Cambodia, Buddhist Monks’ Rally at United Nations: Prelude to Upcoming Phnom Penh Demonstrations

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A major, but largely unnoticed, demonstration held in front of the United Nations (UN) in New York on August 19 by Cambodians and Buddhist monks was an important prelude to planned mass demonstrations in Phnom Penh tomorrow, September 7th, according to the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA), a non-governmental research organization.

“As a result of the UN protest, it appears that Buddhist monks will help stand peacefully against the army tanks and soldiers to seek to protect the Cambodian people in the coming days at the planned mass protests in Phnom Penh on September 7th,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the CPPA in Washington, D.C.

“There was little news coverage of the historic Cambodian and Buddhist monks’ demonstration at the United Nations on August 19, but the estimated 1500 peaceful protestors made an important statement in appealing to the UN and the United States, as well as the international community, to address the problematic and contested July election results in Cambodia as well as the current crisis in Phnom Penh,” Smith observed.

“The protestors have appealed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as well as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to help intercede in Cambodia so that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s security forces, along with the army and tanks, are withdrawn from Phnom Penh, and so that the July 28 election results are fully investigated by the UN and international observers,” Smith commented.

“This major demonstration of Cambodians and Buddhist monks in front of the UN headquarters, on August 19, as well as rallies in Long Beach, California, were an important prelude to the mass demonstrations in Phnom Penh tomorrow, September 7," Smith said. “Unfortunately, Hun Sen has deployed tanks, heavy weapons, army troops and security forces in an apparent attempt to intimidate opposition groups including Sam Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Party.”

“We want the United Nations to get involved in the July election results in Cambodia because we feel the National Election Committee is not fair and because many Cambodian citizens were not allowed to vote,” said Ms. Reasmy Sou, a young, educated Cambodian-American who participated in the UN rally. “There was widespread voter fraud and intimidation in the Cambodian elections in July; the election results were not fair and are being challenged."

Ms. Sou explained: "The United Nations should get involved to help to make the election results fair and right. Prime Minister Hun Sen should not use the army against the people who are seeking fair election results and peaceful protests. Hun Sen should not be sending frontline army troops and tanks into the capital. We want the withdrawal of all army troops and security forces prior to the upcoming peaceful, mass demonstrations planned on September 7, 2013, to contest and protest the election results.”

Center for Public Policy Analysis
Maria Gomez or Philip Smith


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