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Cablegate: Peaceful Human Rights Day March in Cambodia

VZCZCXRO2536
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #0977 3450855
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 100855Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0183
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 000977

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MLS AND DRL
USAID FOR ASIA BUREAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM SOCI PGOV CB
SUBJECT: PEACEFUL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY MARCH IN CAMBODIA

1. (U) For the second year in a row, a peaceful,
well-attended Human Rights Day march and rally were held in
Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The December 10 march of approximately
1,000 participants began near the city's centrally located
Independence Monument, filed along a major Phnom Penh
thoroughfare for approximately four blocks, and ended at a
gathering in a large park. Approximately 1,000-2,000
participants from labor unions, NGOs, community groups, and
donor countries attended the rally. The Ambassador
participated along with diplomatic representatives from
France, U.K., Germany, and the European Union. A Phnom Penh
deputy governor also attended as a representative of the
Phnom Penh Municipality.

2. (SBU) This year's event was organized by a working group
led by the Cambodia Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC),
and was finally approved by the Ministry of Interior (MOI)
after some initially negative communications with the
municipal authorities. In his December 8 note to the Phnom
Penh Municipality approving the march and rally, Deputy Prime
Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng wrote that
Cambodia is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, and that a march and rally were allowed on Human
Rights Day last year. As the Embassy noted in a press
release issued on December 9, activities such as the march
and rally are laudable, important steps towards the freedoms
enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and
signify that the people of Cambodia are increasingly able to
enjoy an open and free society.

3. (U) We received reports that other Human Rights Day
events took place peacefully and without interruption, as
well. In Battambang, an NGO-organized community gathering of
approximately 200 people also had the participation of a
local deputy governor and some local police officials.
Similar gatherings of 50 to approximately 1,000 participants
took place elsewhere in Phnom Penh, and Mondulkiri, Kratie,
Kampong Thom, Takeo, Kampot, Koh Kong, Svay Rieng, Prey Veng,
Poipet, and Siem Reap provinces.
RODLEY

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