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

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs