Cambodia's opposition is beginning three days of mass demonstrations in the capital to call for the government to allow an independent probe into alleged fraud in the country's most recent election. Thousands gathered early Wednesday in Phnom Penh's Freedom Park, where they were met by thousands of riot police. The Cambodian National Rescue Party, which organized the protests, plans to march on Wednesday to a United Nations office in the capital to deliver a petition calling for international intervention to end the standoff over the July vote. They will also march to several foreign embassies. Cambodian authorities granted last minute approval for the CNRP to deliver the petition, but stipulated that only 1,000 people be allowed to join the march. (Heng Reaksmey, Phnom Penh)
More than 1,000 riot police were deployed to the heart of Phnom Penh on Monday, where demonstrators for housing rights gathered to demand resolutions to ongoing evictions and poor resettlement deals. Some 100 demonstrators had planned to march on City Hall, but riot police were able to contain them within the government-sanctioned assembly space of Freedom Park, nearby. The demonstration and the police reaction to it were preludes to a massive three-day demonstration planned by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, planned for later this week. (Heng Reaksmey, Phnom Penh)
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy will be interviewed by VOA Khmer in Washington Thursday morning, following meetings with US and UN officials and donors over Cambodia’s ongoing political deadlock in the wake of marred elections in July. Sam Rainsy met with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns Wednesday afternoon. A spokeswoman for the State Department said Wednesday that US officials “do believe and continue to believe that a credible and transparent review of the election would help efforts moving forward.” (Sok Khemara, Washington)
Some 100 demonstrators for housing rights clashed with police on Thursday, after they marched on Phnom Penh’s City Hall on Thursday to call for a solution for evictees of the neighborhood of Borei Keila. No serious injuries were reported, after the group ran into some 100 riot police with batons and shields. Heavy rains have created illnesses at an eviction site outside the capital, where former residents of Borei Keila have been forced to live to make way for city developers. About 60 families have not received adequate housing after the eviction, representatives said. (Khoun Theara, Phnom Penh)
A female Cambodian journalist Phorn Bopha is one of the three winners of the 2013 International Women's Media Award for Courage in Journalism, organized by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). Bopha got trapped in the middle of a murder case on an environmentalist Chhut Wuthy last year, and almost lost her life. However, the incident did not discourage her. She continues to report on corruption and illegal logging for the English-language Cambodia Daily newspaper. She broke her silence in an interview with VOA Khmer’s Men Kimseng.
Cambodia’s ruling and opposition parties remain at odds over negotiations for a new government. The opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party wants to negotiate for election reforms, following irregularities opposition leaders say cost them the election in July. But a ruling party lawmaker told VOA Khmer that negotiations should now be centered around positions at the National Assembly, a legislative body the opposition says was illegally formed without their participation. Meanwhile, Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy, who is visiting key donors in Western countries, says the current government should not be recognized internationally. He told a group of Cambodian-Americans outside Washington Tuesday night that the opposition was pushing for “change” that many Cambodians wants, despite a high number unable to vote in July’s election. (Sok Khemara, Washington)
On International Day of the Girl Child, VOA Khmer reporter Say Mony looks at limited access for Cambodian girls whose families live in poor floating villages on the Tonle Sap Lake to education. Girls of Prek Toal primary school in Battambang province said they don't expect to finish high school because they must help their parents to earn a living.
Housing rights activists and eviction victims marked World Habitat Day on Thursday, calling on the government to end forced evictions and address ongoing land disputes. Around 400 people gathered in front of the popular tourist site of Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh, then marched down the street to City Hall, where they submitted a petition to city administrators. Police tried to bar their way, but they pushed through barricades before passing the US Embassy en route to City Hall. (Kong Sothanarith, Phnom Penh)
Venerable Loun Sovath, a winner of 2012 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders and land rights activist Tep Vanny appealed to international community to pay more attention to local people’s fight for rights and freedom. They also urged their countrymen to keep fighting against repressive government. VOA Khmer Men Kimseng interviewed both of them in Washington, DC, where they met with officials at State Department, and human rights watchdogs.