News / Asia

Cambodian Government, Opposition Mark Human Rights

Sam Rainsy (C), leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), marches during International Human Rights Day in Phnom Penh, Dec. 10, 2013.
Sam Rainsy (C), leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), marches during International Human Rights Day in Phnom Penh, Dec. 10, 2013.
Theara KhounHeng Reaksmey
Thousands of Cambodian opposition supporters and activists marched in Phnom Penh Tuesday to mark Human Rights Day and call for changes in the country’s rights environment.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who is president of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), led a crowd of some 6,000 supporters through the capital, despite warnings from authorities not to take to the streets.

Supporters, including CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha, used the march to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“We, the Cambodian people, need to change the current leader,” he said.  The “majority” had made the decision for change, but the votes were “stolen” in the July election, he said.  “If they stole the [Rescue Party] votes, this means they’ve stolen the money of government civil servants and our military.”

The opposition is calling for an independent investigation into allegations of election fraud.

Development projects that have forced the evictions of many rural and urban poor were also on the minds of some protesters, including 70-year-old Sek May.

“I demand the government renounce its insults to the people and kick out land concession companies,” he said. “They must stop it.  If not, I’ll vow to change [leaders], because I need to keep something for the next generation.  I won’t live long and for a 99-year concession, oh my Lord, only my great-grandchildren can get it back.”

Despite police warnings, security forces allowed the march to go ahead, preventing the kind of violent clashes that have marked many past demonstrations in Cambodia.

Meanwhile, the government officially marked the day with its own ceremonies in Phnom Penh, both at Olympic Stadium in the center of the capital, and at City Hall.

Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong addressed a crowd of around 2,000 people at the stadium, saying the government has worked to improve human rights in the country.

“The government is intently concentrating on enforcing a full, multi-party democracy and respecting human rights,” he said. “Meanwhile, I encourage all of you here to share your issues and opinions to address the remaining issues for our people.”

The ceremony, attended by nearly 50 local and international organizations, was applauded by some civil society advocates who sometimes find themselves at odds with Cambodian authorities.

Moeun Tola, a labor program officer for the Community Legal Education Center, congratulated the government for celebrating Human Rights Day.

“In the past, it has considered this event useless, but now it is starting to understand its importance; however, as I have said, this celebration alone is not an indicator of human rights protections.”

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed December 10 as Human Rights Day in 1950.  Tuesday also marks 20 years since the signing of the Vienna Declaration, the U.N. pact that committed states to the promotion and protection of human rights for everyone.


This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kevin Oneill from: Phnom Penh
December 14, 2013 11:00 AM
Just a lot of phony phrasemongering bya bunch of state stooges, considering the slew of police shootings of protesters and Transparency International's just-released report on Cambodia's disgusting depths of state corruption. Those NGOs should be ashamed of themselves for lending such a farce legitimacy with their attendance.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid