The International Human Rights Day was celebrated in Cambodia this year on a mostly virtual basis due to the Covid-19 risks involved with large gatherings. Instead, the day was observed with educational campaigns using social media to spread the word about promoting and respecting human rights locally and globally.
This year’s theme was “promoting human rights in the context of Covid-19”.
“We’ve made videos to post to social media like Facebook, printed t-shirts and put up banners in public places with messages promoting respect for human rights,” Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) vice-president Chin Malin told The Post on December 9.
Malin said the most important right that anyone can have is the right to life, which makes protecting the people’s lives and public welfare from Covid-19 a human rights issue.
He said the government achieved a tremendous victory through its diligent work protecting the lives and health of all Cambodians while also doing whatever was possible to protect the economic rights and the livelihoods of ordinary citizens, which included an unprecedented increase in the level of funding provided for direct cash assistance and similar programmes for the poor.
Malin said the government had also provided emergency services and undertook the massive public health initiative that managed to provide every Cambodian stricken with Covid-19 with free medical treatment on top of vaccinating nearly 90 per cent of the population at no charge and long before most other nations have gotten anywhere near that level of coverage.
“We encourage unity between the people and the government, because the government alone cannot prevent Covid-19. The necessary measures all require public participation,” Malin said.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group Licadho, told The Post on December 9 that his organisation celebrated human rights day across 24 communities in the capital and with gatherings in 14 provinces with hundreds of attendees, which all promoted the advancement of basic freedoms for the Cambodian people.
“In each community, we also raised additional issues specific to that region and the challenges it is facing related to human rights abuses, such as land disputes,” he said.
The Cambodian Coalition of Farmer’s Community (CCFC) said on December 9 that communities in Svay Rieng and Tbong Khmum provinces celebrated human rights day but adopted their own theme of “restoring human rights and democracy in Cambodia in the context of Covid-19”.
CCFC said the celebration’s goal was to promote human rights, democracy and social justice by recognising that Cambodia today has ongoing problems in all three of those areas, but it was his organisation’s hope that the citizens and the government will work together to solve these problems as soon as possible.