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US Restricts Visas for Cambodians ‘Undermining Democracy’

As a response to anti-democratic actions, Trump administration restrict VISA for Cambodians

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen attends a ceremony at the Angkor Wat temple to pray for peace and stability in Cambodia, Dec. 3, 2017.

The Trump administration announced Wednesday it will restrict visas for Cambodians “undermining democracy” in the Southeast Asian nation following the dissolution of the main opposition party and a crackdown on independent media.

The State Department said it was a direct response to “anti-democratic actions” by the Cambodian government but did not disclose which individuals would be affected. It said visa records are confidential under U.S. law.

Spokeswoman Heather Nauert called on the Cambodian government to reinstate the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, which was dissolved by Supreme Court order last month, and free its leader Kem Sokha, imprisoned since September. She also urged Cambodia to allow civil society and media to operate freely.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has held power for more than three decades, has sought to neutralize political opponents and silence critics ahead of national elections next year. Kem Sokha has been charged with trying to topple the government with U.S. support, which Washington has said is a baseless accusation.

Supporters of Kem Sokha, leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, stand outside the Appeal Court during a bail hearing for the jailed opposition leader in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Sept. 26, 2017.

Nauert said Cambodia’s actions run counter to the Paris Peace Agreements of 1991. The United States and 18 other governments signed the accords, which ushered in democracy after the genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s, then occupation by Vietnam and civil war.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will restrict entry into the United States of “those individuals involved in undermining democracy in Cambodia,” Nauert said in a statement, adding that in certain circumstances, family members of those individuals will also be subject to visa restrictions. The department cited a provision of U.S. immigration law under which individuals can be denied entry if the secretary determines it would have “adverse foreign policy consequences.”

The White House has already terminated U.S. support of Cambodia’s national election committee, saying last month that the July 2018 vote “will not be legitimate, free or fair.”

“We will continue to monitor the situation and take additional steps as necessary, while maintaining our close and enduring ties with the people of Cambodia,” Nauert said.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers remarks during a press availability at NATO in Brussels, Belgium, Dec. 6, 2017.

​Monovithya Kem, an opposition spokeswoman currently in the U.S., welcomed the visa restrictions and called for targeted financial sanctions on senior officials in Hun Sen’s government. Kem, who is the daughter of Kem Sokha, urged the U.S., Japan, Australia and the European Union to coordinate responses to the “crisis” in Cambodia and help win her father’s freedom.

Like many prominent opposition figures, Kem has fled Cambodia as she fears arrest.

Hun Sen has been in office since 1985 and has held a tight grip on power since ousting a co-prime minister in a bloody 1997 coup.

In recent months, the government has intensified restrictions on civil society groups and independent media outlets. In September, it shut down the English-language Cambodia Daily. Authorities have shuttered radio stations that aired programming from U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, whose reports they allege are biased.

The government also expelled the U.S. National Democratic Institute, which helped train political parties and election monitors, accusing it of colluding with its opponents.

Hun Sen has moved Cambodia closer to China in recent years and become increasingly critical of Washington. However, he’s been complimentary of President Donald Trump.

Speaking at Asian leaders’ summit attended by Trump last month, Hun Sen praised the U.S. leader for non-interference in affairs of other nations, but complained the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia was not adhering to the policy. (VOA)

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Cho Ramaswamy: The Man Who Wore Many Hats

Cho Ramaswamy won several accolades and awards during his career as an entertainer and as a journalist.

Cho Ramaswamy was undoubtedly one of the most prominent indian Personalities. Twitter
Cho Ramaswamy was undoubtedly one of the most prominent Indian Personalities. Twitter

By Ruchika Verma

  • Cho Ramaswamy was a multi-talented man who ventured into acting, directing, journalism and politics
  • He was very close to late CM of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa for whom he acted as a philosopher and guide
  • Cho Ramaswamy was very vocal about his criticism of politicians and unethical practices

Srinivasa Iyer or Cho Ramaswamy was an Indian film actor, director, magazine editor, political satirist, and a lawyer. He was born on 5th October 1934 and was one of the most prominent Tamil personalities in India.

Cho Ramaswamy's magazine Tughlak has a huge fan following. Twitter
Cho Ramaswamy’s magazine Tughlak has a huge fan following. Twitter

He was the man of many talents who passed away at the age of 82 on 7th December 2016. Cho Ramaswamy the founder and editor of the Tamil magazine Thuglak, was also a recipient of the prestigious Padma Bhushan award, for his contributions in Literature and Education.

Cho Ramaswamy undoubtedly was one of the most prominent personalities in the southern Indian politics. Here are few things about his life which you may not have known before:

How his career started 

Cho Ramaswamy was first and foremost a lawyer by profession, being born in a family of lawyers. He later branched into theatre, films and finally into journalism and politics.

Cho Ramaswamy won Padma Bhushan for his contribution in the field of Literature and Education. Facebook
Cho Ramaswamy won Padma Bhushan for his contribution in the field of Literature and Education. Facebook

He got into the theatre while he was still practising law. His work as a satirist was very much appreciated. His most famous drama is  ‘Muhammad bin Tughluq,’ it was so brilliant that it became a classic.

He ventured into journalism and founded his own magazine Tughlak, which was mainly focused on the local social and political issues. It was widely and highly appreciated for its satirical and honest views on the politicians and politics. He was fearless in his criticism of the governments.

He later got into politics and was a member of Rajya Sabha from 1999 to 2005. He openly went against Jayalalithaa, when she was at her most powerful, even though she was very close to him. He even predicted Narendra Modi as India’s Prime Minister, long before BJP even declared him as a candidate. He was a true visionary in all senses.

Cho Ramaswamy and Jayalalithaa 

Cho Ramaswamy and Jayalalithaa were one pair of friends whose relationship went beyond friendship to a plane where not all can reach. Jayalalithaa debuted as a child actress with the YG Parthasarathy drama troupe where Cho Ramaswamy was already a star. They worked together in 19 films.

Cho Ramaswamy was Jayalalithaa’s greatest friend but also her most vocal critic. It was the only who was consulted in the matters of Jayalalithaa’s political career by herself and by the star-politician MGR. He acted as her friend, philosopher and guide in films as well as in politics.

The late Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa was extremely close to Cho Ramaswamy. Twitter
The late Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa was extremely close to Cho Ramaswamy. Twitter

You may also like: Iron Lady of India: Jayalalithaa was an inspiration for Women

It is being said many times that the late Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa once told Ramaswamy that he has to live till she is alive. Interestingly, Cho Ramaswamy died barely 36 hours after Jayalalithaa died. According to doctors who were treating him, before he was put on the ventilator, he watched the live coverage of Jayalalithaa’s body lying in state at Rajaji Hall, Chennai.

There is only one instance of discord between the two, during 1996-2001, where he became a staunch critic of Jayalalithaa because of her unethical ways as a Chief Minister. However, as she mended her ways, he warmed up to her again.

Cho Ramaswamy not only influenced Jayalalithaa’s professional life as an actress and politician, but also her personal life. She considered him her and guide and consulted him before all major decisions.

Ramaswamy and his achievements 

Cho Ramaswamy won several accolades and awards during his career as an entertainer and as a journalist. Apart from being awarded a Padma Bhushan, he also won B.D. Goenka award for excellence in journalism.

Cho Ramaswamy was also famous for his closeness with various prominent politicians, including Narendra Modi. Twitter
Cho Ramaswamy was also famous for his closeness with various prominent politicians, including Narendra Modi. Twitter

His achievements were not only limited to awards. His achievements went beyond that. His association with prominent political leaders like Jayaprakash Narayan, L.K. Advani, Chandra Shekhar, G.K. Moopanar, Jayalalithaa and Narendra Modi, and his role in influencing some of their decisions are noteworthy.

Also Read: Need more Satire and Humour to build bridges between Communities and Societies, says PM Narendra Modi

His achievements as a playwright and actor are also noteworthy. Many of his plays went onto becoming national hits. And he received critical acclaim for his acting as well as his stints as a director.

Perhaps, one of his biggest achievement was the fact that he took many roles throughout his life and ended up successful in all of them. He was indeed the man who wore many hats, and managed to balance them all equally well.