[Update] Cambodia: 'Every newsroom I work in gets silenced'


While international media, foreign embassies and numerous Cambodians mourned and condemned the closure of VOD in a series of articles, editorials and social media posts, VOD staff came under attack on social media and in government-aligned news outlets.
The day VOD’s license was revoked on February 13, a series of Twitter users — many appearing to be fake accounts — began posting identical cartoons and messages applauding VOD’s closure with the hashtag #VODshithead.

The Twitter accounts shared cartoons which portrayed VOD as a tool of foreign agents such as “foreign embassies” and “NGO[s]”. 
In one cartoon branded with the vulgar hashtag, a figure resembling the American icon Uncle Sam, in a tophat with the VOD logo, has a thought bubble attached reading “You must adhere to the strategies I have established” while painting Cambodia with paint labeled “human right” and “democracy.” 

A group of white journalists stands watching and one says “Each of us must follow our boss’s instructions regarding fake reports. Our boss gives us money and protects us.”
Few of the comments received more than 100 views, according to Twitter. The attacks on VOD reporters extended to government-aligned media.

Following a BBC profile of prominent VOD reporter Mech Dara titled “Cambodia: ‘Every newsroom I worked in gets silenced’”, Dara’s former employer The Phnom Penh Post sought to undermine Dara’s credibility by negatively portraying his mental health.
In a February 17 editorial titled “The Post: “Shut down” and “silenced”?” The Post claimed they had not had the right to reply to BBC and disputed the characterization that Dara had left because the paper had changed ownership to a PR firm with close ties to the government in 2018.

But they also included a section titled “about Dara’s personality” where the unsigned editorial described Dara as a “coward”, “mentally impacted” with “prominent personality flaws.”

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Phnom Penh Capital
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Phnom Penh Post
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Online bullying