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Cablegate: Peaceful Celebration of International Human Rights

VZCZCXRO2303
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #0899 3440823
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 100823Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1432
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 000899

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, DRL
STATE PASS TO USAID ASIA BUREAU

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

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

1. (U) Cambodians in Phnom Penh celebrated a peaceful
International Human Rights Day on December 10, marked by a
march and a rally. This year's march is the third
consecutive march allowed by authorities; in prior years, the
route had been limited to approximately 4 blocks, but this
year authorities permitted a 3-kilometer march from Wat
Phnom, along the waterfront area to Wat Botum near the
centrally located Hun Sen Park. Approximately 1,000
participants from labor unions, NGOs, community groups, and
donor countries marched, then joined up with several hundred
more participants at the park for a rally. Ambassador Rodley
attended the rally, as did the Ambassadors from Germany and
France, and the diplomatic representative from the European
Union (EU). The rally included remarks by the representative
of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights (UNOHCHR), the French Ambassador, the EU
representative, and several NGO leaders. Neither the Phnom
Penh Municipality nor the Royal Government of Cambodia sent
representatives to the march or rally.

2. (SBU) This year's events were organized by a working
group of 19 NGOs, led by the Cambodian Human Rights Action
Committee (CHRAC). Permission for the event from authorities
came mid-day on December 9, which UNOHCHR representative
Christophe Peschoux said was an improvement from prior years,
in which permission had been denied by authorities,
necessitating intervention by UNOHCHR and donor countries.
Peschoux stated that permission this year was slow due to
bureaucratic tangling between municipal and federal
authorities, but never denied during the process, and
authorities did not restrict either the route or the number
of permitted participants. This permitted organizers to
stage a much longer march than in previous years. Police
presence around the march was light, and there was no
official interference during the march.

3. (SBU) In comments at the rally, the president of the
Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC),
Thun Saray, remarked on the importance of having truly
independent courts and a society free from corruption.
UNOHCHR's Peschoux commented that December 10 each year is a
day of celebration, marking the signing of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, which was enshrined as part of
Cambodia's constitution in 1993.

4. (SBU) Additional activities for International Human
Rights Day were planned throughout Cambodia's provinces,
including Battambang, Siem Reap, Prey Veng, Kampot, and
Kampong Cham. The Cambodian League for the Promotion and
Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) separately organized visits
to 75 jailed "human rights defenders," most of whom are in
prison as a result of land disputes.
RODLEY

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