V ENERABLE spiritual leader Samdech Maha Ghosananda said the peace march to
Pailin will go ahead despite reports of renewed intense fighting in the area,
between government and Khmer Rouge soldiers.
Maha Ghosananda explained
Pailin is a terrible war torn place that needed peace when responding to
concerns the walkers could be caught in the fighting while traversing the
heavily mined region.
"Sometimes we are in fear, but later the fear is no
longer with us. We have to walk and spread our message of compassion, loving
kindness, and respect for human rights to all Cambodians who are the victims of
An organizer of the walk, who declined to be named, told the Post
that on April 11 a mine accident occurred 13 km from Battambang on the intended
He said the mine, which killed one civilian and wounded two
others, was probably laid by the KR.
Maha Ghosananda, a nominee for the
1994 noble peace prize, said it is difficult to understand KR soldiers'
"Sometimes, they use to accuse us of being against them. We asked
permission from their leader Kieu Samphan to pass through their controlled zone.
I hope they will cooperate with us."
On April 18 His Majesty King Norodom
Sihanouk issued a royal message to Maha Ghosananda: "The queen and I would like
to express our highest respects and profound admiration to you and all of the
monks, nuns and lay people and dear fellow compatriots who are
The march, called Dhammayietra in Khmer, departs from
Battambang province on 24 April and will travel along route 10 to Pailin, then
along the Thai border to Yeath Ath, Nimit, Sisophon, Thmar Pouk and
The march will finish one month later in Angkor Wat where
walkers will celebrate the highest holy day of Buddhism, Vesak Puja on May 24,
after their 430 km journey.
Thousands of people are expected to begin
the march and walk to a checkpoint 38 km from Battambang.
coordinator Venerable Kim Teng says only 500 specially selected people will be
allowed to continue the walk past this point due to logistics
He said: "We believe the KR will not make trouble for us
because our work is religious, neutral, without taking sides."
all power-holders to soften their attitudes to each other and come together and
Walkers gathered in Phnom Penh on April 19 at Wat Sompou
Meas where monks blessed them and fans wished them well.
They took buses
to Battambang where they are being taught a three day training course in mine
awareness by a World Vision team.
Chea Dung, a 62 year old nun who came
from Prey Veng province to join previous peace walks, said: "I am very willing
to walk even though it is a long way because my family and many Cambodians have
been killed in war. We want to stop the fighting.
"We want to show the
people of the region the terrible reality of war and the beauty of love and
peace and we want them to understand our country. We are all Cambodian, we must
achieve peace through patience not fighting."
Dhammayietra has the
support of about 20 volunteer international organizations and local NGOs who
have offered transportation, food and supplies to the walkers.