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Cambodians Protest in Washington for More US Pressure on Government


Protestors hold banners in front of Capitol Hill. (Chetra Chap/VOA Khmer)

The protesters demanded the release of jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha and the reinstatement of the banned opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.

Protesters gathered in Washington this weekend to call for more diplomatic pressure to be placed on the Cambodian government over its rights record.

The protesters demanded the release of jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha and the reinstatement of the banned opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.

Yap Kim Tung, president of the American Association for Human Rights and Democracy, who attended the demonstration, said that the Cambodian government’s non-compliance with the international community showed further action must be taken.

"Otherwise, the international community will pressure Mr. Hun Sen and do not blame the international pressure to suppress Mr. Hun Sen, it’s the act of Hun Sen's own doing," he said.

Long Ry, a former CNRP lawmaker, spoke at the rally, urging protesters to keep up the fight.

Cambodian-American Chhum Serey Sokhom lives in North Carolina. (Chetra Chap/VOA Khmer)
Cambodian-American Chhum Serey Sokhom lives in North Carolina. (Chetra Chap/VOA Khmer)

Chhum Serey Sokhom, a protester from North Carolina, joined the demonstration in Washington, said the main demand of protesters was to have all charges against Sokha dropped.

Sokha was jailed on treason charges in September 2017 and later released under house arrest.

“As long as Khmer are united ... they will not remain silent, and most importantly, we are the owner of a country, sharing common blood, who are united.”

Phon Horm, a protester from Pennsylvania, said she wants to see pressure from the US and the UN to “restore democracy and human rights” in Cambodia.

"I want to see the UN help to pressure and bring Khmer people out of the palm [of the current government],” she said.

CNRP opposition leaders Suy Seng Hong, right, and Ry Kea, left, protest in front of the White House in Washington, D.C, on Saturday, Jan 19, 2019. (Chetra Chap/VOA Khmer)
CNRP opposition leaders Suy Seng Hong, right, and Ry Kea, left, protest in front of the White House in Washington, D.C, on Saturday, Jan 19, 2019. (Chetra Chap/VOA Khmer)

In Khom, from Canada, vowed to help ensure European and North American governments did not forget the issue.

"Although we have been living in this place, we can not look at our homeland, which is already close to the precipice. So we are committed to doing everything for our motherland.”

Chea Gueclang, a California citizen who joined the protest in Washington, said: “For me, it's ... a positive signal, so all of us will be successful soon, because the European Union, the United States, are working, that's what we need. So all of you, we will succeed in the near future.”

Pro-opposition groups have raised hopes of a reinstatement of the CNRP following steps taken by the US and EU to implement trade sanctions against Phnom Penh.

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