Monks overcome obstacles to march on Cambodian capital

Activists face roadblocks and opposition from Buddhist hierarchy in march on Phnom Penh

Monks overcome obstacles to march on Cambodian capital
World Bulletin/News Desk
Hundreds of monks are marching to Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh to mark International Human Rights Day, defying the orders of their own leaders and police and military roadblocks, local media reported Monday.

Accompanied by rights campaigners, some of the monks have been walking towards the city since Thursday. They plan to gather outside the National Assembly on Wednesday to protest against the regime’s human rights record.

The Cambodia Daily said the leaders of the Mohanikaya and Thammayut Buddhist sects had issued a statement forbidding monks from taking part in the marches and ordered pagodas not to provide shelter to the marchers.

The authorities have also blocked roads and threatened the protesters with arrest.

Luon Sovath, one of Cambodia’s best-known monk activists, told The Anadolu Agency that the order flouted the basic principles of Buddhism.

Reached by telephone Monday night following a long day of marching, he said: “We are marching every day but every day we have trouble and problems when we are marching on the road… and when we want to relax for lunchtime or to sleep.”

He said the statement aimed to “threaten” and intimidate monks taking part in the marches.

“Whatever they say is not the law - Buddhist law, national law or international law,” Sovath told AA. “It’s just politics and it’s a human rights violation.

“Marching is a symbol of peace and freedom, of non-violent activity and, regarding the law, we are not doing anything wrong by marching.”

He added that the Buddha had marched for “peace, freedom and happiness.”

The Daily reported the statement banning monks from marching was signed by Cults and Religions Minister Min Khin.

Six groups of marchers are travelling along national highways to arrive in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, which is International Human Rights Day.

In Ratanakkiri province, marchers were sent away when they arrived at Kiri Sorphoan pagoda, according to monk Kim Sao Samkhan. “When we arrived, police told us to find another place,” he told the Daily.

But Buntenh, president of the Independent Monks Network for Social Justice, said: “The authorities always say [our actions] are illegal, but the government is wrong.”

Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Aralık 2014, 16:14