Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Visiting Wat Banon

March 18th, 2008
Courtesy of VuthaSurf : http://www.vuthasurf.com/
The first time I visited Banon temple located in Battambang province is the cultural resort, attracting domestic and foreign tourists. I went up to the top of the mountain but I stopped several times. There are 358 stairs and 71 meters. After doing down, I and my colleagues crawled into stone den at the foot of mountain.

Prince Ranariddh: Hun Sen Should Stop Hindering the King

Hun Sen (left) and Prince Ranariddh (right).

17th March 2008
By San Suwit
Radio Free Asia

Translated from Khmer by Khmerization
Courtesy of Khmerization : http://khmerization.blogspot.com/

odom Ranariddh, who was forced to live in exile in a foreign country, said that Mr Hun Sen should be brave enough and stop hindering the king so that he (the king) can use his royal privilege to grant a royal pardon to him (Prince Ranariddh) to allow him to return home to Cambodia to compete in the upcoming election.

The Prince was speaking, through telephone, broadcast to 309 village chiefs and hundreds of supporters in three sub-districts: Sub-district Sena Reach Oudom, Sub-district Angkor Reach, Sub-district Rumchek of Preah Sdech District in Prey Veng Province, last Sunday in response to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s speech in Pursat province a day earlier.

In what people perceived as a reference to Prince Ranariddh, Prime Minister Hun Sen said: “Someone spoke from a foreign country that I am afraid to let him return home because I was afraid of his influence and popularity. Yes, everybody knew about your popularity. You received 26 parliamentary seats and I received 73 parliamentary seats. Even you used your father’s name to compete against me you cannot even beat me. How can you beat me by yourself. I am not afraid of you, even 100 of youse I will not be afraid of. But the thing (Ranariddh’s return) is not necessary. Now I already have a policy on education. Not only that I have a policy but I have already applied that policy like what I am doing today. I do not need to go and discuss anything with him just to waste my time. If I need to have a discussion forum I’d rather have it with the people. That’s when I will allocate my time. If I have free time I’d rather play chess instead. I do not need to sit down to discuss and argue with you because I am an incumbent prime minister. So, please debate it among yourself, ask questions among yourself how many toilets you need to build etc.”

Prince Ranariddh who responded to Mr Hun Sen’s speech with the word “Amen” said that everything will be O.K if the prime minister does not interfere in the affairs of the king and allow the people to decide who they wanted to vote for.

Prince Ranariddh said: “Amen to the prime minister. If he thinks he is really good, he is not afraid of me, why did he need to use all sorts of dirty tricks. He did not need to use Nhiek Bunchhay to topple me. He did not need to use an unjust court to convict me. He should just let me return home by allowing His Majesty to use his royal privilege, which was inscribed in the constitution, to grant a royal pardon for Ranariddh to return home, every is finished. And everybody just wait and see the people, who have patriotic conscience, who they will vote for. But please don’t cheat and don’t oppress (intimidate), don’t use power against the people.”

Prince Ranaridhh, who has repeated most of Prime Minister’s words, has responded to accusations of him using his father’s (Sihanouk) name by saying that Prime Minister Hun Sen has, numerous times in the past, used his father’s name for his own political gains also.

By quoting Mr Hun Sen‘s speech, Prince Ranaridhh said: “ ‘Don’t say that Hun Sen does not want you to return home. Hun Sen will allow you to return home, not only you, but 100 of youse I will not be afraid of because you always used your father’s name.’ I must say that when he used my father to ask me to share power with him (in 1993), why didn’t he accuse me of using my father’s name? And when he used my father in 1998, after the political impasse, when he wanted my father to appoint him once again as a prime minister, why didn’t he accuse me of using my father. And why he didn’t accuse me of always listening to my father. It was the same thing in 2003, 2004.”

However, in a speech reminding of the event of 18th March 1970, which was a day when the then Prince Sihanouk was deposed as the head of state in a coup d’etat, during an inauguration ceremony of Slat Rumchey temple, Chup Ta Trav Village, Svay Chek Sub-District, Angkor Thom District in Siem Reap province, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that current political stability and peace has come to fruition as a result of his win-win policy.

Prime Minister Hun See said: “Now, the day is very close to the day of start of the destruction of the country, which is the 38th anniversary of the coup d’etat which toppled Prince Sihanouk. And since then our country was engulfed by wars. That was a tragedy which we should use as an experience of what had happened in the past. They have decided to topple Prince Sihanouk but the end result was that it was the people who were dying. So, that’s why I always said that we must maintain peace and stability that we have achieved with great sacrifices. There is no country in this world that can successfully achieve a win-win policy (like Cambodia).”

Sacravatoons : " Salanh Xhmer "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon : http://sacrava.blogspot.com/

Cambodia's Agonizing Wait for Justice

May 2007

by Ron Gluckman From Cambodia in recent days came a rare reason for hope in the long-running quest to assign accountability to the Khmer Rouge, whose murderous rule in the 1970s caused the deaths of up to two million people, or 20% of the population. For decades its aged leaders have roamed free, while a tribunal court, mounted in partnership with the United Nations, sputtered along, staggering from controversy to stalemate.

The latest snafu saw international judges leave Cambodia in a huff in March after what many termed last-gasp meetings to resolve rules of operation for a court funded for $56 million over three years, with virtually no hope of meeting that time frame or budget. The latest sticking point was stiff fees the Cambodian bar planned to levy upon foreign lawyers to represent defendants. Foreign justices insisted these be dropped or reduced drastically. From March until the end of April, the stalemate held, through a series of stinging rebukes. Amidst the bickering and inertia, one positive note sounded at the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which has for years gathered testimonials and evidence about the genocide the tribunal should address. In late April, the center published a history of the Khmer Rouge years, the first by a Cambodian. The textbook is meant to fill in astonishing gaps in local awareness. Surveys show a majority of Cambodian children know little about the Khmer Rouge. Those that do largely discount stories told by parents and grandparents. A History of Democratic Kampuchea by Khamboly Dy has been approved by the education ministry, but not as a core school text.

"The government has an obligation to teach children about the Khmer Rouge and to bring the culprits to justice," said Youk Chhang, director of the center, and a refugee who lost most of his family in the Killing Fields. Purposefully kept tame to avoid issues with government censors, publication marks a victory for self-assessment, Mr. Chhang said. "Cambodians are at last beginning to investigate and record their country's past."

Sadly, many fear that this book, as circumspect as it is, may be the best chance Cambodians get to do so. The tribunal may stagger back on track–at April's end, the bar agreed to slash fees to $500, but only after foreign judges upped pressure, canceling a plenary session last month and threatening to proceed without any bar consultation. Fees have not been charged at any tribunal except in the former Yugoslavia, where registration and first-year bar dues were around $200.

"This isn't a question of money," noted Marcel Lemonde, of France, co-investigating judge. "It's a question of principal and the rights of the defense." The worry was that high fees would deter participation. "Defense would have automatic grounds for appeal," explained Ruper Skilbeck, the principal defender from the United Kingdom. "They could argue that they didn't have access to fair representation." On April 30, international judges indicated they would accept the compromise, and hoped to reconvene the tribunal at the end of May. Should rules finally be adopted, the court, already a full decade in planning, might launch at last. "Things could move very fast from there," Mr. Chhang said hopefully.

Questions naturally surround who will be charged, and with what. Suspects are hardly cloaked in mystery. With three decades to speculate, entire books have been written on the topic. Topping the list is Kang Kek Ieu, or Ta Pin, or Hong Pin, best known as Duch, who ran the grisly S-21 torture center for the Khmer Rouge. A trial is virtually assured for Duch, who admitted running S-21 in an exclusive 1999 interview with the review, which revealed that Duch was working under an alias. He has been in custody ever since, and was long assumed to be among the likely first two defendants along with Ta Mok, who was with Pol Pot and the pitiful band of Khmer Rouge remnants in the Cambodian jungles right through 1990s. But Ta Mok has already faced his day of reckoning: He died last summer.

His passing underscored the urgency and, many say, the futility of the tribunal. More than three decades have passed since the Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975, and the small band of survivors senior enough to offer any meaningful information about this baffling autogenocide, the extermination of citizens by its own government or people, decline with each passing day.

Meanwhile, memories fade as staff at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), as this court is called, shuffle papers at a spacious site near the Phnom Penh airport that has yet to hear a single hammer of justice.

"This court means a lot to Cambodians, but it goes beyond that," noted Michelle Lee, soon after she arrived in Phnom Penh as head of the United Nations team. "This sends a message that, no matter how long ago these atrocities were committed, they must be stopped." She added: "The goal is to give some measure of justice to the Cambodian people."

That was a full year ago. Given the snail's pace, nobody believes the court will be able to achieve its aims within the three-year mandate, if ever. "This has taken longer than we expected, longer than anyone expected," conceded Mr. Lemonde. He hopes that once the court is underway, donors will provide additional funding and time to continue. The key is to show some progress. "Our aim now is to have the first investigation finished by the end of 2007, and the first trial to begin by early 2008." he said.

Others say the latest controversy over fees reiterates a lack of unity among judges and the extreme pressure the Cambodian government is exerting to control this court. And it's not the first example. In November, a group of attorneys with the International Bar Association flew in from London to conduct lawyer training, then promptly flew out after the bar refused to let the program for local lawyers proceed as scheduled. "We said all along that [Prime Minister] Hun Sen has been playing brinkmanship, and keeps trying to rewrite the agreement with the U.N. to give him even more control over the tribunal," said Brad Adams, Asian director of Human Rights Watch and a former resident of Cambodia who was involved in the early negotiations. "I'm surprised that the U.N. finally stood up to him and said, 'no more concessions.' I think the tribunal will go forward, but I expect it to limp along, with one problem after another."

Cambodia initially contacted the U.N. in 1997 to request assistance in hosting a court. The long, contentious years of negotiation emphasized the serious issues–and severe compromises–involved in this court's trying conception. For the first time in its history, the U.N. agreed to participate in a tribunal as a minor partner of the court in a country where the genocide had been alleged to have occurred.

Many say the very composition of the court, and Cambodia's insistence on a majority of local judges on every panel, makes it flawed and doomed to futility. The U.N. position is that balance comes from the unique supermajority system. In a panel of five judges (a supreme court will have seven judges), no guilty verdict can be reached unless at least one foreign judge concurs.

While this serves as a kind of check against kangaroo-court convictions, it does nothing to address widespread concern about the imposition of actual justice. "There is the possibility of a scandalous acquittal," said Mr. Lemonde, but added that judgments could at least be made public, complete with dissenting opinion. "We know the agreement that created this court was not perfect," he added, "but this was the best agreement we could get. Otherwise, there would have been no court."

"The U.N. really shouldn't have gone down this road," countered Mr. Adams, among many who criticize the international community for compromising too much on concepts of justice. Some attribute it to overeagerness on the part of the U.N., whose membership clearly desires a tidy resolution to the peacekeeping mission of the early 1990s. "Some say any tribunal is better than none," Mr. Adams added. "That just isn't true."

The ultimate question is what the tribunal might mean to Cambodians. "I think the overall problem in this entire process is that we have failed to give victims a role," said Mr. Chhang. "Even now, all the disputes are between two parties, the U.N. and the Cambodian government. The victims are all lost in this."

Every month, his center attempts to correct this shortcoming, traveling to remote villages to explain the tribunal. Residents from around the country are shuttled into Phnom Penh, where they tour not only the court, but also some of the ghastly reminders of the Khmer Rouge reign, such as S-21, now a Genocide Museum. This, in effect, is the real tribunal, free of rules and government intrigue. "Why did they do this to my sister?" screams one Cambodian on sighting her sibling pictured on a wall of S-21 victims. Heang Hourn collapses in tears when given a file on the torture and execution of her brother, Savourn, who she last saw in 1975. "We never knew what happened to him," she stutters. "Why? Why?"

These are questions Cambodians want answered, but reconciliation isn't certain if the tribunal limps along, as most expect. Because trials will be held according to Cambodia law based on French court proceedings, little will be public. Still, a belief that anything is better than nothing spurs many on. "I really do feel it is now or never," said Mr. Lemonde. "We just cannot delay. The victims have been waiting 30 years. They cannot wait much longer."

Mr. Gluckman is a writer based in Phnom Penh.

About 250,000 to 300,000 Cambodian Young People Are Seeking Jobs Every Year

Posted on 18 March 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 552

“The president of the Youth Council of Cambodia said that each year there are about 250,000 to 300,000 Cambodian young people seeking jobs throughout the country. On 14 March, Mr. Mak Sarath, the president of the Youth Council of Cambodia, told Khmer Sthapana that there are not enough open position on the market, which is still a problem for Cambodian society. He said the labor market is a main concern which Cambodian youths are facing, while a great number of Cambodian young people are looking for jobs. Some Cambodian youth accept even jobs that are not their skills, or they take a job even the salary is low.

“He continued that every year there are about 250,000 to 300,000 Cambodian youths needing jobs. A study showed that only one of nine graduates from various educational institutions can get a job.

“Mr. Rithy, a student at the Human Resources University, said that he has only two months left before he will finish his studies. But he doesn’t expect that he can find a job soon. He said, ‘I don’t expect that I can find a job like others, because I come from a rural area. I don’t have connections. In two months, I am going to obtain my bachelor degree, but it seems not to help me to get a job as the Cambodian labor market is still small.’

“He continued that he and most of his classmates have sought to find jobs while they were studying, but failed to get any, while others who have strong connections could get a job easily, even though they did not go to study often. Jobs are only available for those who have connections, but for those who do not have strong connections – their job hunt is hopeless.

“Recently, a student of the Royal University of Phnom Penh said, ‘After graduation, I may be very happy. But unfortunately, I may be sad instead, when I cannot get a job and have to return to my home province.’

“Mr. Mak Sarath said that policy makers should consider this problem in order to set national development strategies. If this trend continues, then a social crisis, with problems such as sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and social unrest, will occur.

“Until now, Cambodia does not have an accurate number about its population; a national census is underway. According to a figure, most Cambodian people are young citizens.

“Mr. Mak Sarath said that according to statistics, among 7,000,000 people who are eligible to vote, 50 percent are younger than 35.

“He continued, ‘Based on this figure, it is a problem that we have to worry about, and there have to be proposals to the government so that this problem can be solved.’ He suggested that the government should prepare policies and strategies on youth education so that young people can choose proper skills. He continued, ‘The Royal Government should improve and strengthen the quality of education, and educational strategies must be compatible with market demands. As for the youth, they should not choose their courses by following their friends; they have to analyze and observe the labor market. Sometimes, the market needs lower-skilled workers more than engineers, but the government does not train lower-skilled workers. Hence, who works as a worker? The young people also need to know how to choose their skills. They should not choose their courses based on seeing their friends choosing accounting or marketing.’

“He said one company does not need many accountants or many people in marketing.”

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #5, 15-18.3.2008

Davik's surgery postponed again


LONG BEACH - Doctors have postponed the surgery date for a Cambodian girl brought to the United States by a Long Beach nonprofit for a life-altering heart procedure.

The open-heart surgery, scheduled for Thursday was reset for Monday at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. The date was rescheduled due to a conflict in one doctor's schedule.

Davik, a 9-year-old from a remote village in Cambodia, suffers from a heart defect known as a ventricular septal defect, or a hole in her heart.

Hearts Without Boundaries, a small Long Beach nonprofit, paid to bring Davik and her mother to the U.S. for the surgery. Childrens Hospital Los Angeles is donating its facilities, staff and cardiac surgery team.

- Greg Mellen

A Special Gift for Deth

Deth after the surgery
Deth before surgery


Cleft lip surgery

Mrs. Sat and her husband live in a rural village west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. They were very sad and worried about their fifth son who was born with cleft lip. They wanted Deth to look normal like other Cambodian boys.

The family of six is mainly farmers, growing rice and vegetable. Deth’s parents tried to save money for surgery, but it was never enough.

In January 2008, Mrs. Sat heard that CBN offers free cleft lip surgery.

“I am so excited with this good news,” she said.

“…It is such as special gift and is the last hope for my son.”

After a successful surgery, Deth was all smiles. He does not look the same.

His parents are very happy with this change, and they expressed their gratefulness.

“Thank you to CBN, OB and the kind donor who provided this service,” Mrs. Sat said. “Deth looks normal and handsome now. Thank you.”

Cambodia to develop Preah Vihear into tourism spot


PHNOM PENH, March 18 (Xinhua) -- The Cambodian government will develop the Preah Vihear temple near the border with Thailand into a tourism spot in an effort to reach the goal of attracting 3 million tourists annually by 2010, local press reported Tuesday.

"Tourists will not be able to reach the Preah Vihear temple if the potential area is not developed," Tourism Minister Thong Khon was quoted by English-Khmer language newspaper the Mekong Times assaying during his recent visit there.

Hang Soth, general director of the newly-established Preah Vihear National Authority, said that roads and infrastructure should be developed first so as to attract tourists.

"The aim of our development is to attract tourists and preserve the temple," he said.

The temple is expected to rival the Angkor Wat in Siem Reap province after development is completed, he added.

Thailand and Cambodia used to dispute over who owned the temple. But recently, the Thai government has said that it would not oppose Cambodia's bid to list the temple as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Preah Vihear temple was built from year 900 to 1100. It was occupied by Thailand from 1949 to 1952. In 1962, the Hague International Court decided that the ownership of the temple went to Cambodia.

Editor: Du Guodong

International Women's Day Highlights Reality of Life in Prison for Cambodian Women



Published on March 17, 2008

There are over 640 women currently detained in prisons all over Cambodia and on a day that is meant to celebrate women everywhere and promote the rights of women, LICADHO, partner NGOs, comedians and musicians spent the day remembering these vulnerable members of society.

On Saturday March 8 LICADHO and partner NGOs celebrated International Women's Day by distributing food, drinks, clothes and materials to female prisoners, children living in prison and female prison guards across 20 prisons in Cambodia. There were also performances by comedians and musicians at two prisons to help celebrate the day. These donations are greatly needed in a prison system which must subsist on a budget of 1,500 riel (USD$0.38) per prisoner per day to cover the costs of food, water, electricity, clothing and medical care.

Coinciding with the Women's Day celebrations LICADHO also released its latest report on prison conditions entitled "The Story of a Mother and a Child". This report profiles the story of one particular mother and child who spent several years in prison living together. The report reveals the harsh realities of life in Cambodian prisons where prisoners must cope with limited access to food and clean water, overcrowding of prison cells, routine denial of quality medical services and violence towards prisoners from prison guards and other inmates.

Other findings illustrated in the report are the corruption and inefficiency of Cambodia's prison and judicial systems which contribute to an ever increasing prison population. Many prisoners serve extra time during pre-trial detention, and gain longer prison sentences as they are often too poor, or unable to pay the high bribes needed to gain early release, or shorter sentences. The majority of prisoners do not have adequate access to legal representation and are uninformed and unaided during their trial and imprisonment. Many are also ignorant of their legal right to appeal.

In January 2008, LICADHO's prison researchers recorded 235 cases of excessive pre-trial detention in 18 prisons out of the country's 26 that it monitors. In one such case, a man who was arrested in September 2004 on a charge of assault and robbery had been held without trial for almost three and a half years, which is far beyond the legal six month limit.

The overcrowding in Cambodia's prisons is further compounded by the procedure of holding detainees while prosecution appeals are pending. For example if a prosecutor appeals the verdict of a trial, the detainee remains incarcerated until the appeal court hears the case. As a consequence, detainees who have been acquitted, or convicted prisoners who have already served their prison sentences, can remain in prison for years awaiting prosecution appeal hearings. Waiting times are also excessive given that there is only one national appeals court for the whole country.

In January 2008, LICADHO registered 39 cases of prisoners waiting for appeal hearings. One particular case involved two 18-year old prisoners who were arrested in October 2004 on robbery charges. In 2006 they were sentenced to two years jail and should have been released for time served in pre-trial detention, however due to the prosecution's appeal the two men are still in prison awaiting their appeal hearing.

Additionally, there have been reports of the abhorrent practice of detaining people who have already served their prison sentence. One example involves a woman who was arrested in 2002 on the charge of transporting drugs. In 2003, she was fined 10,000,000 riel (USD$2,500) however after a prosecution appeal the woman was further sentenced to four years jail. The woman was scheduled to be released in late 2006, however due to the failure of the court and prison officials to keep a record of the woman's prison sentence she was never released. Only after intervention by LICADHO prison researchers was the woman finally released in November 2007.

LICADHO strongly urges the Cambodian government to take action to reform the many systemic problems in the Cambodian prisons system, in particular the need to provide prisoners with adequate access to food, water, sanitation and legal representation.

LICADHO renews its call for the judicial system to not keep pre-trial detainees in prison over the legal limit as provided by Cambodia law. Furthermore, procedures that detain people in prison over their sentence due to the appeal process should be reviewed to allow people to be released while they await their hearing.



March 2008

LICADHO is a national Cambodian human rights organization. Since its establishment in 1992, LICADHO has been at the forefront of efforts to protect civil and political and economic and social rights in Cambodia and to promote respect for them by the Cambodian government and institutions. Building on its past achievements, LICADHO continues to be an advocate for the Cambodian people and a monitor of the government through wide ranging human rights programs from its main office in Phnom Penh and 12 provincial offices.

LICADHO pursues its activities through its six program offices:

􀂃 The Monitoring Office investigates human rights violations and assists victims in the legal process. Specially trained staff also monitor 18 prisons to assess prison conditions and ensure that pre-trial detainees have access to legal representation.

􀂃 The Medical Office provides medical assistance to prisoners and prison officials in 18 prisons and provides medical care and referrals to hospitals for victims of human rights violations.

􀂃 The Project Against Torture provides comprehensive rehabilitation services to victims of torture and conducts advocacy against torture.

􀂃 The Children's Rights Office educates the public on children's rights, creates child protection networks at the grassroots level, and investigates children's rights violations.

􀂃 The Women's Rights Office educates the public about women's rights, investigates women's rights violations and advocates for social and legal change.

􀂃 The Advocacy, Documentation and Resource Office compiles case files into a central electronic database so that accurate information can be easily accessed and analyzed.

For More Information Contact:
Dr. Kek Galabru,
President LICADHO (Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights)
#16, Street 99
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Tel: (855) 23 360 965/211 391
Fax: (855) 23 360 965/217 626
E–mail: contact@licadho.org
Web: http://www.licadho.org

View this document in English
View this document in Khmer

To Touch the Soul: Make Art/Stop AIDS in Cambodia

Film screening and Q&A with filmmakers.

Sunday, May 04, 2008
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Fowler Museum of Cultural History
UCLA Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90095

"To Touch the Soul" (2007, 70 minutes, color, English)

In January 2005, Cal State University Long Beach art education professor Carlos Silveira took twenty-seven of his students to Cambodia, where they worked alongside students from a local university to conduct art projects involving impoverished children affected by HIV/AIDS. While grappling with issues including cultural differences and language barriers, the group learned the true meaning of kindness, selflessness, courage, community and social activism. The documentary features a mix of diary voice-overs and interviews with Carlos, his students and their young charges, and highlights the growing problem of AIDS orphans in Cambodia. A Q & A with Carlos Silveira, Teresa Hagen (producer), and Ryan Goble (director/editor) follows the screening.

Co-sponsored by the Fowler Museum of Cultural History in connection with the "Make Art/Stop AIDS" exhibit through June 15.

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Special Instructions
Parking at UCLA costs $8.

For more information please contact
Barbara GaerlanTel: 310-206-9163

Two vessels flying Cambodian flags detained at Russia F East coast

VLADIVOSTOK, March 17 (Itar-Tass) - Two vessels flying the Cambodian flag were detained at the Russian Far Eastern Primorye territory’s coast during the past weekend.
On Monday they arrived under the escort of border guards at Nakhodka port where the investigation will be conducted.

The press service of the territorial border guard department told Itar-Tass that the first vessel – the Mar trawler, was spotted by border guards when it was illegally crossing the Russian state border. Its crew made an attempt to get rid of poaching fishing gear and threw into the water crab traps. However, the poachers failed to fully dispose of the crime evidence – during the trawler’s inspection the border guards found illegally caught live crabs on the ship. The sum of prevented damage is estimated at over 0.5 million roubles.

The second vessel – the East schooner, was stopped and examined by a patrol coast guard vessel in the exclusive economic zone of Russia. Over one tonne of illegally caught crab was found on the ship.

Sacravatoons : " Good Buddhists "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon : http://sacrava.blogspot.com/

Sacravatoons : " The events of March 18,1970 "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon : http://sacrava.blogspot.com/

Swedish mother hopes Thai or Cambodian police will help reunite her with missing daughter Alicia, now believed to be with her father

$10,000 is a lot of money but i'm desperate...

March 18, 2008

A Swedish mother who has come to Thailand to try to find her missing daughter is offering a US$10,000 (Bt314,000) reward for information that leads to the return of her six-year-old girl.

Maria Elfversson, 35, announced the reward at a press conference in Bangkok yesterday. The girl was allegedly abducted by her father nine months ago.

Ms Elfversson, from Gothenburg, Sweden, hopes the reward will motivate Thai or Cambodian people to help locate her daughter Alicia.

She claims her former partner, Norwegian Torgeir Nordbo, 47, abducted Alicia on June 4, 2007 and took her to Cambodia.

The missing girl and her father were reportedly living in the seaside resort of Sihanoukville until last month.

But her mother suspects they may be in Thailand because Nordbo has numerous properties and businesses in and around Jomtien.

Police come up empty-handed

Nordbo has been charged with abduction in Sweden, and is wanted by Interpol. But taking your own child is not regarded as a crime in Cambodia.

Elfversson told reporters yesterday: "Neither the police nor authorities have been able to find out which country he has taken her to. I therefore want to make this plea for help.

"The hope is that we can get Alicia back - that the international police will be able to find her."
She said the reward was a lot of money for her and her family, but admitted she was desperate to get her daughter back.

The abduction of Alicia has been front-page news in Sweden and Norway, particularly after it was reported that the missing girl appeared to have been living with her father in Sihanoukville.

A Swedish policewoman based in Bangkok has already been to Cambodia to try to find the missing girl, but wasn't able to locate her or Nordbo.

A TV crew from Sweden's Channel 4 was due to arrive last night to report on the search for Alicia. They are due to travel to Cambodia tomorrow.

By Jim Pollard
Daily Xpress

Sisters setting the PACE

COURTESY PHOTOThe Venerable Somnieng, head of the Life and Hope Association in Cambodia, visited La Pietra last year and inspired middle-school girls to develop a cross-cultural exchange with girls in Cambodia.

Monday, March 17, 2008
By Maryna Feldberg and Bobbi-jo Katagiri
Seniors, La Pietra

La Pietra middle-school students devoted a recent FridayFest, a school social event, to a community service activity. Working with the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii, La Pietra has adopted a sister school in Cambodia through a Buddhist temple located in Siem Reap.

The connection began when La Pietra English teacher Marisa Proctor traveled to Cambodia last summer with the East-West Center's "Travel and Teach" program and volunteered at Wat Damnak, where the Venerable Somnieng, a Buddhist monk, is the head of the Life and Hope Association. LHA sponsors many community outreach programs, including the Program Advancing Children's Education, or PACE. This year, PACE has identified 13 at-risk girls in the community to live together in a boardinghouse and attend the Life & Hope Junior School.

Last October, Somnieng spoke at La Pietra while visiting Honolulu for a conference at UH. Upon arriving, his eyes lit up when he was reminded that La Pietra is an all-girls school, and it wasn't long before he suggested forging a link between the girls at his boarding house and La Pietra's middle schoolers.

Later that day, when social studies teacher and Middle School Congress adviser Tom Robinson heard Somnieng speak, he knew that he had found an opportunity to build a long-term, meaningful connection for his middle-schoolers. This wouldn't be just a one-time community service project, he realized. He wanted something more lasting.

The result became Sisters Setting the PACE, an organization whose mission is to empower girls in Cambodia and Hawaii by building friendships and developing cross-cultural citizenship through support, communication, cultural exchange and lifelong education. Students will learn from and motivate one another to become responsible young women who will bring about positive change in their communities and beyond.

Mutual benefit for both parties is the main goal for this project. By creating this connection, the Cambodian girls have the opportunity to get an education, and La Pietra students get the benefit of cross-cultural communication with people from a country most Americans know little about. Both schools hope to build a solid relationship so that, within a few years, they might even get to meet. While the focus this year is mostly on raising funds to help the girls' transition into the Life & Hope Junior School, long-term plans include donating school supplies and even computer equipment to allow more frequent communication.

La Pietra middle-school students have already raised more than $2,500 and sent disposable cameras to the PACE girls, who will photograph their lives and respond in writing to a questionnaire about themselves. When they send these back, La Pietra girls will be paired up with PACE girls and return the favor with pictures and letters of their own.

La Pietra is working in cooperation with the East-West Center's Schools-Helping-Schools program to help ease the communication and fund the expenses for the exchange between schools. Originally created to aid victims of the 2005 tsunami in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand, Schools-Helping-Schools is now expanding out to other projects. Its involvement ensures that 100 percent of La Pietra's donations go straight to the students of PACE. The East-West Center is a nonprofit organization designed to strengthen relations and understanding among people and nations of Asia, the Pacific and the United States.

Groups Say UN Rights Office, Envoy Must Stay

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
17 March 2008

Leading local human rights groups said Friday they would appeal to the UN Human Rights Council to continue its rights programs in Cambodia, following escalating criticism from the Cambodian government of the UN's special human rights envoy.

Leaders of the rights groups Licadho and Adhoc are in Geneva for an annual meeting of the Rights Council, where envoy Yash Ghai is expected to deliver a report on the government's human rights record.

Ghai, the UN secretary-general's special human rights representative to Cambodia, has been highly critical of the government's rights record in the past.

Kek Galabru, founder of Licadho, said from Geneva local groups would "plea and plea" with members of the UN to keep its rights office in Phnom Penh and keep Ghai as an envoy.

Rights groups are concerned the UN will not renew its human rights mandate in the country, where it has monitored rights since the Paris Peace Accords in 1991.

Group Urges Donors to Use Money for Justice

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
17 March 2008

Any country looking to add money to the Khmer Rouge tribunal should seek to ensure justice for victims, a leading tribunal monitor group said.

Robert Vanerik, acting president of the Open Society Justice Initiative, said Friday donors should tie their contributions to increased transparency and efficiency in the courts.

"Specifically, donors should insist on the appointment of an expert who can advise the United Nations on ways to ensure the effective operation of the ECCC," he said, referring to the tribunal by it's official name, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

"Donors should also insist on the implementation of greater safeguards and oversight to prevent corruption at the court," he said. "It is critical for donors to support the ECCC to ensure it can deliver justice for the Cambodian people. The Cambodian government and the international community simply cannot let the court fail due to a lack of funds."

The tribunal is seeking an additional $114 million to put on top of its original $56-million price tag, in order to run trials through 2011.

Tribunal administrators told Cambodian staff last week they could pay them through April, but funds were drying up.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said the courts had been cooperative with donors, and that a too-long delay could deny the five detained Khmer Rogue leaders their right to trial.

Defectors to CPP Threatened, Hun Sen Says

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
17 March 2008

Khmer audio aired March 17(727KB) - Listen (MP3)

Political activists who have moved to join the ruling party in Kampong Thom and Takeo provinces have received threatening phone calls insulting them for leaving the opposition, the prime minister said Monday.

Hun Sen said during a Buddhist pagoda inauguration in Prey Veng province that a former commune council member from the Sam Rainsy Party in Barei district, Kampong Thom province, fled her home after a threat.

The activist, Tim Norn, said she had gone to the UN human rights office in Phnom Penh to complain about threats, by local Sam Rainsy Party provincial activists.

She alleged they called her and threatened her after she moved to the Cambodian People's Party in February.

Thon Rithy, a Sam Rainsy Party activist in Barei district, denied he threatened Tim Norn, calling her claims "untrue." The Sam Rainsy Party endorses political freedom, he said, wishing her good fortune with her new party.

A second defector, Ros Serey Udom, who moved from the Sam Rainsy Party to the ruling party Sunday, said Monday he received a threat from an unidentified caller, who called him "lazy" and "stupid" for joining the Cambodian People's Party.

District police in each province said they had not received victims' complaints over the threats but would investigate the cases.

Opposition Paper Publisher Moves to CPP

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
17 March 2008

Khmer audio aired March 17 (1.08MB) - Listen (MP3)

The publisher of an opposition-aligned newspaper has joined ranks with a growing number of people moving to the ruling Cambodian People's Party ahead of national elections in July.

Thach Keth, publisher of the Sam Rainsy Party-affiliated Sralanh Khmer, or Love Khmer, newspaper, said Monday he was throwing his support behind the ruling party.

Thach Keth confirmed Monday he joined the CPP March 13, the day after he resigned from the Sam Rainsy Party.

He would spend his own "pocket money" to publish the newspaper "to serve the CPP," he said.
Boay Roeuy, editor in chief of the paper, said he would leave it, even though Thach Keth had asked him to stay. He said he was disappointed this happened at a time when the newspaper market is growing.

Kong Koam, vice president of the Sam Rainsy Party, said Monday he was not worried about the move. The newspaper would be known as a CPP paper, he said, and would not affect the popularity of the opposition.

The paper was less popular among SRP supporters than Moneaksekar Khmer, or Khmer Conscience, he said.

In another defection Monday, the vice president of the Ratanakkiri branch of the opposition party, Phal Tha, also moved to CPP. He arrived in Phnom Penh Monday to resign from the opposition and join the Cambodian People's Party.