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PM Says 7 January Victory Day Revived All Religions in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH: Prime Minister Hun Sen remarked on how Christianity has been practiced in Cambodia now for 100 years, and the religion has gone through hardships along with Cambodian citizens, such as through war and genocide.

Speaking on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the presence of Christianity in Cambodia at Koh Pich on Friday morning, 27 January 2023, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that the 7 January Victory Day reinstated the right to life for the Cambodian people and has allowed Cambodia to develop to its current state of progress today, which includes allowing for the continued practice of Christianity.

"When we are suffering, we are all suffering. Through this, all of you can be sure that 7 January not only revived human life, but also resurrected all religions, including Christianity," he said.

The Prime Minister also called on practicing Christians to actively take part in maintaining the current state of peace in the country.

"Have you seen the tragedy that befell a country at war? During this time, Christianity suffered as well. For Cambodia, we are now benefiting from this peace, so we must use all the potential of peace to ensure our development," he said.

Many Christians who attended Friday morning’s program expressed their happiness over Prime Minister Hun Sen’s personal attendance and the meaningful speech he gave on the occasion of Christianity’s 100th anniversary in Cambodia. They also supported the Prime Minister's call to help maintain peace in the country.

“When there is peace, people can live in a country where there is peace and freedom to practice their own religions," said 44-year-old practicing Christian, Neou Sokhom. "Only when there is national peace can there be freedom of religion."

"We really want to make a big contribution, as Christians, to maintain peace for the people," said another practicing Christian, Sok Sokhom. “The value of this peace is immense! It cannot be priced."

"The reason we have the right to believe in different religions is because our leaders have taken care to ensure that everyone has the right to practice different beliefs, [and that is] because we have peace in our country," said Cambodian Christian, Khema. “I am really satisfied and enjoy [having peace], and will participate in all areas where Christians can participate [to maintain this].”

There are three major denominations in Christianity: Roman catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. In 1923 the Protestant Church came to Cambodia through the mission of Dr. Arthur Hammond and his wife, as well as David W Ellison. Upon arrival, these missionaries learned to speak and write in Khmer and opened a small Bible school. A Cambodian Christian assisted Dr. Arthur Hammond in translating the Bible into Khmer.

Christianity as well as other religions were suspended during the Khmer Rouge regime, however in 1990, Cambodian Christians were able to once again enjoy full freedom of religion, with legal permission to reopen churches for worship.

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