Cambodian opposition defies gov’t marching ban on Int’l Human Rights Day

Thousands of Cambodian opposition supporters marched in the capital on Tuesday morning to mark the 65th International Human Rights Day despite a government ban on marching.

Sam Rainsy, president of the Cambodian National Rescue Party ( CNRP), led thousands of supporters to march from the party’s southern headquarters to the Freedom Park as his deputy Kem Sokha and lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua walked with thousands of supporters from the capital’s western and northern parts, respectively to the Freedom Park, where they held the celebrations.

Authorities did not prevent them from marching even though Interior Minister Sar Kheng issued a statement on Sunday, banning the protesters from marching on streets.

Kem Sokha said Monday that the marches would be conducted peacefully and the party had already informed the authorities.

“The authorities have only obligation to ensure safety for protestors,” he told reporters.

CNRP spokesman Yem Ponharith said the rally aimed to demand greater respect for human rights and greater access to social justice.

He said the CNRP marked the day in Phnom Penh in the morning and in the tourist city of Siem Reap in the afternoon.

Both Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha will fly to Siem Reap at noon time for the event, he said, adding that in Siem Reap, the two leaders will lead protesters to walk in the city, but not marching to the Angkor Wat Temple, a World Heritage site.

To celebrate the day, Prime Minister Hun Sen also met with about 3,000 people with disabilities at the Phnom Penh’s Diamond Island Center as about 200 civil society organizations working on human rights issues organized an event at the capital’s historical Wat Phnom site with around 5,000 participants.