International Women’s Day Celebrations DisruptedPublished on March 8, 2016
This morning, police and para-police in Phnom Penh were mobilized to prevent a bicycle rally celebrating International Women’s Day, a national holiday in Cambodia.
Around 200 people including unions, garment factory workers, associations, NGOs and citizens' groups had gathered in front of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to participate in a 9 km bicycle ride across Phnom Penh to the National Assembly. The rally was intended to celebrate economic, social and political achievements of women in the country but also call for further action by the government to eliminate disparity in the recognition and enforcement of women’s rights throughout the country.
However, as participants began to cycle away from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, attempting to form a single file line, they were met nearly immediately by approximately 60 mixed security forces who blocked the road in both directions, creating a large traffic jam. The authorities’ purported reason for blocking the rally was to prevent traffic disruptions. Participants were surrounded by police and forced to remain outside the Ministry of Women’s Affairs for over three hours before they were finally allowed to leave.