Democratic dawn in Cambodia’s autocratic darkness – Asia Times

Democratic dawn in Cambodia’s autocratic darkness - Asia Times

We left Cambodia either after the Khmer Rouge, a plan that killed more than two million people between 1975 and 1979, or during the Vietnam War. The Khmer people’s situation continues because they fear being attacked for their opinions of the Thai government. &nbsp,

This has put us, the Khmer community, at a juncture. Where there was once desire for our nation’s young republic, as demonstrated by the actions of the Cambodia National Rescue Party in 2013 and the Candlelight Party in 2022, is now despair.

A new assault on dissenting tones, both within and beyond Cambodia’s edges, is seeking to flood the trust of those that want a lighter, and political, potential for our nation. &nbsp,

The Khmer Movement for Democracy ( KMD) is being launched in light of this alarming backdrop. This new gathering, founded on the principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, aims to serve as a beacon of hope and a call to action for Cambodians globe.

Given that Long Beach, California is the largest group of Thai diaspora in the United States, it was chosen to host KMD as its launch site. We are committed to creating a motion that transcends social divisions and brings together all Khmers under the symbol of political change, inspired by the nature of those who have fought for democracy in Cambodia.

Our goal is clear: we plan to hold the government responsible for its injustices, looting of Cambodia’s natural sources, and cruelly forcing families from their country.

Our goal is to promote the development of a new era of political leaders who will lead Cambodia toward politics its persons deserve by reforming the country’s crooked court, restoring fair elections, and fostering a new era of political leaders. Our focus will go beyond social change and the advancement of Khmer society, from combating cyberslavery and environmental degradation to preventing land grabs. &nbsp,

The empowerment of women and the merging of generations are the pillars of our movements. We think Cambodia’s youth are the ones in charge of the country’s future, and it is crucial that they be leaders in a political movement led by the wisdom of trained activists. We, Suonriaksmay Keo, a subsequent- technology Khmer from Rhode Island, and Mu Sochua, a&nbsp, Nobel Peace Prize&nbsp, nomination and past Member of Parliament, illustrate this communism.

SounRiaksmay’s activism began at 14, inspired by her parents and Khmer refugees in Rhode Island. Her commitment to empowering Khmer youth is in line with the steadfast commitment of elders to safeguarding identity and hope for a liberated Cambodia.

Meanwhile, Mu Sochua’s journey started amid the Vietnam War, advocating for Khmer refugees in San Francisco. Her eventual return to Cambodia in 1989 marked a turning point for her active involvement in the empowerment of women and the peace movement.

Our experiences together highlight the value of generational collaboration in shaping the way forward toward a Cambodia that is truly democratic. The Khmer Movement for Democracy is, therefore, a melting pot of lived experiences, young and old, with a central belief that active citizenship is a foundation for freedom, democratic governance, and a fertile civil society.

However, our path forward will not be easy. Ongoing assaults on those who dare to speak out, evidenced by the recent&nbsp, case&nbsp, of Taing Sarada, who faced death threats for his courageous reporting on Cambodia’s deep- seated issues, or the tragic and politically motivated murder of Kem Ley, a respected political commentator, are stark reminders of the lengths the Cambodian regime will go to silence its critics, at home and abroad.

We hope, with the KMD as our vehicle, we can foster a platform for dialogue, irrespective of who holds power. We also aim to build international solidarity around our movement for change, and, to this end, we are urging&nbsp, Thailand&nbsp, and the global community to support the enactment of&nbsp, key legislation – measures&nbsp, that&nbsp, would effectively combat transnational repression and sanction individuals responsible for attacks on democracy and human rights in Cambodia.

With the establishment of the KMD, Cambodia now has a new sense of hope for a democratic future. Together, we believe we can forge a new path for our country. Although the journey may be long, we think it is worthwhile to travel to a nation where all human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected.

Mu Sochua, a former member of the Cambodian parliament and former vice president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, is a human rights activist. She is currently the head of the March 2024-launched Khmer Movement for Democracy.

Suonriaksmay Keo, a second- generation Khmer and native of Rhode Island, is a grassroots activist and organizer. She places an emphasis on engaging and empowering young people while advocating for democracy, social justice, and various community interests.