Sam Rainsy Returns to Cambodia

The arrival yesterday of Sam Rainsy marks a shift in the political landscape of Cambodia. Rainsy is the leader of the opposition and had been living for almost four years in self imposed exile in France after being sentenced to more than 11 years in a case that many believe was politically motivated. On the evening of the death of Hun Sen’s father, Rainsy was granted a royal pardon, opening up to him once again the doors of Cambodia, and the opportunity to come face to face with his political rival, Hun Sen.
There were an estimated 100,000 people lining the streets from the airport and in freedom park. Mostly young, urban supporters full of energy and filming everything with their smart phones, tablets and even laptops.
This new generation of internet savvy and politically aware young people are using social media, and overwhelmingly Facebook as a means to spread and share information, now when there is a protest in Phnom Penh it is liked and shared thousands of times. It is not yet clear what the significance of this these new voters is for the elections, or for the political climate of Cambodia generally, and it is not really clear how deep this seemingly new political awareness actually goes within those who are sharing and spreading the information; outrage and gossip also travel far on Facebook. However looking at the faces of the young supporters who lined the streets on the 7km walk back from the airport to Freedom Park, it was clear that this was genuine feeling on display, as echoes of the new slogan ‘Change’ rang out through the city.

Sam Rainsy Returns

Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha travel by motorcade from the Phnom Penh airport to Freedom park. Sam Rainsy returned to a hero's welcome and a crowd of more than 100,000 people. © Chris Kelly Cambodia 2013.

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Young CNRP supporters cheer as the motorcade carrying party leader's Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha drive past them. Sam Rainsy returned to a hero's welcome and a crowd of more than 100,000 people. © Chris Kelly Cambodia 2013.

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Young CNRP supporters cheer as the motorcade carrying party leader's Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha drive past them. Sam Rainsy returned to a hero's welcome and a crowd of more than 100,000 people. © Chris Kelly Cambodia 2013.

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An elderly woman waits for the motorcade carrying party leader's Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha. Sam Rainsy returned to a hero's welcome and a crowd of more than 100,000 people. © Chris Kelly Cambodia 2013.

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A foreigner drives in the opposite direction, while a young woman on the roof of the building uses her laptop to record the motorcade carrying party leader's Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha drive past them. Sam Rainsy returned to a hero's welcome and a crowd of more than 100,000 people. © Chris Kelly Cambodia 2013.

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A CNRP supporter cheers in front of a CPP poster as the motorcade carrying party leader's Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha drive past. Sam Rainsy returned to a hero's welcome and a crowd of more than 100,000 people. © Chris Kelly Cambodia 2013.

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An apparent foreign CNRP supporter is seen as the motorcade carrying party leader's Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha drive past them. Sam Rainsy returned to a hero's welcome and a crowd of more than 100,000 people. © Chris Kelly Cambodia 2013.

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Father and daughter CNRP supporters run to the side of the road to watch as the motorcade carrying party leader's Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha drive past them. Sam Rainsy returned to a hero's welcome and a crowd of more than 100,000 people. © Chris Kelly Cambodia 2013.

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Monks wait for Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha to arrive at freedom park. Sam Rainsy returned to a hero's welcome and a crowd of more than 100,000 people. © Chris Kelly Cambodia 2013.

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A huge group of CNRP supporters cheer as Sam Rainsy delivers a speech at freedom park. Sam Rainsy returned to a hero's welcome and a crowd of more than 100,000 people. © Chris Kelly Cambodia 2013.

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Mu Sochua sings to a huge group of CNRP supporters during Sam Rainsy's first speech on Cambodian soil for four years. Sam Rainsy returned to a hero's welcome and a crowd of more than 100,000 people. © Chris Kelly Cambodia 2013.

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Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha wave to the huge crowd of CNRP supports at freedom park. Sam Rainsy returned to a hero's welcome and a crowd of more than 100,000 people. © Chris Kelly Cambodia 2013.

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CNRP supporters reach up to the hand of Kem Sokha at freedom park. Sam Rainsy returned to a hero's welcome and a crowd of more than 100,000 people. © Chris Kelly Cambodia 2013.

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CNRP supporters reach up to Sam Rainsy after his speech at freedom park. Sam Rainsy returned to a hero's welcome and a crowd of more than 100,000 people. © Chris Kelly Cambodia 2013.

Posted in Commentary, Government Impunity, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Boeung Kak visit the new Phnom Penh Governor

Boeung Kak and Borei Keila residents gathered in front of the Phnom Penh Municipality to ask for a resolution to the on going land dispute in Boeung Kak. Protesters also used the occasion to protest the imprisonment of fellow community member Yorm Bopha, who was arrested and imprisoned in early Sept 2012.
At around 2pm protesters blocked the traffic along the main road in front of the Municipality, shortly after mixed police forces in riot gear forced them to move.

Villagers from Boeung Kak and Borei Keila gather in front of City Hall to ask the new Phnom Penh governor to resolve the on going land dispute in Boeung Kak. Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 01 July 2013 © Nicolas Axelrod 2013

Villagers from Boeung Kak and Borei Keila gather in front of City Hall to ask the new Phnom Penh governor to resolve the on going land dispute in Boeung Kak. Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 01 July 2013 © Nicolas Axelrod 2013

Riot police move in to dispearse Boeung Kak and Borei Keila villagers who had blocked off the road in front of City Hall. Villagers had gathered to ask the new Phnom Penh governor to resolve the on going land dispute in Boeung Kak. Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 01 July 2013 © Nicolas Axelrod 2013

Mixed Police attempt to move Boeung Kak and Borei Keila villagers who had blocked off the road in front of City Hall. Villagers had gathered to ask the new Phnom Penh governor to resolve the on going land dispute in Boeung Kak. Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 01 July 2013 © Nicolas Axelrod 2013

Tep Vanny and a small group of villagers from Boeung Kak and Borei Keila face off with riot police as they attempt to move them from the road. Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 01 July 2013 © Nicolas Axelrod 2013

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It has been a long time.

It has been a very long time since I have posted on this blog, and a lot has happened since my last post.

Most importantly, the Cambodian national elections will be held in July this year. The election results will form the conclusion to our film project, it will mean we have been filming in Cambodia for more than four years.

The Venerable Loun Sovath has returned from America and is as active as ever, attending protests, filming and disseminating information via social media and his blog. Most recently was the appeal court hearing for Yorn Bopha, a Boeung Kak representative who is currently in jail accused of masterminding an assault on two motodops. During the peaceful protest organised by the Boeung Kak community, the motodop association members staged a counter protest. Among their numbers were the two alleged victims of the attack. Both protests passed off peacefully and the hearing will continue on June 14th.

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Boeung Kak community members wait outside the court of appeal in Phnom Penh. © Chris Kelly 2013.

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Onlookers photograph Boeung Kak community outside the appeal court in Phnom Penh. © Chris Kelly 2013.

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The Venerable Loun Sovath films the motodop association members as they stage a counter protest outside the court of appeal in Phnom Penh. © Chris Kelly 2013.

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Human Rights activists film Boeung Kak community members outside the court of appeal in Phnom Penh. © Chris Kelly 2013.

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Human Rights activists film Boeung Kak community members outside the court of appeal in Phnom Penh. © Chris Kelly 2013.

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The Venerable Loun Sovath films Boeung Kak community members outside the court of appeal in Phnom Penh. © Chris Kelly 2013.

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Boeung Kak community members outside the court of appeal in Phnom Penh. © Chris Kelly 2013.

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Boeung Kak community members outside the court of appeal in Phnom Penh. © Chris Kelly 2013.

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Boeung Kak community members outside the court of appeal in Phnom Penh. © Chris Kelly 2013.

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Boeung Kak community members outside the court of appeal in Phnom Penh. © Chris Kelly 2013.

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Motodop association members stage a counter protest outside the court of appeal in Phnom Penh. © Chris Kelly 2013.

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Motodop association members stage a counter protest outside the court of appeal in Phnom Penh. © Chris Kelly 2013.

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Motodop association members stage a counter protest outside the court of appeal in Phnom Penh. © Chris Kelly 2013.

With regards to the film itself, we have been spending the past few months laboriously translating the past four years worth of footage and preparing the rushes for viewing with the editing team. The post production stage is time consuming and difficult, so the election campaigns will bring a welcome return to filming and will mean an increase in the blog posts as we cover the campaigns.

Posted in Boeung Kak Lake, Forced Evictions, The Cause of Progress, Uncategorized, Venerable Loun Sovath | Leave a comment