More than a thousand Cambodians living in the United States, Canada, and France demonstrated in front of the Cambodian embassy in Washington on Sunday to demand that Cambodia release political opposition leader Kem Sokha from prison.
Rallying earlier at the White House, they also urged stronger U.S. pressure on Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen to reverse the Southeast Asian nation’s retreat from democracy and slide into authoritarian rule.
Speaking at the rally, Kem Monovithya—daughter of jailed Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) chief Kem Sokha—said that while the U.S. and other concerned countries may do their best to help Cambodia, the real power to effect change in the country lies in the hands of the Cambodian people themselves.
“The bottom line is that you yourselves should be prepared to decide what you want your country to be,” she said.
Pa Nguon Teang, executive director of the Phnom Penh-based Cambodian Center for Independent Media, called the demonstration on International Human Rights Day a message to Hun Sen that Cambodia’s people will not accept living under a dictatorship.
“If the government makes no move to reconsider its actions in a timely manner, there will be more mass protests [in Cambodia] too,” he said.
“Hun Sen has robbed the CNRP of its legitimate seats [in the country’s parliament],” Montreal resident Soeu Sokhom said.
“He has dissolved the opposition party and betrayed the over three million Cambodians who voted for the CNRP” in local elections held earlier this year, she said.
“We strongly disagree with what he has done to the political opposition and to our country,” she said.
Full story: rfa.org
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Nareth Muong. Written in English by Richard Finney.
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