The long journey on foot from the provinces to Phnom Penh began yesterday for hundreds of villagers and monks who intend to mark December 10’s International Human Rights Day by protesting outside the National Assembly.
Parades of people, expected to grow in size the closer they get to the capital, set off from 16 provincial towns, some of them along national roads, human rights workers said.
Vorn Pov, president of civil-society group Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association, who headed the parade from Kampong Thom province, said the marchers would trek for nine days to deliver petitions to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party asking for action to be taken against human rights abuses.
“We want to send a message to the government to stop the abuse of people’s rights,” he said.
About 1,000 people were marching along five national roads and those involved expected up to 30,000 people on December 10, he added.
Sar Mora, president of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation, who led the parade from Pursat town, said there were about 80 people – some monks – in his group.
“We do not have war – but we do not yet have peace,” he said.
National Assembly spokesman Chheang Vun declined to comment yesterday. The CNRP announced last week it is moving a rally planned for the day from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap to avoid hampering NGOs’ efforts to get permission to use public spaces.
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said yesterday that he has yet to receive letters from NGOs asking to use Freedom Park for the event.
“When they file the letter requesting permission, we will consider this request and call them for a meeting,” he said. “We can’t say now whether they will be allowed.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KHOUTH SOPHAK CHAKRYA AND SHANE WORRELL