On January 17, I made my second try and return to my nation, Cambodia, the place I’ve been summoned to face trial on treason fees. Like the primary time I attempted to journey again dwelling in 2019, this time, too, the Cambodian authorities refused to situation me a visa.

I’m certainly one of greater than 100 members of the Cambodia Nationwide Rescue Get together (CNRP) who stand accused of incitement to commit a felony and conspiring to commit treason. The federal government, which initiated the lawsuit in opposition to us, refused to revalidate the passports of 9 of us so we are able to return and defend ourselves in court docket.

I left my nation in 2017, after our president, Kem Sokha, was detained and I used to be knowledgeable that my arrest too was imminent; others adopted swimsuit. Our paperwork had been cancelled final 12 months and now we have not been in a position to get hold of a visa to return dwelling on the overseas passports now we have.

A authorities spokesperson instructed Radio Free Asia that we’re not welcome in Cambodia and that we’ll “have to seek out [a] technique to enter Cambodia” on our personal.

Whereas we’re in exile, dealing with a trial that we can’t personally attend, our members proceed to face persecution within the type of bodily assaults, arbitrary arrests and pre-trial detention.

These acts are meant as a stern warning to our members and supporters to cease their affiliation with the opposition. The arbitrary arrests are carried out virtually at all times with out arrest warrants. Youngsters of the victims are terrified by the brutal manner their dad and mom are dealt with. Some are compelled to drop out of college to assist care for siblings or as a result of the household can not afford to maintain them at school, as all financial savings are used to pay for the jail visits, bills and bribes to make sure some minimal consolation for the imprisoned members of the family.

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s use of the courts as a political instrument in opposition to us is typical of regimes that don’t tolerate dissent. In Cambodia, this observe has reached unprecedented ranges. Presently, the president of the Supreme Court docket is an influential member of the ruling get together, as are many judges who’re assigned to rule on political circumstances.

Clearly, the ruling get together is afraid of CNRP’s recognition. Our get together got here near energy on the parliamentary election in 2013 and in 2017, voters as soon as once more confirmed huge assist for our candidates on the native elections. CNRP has sturdy assist in most city areas and has steadfastly moved into the countryside which has been within the grip of the ruling get together because the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979.

The explanation why our recognition is rising is we’re preventing for a greater future for the nation – certainly one of prosperity and independence.

Cambodia has been put up on the market by its present leaders. Complete villages are compelled from their land to clear the best way for large growth tasks given underneath concession to personal firms owned by tycoons near the ruling get together and to overseas firms with shut ties to high-ranking officers.

Lakes which encompass the town of Phnom Penh and that are near the houses of the city poor are reduce up into parcels for growth and quickly stuffed with sand dredged from the Tonle Sap – the most important freshwater lake in South East Asia. Specialists have already warned that it is a recipe for an environmental catastrophe which might depart hundreds homeless.

When poor folks collect sufficient braveness to take their grievances to the courts, their circumstances are both rejected or end in mistrials. It isn’t uncommon for the respectable landowners to finish up in jail.

Over the previous a few years, now we have stood up for Cambodians affected by exploitation and dispossession. Our struggle for justice started with manufacturing facility employees who made lower than one greenback a day within the Nineties, when Cambodia was granted quota and tax-free markets within the European Union.

We fought alongside commerce union leaders who courageously organised, referred to as for basic strikes and held huge peaceable road protests to demand higher pay and dealing situations. Every time the employees had been crushed by the federal government or armed forces, opposition members of parliament demanded impartial investigations and the prosecution of these accountable. Even after the killings of employees and commerce union leaders, the courts not often acted independently. Till at this time, we nonetheless have to know who killed Chea Vichea – the chief of Free Commerce Union of Cambodia assassinated in broad daylight on January 22, 2004.

We proceed to defend human rights, freedoms and democracy in Cambodia even from overseas; our voices can’t be silenced.

We now have the correct to return dwelling, to be current at our personal trial and to defend ourselves. Cambodia can’t transfer ahead so long as the judiciary and different nationwide establishments which can be pillars of democracy stay absolutely underneath the management of 1 man and work for the good thing about the elites.

I name on the worldwide neighborhood, which has invested billions of {dollars} in Cambodia’s growth, to stress the federal government into strict adherence to human rights protections and the rule of regulation. Specifically, the worldwide neighborhood ought to ask to see clear ends in the reform initiatives inside the judiciary.

Absent any progress, focused sanctions such, as journey bans on high-ranking officers together with judges concerned in human rights abuses, have to be undertaken. Members of the ruling elite concerned in corrupt practices have to be investigated and their property overseas frozen.

As democrats, we should stand united to defend the dignity of our folks, and all those that are wrongly placed on trial. Adhering to non-violence ideas doesn’t imply accepting injustice passively.

Because the oppressed, we should not converse the language of the oppressors and settle for the double-standard utilized to justice. We should not wait silently or await courts summons or endure false accusations and fallacious fees. Collectively, we converse with one voice and proceed the wrestle to ship to our folks the justice they’ve been denied.

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.