While Cambodia officially marked International Women’s Day on Tuesday, a coalition of women were forced to sit it out.
Phnom Penh authorities banned the Cambodian Women’s Movement Organization, a coalition that encompasses a number of women’s groups and workers, from holding a planned gathering at the Wat Botum Vatei pagoda.
Organizers said they hoped up to 1,000 women would participate in the celebration.
Meas Morakot, director of the organization, said they received a response from the city’s governor, Kep Chuktema, on Monday that said they would not be allowed to gather.
“He did not give any reason, just to say he cannot afford [to provide] the place,” she said “We are not in a situation of feeling full acceptance of this.”
Human Rights Watch said the ban on the gathering at first seemed “like a joke.”
“Refusing women the right to rally peacefully reflects the government’s distrust of its people,” Brad Adams, the group’s Asia director, said in a statement.
International Women’s Day, which marked it centennial on Tuesday, is a national holiday in Cambodia.