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Cambodians Join in International Mourning for Nelson Mandela

Newspapers with pictures of Nelson Mandela on the front page on sale in London, Dec. 6, 2013.
PHNOM PENH - Cambodian officials, rights workers and others joined in international mourning for Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa and a figure of peace and reconciliation.

Cambodians from students to vendors to public officials said they recognized Mandela as a man of sacrifice and service who demanded equal rights for others. And his loss was circulated through the Internet, via social media sites like Facebook.

“He was a well-known global hero, who led non-violent demonstrations and national reconciliation, and we should all regard him as an idol,” said Leav Kimlay, a 23-year-old university student in Phnom Penh. “What I know of Nelson Mandela was his sacrifice in demanding equal rights among blacks and whites in his country. As a Cambodian, I am very saddened by the news.”

“Although he is gone, his heroism will remain as a legacy for mankind,” said Chak Sopheap, a program director at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

“I didn’t know about his death, as I didn’t follow the news last night,” said a Phnom Penh vendor, Chin Rin, 39. “But I have heard his name for a long time as a global leader demanding human rights and democracy. I share my condolences for the loss of a global figure like him.”

Government spokesman Phay Siphan called Mandela “an outstanding example in fighting for freedom and democracy.”

“We are experiencing an incalculable loss to mankind,” he said. “His death does not only effect the legacy of South Africans, but the entire world.”