I am Sam Rainsy, leader of the opposition in Cambodia. I talk to you from my home in Paris where I’ve been living in exile. Today is October 31st, 2019. For those of you who don’t know me, this may be the first time and the last time you see me alive as a free man. For those who know me, this may just be the last time you will see me alive as a free man. After several years in exile, I am returning to Cambodia on November 9th. Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is known as a brutal dictator has vowed to arrest me and ordered the armed forces to destroy what he calls “the rebels” that I will be leading peacefully back to our country. The opposition party I founded with Kem Sokha succeeded in collecting practically half of the popular vote despite being continuously harassed. It has been arbitrarily dissolved and therefore prevented from participating in any future election.
My most dedicated colleagues have been assassinated, arrested, or forced into exile. I therefore have no option left but to return to Cambodia in a nonviolent way, to restore democracy by creating an example of people power similar to what happened in the Philippines in 1986. On November 9th, which is Cambodia’s independence day, the world’s democrats will be commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a universal symbol of freedom restored. Please, also have Cambodia in your thoughts on that day. Hopefully, my fight to restore democracy, will also restore Cambodia’s independence and neutrality, and stop China’s attempt to colonize Cambodia. Cambodian dictator Hun Sen has no right to sell our country to the Chinese. We must respect the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement. This international treaty compels Cambodia to adopt a system of liberal and pluralist democracy. It also compels Cambodia to follow a foreign policy based on strict neutrality, which forbids the presence of any foreign military basis on Cambodia’s territory. I am prepared to sacrifice my freedom and even my life to give democracy a chance, to help ensure freedom for my unfortunate people. Thank you for your active solidarity.
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