Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rights Day events in capital violence-free

Rights Day events in capital violence-free

Protesters march in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park to commemorate Human Rights Day on Saturday. LICADHO
Protesters march in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park to commemorate Human Rights Day on Saturday. LICADHO

Rights Day events in capital violence-free

Fears of violence during International Human Rights Day celebrations on Saturday proved unfounded as Phnom Penh City Hall eased up on its blanket ban on public celebrations of the day at the last minute.

Since October 31, civil society groups had lodged multiple requests with the municipality to hold gatherings on December 10. Each of them were rejected, with City Hall suggesting they hold celebrations at NGO offices or rent a private space.

Prom Sophal, secretary-general of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC), said yesterday that authorities had briefly granted permission for the event on December 8, but revoked it within the space of an afternoon.

The following day, CHRAC called a meeting in which its members resolved to hold a public event regardless and notified the municipality, Sophal said, adding that on Saturday, he arrived at Freedom Park to find it full of armed police.

“I did not think they would allow us to do an event there,” he said, adding that the majority of the police left shortly after. “Later on, a police officer went to the centre of Freedom Park . . . I asked him, ‘Will you allow us to hold the Human Rights Day Event here?’ And he said, ‘No problem, we’ll allow you to do the event, but the municipality won’t allow you to do much, just in Freedom Park’.”

Municipal police chief Choun Sovann could not be reached for comment. However, City Hall spokesman Mean Chanyada said the fact Saturday’s event took place did not reflect a softening of City Hall’s position.

“They did not respect City Hall’s announcement that we did not allow them to hold an event. However, they could still do it [at Freedom Park], but they did not march,” Chanyada said. “This showed that we used a compromise approach. It does not mean our letter was ineffective.”

CHRAC’s Sophal estimated that between 3,000 and 3,500 people eventually gathered in Freedom Park, although rights group Licadho pegged the total attendees at closer to 1,000.

Wan-Hea Lee, of the UN’s human rights office, said in an email yesterday that she believed it was “direct contact between the organizers and the authorities that ultimately led to a good outcome”.

Licadho estimated that some 11,000 people took part in events around the country last week, but noted that authorities in Kampot prevented three planned events.

MOST VIEWED

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement

  • Walmart plans to diversify stock of Cambodia goods

    Walmart Inc, the world’s biggest retailer, on June 22 reiterated recent plans to scale up and greatly diversify its purchases of Cambodian products, according to the labour ministry. This came during a virtual working meeting between Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng and

  • Cambodia detects new Covid cases after 52 days: PM

    After 52 days of zero new Covid-19 cases, Cambodia has now detected new infections, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen. In his special audio address to the nation late on June 28, Hun Sen said the new cases were detected on people who had undergone PCR tests

  • Cotton club growing in Battambang

    The global market for “vegan leather” – materials that act as alternatives to traditional leather that can be synthesised from cork, apple peels, cactus, recycled plastic, grape pomace and pineapple leaves, among other things, and supposedly require no chemicals or water to produce – is expected to