The International Republican Institute (IRI) this week is hosting President of the Cambodia Center for Human Rights (CCHR), Kem Sokha, and the Director of Voice of Democracy Radio, Pa Nguon Teang during their trip to the United States. Both were imprisoned earlier this year during a systemic crackdown on human rights activists in Cambodia.
Both thanked IRI for its support and discussed the struggle for freedom and democracy in Cambodia. Highlighting the CCHR motto “No Risk No Change,” Kem Sokha said, “They arrested me for 17 days and now I will fight 17 times harder.”
Kem Sokha recognized the work of ordinary Cambodians in organizing demonstrations demanding his release and that of other human rights activists, “We [Cambodians] know we must help ourselves first.” He also spoke of the critical role the international community played in keeping the spotlight on Cambodia during his imprisonment and extolled all those who care about Cambodia to remain vigilant.
While in D.C., Kem Sokha and Pa Nguon Teang will meet with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), Congressman Mark Kennedy (R-MN), staff members of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as well as representatives of the administration, human rights organizations and members of the media.