As NGOs prepare to rally during the upcoming International Women’s Rights Day, City Hall yesterday reiterated its stance prohibiting any demonstrations to be carried out in public so that order can be maintained.
City Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey yesterday said authorities have banned all rallies by NGOs on Friday.
“We are not allowing marches in the streets because they affect public order,” Mr Meas Pheakdey said, noting NGOs are free to celebrate the occasion in their respective offices.
He said that many NGOs have already filed requests to hold rallies, but permission was not granted.
“We are law enforcement officials, if there are people who violate the law, then we will take legal action,” he said. “We have already told them, and they are still begging to hold rallies. We will wait and see together.”
On Sunday, 12 NGOs, including Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights, Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community, and Cambodian Food Service Workers’ Federation, said a joint petition was drafted to fight for women’s rights.
The coalition planned on delivering copies of the petition to a number of ministries this weekend.
CFSWF president Ou Tephalin yesterday said despite the warning, her organisation will march on International Women’s Day.
“Yes, we will do as we planned because we had already informed Phnom Penh City Hall,” Ms Tephalin said, adding that 400 participants will march from the National Olympic Stadium to the Office of Council of Ministers to hand the petition.
“We do not understand why Cambodia is a country that holds back democracy; why can’t people use their rights to assemble and express opinions,” she said. “What we are doing is related to free expression because we are calling for the public to join together and stop violence on women.”
“We want to march in order to spread this message so that the public will know about violence against women,” Ms Tephalin added.
Vorn Pov, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association, said City Hall should instead facilitate demonstrators.
“I think it is a restriction of the right to assembly – which is guaranteed in the constitution,” Mr Pov said. “They should allow us to march because we are promoting the reputation of the government.”