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Rights Marchers Begin Walk to Angkor Wat


Rights activists on Wednesday took the first steps of a long walk from Phnom Penh to Angkor Wat, about 280 kilometers away, beginning a march to promote free expression and to censure violence in the upcoming commune elections.

Scores of participants left Wat Phnom, a landmark in the capital, by foot, including rights proponents like Kem Sokha, the director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, and Mam Sonando, the owner of Beehive Radio, both of whom were arrested in 2005 under an anti-defamation clause in Cambodian law.

The Alliance for Freedom of Expression in Cambodia organized the march, modeling it after a similar walk last year that traveled from Phnom Penh to nearby Udong Mountain.

Last year's march, also organized by the alliance, helped spur Prime Minister Hun Sen to repeal the clause from the law, organizers said. Kem Sokha and Mam Sonando were released early in 2006.

Participants said they hoped the march would promote peace in the country, "unify the Khmer soul" and allow Cambodians to talk to each other face to face.

Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy said he hoped the march would help stop violence in April's elections.

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