The Nonviolent Radical Party Transnational Transparty celebrated Human Rights Day, December 10th, in a pagode at Pusignan, by the city of Lyon, France. The event was attended by members of the disbanded Cambodian opposition party, Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and people form the Cambodian community. Some 250 people, including former CNRP leader Rainsy Sam, Saumura Tioulong, Sothavarin Men and French Senator André Gattolin attended the gathering.
The first to take the floor was André Gattolin, who spoke as a Senator of LREM, as a member of Radical Party and as a “local guy”, being in fact born a few miles from Pusignan. He reiterated his commitment to the universality of human rights, as the United Nation Charter adopted on 10 December 1948 by the General Assembly and outline his activity as a Senator of the French Republic.
“Although France has an archaic diplomacy, often scared to be bold, more interested in business than human rights and principles and freedoms, we have started an important action” Gattolin said. He stressed that François Croquette, French Ambassador for Human Rights, had just returned from Cambodia where he met what the remaining members of CNRP, government officials and the Ambassador of the United States and urged the government of Hun Sen to change course. “We know this is not enough, and it is up to us to mobilize Members and Senators so that our President Macron will do what he has done with Russia, that is, to speak clearly of respect for human rights. Cambodia is not a small country that counts for nothing.”
According to Rainsy Sam, “André is a friend, an ally, a brother defending democracy in Cambodia. Without him we could not have started important interlocutions”. He then devoted a good part of his speech to give reasons why it is vital to join the Radical Party, taking great care to highlight the three underlying features that make it so unique.
“It is political party established in Italy by Italians but with a growing number of members from all over the world. There is André, there is me and there are also many of you who are already members of the NRPTT which, to start with, is ‘nonviolent’. We are partisans of nonviolence. Just at look at the symbol and you will see the face of Mahatma Gandhi. Secondly, it is ‘transnational’ because you can join the party regardless of your nationality or ethnicity. Our goals are universal and our ideas embrace all of us. Today is the international day of human rights and we find ourselves, Cambodians, French, Italians etc. side by side in the NRPTT. So, alongside the international NRPTT leaders, I do invite you to sign up. I invite those who have not yet done it, to sign up today.”
Rainsy then brought up his youth: “André recalled memories of when he was young and he was already with the NRPTT. I did not know this party then, but I already had a thing for freedom not only in my country, because freedom is indivisible. When I was 16-17, I supported a movement in favor of Biafra, in Nigeria. Later on I adopted a Palestinian child (…) So, why does a French like André or an Italian as Matteo get so interested in Cambodia? For the same reasons. They advocate a cause and an universal ideal. I think this is the most beatiful friendship. One that pulls together people from all around the world, people from all religions and parties, which is why it is also ‘transparty’, the third feature. People with one thing in common: they believe in the value of freedom of the individual, which is worthy of respect. And men are born free.”
Matteo Angioli thanked the Cambodian community for their extraordinary contribution (they are the second largest nationality within the NRPTT), which has strengthened the organization. He then drew attention to the fact that, on the basis of some bizarre criteria, the EU aid to Cambodia for the development of the rule of law and for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal skyrocketed from 152 million EUR for the period 2007-2013, to 410 million EUR for the period 2014-2020.
Finally, speaking of future elections, Rainsy invited the Cambodian army not to open fire on citizens in the event of peaceful demonstrations taking place in Cambodia. The organization of such demonstrations is a hypothesis that Rainsy made should international pressure fail to induce Hun Sen to change policy, release Kem Sokha and restore the CNRP. It is a very unlikely prospect, Prime Minister Hun Sen has already accused Rainsy of high treason. Recently, he has even threatened the opposition leader publicly, by saying he is ready to have him taken by his men.