Protesters Gather Outside of US Embassy to Deliver Petitions

IMG_6980On Tuesday morning, November 18th, over 150 monks and community representatives gathered outside of the US embassy at 8am to submit petitions.

The first petition is to support Venerable Luon Sovath, a monk who has been very active in recent social movements, and has been summoned by the municipal court for an interview on the 25th of November. He has been charged with “provocation to commit crime” (Article 495 in Cambodian law).

Representatives from Boeung Kak, Borei Keila, and other communities that have been victims of land grabbing also submitted a petition calling for support in their campaign to release the 17 recently arrested activists.

After the US embassy, they delivered their petitions to the British, French, Korean, and German embassies. However, when they marched to the EU delegation, over 100 police and security personnel outside the building blocked them. Later they moved on to deliver petitions to the Embassy of Russia, Thailand, Australia, Japan, Malaysia and China.

Monks, community reps, and civil society groups have made plans to continue the campaign on Sunday, November 23rd. In the morning, they will rally outside the Prey Sar prison where the children of the detainees will sing songs, the monks will pray, balloons will be released (symbolizing the hopeful release of the 17 activists), and other participants will hold up large photos of the prisoners.

Afterwards, they will march to the houses of the judge and prosecutors. There they will carry out a silent protest while the children deliver lotus flowers to the respective families of the judge and prosecutors. They plan to deliver lotus flowers to the families everyday henceforth until the 17 activists are released.

On that same Sunday, a group of monks will gather at Wat Botum to ask for support from Venerable Khim Sorn, the chief of the Mohanikaya Buddhist sect in Phnom Penh and the Phnom Penh municipal director of monks. Of the 17 people apprehended last week, three were monks who were defrocked by the government shortly after their arrest.

Civil society organizations are also planning more formal meetings with foreign embassies to discuss the recent arrests.


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