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IRI Statement Anniversary of an Attack on Demonstrators in Cambodia

March 30, 2006

Washington, DC – "Today we are taking time to remember the tragic event on March 30, 1997, when more than 100 of our brothers and sisters were injured and 20 of our brothers and sisters – friends, family members, Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) colleagues, loved ones – were murdered.  What were they doing to deserve such a fate on that day?  They were exercising their constitutional right to peacefully assemble.

"This anniversary should remind all of us why we're committed so heartily to the growth of democracy in Cambodia. It's all of our belief that Cambodians – no matter how rich or how poor, no matter where there they live, no matter who their parents are – should have the freedom to express themselves and follow their political consciences without the threat of harm or retribution.

"Following the tragedy of March 30, 1997, SRP could have chosen to bow to pressure and give up its fight for democracy and a better Cambodia.  But they haven't, and it's to the benefit of Cambodia that SRP continue with their persistence and perseverance.  SRP's continuing pursuit for democracy is proof that these 20 people we remember today, along with those who were injured, did not die in vain."

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