Large demonstrations in the provinces, against the pending NGO laws


Hundreds of people gathered in provinces around the country Wednesday to demonstrate against a pending NGO law that opponents fear will be used to muzzle groups that criticize the ruling CPP. The Senate on Wednesday announced it would vote on the law on Friday.
Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for rights groups Licadho, said that between 30 and 500 people came together in each of 13 provinces where the NGO has offices to demonstrate their opposition to the law. “In some locations, they gathered at the [NGO] offices, while others marched and distributed leaflets and stickers to people to show that they do not support the law and to ask the Senate to drop it,” he said. “They held the campaign after they learned that it will affect their communities and NGOs.”
The law would require most nongovernment groups to register with the government and file annual reports with the state on their activities and finances. The government says it needs the legislation to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, but NGOs worry it will use vague provisions on maintaining political neutrality and respecting Cambodian traditions to bar or shut down groups that speak out on sensitive issues.