NATIONAL CAPITAL CITY — A year after a Cambodian man was beaten to death by his wife, Cambodian media outlets are taking their message to their readers with an anti-media campaign.
The campaign, which has garnered more than 300,000 signatures and counting, is aimed at highlighting a lack of accountability and human rights in Cambodia.
In a country where a majority of people are illiterate and most have little access to basic services, such as water, sanitation, food, health care and education, the campaign is a call for the government to take immediate action against the family that murdered Khmer’s husband.
“Our message is that it is not right to kill our people.
It is also not right that a man can be killed, and not the family, in our country,” said Sam Nakhon, the deputy director of the Cambodian Association of Journalists.
Khmer media outlets have launched a Facebook page and Twitter account in an effort to pressure the government into taking action.
Khmers who signed the petition also took to the streets in Phnom Penh in May to demand an investigation into the murder.
“The police have already started an investigation, but they have not been able to arrest the killers.
We have to do something now,” said Khmer journalist Khuong Huy, referring to the investigation.
“We are ready to stand with our country, but it is up to the government,” he added.
The murder of Khmer man Thi Khyat, 41, is the latest in a string of attacks on journalists in Cambodia, where there are fears that Cambodia will be unable to maintain a high level of coverage in the future.
A few weeks after the murder, Khmer news media published an investigative report into a recent attack on a local journalist.
“I have been a reporter for 30 years, and it was really shocking,” Khmer business owner Rong Khuon said, describing the incident as an attempt to silence journalists.
“There are some media people who are trying to silence us.
We don’t like them, but the government needs to protect our country from foreign media,” he said.
In another case, Khmmer journalist Heng Thiung Tho was killed in February when a vehicle hit him at a checkpoint outside Phnom Khmer city.
In the past year, the government has stepped up investigations into at least 10 killings in Khmer areas, including a murder in the capital, Phnom Sokha, and an attack on an investigative reporter in the northern city of Kieu Samui, where Khmer security forces are suspected of killing a man they suspected of collaborating with the government.
“When there is no police investigation, we can’t do anything,” said Heng.
“Now the government is blaming media for the situation, saying that it has done nothing.”
The government says it has not arrested the perpetrators of any of the killings.
“If we were to investigate it, we would have the police, the army, the police and prosecutors all involved,” said Ngo, the Phnom Ngan official.
But Khmer leaders are not convinced that the police will be able to take action in the country’s rapidly deteriorating media environment.
“Why are we talking about investigating a case if the police are not doing anything about it?” said Khmrui Khuom, chairman of the National Committee for Press Freedom.
“In the past, when there was an investigation or an arrest, there were reports of media freedom being violated,” Khmrrui said.
“But it has been in the past five years.
We are talking about a media freedom situation where the government and the media are still together.”
Khmer authorities have long been criticized for the countrys lax media regulation, which means that media outlets can publish whatever they want without any restrictions.
In 2015, the Cambodians Parliament passed a law banning the use of social media by media and other media organizations.
In addition to Khmer newspapers, a number of foreign media outlets operate out of the country, including The New York Times, Al Jazeera English, BuzzFeed, the BBC, and the Associated Press.
The law has faced opposition from the media and the Cambod National Assembly, which last month passed a resolution condemning it as a “blatant attempt to undermine the independence of the media.”
“This law has nothing to do with protecting freedom of expression,” Khmers parliamentarian Phra Tho Nga told The Associated Press last week.
“It has everything to do the Khmer government wants to silence our media.
It would be like putting a muzzle on the press and restricting the freedom of speech in the world.”