More than 200 people gathered before the Royal Palace yesterday to celebrate the International Day of Peace, offering prayers and speeches asking for a more peaceful and non-violent world.
Ream Rothamony, a deputy director for the Youth Resource Development Program, an aid organization that helped organize the event, said more than 36 local and international NGOs participated in the commemoration hosted in the capital as well as six provinces. The group began its morning “peace ride” by cycling around Phnom Penh, eventually ending up outside the palace walls.
“We pray for peace for all, Cambodian society and the world,” he said, adding members from three different faiths—Buddhism, Islam and Christianity—participated in the event. “This morning the actual participants…are about 240, including Buddhist monks and nuns.”
Yim Amrint Sourkear, a 20-year-old university student, said he wanted peace to come to Cambodia, especially to his native Preah Vihear province, which has been the site of recent violent clashes between Cambodia and Thailand.
“I just want all different nationalities to live in peace and pray for peace in the disputed area in Preah Vihear, which is my hometown,” he said while taking part in the UN-established day of observance, which was first celebrated in 1982 to encourage people and countries to work toward world peace.
In 2002, the UN General Assembly officially declared September 21 as the permanent date for the International Day of Peace. Mr Rothamony said YRDP began marking the day with another aid group, the Working Group for Peace, since last year prompted by the firefights at the Preah Vihear temple.
President of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights Ou Virak, who took part in the rally, said it was important for people to envision a planet at peace.
“For me, I love peace and would like all individuals to have love in the minds and share love with others and among family,” he said. “If we have love and peace in our minds, we would have peace and happiness.”
(Additional reporting by Frank Radosevich)