Hundreds of people march on the 1st AGPA event in Cambodia
Over three days hundreds of people from the ASEAN area joined in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh, to find a space to discuss solutions to human rights issues in the area with the aim to deliver their suggestions to the ASEAN leaders, during the summit.
With loudspeakers and using phone’s flashlights, participants of the AGPA event were forced to find alternatives to the power cut that almost boycotted the opening day. Two days later, despite acts of intimidation such as reported crackdowns on groups of people larger than two by police forces across the city; more than a thousand people – constantly proclaiming their political neutrality, and peaceful nature of their meeting – gathered in front of the Korean Cultural Center to march to the National Assembly where they delivered a letter with their suggestions.
The day before, on Thursday Nov. 15, eight people from the Thmar Kaul community near the airport in Phnom Penh got arrested for having spray-painted SOS signs on their rooftops, adding pressure to the communities who continuously have reported intimidation by the authorities.
With the pressure of the international community and NGOs, crackdowns on civil society during the AGPA have remained within reason. However, judging on previous cases such as the Mam Sonando’s arrest, which came two days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left the country; the reasonable response from authorities on this matter remains to be seen.