines' Duterte absent
Outspoken President Duterte of the Philippines, who has been criticized for his violent war on drugs, will not be attending the gathering of regional leaders in Sydney this weekend.
Australia has not commented directly on Hun Sen’s threats to protestors, but said in a statement that “it goes without saying that violence, or the threat of violence, is not acceptable in Australia.”
This is the first time Australia has hosted an ASEAN summit. Regional trade and security are expected to dominated talks. ASEAN is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and has ten members.