Hun Manet (L), prime minister-designate and son of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, also army chief, arrives at the National Assembly during a plenary session in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 22 August 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/KITH SEREY

HRW urges Cambodia to ‘fully’ investigate brutal attack on dissident, his wife

Bangkok, Sep 19 (EFE).- Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday urged Cambodia to “fully” probe a “brutal” assault of a dissident and his wife and said it tested the new government’s “willingness to investigate and appropriately prosecute those responsible for abuses against its critics.”

Men with metal batons viciously attacked Ny Nak and his wife in Phnom Penh on Sep. 12, HRW said.

Ny Nak remains hospitalized with serious wounds to his head and extremities, it added.

The 44-year-old opponent is known for his criticism of the government and spent 18 months in prison for allegedly mocking on social media a speech given by former Prime Minister Hun Sen, who ruled the country for almost four decades with an iron fist.

“The attack against Ny Nak and his wife in broad daylight raises grave concerns that the Hun Sen government’s brutality against critical voices remains unchanged under his son’s rule,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at HRW said in a statement.

Current Prime Minister Hun Manet, who came to power in early August after his father Hun Sen resigned, “has an opportunity to demonstrate that such lawlessness will be fully investigated and prosecuted regardless of who is responsible,” he added.

HRW noted that the attack against Nak has “similarities” with other attacks reported earlier in 2023 against members of the opposition Candlelight party, which it said “were never seriously investigated” in Cambodia, where attacks and harassment against critics of the government are common.

Ny Nak told the organization that four men dressed in black clothes and helmets approached his motorcycle and began to hit him on the head and upper body.

The attackers also struck his wife when she tried to push them away.

“I believe they only left because I stopped moving altogether. I think they thought that I was dead. I was thinking at the time that they intended to kill me by how brutally they were beating me,” Nak said.

The attack was triggered by a series of recent public criticisms Nak made of the Cambodian government, according to him. EFE