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Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Over three days, hundreds of people from the ASEAN region joined in Phnom Penh for the 1st ASEAN Grassroots Peoples Assembly (AGPA) to find a space to discuss solutions to human rights issues in the area, with the aim to deliver their suggestions to the ASEAN leaders during the summit.

With loudspeakers and using phone’s flashlights, participants of the AGPA event were forced to find alternatives to the power cut that almost boycotted the opening day. Two days later, despite acts of intimidation such as reported crackdowns on groups of people larger than two by police forces across the city; more than a thousand people – constantly proclaiming their political neutrality, and peaceful nature of their meeting – gathered in front of the Korean Cultural Center to march to the National Assembly where they delivered a letter with their suggestions.

The day before, on Thursday Nov. 15, eight people from the Thmar Kaul community near the airport in Phnom Penh got arrested for having spray-painted SOS signs on their rooftops, adding pressure to the communities who continuously have reported intimidation by the authorities.

With the pressure of the international community and NGOs, crackdowns on civil society during the AGPA have remained within reason. However, judging on previous cases such as the Mam Sonando’s arrest, which came two days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left the country; the reasonable response from authorities on this matter remains to be seen.

 

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Backstage, dancers practice their moves before the show. Due to the power cut, the show was cancelled. ©Erika Pineros 2012

 

Nget Khun, Boeung Kak community member sings their protest signature song during the opening of the 1st AGPA meeting in Phnom Penh. ©Erika Pineros

 

The ‘Messenger Band’ addresses the crowd using loudspeakers. A power cut (possible boycott to the AGPA opening night) forced participants to find other alternatives. ©Erika Pineros 2012

 

A group of ladyboys performs Cambodia’s traditional dance: the Apsara Dance. ©Erika Pineros 2012

 

Villagers perform traditional dances from Cambodian minorities in the dark. A power cut (possible boycott to the AGPA opening night) forced participants to continue the program in the dark. ©Erika Pineros 2012

 

Demonstrators get ready for the 1st AGPA march in Phnon Penh, Cambodia. ©Erika Pineros 2012

 

Sex workers hold umbrellas with key messages while waiting for the unauthorised march to begin. ©Erika Pineros 2012

 

Hundreds of people from different human rights organizations and unions joined to march o nthe 1st AGPA meeting. ©Erika Pineros 2012

 

A massive banner with all the ASEAN languages reads: “Make Human Rights and Democracy REAL in ASEAN”. ©Erika Pineros 2012

 

Mu Sochua, a prominent leader from the opposition party SRP salutes a member of the sex workers union in Cambodia. ©Erika Pineros

 

Demonstrators hold the AGPA signature banner in the 1st AGPA meeting in Cambodia. ©Erika Pineros 2012

 

Demostrators protest against censorship and other human rights issues in the 1st AGPA march in Phnom Penh. ©Erika Pineros 2012

 

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