More than 100 human rights activists, youths and Buddhist monks marched on streets here on Friday in the latest round of protests against a refugee deal that Cambodia signed with Australia last month.
PHNOM PENH, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) — More than 100 human rights activists, youths and Buddhist monks marched on streets here on Friday in the latest round of protests against a refugee deal that Cambodia signed with Australia last month.
Under the deal, Australia will send refugees, who intend to seek asylum in Australia, and are being held at an offshore detention camp in the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru, to resettle in Cambodia.
Protesters marched in the capital to deliver petitions to the United States Embassy, the European Union, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Office, the Council of Ministers of Cambodia, the National Assembly, and finally rallied in front of the Australian Embassy to Cambodia.
“Our goal is to urge the Australian and Cambodian governments to cancel the refugee agreement they signed on Sept. 26,” a protest leader Mao Pises, president of the Federation of Cambodian Intellectuals and Students, told reporters.
“We think that Cambodia has not had enough capacity to take in refugees because it is still among the world’s poorest countries,” he said.
However, Long Visalo, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said last month that accepting refugees was the prestige of Cambodia on international arena and the country would take in only voluntary refugees from Australia.
“A small group of the refugees can be resettled in Cambodia at the end of this year or early next year,” he said.
Under the offshore processing scheme, which Australia says is aimed at deterring people-smugglers, any asylum-seeker arriving by boat or intercepted at sea is transferred to detention centers in Manus island of Papua New Guinea or Nauru for processing.
If their asylum claims were approved, they would only be allowed to settle outside Australia.