Cambodia, Southeast Asia
Political Leader: Prime Minister Hun Sen
Religions: Buddhism 82.6%, Chinese 4.7%, Other 11.5%, Christianity 1.2%
Persecution Ranking: Not Ranked
Number of Terrorist Groups: 2
Acts of Terrorism: 59; Casualties: 77
Percent of Corruption: 79%
% of People in Poverty: 40%
The Kingdom of Cambodia, formerly known as Kampuchea, is a country in Southeast Asia with a population of nearly 14 million people. The country borders Thailand to its west and northwest, Laos to its northeast, and Vietnam to its east and southeast. In the south it faces the Gulf of Thailand. The geography of Cambodia is dominated by the Mekong River and the Tonlé Sap, an important source of fish. Much of Cambodia sits near sea level, and consequently the Tonle Sap River reverses its water flow in the wet season, carrying water from the Mekong back into the Tonlé Sap Lake and surrounding flood plain.
Cambodia’s ability to investigate potential terrorist activities was limited by a lack of training and resources. An absence of comprehensive domestic legislation to combat terrorism also hindered the government's ability to arrest and prosecute terrorists. Cambodia’s political leadership, however, demonstrated a strong commitment to take aggressive legal action against terrorists. Porous borders and endemic corruption could make Cambodia vulnerable to a terrorist presence. The Cambodian government believed that the Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CFF), which carried out an armed attack in November 2000 that killed eight people, are still capable of carrying out attacks in Cambodia. The leader of this group was arrested in California in 2005. The Cambodian government was working with the FBI to bring the leader of the CFF to trial in the United States. The Cambodian government has also cooperated fully with U.S. requests to monitor terrorists and terrorist entities listed as supporters of terrorist financing.
A citizen of Cambodia is usually identified as “Cambodian” or “Khmer,” though the latter strictly refers to ethnic Khmers. Most Cambodians are Theravada Buddhists of Khmer extraction, but the country also has a substantial number of predominantly Muslim Cham, as well as ethnic Chinese, Vietnamese and small animist hill tribes. Cambodia’s population is approximately 82.6% Buddhists and only 1.2% of its citizens are Christians.
Challenges for Christians:
The extreme Marxist Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in 1975. The following years saw one the most brutal and savage slaughters of the 20th Century. Under Pol Pot’s leadership one in eight of the population died through warfare, starvation or execution.
The Vietnamese army kicked the Khmer Rouge out of power in 1978, but civil war raged on until 1991 and the Khmer Rouge continued to fight guerilla warfare. The Khmer Rouge surrendered in 1998, but the country’s stability remains fragile. The Khmer Rouge wanted to totally eliminate all religion―killing 90% of Buddhist monks and most Christians. More recently, government policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion. Despite re-issuance in June 2007 of a ban on door-to-door proselytizing, foreign missionary groups generally operated freely throughout the country and did not encounter significant difficulties in performing their work.
- Pray for the Cambodia government to have the training and resources to investigate potential terrorist activities and implement comprehensive domestic legislation to combat terrorism.
- Thank God that since 1990, there has been an open door for Christians to share the Gospel in Cambodia. More and more churches are being planted in Cambodia. Pray that Christians would be discipled.
- The terrible massacres of 1975-79 have left the country emotionally scarred. Pray that people can find healing and peace from their suffering. Pray also for those who are caring for the millions of orphans and widows who lost their families.
- The sex industry in Cambodia is growing―a third of all prostitutes are children. Pray for God to break through this industry and deliver children prostitutes.
- Pray for the Church in Cambodia, which has survived through the worst persecution. Pray for support and cooperation between those in leadership of different churches.
Sources: 24-7 Prayer, Operation World, Wikipedia, Country Reports on Terrorism 2006, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, Open Doors, The World Factbook