- Published on Friday, 07 April 2017 04:53
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The fierce summer heat did not prevent the group of 28 young Cambodians in attending a two-day citizen journalism training organized by the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM) with financial support from UNESCO Bangkok. Sitting at the right corner of a U-shaped training room, a young, well-educated and committed Cheang Chamroeun, who is a high school teacher, was challenging a trainer from CCIM. This is the second time Chamroeun attended the training for CJs.
For Chamroeun, his second time was far different from the first time simply because he has many experiences to share with other participants during the training. According to Chamroeun, he applied the skills in journalism he had just learnt soon after he finished the first training in late 2016 to a case of controversial land disputes in Lor Peang village of Kampong Chhnang where he was teaching. “I went to explore, interviewed villagers and local authorities and took some pictures. I wrote a brief news report applying five the 5Ws and 1H (what, where, when, why, who & how) I had learnt about,” Chamroeun portrayed. He then posed his news report along with pictures on his Facebook account.
Chamroeun was satisfied with what he had just done without knowing that a danger of his career path was approaching. Not long after he uploaded information to his Facebook account, his Facebook timeline was immediately spotted by his school director whom he believed to have affiliated with the ruling party. Chamroeun was summoned to the director’s office where he was asked tons of questions as soon as he stepped foot into the office. “My explanation did not convince my director. In contrast, he actually gave me an implicit warning not to repeat the activity if I care about my career advancement,” Chamroeun recalled.
“My Facebook account,” Chamroeun claims, “is specially monitored by some academic staff in my office.” Chamroeun admitted that he is worried, but he believes in what he did and will not stop. He added that while he knows there might be consequences, he can’t endure living in an environment of fear and injustice. He encouraged all participants to keep writing and sharing information for public good, but in the meantime he strongly urged everyone to do the jobs in a professional way abiding by the code of ethics taught during the training.
CCIM and UNESCO Bangkok have cooperated with each other for a long time. The two organizations have common goal of empowering youth to participate in society. While there are several ways to promote youth participation, both CCIM and UNESCO believe that increasing access to information and promoting freedom of expression best serve the interests of Cambodian youth. The two-day training on CJs from March 29 to 30, 2017 was a success and CCIM believes that UNESCO will continue to support increased access to independent information and promoting freedom of expression in Cambodia in more years to come. (Sek Sophal)