Some 1,200 fans of all ages, mostly Cambodian, gathered at the Angkor Wat temple to watch several local and international bands organized by MTV Exit to raise awareness about human trafficking.
“We believe that the concert taking place in this historical tourist location will… send a strong message to the world that Cambodia is not a child sex tourism destination,” the minister told the audience.
Cambodia has struggled to shed its reputation as soft on human trafficking and earlier this year suspended marriages between foreigners and Cambodians amid concerns they were being used to traffic poor, uneducated women.
The concert was part of a series of music shows in Cambodia organized by MTV Exit with funding from the US Agency for International Development to raise awareness in young people about human trafficking in the region.
“Let’s not forget why we are here — millions of people are currently living in slavery as a result of being trafficked. This is a grotesque human rights abuse and we must all act to stop it,” MTV Exit campaign director Simon Goff told the crowd.
The last international recording artist to perform at Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was tenor Jose Carreras who sang for a charity gala dinner there in 2002.
“I cannot believe that in a supposedly civilized world this kind of heinous form of modern slavery still exists, and I truly believe that we can all do something to stop this,” Placebo frontman Brian Molko told AFP. “It all starts with caring and compassion.”