Main Reason US Ambassador Boycotted Ceremony At Tuol Sleng

Posted by khmernews on February 7, 2008


Phnom Penh: Joseph A. Mussomeli, U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, told journalists in Kratie province on January 22 that the reason he had not attended the ceremony with the Hollywood actress at Tuol Sleng prison was that the ceremony was politicized.
The ambassador said that at first he thought the purposes of the ceremony were only to find peace and commemorate the atrocities of the genocidal regime. That was the reason why he had registered to attend it. Later he, however, realized that the ceremony had been politicized to criticize another country, so he decided to withdraw himself from it.

Civil society organizations from Cambodia and Sudan’s Darfur had asked the government for the rally on the 20th of February at Tuol Sleng prison and Cheung Aek Genocide Center. However, it was blocked by the government’s authorities since the ceremony was seen as a “paddle” to criticize China.

If the ceremony had been made in accordance with its proposal, it would not have been halted.

“We do not support any acts using unfair images to criticize another country,” said Joseph A. Mussomeli. If the march had been for humanitarian acts, he would not have refused to attend.  “At first, they told me that a group of supporter of Dream for Darfur led by Hollywood actress Mia Farrow would light a torch at Tuol Sleng prison to stand out against genocidal regimes around the world. But, on the day it was started, the march became politicized and it criticized another country,” said Joseph A. Mussomeli. The ambassador has expressed his disappointment to what they had done differently from their proposed plan.

However, the ambassador has also appreciated the government’s authorities who banned the march with no one injured.

Besides Darfur-related issue, the ambassador also talked about the draft law on anti-corruption in Cambodia which must be accelerated in favor of law enforcement in Cambodia in order to contribute to alleviation of corruption in society and country development. Meanwhile, the government has been committed to speeding up the adoption of the draft anti-corruption law.

Joseph said that approximately $320 million have been lost annually due to corruption. Therefore, if the corruption could be prevented, the huge sums of money could be used for building schools, hospitals, and other infrastructures.

In a report of the U.S. Embassy, more than 500,000 people have put their fingerprints in a petition to urge the National Assembly to adopt the law as soon as possible. Only in Kratie, 20,000 fingerprints have been taken in support of the law.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Kampuchea Thmey, Vol. 07, #1554, Friday, January 25, 2008.


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