Oct 09, 2007

Khmer Krom: Nonviolent Demonstrations OK?

New laws will enforce Cambodia's constitutional commitment allowing nonviolent demonstrations, signifying a positive prospect for human rights activists, such as the Khmer Krom community.

Cambodia's constitutional commitment to allow freedom of expression, assembly and peaceful demonstrations is finally being put into implementation by law, signifying a positive prospect for human rights activists and especially the Khmer Krom community.

Below is an article published by UNPO:

Cambodia’s Council of Ministers issued a communiqué indicating that the plenary session of the Council of Ministers, held on 05 October 2007 had agreed and approved the nonviolent demonstration right draft law which was prepared by the Ministry of Interior.

The draft law includes 6 Sections divided into 30 Articles. The communiqué stated that the draft law on the nonviolent demonstration right was prepared on the basis of Articles 37 and 41 of the 1993 Cambodian Constitution which provide the right of citizens to strike or to stage nonviolent demonstrations, and guarantee the freedom of expression and assembly. Pursuant to these articles, the aforementioned rights are to be implemented in the framework of a law. Such a law has so far never been passed. The fact that it has been drafted and could soon be passed is an encouraging sign after so many peaceful demonstrations were disrupted by the police in the past years.

A Member of UNPO, the Khmer Krom (from Kampuchea Krom, South Vietnam) constitute a large community in Cambodia. Their natural refuge when fleeing suppression in Vietnam, Cambodia has not always been a safe haven for them. Despite their nonviolent approach, the Khmer Krom have repeatedly been prevented from staging peaceful demonstrations in Cambodia by the police (some of their demonstrations have even been violently repressed). The passing of the nonviolent demonstration right law will be a major step towards the democratisation of Cambodia and might, by ricochet, have impact on the politics of the region, allowing oppressed minorities from Vietnam and Laos to voice their concerns in Phnom Penh.

Note: Articles 37 and 41 from the Cambodian Constitution:

Article 37 - The right to strike and to non-violent demonstration shall be implemented in the framework of a law.

Article 41 - Khmer citizens shall have freedom of expression, press, publication and assembly. No one shall exercise this right to infringe upon the rights of others, to affect the good traditions of the society, to violate public law and order and national security. The regime of the media shall be determined by law.