Thousands Reject Cambodia’s Election Results

Thousands joined a protest against voting irregularities in Cambodia. Photo by Kimlong Meng, Copyright @Demotix (9/7/2013

Thousands joined a protest against voting irregularities in Cambodia. Photo by Kimlong Meng, Copyright @Demotix (9/7/2013)

More than ten thousand people participated in an assembly organized by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to protest the alleged manipulation of electoral results by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).

The ruling party won by slim majority after it took 68 seats compared to the opposition’s 55 seats. It was the CPP’s worst electoral performance since 1998 which has been in power in the past three decades.

Casey Nelson shared what he observed during the peaceful assembly last September 7:

The event was very well organized. Bottled water, bread, slogan emblazoned headbands, stickers and lotus flowers were available for all participants. A medical station was set up and medics patrolled the edges of the park. Organizers helped direct and control the crowd. Walking paths and exits were taped off throughout the park.

At least within sight of the demonstration area, police presence was minimal and occupied primarily with traffic control.

Well more than a dozen “Human Rights Observers,” some identifiable by their blue shirts, presumably from the UN, CCHR and other NGOs, roamed around and through the crowds. I also noticed 4 or 5 foreigners in the crowd, participating in the demonstration.

Participants carried lotus flowers and flags and hand-drawn placards repeating the same 5 or 6 themes verbatim, most in both Khmer and English, including: “My Vote, My Life”; “My Vote, My Nation”; “Where is my vote?”; “There is Justice, There is Peace” and “We need an independent truth committee.”

Rally in Phnom Penh's freedom park. Photo by @RupertBAbbott

Rally in Phnom Penh's freedom park. Photo by @RupertBAbbott

OU Ritthy also attended the assembly in Phnom Penh’s freedom park:

I just left Freedom Park. The number of protestors is about 20000- not decreasing but not much increasing either compared to previous mass demonstration.

The space of Freedom Park is NOT fully filled but many other people are standing and sitting on another nearby park, avoiding the given space/blocks at Freedom Park perhaps it is hot or they are NOT the protesters but just people who come to observe.

It is really a peaceful and nonviolent mass demonstration. People are civilized, calm and responsible.

The opposition is calling for the establishment of an independent committee to probe the July 28 National Assembly elections:

We participants in today’s Non-Violent Demonstration have as our goals to render justice to our electorate, to demand the establishment of an independent committee with the participation of national agencies and the United Nations Organization to resolve disputes related to the July 28, 2013 national election irregularities. This committee must impartially investigate the allegations of fraud in order to guarantee the respect of the true will of the Khmer People.

We adhere to the principles of Non-Violence in our activities, our words, our hearts; we do not consider any Khmer as an enemy; we want justice and lasting national reconciliation.

At Khmer Bird, Thomas Mclean interviewed Bun Bunnat, a member of the opposition:

We want these demonstrations to be a lesson to our next generation, that Cambodia demands a free society and a democratic community. We want the international community to pay attention to the human rights violations that are happening in Cambodia. We are Khmer we need to have our own voice.

Here are some observations on Twitter:

Despite the protest, Cambodia’s election body proceeded to announce the official results of the elections confirming the victory of the ruling party. The opposition has rejected the results and vowed to hold more rallies next week. They also plan to boycott the opening session of the Parliament.

Sam Sotha believes that People Power should be advanced through elections and not through the holding of rallies:

Cambodian people do not need “Cambodian Spring!” Cambodia does not need “People Power” through street protests, instead Cambodia needs “People Power” through the ballot box!

Meanwhile, various human rights groups are urging the leaders of the two major political parties to organize a political summit to address the election controversy:

The summit of the leaders of the two political parties and peaceful and successful solution responding to the desire of the people will set a good historical role model for the next generation of Cambodia.


  • Savath POU

    Provocation pure and simple

    Cambodia’s well known English language newspaper, the Phnom Penh Post issue Friday 30 August 2013, published an article written by Chhay Channyda, Kevin Ponniah and Meas Sokchea and titled “Opposition party preps for protests”.

    The article started that “the Cambodia National Rescue Party yesterday held a training session on strategies for peaceful demonstration ahead of September 7, the date for a planned mass protest the ruling party has said is ‘disguised’, possibly as an attempt to overthrow the government. The training session, held at the party’s Meanchey headquarters yesterday afternoon, was announced via the CNRP’s website and Facebook page”.

    Two days later on Sunday, September 1st, Cambodia Express News (CEN) reported that “the Opposition is training to-be-protesters on how to protest peacefully while government’s security forces are trained on how to handle potentially violent protests”.

    In the middle of the Post’s article mentioned above, Mouen Tola, labour head at the Community Legal Education Center, who also attended the training as a translator, was quoted as saying that “an orientation in active non-violence; it was just a discussion of ideas.… They were talking about civil disobedience like the model from Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela”.

    Based on historical accounts, protests, manifestations or civil disobedience led by world’s renowned pacifist liberators such as India’s Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement Martin Luther King Jr. and the South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician Nelson Mandela were strictly non-violent and never subjected to persuasion, coercion and training. Those historical events occurred spontaneously among the oppressed peoples who only aimed at showing their peaceful discontent to their respective oppressors.

    Compared to the world events cited right above, the CNRP’s protests staged on September 7, 2013, have nothing in common. The Opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha are not so pacifist as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. They are, in fact, as arrogant and belligerent as the Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, the leader of Germany’s Nazi Party Hitler and the traitor Sam Sary, Sam Rainsy’s father, who
    plotted with the CIA to assassinate then Prince Norodom Sihanouk in 1959.

    Taking account of Sam Rainsy’s well recorded recent appeal to the armed forces to rise up against the elected Hun Sen Government, the Opposition’s claim to train their supporters on how to avoid violence while protesting is simply a smoke screen. The CNRP leadership, banking on total and unconditional support from 3,000 plus local NGOs and the readiness of five rebel groups clandestinely formed in the US, will certainly provoke government security
    forces by all means such as calling them A Kanchas Yuon, pushing them onto the ground or throwing water bottles or rocks at them. It doesn’t matter how small this kind of incidents are, hell will break loose in protests where hundreds of thousands of people join in.

    In such a critical situation, the Government must raise its vigilance to the highest level. A quick reaction team composed of the RCAF General Chief of Staff, Military Police Chief, General Police Commissioner, Medical Emergency Teams, Rescue Units and fire truck contingents must be formed without delay. If possible, surveillance cameras must be installed in Phnom Penh main traffic arteries.


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