A Tiger Rules the Mountain

The world's longest serving Prime Minister and Cambodia's pursuit of democracy

Cambodians Protest in Australia

Nearly one thousand people from Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos who live in Australia organised a rally at Victoria’s Parliament in Melbourne to protest the lack of human rights and freedom back in their home country at the same time as Australia hosted a meeting of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

The event was hosted on 2nd March by Meng Heang Tak MP (Victoria), who was born and lived in Cambodia until coming to study in Australia. He was also joined by Julian Hill MP (federal) and other Victorian MPs Tim Richardson and Pauline Richards. Here’s Julian Hill MP saying that Cambodia has not changed under the new rule of Prime Minister Hun Manet – opposition leaders are still in jail, people cannot speak freely and human rights are being abused.

This was the first time that diapora from different Southeast Asian countries collaborated to hold a rally together and the size and colour of it attracted significant Australian media including the ABC, The Age, and SBS. There were speakers from each diaspora with each one supporting calls for greater freedom and democracy in the region. One of the speakers from Myanmar called for a minute’s silence to remember all those who had sacrificed their lives in campaigning for greater freedoms.

Cambodia’s new Prime Minister, Hun Manet, arrived a couple of days after the protest for the summit in Melbourne and he will have his own gathering with Cambodian supporters living here. I was told by a two Cambodians that there could be as many as 1000 attending that event. Some of them will be genuine supporters and others may be enticed by flights from other cities, including Auckland in New Zealand, while others may feel a certain pressure to. SBS TV News recently reported that Cambodia’s ruling Cambodian Peoples Party (CPP) monitor activities of Cambodians living in Australia and possibly use threats.

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