Predator

HUN SEN

5 August 1952



Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia since 14 January 1985 

(“Second Prime Minister” from 1993 to 1998) 

Predator since 2016



Cambodia, 144th/180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index



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Dear [Name of Candidate],

I am writing to ask you what you plan to do to defend the First Amendment, freedom of the press, and the fundamental rights of journalists to practice their profession freely in what has become an increasingly hostile environment for information and news providers.

The United States, which enshrines press freedom in the First Amendment of its Constitution, is currently witnessing a drastic decline in media freedom. On June 28, one of the most horrific attacks on press freedom in the United States occurred when five employees, including four reporters, were killed at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. According to the US Press Freedom Tracker, which comprehensively documents press freedom violations in the US committed by national, state, and local authorities as well as private individuals, 33 journalists were arrested, 43 were physically attacked, and 15 seizures of journalists’ equipment occurred in 2017. In one of these incidents, Rep. Greg Gianforte physically assaulted a Guardian journalist the night before his state’s election. While covering the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, journalists were impersonated on social media, impeding their ability to accurately investigate the facts and disseminate information which could be vital to preventing a similar tragedy. This hostility towards the press not only risks compromising the American public’s right to be informed through journalists’ reporting, but can also degrade the public’s trust in the media itself.

This is not a partisan issue; it is a fundamental right that impacts every American no matter their politics. Journalism is at the crux of our democracy, and communities everywhere rely on journalists to provide them with information that is essential to their daily decision-making processes. It was local investigative journalist Curt Guyette who broke the story about Flint, Michigan’s lack of access to clean water in 2014, prompting years of class-action lawsuits, protests, and subsequent federal assistance to the city in order to try to resolve the crisis. Reporters Megan Twohey, Jodi Kantor, and Ronan Farrow publicized sexual assault allegations against influential Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017, leading to the ubiquitous and powerful #MeToo movement which brought decades of sexual abuse and harassment across multiple industries to light.

Yet freedom of the press in the US is currently in dire need of congressional support. It is our civic duty as one of the world’s leading democracies to uphold principles that support and protect the rights of journalists so that they may hold those in power accountable and ensure an informed and engaged community.

If you are elected, what do you plan to do to protect this utterly essential component of our democracy? What are your plans to protect the public’s right to be informed through a free and independent press?

Sincerely,
[Your name]
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Hello, my name is _______ and I am from [city, state].

I’m calling to let you know that [candidate/representative]'s stance on freedom of the press is extremely important in my decision to vote. I feel that this is not a partisan issue, but a fundamental right that impacts every American no matter their politics.

I have become increasingly concerned with the growing climate of hostility for journalists in this country, and I would like for [candidate/representative] to publicly address what they will do to defend press freedom if [he/she] is elected.

Thank you.
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Freedom of the press is suffering in the US. @[yourcandidate] if you are elected to serve in Congress, what are your plans to protect journalists and our right to be informed? Will you #DefendPressFreedom?

Democracy depends on a free and independent press and its ability to hold those in power accountable. [@yourcandidate] will you take measures to protect journalism and the First Amendment? Will you #DefendPressFreedom?

In June, four reporters were murdered in an appalling targeted attack on the Capital Gazette and freedom of the press. [@yourcandidate] what will you do to address the growing threat to journalists in this country? #DefendPressFreedom

Press freedom is in steady decline in the US. I want my representative to defend the work of journalists as well as my right to be informed. [@yourcandidate] if you are elected what will you do to protect a free press? #DefendPressFreedom
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Journalists play a crucial role in our democracy by keeping us informed and holding those in power accountable. And yet in the US, attacks on journalists are becoming more common, undermining the media's role and creating opportunities for government overreach, the erosion of press freedom, and impeding our right to be informed. I’m contacting my candidates and encouraging them to defend press freedom during their midterm election campaign. Join me at DefendPressFreedom.com

A free press is essential to our democracy. Communities everywhere rely on journalists to report on our government’s actions and hold public figures accountable, providing us with the information we need to make decisions every day. And yet physical, verbal, and online attacks against journalists in the US are increasing at an astonishing rate. I’m contacting my candidates and encouraging them to defend press freedom during their midterm election campaign. You should too. Read more at DefendPressFreedom.com

Press freedom is declining in the US at an alarming rate. Physical, verbal, and online attacks against journalists have increased drastically in the last two years. As the US midterm elections approach, we must remind our congressional candidates that journalists play a crucial role in our democracy by keeping us informed and holding those in power accountable. I’m contacting my representatives and encouraging them to defend press freedom during their midterm election campaign. Join in and help me spread the word at DefendPressFreedom.com

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    PREDATORY METHOD: Sabotage





    Hun Sen has proved impossible to remove in more than 30 years as prime minister and, with the same tenacity, has steadily undermined the press freedom that was initially guaranteed by the 1991 peace accords, to the point that little remains now. Under a semblance of democracy, he has created an opaque system marked by an enormous degree of corruption, with economic and political power concentrated in the hands of a small group with no desire to let nosy journalists pry into their affairs.

     

    Fearing the possibility of defeat in the 2018 parliamentary elections, he began executing a meticulous plan to neutralise independent media outlets in the summer of 2017, deploying an arsenal of measures designed to either ban, obstruct or intimidate them. In the space of a month, no fewer than 30 media outlets were forced to stop operating and journalists were jailed on trumped-up charges.

     

    At the same time, the “Hun Sen system” perfected a propaganda apparatus thanks to the control that his accomplices exercise over Cambodia’s mainstream media and, in particular, to the creation of a multimedia news outlet, Fresh News, that pumps out pro-government disinformation. In 2021, Hun Sen turned his sights on the few independent media outlets that survive online by starting to build a “Great Firewall” based on the authoritarian Chinese model. When completed, this formidable weapon will allow his government to control the online content that his citizens can access.

     



    FAVOURITE TARGETS: Khmer democracy’s last defenders



    After the nightmare of the Khmer Rouge regime, the media played an absolutely fundamental role in the construction of democracy in Cambodia from the 1990s onwards. It is these historic press freedom pioneers that Hun Sen’s regime has targeted. The Cambodia Daily, the country’s oldest bilingual (Khmer and English) newspaper, was forced to close in 2017 when the government suddenly demanded the spectacular sum of 5.5 million euros in back taxes. At the same time, more than 30 radio stations had to stop broadcasting news programmes. The purchase of the Phnom Penh Post, the last major independent media outlet, by one of Hun Sen’s businessmen allies a few months later dealt the final blow to press independence. Today, only a few isolated “foot soldiers” such as the Cambodian Journalists Alliance (CamboJA) do their best to pursue the fight for press freedom.


    OFFICIAL DISCOURSE: Threats (preceding execution)


    “Now the two…who work for Radio Free Asia and Cambodia Daily, who are opposing me all the time… Write things properly. Or you will remember this.” (Said in May 2017 while pointing to two reporters in the front row of a group of journalists. Both of these media outlets were forced to cease operations in Cambodia a few months later.)