PHNOM PENH, September 26, (Khmer Times) – Land activists, youths, monks, and civil societies showed their strong resentment against the Australia-Cambodia deal to export asylum seekers to one of the poorest south-east Asian countries.
The deal between the two governments will be signed later today, but the protesters rallied in front of the Australia Embassy this morning.
They were, as usual, greeted by a mass of security guards. The riot police stopped the protesters from overcoming the barricades, and only minor scuffles were reported.
The group will hand over their petitions to the Australian embassy, the National Assembly, and the Ministry of Interior.
“We are asking [them] to revoke the agreement immediately,” the petition reads. “Cambodia is a poor country living from foreign aid. The people are living under poor circumstances, without proper homes and adequate food.”
“The government is incapable of finding peace for its own people, so why agree with the Australia government to accept the 1,000 refugees,” the statement continues.
It also outlines the irresponsibility of the government in finding solutions to their land disputes, and that the education system in Cambodia is still weak.
Earlier in the morning, Son Chhay, Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker, showed up at the rally. He is concerned about the transparency of the deal, and possible corruption behind the scenes.
“[My party] will ask the government to disclose their agreements to the public,” he said.
The government-to-government agreement will be signed this afternoon at 15:00 at the Ministry of Interior. The “voluntarily” refugees are expected to start arriving as early as next month.