Journalists’ Forum Assam expresses concern over Cambodia anti-media crackdown

Guwahati, September 18: Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) has expressed concern over the ongoing crackdown on newspaper and radios in Cambodia with an aim to silence the media ahead of next year’s general election. The recent shut down of an independent English newspaper in the southeast Asian country has shown the authority’s intolerance towards mainstream media, alleged the forum.

The media rights body of Northeast India revealed in statement that The Cambodia Daily was forced by the government agencies to close down its publication over a tax dispute. The newspaper was slapped with a purported $6.3 million tax bill recently and the authority ordered the amount to be paid by September 4 or shut down its operation. Since the day, the newspaper has not gone for the press and it was confirmed by the Pnong Pen office.

“Facing imminent threats of closure and legal action over a disputed $6.3 million tax bill, The Cambodia Daily will cease operations as of today (September 4, 2017), bringing to a close more than 24 years of independent journalism. The power to tax is the power to destroy. And after 24 years and 15 days, the Cambodian government has destroyed the newspaper that has been regarded a special and singular part
Cambodia’s free press” said the  owner Deborah Krisher-Steele, the daily’s website revealed.

Cambodia’s Information Ministry also ordered the closure of around 15 radio stations broadcasting programs from international broadcasters namely Radio Free Asia (RFA), Voice of America (VOA), Voice of
Democracy (VOD) among others. Meanwhile, the RFA decided to close its Phnom Penh bureau citing the recent of media crackdown by the authority. Another United States funded broadcaster VOA is also planning similar actions.

“It is now logical to describe Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen as an anti-media politician. He seemingly has no intention to allow the media to exercise its freedom ahead of the crucial national election scheduled for early 2018” said a statement issued by JFA president Rupam Barua and secretary Nava Thakuria, adding that the influential media bodies around the world should condemn the Cambodian authority for its latest anti-media crackdown.

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