I was most disappointed by your lack of coverage of the July
14 demonstration, held outside the French embassy, against the French
government's plans to resume nuclear testing in the Pacific.
This is an
issue that many in the local and international community feel strongly about.
With minimal advance publicity, over 100 people turned out to vent their
disapproval, including many French nationals, who chose not to attend the
Bastille day celebrations held inside the closely-guarded embassy enclave. It
was great to see so many Cambodian Buddhist monks and nuns attending, as well as
the many people who made placards in various languages, and handed out leaflets
in English, French and Khmer to those attending the embassy function. Some came
dressed entirely in white, with white face paint. I noticed one or two of your
reporters there too. As expected, there was heavy security from Cambodian police
and French security personnel, and a sizable crowd of onlookers.
attended many such protests in New Zealand and Australia, and this seemed one of
the most colorful, friendly and multi-cultural I have ever seen. We did not have
anything like the thousands and tens of thousands who demonstrated in New
Zealand, Australia, France, the Pacific and elsewhere, but I think we made our
point, registering our condemnation of Chirac's disregard for world opinion, the
environment and the global disarmament process. It is fifty years since
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and ten years since French terrorists blew up the
Greenpeace flagship "Rainbow Warrior" in Auckland harbor. Many of us, Cambodian
nationals and those foreigners resident here, do not wish for any repetitions of
such occurrences. Surely this warrants more than a passing reference in your
"Gecko" column, congratulating the French for magnanimously allowing the protest
to take place.
- Katerina Julian, Phnom Penh.