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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia to celebrate UN 50th, year of racial tolerance

Cambodia to celebrate UN 50th, year of racial tolerance

C AMBODIA is commemorating the UN's 50th anniversary "Year of Tolerance" - a

world-wide initative to stop racism and xenophobia.

A national committee

has been set up, headed by Kong Sam Ol, deputy prime minister and minister of

the Royal Palace, and Defence Ministers Tea Banh and Tea Chamrath.

United

Nations' "sponsored days", for example highlighting youth, education, peace,

refugees, the environment, Aids, rural development and human rights, will be

observed.

There are also planned marathons - in Phnom Penh and the

provinces - and photo and poster exhibitions, all under the "Year of Tolerance"

theme.

Racism and xenophobia were top agenda issues during the 1993

European Council meeting, and this campaign is the single most important plan of

action.

The concept of "inferiority of races" (racism), and literal "fear

of strangers" (xenophobia), is a well-documented phenomenon in this part of the

world, especially locally among Thais, Vietnamese and Khmers.

The UN

buzz-words are tolerance, equality, dignity and democracy. The campaign logo

(above) is "All Different, All Equal."

Czech Republic president Vaclav

Havel, in a key-note quote to the campaign, said: "One aspect of the immense and

wonderful color and mystery of life is that groups of people differ from each

other as groups: in their customs, their traditions, their way of life, their

faith, the color of their skin and their way of dressing and so on... This

"otherness" of different communities can of course be accepted with

understanding and tolerance as something that enriches life: it can be honored

and respected, it can even be enjoyed."

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