About 1,000 villagers in Vichey Sakor Buddhist temple, in Koh Thom town, Kandal province, attended the Cambodia Center of Human Rights (CCHR) forum, hosted by Mr. Kem Sokha on Friday, without any interruption. The villagers, opposition Sam Rainsy Party's, and Funcinpec party's envoys, local authorities, Mr. Kem Sokha, and Radio Bee Hive's Director, Mr. Mam Sonando, discussed some issues, peacefully and without violence.
The CCHR got funded by USAID, and IRI to promote democracy and human rights in Cambodia, so that the Cambodian people can express their opinions for the government to solve.
Recently, the forums have been disrupted by groups of people supporting the ruling parties, notably the CPP. Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened a number of organizations saying the authorities will not be responsible for people who might use violence to oppose such forums, and for using the temples to criticize the government.
The Buddhist Supreme Chief, Honorable Tep Vong did not allow the CCHR to use the temples to have its forums any more. But on Friday, Koh Thom town's temple's chief monk, honorable Kong Yun, allowed Mr. Kem Sokha to use his temple for the forum. He said that it is for the people's benefits.
The temple's Buddhist Society Committee's director, Mr.Saing Chean, said that his committee knows about the Buddhist Supreme Chief's announcement, but that a pagoda is a public worship place, and it does not belong to any clan, or any political party.
Funcinpec party's envoy, Mr. Khiev San, said that the people expressed their opinions peacefully, and this kind of forums should continue. Sam Rainsy Party's legislator, Mr. Chan Cheng, appealed for peace during such forum.
Mr. Kem Sokha said that a number of temple's chief monks agreed to his requests, but others were afraid of the authorities.
The Buddhist Supreme Chief's office's director, Mr. Chhing bun Chhea, said that the chief monks have the right to decide about the forum's venues at their pagodas, but those who oppose the Buddhist Supreme Chief will have to be educated by high officials.