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Youth march for peace

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International youth conference stages event in Siem Reap

PETER OLSZEWSKI

Marchers for peace last Sunday in Siem Reap.

MORE than 300 students from around the world who had gathered in Siem Reap for a six-day International Peace Conference marched peacefully through the streets of Siem Reap last Sunday, the International Day of Peace.

The students were given permission to march by officials last Friday, and, while there was a large contingent of police stationed along the route, the march was trouble-free, a colourful parade that attracted large crowds of onlookers at several vantage points.

The event was organised by Youth for Peace, and program assistant Sin Putheary told the Post, "The march in Siem Reap went very smoothly.  We didn't expect that more than 300 students would join us in this march, and when I walked with them through the streets I felt so happy because I had a feeling at that moment that there is no more war in the world."

One theme of the conference was that, while conventional wisdom has it that older men usually start wars while young men do the fighting, young people in some countries - often the uneducated and uninformed - can be active agents in the agitation to commence war, while in other countries it is the youth who are the champions of peace.

Before the Sunday march, students assembled at the Provincial Teacher Training College on Charles De Gaulle Boulevard.

Youth for Peace Executive Director Long Khet told the gathering that an objective of the conference was to get youth from various countries, especially countries recently war-torn, to share their ideas on how to find justice, peace and reconciliation.

Many of the participants at this conference were invited from countries that had recently experienced war.

"We wanted the students to understand the root causes of the wars, and why the wars happened. We want them to take advantage of their experiences of war by turning them into experiences to help develop their country in the future," Long Khet said.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport's Chey Chap said, "It is an important conference that will help pave the way for youth to find peace and justice in their minds.  The Cambodian government always tries its best to provide justice and find peace."

Siem Reap Deputy Governor Mao Vuthy said, "Youth are seeking a way to turn a conflict culture into a peace culture. This conference is also seeking ways to develop the world in this 21st century."

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