Wednesday, 23 April 2008

The Blood Stains Remain

TravelPod.com
Wednesday, Apr 02, 2008

I have written and re-written this entry so many times I can't count. I'm now going on 2 weeks trying to finish this. The reason it's been so difficult is that the subject matter is very emotional for me. Even though we only spent 3 weeks in the country, I fell in love with the Cambodian people. Their childlike innocence makes them genuine to a fault. It's as if the entire country slept through the 20th century and missed all of things that have jaded the rest of the world - epidemics, famine, war, genocides, homicidal dictators. For people who have been through so much, you would think they would be negative, pessimistic and hateful. Quite the contrary, they are just grateful to have the opportunity to now live in relative peace.

The country is really only a decade out of living under the fear of the Khmer Rouge. With that being said, they are still ruled by a corrupt, self-serving Communist government, which feigns democracy with multi-party "elections." I met one very well read and well spoken Cambodian who explained their current mentality. He said that the only hope for Cambodians is tourism. They do not manufacture anything, they do not grow anything and they do not mine anything. In short, they have nothing to support their flimsy economy except tourism. During the 1997 "election" the current ruling party threw grenades into the middle of a peaceful rally for the opposition party. My friend then put it together for me. Without a trace of self-pity in his voice, he said, "Tourism is our only hope and no tourist will come to a country where their government is blowing people up at political rallies. So rather than fight their corruption, we accept it. The alternative is poverty and starvation."

Without turning this into a complete diatribe, this conversation is indicative of Cambodia's culture. This is country who's recent history has been so horrific that they whole-heartedly accept, if not support a government that changes the winning majority from a 66% to 51% because they will lose the 2008 election otherwise. However, for Cambodians, government corruption is fine as long as they are not being tortured, starved or bombed.

So with all of that being said, our sight-seeing visit in Phnom Penh was intensely emotional. Next to living through 9/11, I can't think of a more gut-wrenching, white-knuckling, teeth-clenching experience. It was one of those experiences where you reach the end and realize that you haven't moved anything expect your eyeballs and feet for 3 hours. What we saw in their capital was the worst of the worst. And a lot of nasty stuff has happened to this country, so that's saying quite a bit.

Prior to 1975 Tuol Sleng was a local area high school, called Tuol Svay Prey. However, from 1975 to 1979, the classroom floors turned into the deathbeds for 17,000 Cambodians. During the Pol Pot years, the school was converted into an interrogation center for the ultra-paranoid revolutionaries of the Khmer Rouge. As if being dragged from their homes to work in rice paddy fields weren't enough, Cambodians lived in constant fear of being called a traitor to the revolution by one of the 16 year old Khmer Rouge guards.

The school is almost the same as it was when the Khmer Rouge were finally ousted by Vietnam in 1979. (Ironically, life vastly improved under Vietnamese rule, yet the entire world (U.S. included) supported the psychotic, murderous and genocidal Khmer Rouge because technically THEY had sovereignty. It is a mad, mad world, ain't it?) In each classroom, the numbers 1-50 painted on the walls count the number of detainees handcuffed to each other and laid out like sardines. In other classrooms hang enlarged photographs which depict the bloody, gaunt corpses of some of the Tuol Sleng victims. The center of the rooms contain the actual metal bed frames shown in the pictures on which those human beings were chained, tortured and starved.

In another building were head shots of the detainees. There were thousands of them. The looks on their faces ranged from complete confusion to shear and utter panic. Some of them were actually smiling and looking relieved, as if they were thankful because their hell on earth would soon be over. The ones that affected me the most were the faces of those who sneered at the camera in anger and defiance, as if to give one last "Fuck You!" to their captors.

As intense as the victim's head shots were, and as intense as the pictorials of the torture methods were, and as intense as the photos of the corpses were, non of these compared to Building C. Building C was where the majority of the 17,000 victims were held and tortured before being bludgeoned to death. (They typically beat people to death in order to save bullets.)

Outside of Building C barbed wire was strung across what were once open-air hallways looking onto the schoolyard. Apparently, the Khmer Rouge had problems with prisoners hurling themselves over the ledge to kill themselves in order to avoid further suffering.

Inside Building C the classrooms were transformed into crudely constructed prison cells. Two floors had brick cells and the third floor's were made of wood. Each cell was 5 feet long by 3 feet wide and still had the ankle shackles bolted to the floor. In order to patrol the detainees, they knocked out doorways through the classroom walls making one long hallway on each floor.

The most startling part about Building C, however, was not the makeshift prison. Not even close. The most startling part of Building C were the blood stains. In most of the cells were crimson splotches left by all those thousands of innocent Cambodians. Looking at the very blood spilled by these poor people made it feel as if it was happening before my eyes. It was not the the polished, roped-off, gift-wrapped tourism you're used to. It lent a reality to the moment that cannot be described.

To intensify this already paralyzing experience, it was the end of the day, and as I walked through the halls in Building C, there was no one else in sight. Tracy had wandered off and there were no sounds to be heard other than the setting sun. The energy in the room was tangible. It felt heavy. Like I was wading through water with ankle weights.

Between the quiet, the solitude, the energy and the blood stains, I swear I could hear screaming. Screaming from a mother listening to her teenage son being beaten to death. Shrieking from an old man who's cell door flung open for his final "re-education" lesson. Wailing from an eight-year old who didn't understand why these terrible men made her bleed. Listening closely, I could even hear the silent resignation of those who sneered in their head shots. The ones who did not make a peep in their final moments. Those who refused to give their torturers the satisfaction of hearing their pain.

The sad thing is there are atrocities like this happening in modern times - Rwanda and Darfur to name a couple. And just like Cambodia, the governments around the world that could affect change, don't. The world stood idly by while 2 million Cambodians died during Pol Pot's reign of terror and we're still sitting on the sidelines. Maybe there's just too much injustice in the world to to change it all. Maybe serving only our self interests is simply the necessity of prioritizing what would be an otherwise very long "to do list." I don't know. All I know is that regardless of nationality, race or creed, we are all human. When innocent Cambodians' stain classroom floors with blood, we should all hear them screaming.

Handcuffed suspect kills Cambodian policeman

Macau Daily Times
Wednesday, 23 April 2008

A handcuffed suspect yesterday shot dead a Cambodian police officer and wounded three others during a crackdown on drug trafficking at a guesthouse, police said.

The attack occurred as police raided a guesthouse in downtown Phnom Penh, city police chief Touch Naruth said.

Police arrested a suspect and handcuffed him during the raid but did not search him for hidden weapons, he said.

"It is regrettable," he said, adding that the incident was caused by the "negligence" of the police officers."

The drug traffickers dare to do everything to free themselves because they would be heavily punished," Touch Naruth said.

A second suspect fled after the attack.Impoverished Cambodia is becoming an increasingly popular trafficking point for narcotics, particularly methamphetamines and heroin, after neighbouring Thailand toughened its stance on illegal drugs in 2002.

Cambodia grants sale of 6,000 tons broken rice to Senegal

www.chinaview.cn
2008-04-23

PHNOM PENH, April 23 (Xinhua) -- The Cambodian government has agreed to sell 6,000 tons of broken rice to Senegal as an urgent case, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday.

Senegal required buying the broken rice products from Cambodia in urgent case, Hun Sen said while addressing the 13th Government-Private Sector Forum held in Phnom Penh.

Cambodian Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh is visiting Dakar, capital of Senegal, to meet with the Senegalese side, the prime minister said.

"They understood that we banned the exports of rice products. Therefore they required to buy broken rice only," he added.

Recently, Hun Sen banned the rice exports but later lifted the ban for three provinces bordering Vietnam.

Rice farmers at the provinces are happy to sell their products with high price to merchants, he said.

The price of milled rice has grown from 0.5 dollar to nearly one dollar per kilo in Cambodia.

Editor: Wang Yan

PM warns Ranariddh over ‘false’ claims

Previously Mr. HUN SEN is bowing to Ranariddh and Now what happen? This is Khmer Politic

By Neth Pheaktra
The Mekong Times

Prime Minister Hun Sen (pictured) reacted with indignation to Prince Norodom Ranariddh’s claim that the premier had made the Prince’s retirement from politics a necessary condition for his return to Cambodia.Prince Norodom Ranariddh, currently in self-imposed exile after his conviction for breach of trust, recently claimed that Hun Sen told him he must either quit politics, return to lead the Funcinpec Party or apologize for his past mistakes. During a speech in Kratie province, Hun Sen angrily denied the prince’s claim. “It is not the truth,” he said, warning Norodom Ranariddh not to accuse others.

“Particularly do not throw a stone on Hun Sen’s leg. The stone does not fall on Hun Sen’s leg but is sure to fall on your own leg,” he menaced cryptically.

Hun Sen went on to advise King Father Norodom Sihanouk to discipline his son. “Please lecture him. It is your matter: Do not blame Hun Sen. If it is Hun Sen’s problem, Hun Sen will solve it,” the premier said, using his favored third-person form of address. He added that he would no longer speak to the prince.

Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesman Muth Chantha backed up Norodom Ranariddh, saying other witnesses would also confirm his story. He said Hun Sen was trying to gain an advantage ahead of elections by rendering the prince powerless.

Koul Panha, president of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections (COMFREL), said Norodom Ranariddh’s presence was necessary for a fair and transparent election. He urged the premier to allow King Norodom Sihamoni to use his Royal Pardon to ensure Norodom Ranariddh’s return.

Hun Sen also asked that the royal titles Preah Ang Machas (Prince) and Toul Bangkum Khnum (Royal Highness) used in the National Assembly, Senate and government be dropped. “We protect the monarchy but politicians should not have an impunity which is different from other politicians,” he said.

Koul Panha agreed that royal terms should not be used in the National Assembly and the Senate, suggesting that the use of the lofty title Samdech, which is considered higher than “Excellency”, should also be restricted. “If these high titles … are used, it will make ordinary people with no titles reluctant to contact [these persons],” he said.

Genocide tribunal hears appeal for release of ex-Khmer Rouge leader

Locals and foreigners wait in line to attend Cambodia's genocide tribunal's ruling on former Khmer Rouge President Khieu Samphan's appeal against his pre-trial detention on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 23, 2008. Khieu Samphan is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)


Chum Mey, one of the few who survived imprisonment at the Khmer Rouge's Tuol Sleng prison, smiles before attending a U.N.-back genocide tribunal's ruling on an appeal against former Khmer Rouge president Khieu Samphan's pre-trial detention, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 23, 2008. Khieu Samphan is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A vehicle transports Khieu Samphan, a former president during the Khmer Rouge regime, to a hearing at Cambodia's genocide tribunal, which will rule on an appeal against his pre-trial detention, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 23, 2008. Khieu Samphan is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

French lawyer Jacques Verges, who will help in the defence of Khieu Samphan, a former president during the Khmer Rouge regime, listens as Cambodia's genocide tribunal ruled on an appeal against Khieu Samphan's pre-trial detention, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 23, 2008. Khieu Samphan is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.REUTERS/Heng Sinith/Pool (CAMBODIA)

Khieu Samphan, a former president during the Khmer Rouge regime, sits in the dock before Cambodia's genocide tribunal ruled on an appeal against his pre-trial detention, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 23, 2008. Khieu Samphan is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.REUTERS/Pring Samrang/Pool (CAMBODIA)

Khieu Samphan, a former president during the Khmer Rouge regime, sits in the dock before Cambodia's genocide tribunal ruled on an appeal against his pre-trial detention, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 23, 2008. Khieu Samphan is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.REUTERS/Mak Remssa/Pool (CAMBODIA)

Khieu Samphan, a former president during the Khmer Rouge regime, sits in the dock before Cambodia's genocide tribunal ruled on an appeal against his pre-trial detention, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 23, 2008. Khieu Samphan is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.REUTERS/Pring Samrang/Pool (CAMBODIA)

Khieu Samphan, a former president during the Khmer Rouge regime, sits in the dock before Cambodia's genocide tribunal ruled on an appeal against his pre-trial detention, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 23, 2008. Khieu Samphan is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Khieu Samphan, a former president during the Khmer Rouge regime, stands in the dock before Cambodia's genocide tribunal ruled on an appeal against his pre-trial detention, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 23, 2008. Khieu Samphan is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Khieu Samphan, a former president during the Khmer Rouge regime, is helped by police into the dock before Cambodia's genocide tribunal ruled on an appeal against his pre-trial detention, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 23, 2008. Khieu Samphan is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Charleston Daily Mail
Wednesday April 23, 2008

By KER MUNTHIT
Associated Press Writer

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) -- A former top Khmer Rouge leader went before Cambodia's genocide tribunal Wednesday to seek his release from pretrial detention, represented by a French lawyer known for defending Nazis, serial killers and Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal.

One of the lawyers representing Khieu Samphan, 76, is Jacques Verges, who has earned notoriety with a client list that includes Nazi Gestapo officer Klaus Barbie.

The tribunal has charged Khieu Samphan with crimes against humanity and war crimes committed when the communist Khmer Rouge held power in 1975-79. Some 1.7 million people died from starvation, disease, overwork and execution as a result of the group's radical policies in trying to build a classless society.

Khieu Samphan's defense lawyers say he held "no real power'' as the Khmer Rouge's head of state and is not guilty of the crimes he is charged with, Judge Prak Kimsan told the court, reading from previously submitted arguments.

Expressionless before the court, Khieu Samphan stood when asked to introduce himself and said he lived a life of poverty after the fall of the Khmer Rouge.

"I didn't have any job, and after leaving the jungle, I depended on my wife who supported the whole family,'' he said, dressed in khakis and a green, long-sleeved shirt.

Khieu Samphan has been detained by the tribunal since Nov. 19. He is one of five former senior leaders in custody.

Khmer Rouge leader seeks release

BBC News
Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan has made his first appearance at Cambodia's genocide tribunal.

He is seeking to be released from detention while waiting for the start of his trial, which is expected to take place later this year.

Khieu Samphan was arrested in November on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Khmer Rouge regime ruled Cambodia between 1975 and 1979, and is blamed for up to two million deaths.

Khieu Samphan has never denied these deaths, but both he and his lawyers insist that, as head of state, he was never directly responsible.

One member of his defence team is the infamous French lawyer Jacques Verges, whose previous clients have included Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and Venezuelan hijacker Carlos the Jackal.

Mr Verges, 83, has known Khieu Samphan, 76, since they were both involved in left-wing student activities in France in the 1950s.

Life of poverty

The defendant listened stony-faced as judge Prak Kimsan read out the case against him.

WHO WERE THE KHMER ROUGE?
Maoist regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975-1979
Founded and led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998
Abolished religion, schools and currency in a bid to create agrarian utopia
Up to two million people thought to have died from starvation, overwork or execution

Brutal Khmer Rouge regime

He confirmed his name, age and home town, and told the court he had lived a life of poverty after the Khmer Rouge regime was toppled.

"I have had no job since leaving the jungle. (I have) only my wife, who struggles to feed me and my family," he is reported as saying.

In its detention order, the prosecution alleged that Khieu Samphan "aided and abetted" the policies of the Khmer Rouge, which were "characterised by murder, extermination, imprisonment, persecution on political grounds and other inhumane acts".

Khieu Samphan's defence lawyers argued that he held "no real power" and was therefore not guilty of the crimes he was charged with, according to documents read out by Judge Prak Kimsan.

The court then went into a closed-door session.

The long-delayed UN-backed genocide tribunal is expected to hold its first trial later this year.
Those also facing charges include Nuon Chea, second-in-command of the late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot; the former foreign and social affairs ministers, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith; and Duch, who ran the notorious Tuol Sleng jail in Phnom Penh.

Under the Khmer Rouge, more than one million people died from starvation or overwork as leaders strove to create an agrarian utopia.

Hundreds of thousands of the educated middle-classes were tortured and executed in special centres.

Khmer Rouge founder Pol Pot died in 1998, and many fear that delays to the judicial process could mean that the Khmer Rouge's surviving leaders could die before being brought to justice.

Lessons from the Killing Fields: Cambodians remember the past to heal the future

Christa Hillstom / Medill
Claires Ung Kay never saw her parents again after the fall of Phnom Penh. Although her personal connection to Cambodia perished under the regime of the Khmer Rouge, she continues to help her people today as a founding member of the Cambodian Association of Illinois.


Cambodians wait outside the entrance to the secluded Wall of Remembrance at the Cambodian American Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial. The community mourns its losses, but expresses hope for the future.
Reports - Chicago

by Christa Hillstrom
Apr 22, 2008

Like most teenagers excited to go abroad for the first time, Claires Ung Kay was thrilled to get the chance to study in Paris.

But when she left Cambodia in 1970 she didn’t know she would never see her home again. Nor did she know that in five years her mother would be killed for trying to feed chicken to her starving husband.

The Cambodian Association of Illinois, based in Albany Park, hosted a Day of Remembrance on Sunday to help Cambodians honor relatives lost in the genocide of the 1970s. April 17th marked the 33rd anniversary of the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge, when the pogroms began.
“We do this to remember the tragedy of 1975,” Nen Sok, the association’s board president, addressed a crowd of about 150. “But also because we need unity in our community here.”

Organizers said the ceremony helps Cambodians work through grief that continues to affect individual lives and infuse wider community life. They hope such ceremonies will help survivors share with new generations how the experience of atrocity has shaped their collective identity.

“Our younger generation craves that—they want to have that picture,” said Elizabeth Keo, the association’s program director. “They want to know about their identity.”

An estimated 2 million people were killed by the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. The regime, in ruthless pursuit of a utopia without class or cultural differences, stormed cities and forced urban populations into agrarian labor camps.

Prime Minister Pol Pot and other leaders isolated the country from the rest of the world and re-set the clock to “year zero” in an attempt to restart history, erasing both personal and cultural identity.

Several generations attended Sunday’s Day of Remembrance, where Buddhist monks led participants in prayer. Everyone observed a moment of silence to honor the spirits of family members.

A line of people wove through the association’s Cambodian American Heritage Museum to the Killing Fields Memorial, where the families of those who survived lit incense for those who didn’t at the Wall of Remembrance—glass plates inscribed with the names of lost relatives.

Kay, 55, said that honoring her loved ones arouses memories of when she first heard the news of Phnom Penh: “I felt sick, sick. I couldn’t believe it.”

Charged with running an orphanage, her parents fared better than some in the beginning. But then her father fell sick.

“He had weakness, tiredness,” she said. “He was dying of ‘starving disease.’”

In a country where food rations were minimal and often non-existent, starvation was a leading cause of death.

Kay moved to Chicago in 1977 and helped found the Association, which now serves 3,000 Cambodians. She married and raised two children, but neither of them learned to speak Khmer.

Genocide continues to be a part of the Cambodian cultural identity, even for young people, according to Keo. But, she added, there is a gap between what first- and second-generation Cambodians learn from books and what their parents and grandparents share with them.

Cambodian refugees were forced to pile the stress of immigration and cultural assimilation on top of trauma, Keo said, and that has prevented many from opening up. Some still suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Keo said that for a long time her own understanding of the genocide was primarily academic, defined by facts and numbers rather than stories. It was not until she was an adult that her mother enriched Keo’s understanding through sharing personal experience.

“She compares herself to a bird,” said Keo. She then quoted her mother, “‘The Khmer Rouge cut off my wings.’”

The challenge and the goal, according to the association, is for people to start talking and helping one another understand how the experience has shaped them all, even when it hurts.

“You can’t look forward without having your past behind you,” she said. “I would like to see that history is being told to young people—not just in a factual way, but as an experience.”

The association will hold a fundraiser Saturday to address health issues in the Cambodian-American community.

Cambodian Kids Get No Free Breakfast as Rising Prices Cut Aid

Te Huoy, 65, who earns money collecting beer cans, plastic bottles and other recyclables, holds out the food she has left for the next two meals for herself and two grandchildren, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 11, 2008. Photographer: Jason Gale/Bloomberg News


Te Huoy, 65, who earns money collecting beer cans, plastic bottles and other recyclables, sits in the door frame of her home in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 11, 2008. Photographer: Jason Gale/Bloomberg News

Thomas J. Keusters, the World Food Programme's Cambodia representative, poses for a photograph outside the WFP warehouse in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 11, 2008. Photographer: Jason Gale/Bloomberg News


A mother and child pose for a photograph in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 11, 2008. Photographer: Jason Gale/Bloomberg News

A child collects plastic bottles to sell for recycling in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 11, 2008. Photographer: Jason Gale/Bloomberg News

Bloomberg.com
Apr 23 08
By Jason Gale

April 23 (Bloomberg) -- Thirteen-year-old Pin Oudam gets a free breakfast of rice, fish and yellow split peas every morning at his school in Kampong Speu, Cambodia's poorest province. Next week he won't.

The World Food Program cut off rice deliveries to 1,344 Cambodian schools last month after prices doubled and suppliers defaulted on contracts. Schools will run out of food by May 1, depriving about 450,000 children of meals, the WFP estimates.

``Over time, this will result in higher malnutrition rates and lessen the physical and mental development of these children at a critical period in their lives,'' says Paul Risley, a Bangkok-based spokesman for the United Nations agency.

Record rice prices are forcing some relief agencies to cut rations. WFP, which helped feed 960,000 people in Cambodia in January, is limiting aid to only the neediest people in the country, including tuberculosis and AIDS patients, pregnant women and babies. Yesterday, the agency said its representatives in 78 other countries were facing similar choices.

That may leave Pim with an empty stomach. His grandmother, Nov Yim, estimates she will need 180 kilograms (400 pounds) of rice to feed a family of nine until the next harvest begins in September. A 50-kilo bag costs about 150,000 riel ($38) and may rise further, she says.

``At those prices, I can only afford half of what I will need,'' says Yim, 61. ``Without the extra rice, my children and grandchildren will go hungry.''

Suppliers Renege

The WFP was forced to end the Cambodian school program because suppliers didn't honor contracts to deliver 4,000 tons of rice at $390 to $450 a ton, says Thomas J. Keusters, the agency's representative in Cambodia. Other local dealers quoted prices of $620 a ton that were out of the agency's reach, he says. A year ago, the WFP paid about $260.

The program aims to keep kids in primary school and prevent them from being dragged into the workforce or prostitution.

About 69 percent of the children in Kampong Speu province, 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Phnom Penh, leave school before completing the sixth grade.

Te Huoy, 65, doesn't want that to happen to the two grandchildren, ages 4 and 14, she's raising in a Phnom Penh slum.

Huoy earns 3,000 to 5,000 riel a day selling empty beer cans and other garbage from the streets of the capital and says it's barely enough to pay for rice, fish and sausages. She spends three-fourths of her income on food, up from half six months ago.

``I'm already old and will die soon,'' says Huoy, who never received an education. ``My hope is that my grandchildren can continue to go to school.''

Rising Budget

The WFP originally budgeted $3.4 billion to feed 73 million people worldwide this year. Last month, it appealed for an additional $500 million to cover higher food costs. That shortfall was revised to $756 million this week.

In Sri Lanka, two of the Rome-based aid agency's suppliers defaulted on contracts in the past 10 days, Risley says. In East Timor, where the government supplies rice to the WFP, authorities haven't been able to purchase the cereal from Vietnam because of a ban on exports from that country.

Other relief agencies are also feeling the pinch.

Net food aid flows have been declining for more than a decade, and subprime mortgage losses that led to 1.5 million home foreclosures in the U.S. last year may reduce cash donations, says Chris Conrad, a director of World Vision International's food programming group in Johannesburg.

Global food aid deliveries dropped to 6.7 million tons in 2006 from a high of 17.3 million tons in 1993, according to a 2007 report from the WFP.

``The pie is getting smaller,'' Conrad says. ``For years, everybody was saying the U.S. or other developed economies could feed the world. I don't think they can anymore.''

Exports Banned

In Cambodia, retail rice prices stabilized at about 1,800 riel a kilo, up from 1,300 riel normally, after the government banned exports last month, says Khiev Bory, a deputy director in the Ministry of Planning. Cambodia's farm ministry predicts a rice surplus of 1.48 million tons this year.

``Rice is available in Cambodia,'' Bory says. ``No problem.''

While there is enough food in some parts of the country, it's too expensive for most poor people, Conrad says. Grandmother Yim says she pays about 67 percent more for her rice than the price quoted by Bory.

Rice accounts for almost two-thirds of the calories consumed by Cambodia's 14 million people.

In 2005, Cambodians had a life expectancy of 58 years, the lowest in Asia, and more than a quarter of adults were illiterate, according to the UN's 2007-2008 Human Development Report. Some 37 percent of children under 5 were stunted because of poor nutrition and 7 percent suffered from malnutrition.

``We have the silent tragedy of children who are malnourished because they don't get enough food in their growing years,'' says Sharon Wilkinson, Geneva-based Care International's country director for Cambodia who oversees more than $8 million in aid projects. ``We are looking at a growing disaster.''

Former Khmer Rouge leader in court

A tourist looks at victims' portraits at the Tuol Sleng genocide museum in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.


CNN.com/Asia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) -- The former Khmer Rouge head of state appeared at Cambodia's U.N.-assisted genocide tribunal for a pretrial hearing Wednesday that marked the first courtroom appearance of his controversial French defense lawyer.

One of the lawyers representing Khieu Samphan, 76, in his appeal to be freed from pretrial detention is Jacques Verges, who has earned notoriety for having represented terrorists, serial killers and a former Nazi officer accused of World War II atrocities.

The tribunal has charged Khieu Samphan with crimes against humanity and war crimes committed when the communist Khmer Rouge held power in 1975-79.

Some 1.7 million people died from starvation, disease, overwork and execution as a result of the group's radical policies in trying to build a classless society.

None of the leadership of the now-defunct Khmer Rouge has been tried yet. The tribunal is expected to hold its first trial later this year.

Khieu Samphan has been detained by the tribunal since Nov. 19, one of five senior leaders in its custody.

In its detention order, the tribunal's judges alleged that Khieu Samphan "aided and abetted" his regime's policies that were "characterized by murder, extermination, imprisonment, persecution on political grounds and other inhumane acts such as forcible transfers of the population, enslavement and forced labor."

But Khieu Samphan, in various public statements made before he was arrested, has blamed the late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot for the group's policies, including decisions to purge many Khmer Rouge cadres suspected to be disloyal or spies.

Verges, 83, has known Khieu Samphan since they were both active in left-wing student activities in Paris in the 1950s.

The flamboyant lawyer, who often uses his trials as a pulpit for expressing his radical viewpoints, is expected to use a more aggressive approach than other lawyers at the tribunal have so far employed.

He has previously defended clients such as Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Nazi Gestapo officer Klaus Barbie.

Wednesday's hearing was to be closed to reporters and the public at the request of prosecutors.

They objected to the possibility of Khieu Samphan's lawyers presenting arguments that related to evidence bearing on the charges against their client rather than the merits of his provisional detention. They did not elaborate.

On Tuesday, Khieu Samphan's Cambodian lawyer, Say Bory, called the tribunal's decision to hold the closed hearing "regrettable" because his client "desired to speak for the public to hear him."

Minister: Cambodia fully supports Beijing Olympics

April 23, 2008

Cambodia fully supports China's hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, national media on Wednesday quoted Thong Khon, Tourism Minister and chairman of the Olympic Committee of Cambodia (OCC), as saying.

The Cambodian government, OCC, as well as all the athletes and people of the country, support China's hosting of the games, the minister told Chinese-language daily newspaper the Commercial News in an exclusive interview.

King Norodom Sihamoni will attend the opening ceremony in Beijing, and OCC will also send a delegation of over 10 members to participate in the games, he said.

"I am ready, too, to go to Beijing and watch the games," if the schedule permits, he added.

In the interview, Thong Khon stressed that the principle of "letting sports be sports" must be respected.

"You can't mix politics and sports into one thing and there should be a clear line between these two topics," he added.

Meanwhile, he said, the Olympic Games are an international activity held by the International Olympic Committee and attended by more than 100 countries and regions.

Neither any country nor organization is able to prevent the games from being conducted, he added.

During the interview, Thong Khon also expected the Beijing Olympics to succeed and benefit the whole world.

Source: Xinhua

German charge with aggravated beating of Cambodian wife

The Earth Times
Wed, 23 Apr 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - A German man was facing 10 to 20 years in a Cambodian jail after police allegedly rescued his wife in what they claimed Wednesday was one of the worst cases of domestic violence they had seen. Alvin Gossnol, 37, was arrested after police received complaints from his 38-year-old wife's family that she was being held against her will in their home and had been badly beaten.

Cheung Prey district police chief in the eastern province of Kampong Cham, Heing Vuthy, said the woman had managed to escape a room she had been locked in for two weeks but had been unable to scale the locked gate because her hands were broken.

"She managed to attract the attention of a boy who was passing and he ran to tell her relatives, who called the police," Vuthy said by telephone.

"After we pulled her over the wall, she told us when they married in 2001, her husband had made a special stick to beat her with. If she got the stick for him herself, he didn't beat her as badly, but if he had to get the stick, he beat her very seriously."

Police said Gossnol was at the home when they arrived but refused to open the gate. He only left the woman alone long enough for her to escape when their 8-month-old baby began crying.

"When we came back with a warrant, we found the stick, exactly as she had told us and it was still covered in her blood," Vuthy said.

The baby was rescued and returned to the mother, police said.

Gossnol, a pig farmer whose exact place of birth in Germany was not available, was jailed pending trial. Under Cambodian law he can be held up to six months pretrial.

"It is safe to say this man seems to have treated his pigs much better than his wife," Vuthy said.

Earlier this month Cambodia temporarily banned marriages of its nationals to foreigners, saying they feared often poor and under-educated women were especially vulnerable to abuse.

Divorce is still frowned upon in Cambodia, and the women also frequently feel a financial obligation to their families to stay with their foreign husbands no matter how bad it gets
.

Khmer Rouge president readies appeal

By KER MUNTHIT

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The former Khmer Rouge head of state appeared at Cambodia's U.N.-assisted genocide tribunal for a pretrial hearing Wednesday that marked the first courtroom appearance of his controversial French defense lawyer.

One of the lawyers representing Khieu Samphan, 76, in his appeal to be freed from pretrial detention is Jacques Verges, who has earned notoriety for having represented terrorists, serial killers and a former Nazi officer accused of World War II atrocities.

The tribunal has charged Khieu Samphan with crimes against humanity and war crimes committed when the communist Khmer Rouge held power in 1975-79.

Some 1.7 million people died from starvation, disease, overwork and execution as a result of the group's radical policies in trying to build a classless society.

None of the leadership of the now-defunct Khmer Rouge has been tried yet. The tribunal is expected to hold its first trial later this year.

Khieu Samphan has been detained by the tribunal since Nov. 19, one of five senior leaders in its custody.

In its detention order, the tribunal's judges alleged that Khieu Samphan "aided and abetted" his regime's policies that were "characterized by murder, extermination, imprisonment, persecution on political grounds and other inhumane acts such as forcible transfers of the population, enslavement and forced labor."

But Khieu Samphan, in various public statements made before he was arrested, has blamed the late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot for the group's policies, including decisions to purge many Khmer Rouge cadres suspected to be disloyal or spies.

Verges, 83, has known Khieu Samphan since they were both active in left-wing student activities in Paris in the 1950s.

The flamboyant lawyer, who often uses his trials as a pulpit for expressing his radical viewpoints, is expected to use a more aggressive approach than other lawyers at the tribunal have so far employed.

He has previously defended clients such as Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Nazi Gestapo officer Klaus Barbie.

Wednesday's hearing was to be closed to reporters and the public at the request of prosecutors. They objected to the possibility of Khieu Samphan's lawyers presenting arguments that related to evidence bearing on the charges against their client rather than the merits of his provisional detention. They did not elaborate.

On Tuesday, Khieu Samphan's Cambodian lawyer, Say Bory, called the tribunal's decision to hold the closed hearing "regrettable" because his client "desired to speak for the public to hear him."

Khmer Rouge leader starts appeal

A tourist studies portraits of victims of the Khmer Rouge at the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Tuesday. By Tang Chhin Sothy, AFP/Getty Images


Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan is followed by journalists as he steps out of a hotel in Sihanoukville, south of Phnom Penh, back in December 1998. By Rob Elliott, AFP

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The former Khmer Rouge head of state was headed for Cambodia's U.N.-assisted genocide tribunal for a hearing Wednsday including the first courtroom appearance of his controversial French lawyer.

One of the lawyers representing Khieu Samphan, 76, in his appeal to be freed from pretrial detention is Jacques Verges, who has earned notoriety for having represented terrorists and a former Nazi officer accused of World War II atrocities, among other unpopular clients.

The tribunal has charged Khieu Samphan with crimes against humanity and war crimes committed when the communist Khmer Rouge held power in 1975-79.

Some 1.7 million people died from starvation, disease, overwork and execution as a result of the group's radical policies in trying to build a classless society.

None of the leadership of the now-defunct Khmer Rouge has been tried yet. The tribunal is expected to hold its first trial later this year.

Khieu Samphan has been detained by tribunal since Nov. 19, one of five senior leaders in its custody.

In its detention order, the tribunal's judges alleged that Khieu Samphan "aided and abetted" his regime's policies that were "characterized by murder, extermination, imprisonment, persecution on political grounds and other inhumane acts such as forcible transfers of the population, enslavement and forced labor."

But Khieu Samphan, in various public statements made before he was arrested, has blamed the late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot for the group's policies, including decisions to purge many Khmer Rouge cadres suspected to be disloyal or spies.

Verges, 83, has known Khieu Samphan since they were both active in left-wing student activities in Paris in the 1950s.

The flamboyant lawyer, who often uses his trials as a pulpit for expressing his radical viewpoints, is expected to use a more aggressive approach than other lawyers at the tribunal have so far employed.

He has previously defended clients such as Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal, confessed serial killer Charles Sobhraj and Nazi Gestapo officer Klaus Barbie.

Wednesday's hearing was to be closed to reporters and the public at the request of prosecutors. They objected to the possibility of Khieu Samphan's lawyers presenting arguments that related to evidence bearing on the charges against their client rather than the merits of his provisional detention. They did not elaborate.

On Tuesday, Khieu Samphan's Cambodian lawyer, Say Bory, called the tribunal's decision to hold the closed hearing "regrettable" because his client "desired to speak for the public to hear him."

Khmer Rouge took 'revenge'

22/04/2008
AFP

Phnom Penh - Cambodia's former king Norodom Sihanouk has accused the Khmer Rouge of killing members of his family as "retribution" for his resignation as head of state under its regime.

Sihanouk, 85, said the killings were committed under the 1975-1979 regime despite pleas from Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong, according to a handwritten statement by the former monarch dated April 18, a copy of which was obtained by AFP on Tuesday.

Sihanouk was toppled while abroad in March 1970 in a US-backed coup led by Field Marshal Lon Nol, prompting him to flee to Beijing, where he established a relationship with the Khmer Rouge that he would come to regret.

The former king said he and his wife attended a September 1975 meeting in Beijing where Mao asked Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan and Ieng Thirith "to treat Prince N Sihanouk, Princess Monique his wife and their children well".

Grandchildren given to crocodiles

Sihanouk became the symbolic head of state under Pol Pot's ultra-communist regime, but wrote that he resigned in March 1976 because of the cruelty of the Khmer Rouge, which had seized power the previous year.

He was replaced as head of state by Khieu Samphan, who is currently detained by a UN-backed tribunal on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Khmer Rouge's rule and will appeal for bail on Wednesday.

"As retribution, the Khmer Rouge murdered in horrible circumstances five of my children and 14 of my grandchildren, cousins, and their respective wives," Sihanouk wrote in his statement made available before Khieu Samphan's court appearance.

In the statement, Sihanouk said he was told in Paris in 1980 by Cambodian exiles that "the Khmer Rouge had given some of my grandchildren to the crocodiles".

"Other grandchildren had their heads smashed against tree trunks," the former monarch wrote.

He spent the "Killing Fields" years under house arrest in the royal palace, but was not harmed thanks to his personal friendship with Mao.

Up to two million people died of starvation and overwork or were executed under the Khmer Rouge, which abolished religion, schools and currency, and exiled millions to vast collective farms.

Sihanouk, who abdicated in 2004, has faced allegations questioning his allegiances under the regime, but said last year he would not testify before the genocide court.

Five former Khmer Rouge leaders are under the custody of the court for their alleged role in the crimes, regarded as one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.

Former Police Chief Gets Another 18 Years in Jail

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
22 April 2008

Khmer audio aired April 22 (1.03MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired April 22 (1.03MB) - Listen (MP3)

Former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov was handed another 18 years in prison Tuesday, in continuing court proceedings against him.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued the sentence after finding Heng Pov guilty of conspiracy to commit murder earlier this year, in the 2005 attempted killing of state electricity company official Kim Daravuth.

Kim Daravuth was shot in the neck by gunmen following a dispute with Heng Pov over an electricity bill. He survived but is now paralyzed.

The court also handed 18-year sentences to Hang Vuthy, a former police officer for the municipal minor crime unit, who has since fled prison, and Am Samkheng, former police officer for the Ministry of Interior.

Judge Chay Kong, who presided over a three-judge panel, also ordered the men to pay $800,000 to the victim.

The court released suspect Prum Sophearith, who had been charged alongside Heng Pov. The fallen police chief has been sentenced to a total of 58 years and six months so far, in a battery of cases against him, including guilty verdicts for murder, extortion, illegal weapons possession and kidnapping.

He still faces additional charges, including kidnapping and murder.

Kim Daravuth’s wife, Vong Nina, told reporters following the sentencing that the courts had provided “real justice” for her “long-suffering husband.”

“My husband did not sleep well last night before the decision was issued, because he is afraid of not having real justice,” she said.

Heng Pov’s lawyer, Kao Sopha, called the court’s decision “unjust” and “revenge between the court and Heng Pov.”

“In the past Heng Pov carried out the Iron Fist [corruption-fighting campaign] of Prime Minister Hun Sen, affecting court institutions, particularly the municipal court,” Kao Sopha said.

Heng Pov has one month to appeal.

Heng Pov had been a powerful member of Cambodia’s security apparatus, until he was accused of murder, fled the country and was extradited by Malaysia authorities in late 2006.

He has accused both Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Police Chief Hok Lundy of orchestrating numerous murders, a charge the two have denied as a bid for third-country asylum.

Foreign Minister Files Suit Against Opposition

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
22 April 2008

Khmer audio aired April 22 (1.03MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired April 22 (1.03MB) - Listen (MP3)

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong filed a complaint in Phnom Penh Municipal Court Tuesday, alleging defamation and dissemination of false information against opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

In an April 17 speech in remembrance of the fall of Phnom Penh, Sam Rainsy said the government still housed former members of the Khmer Rouge, including the Foreign Minister.

“If someone calls me Khmer Rouge, I will be filled with deep pain,” Hor Namhong told journalists Tuesday. “I made the complaints today, one for defamation and the other for the dissemination of false information, because Sam Rainsy was attended by hundreds of people.”

Court officials said Tuesday they had received the complaint, in which Hor Namhong is suing for 10 million riel.

SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Ieng said the courts had no ability to judge who was Khmer Rouge cadre or not.

The party was not worried about the case, he said.

The complaint comes just three months before general elections and Sam Rainsy could face a jail term if found guilty.

“We believe that the Cambodian politicians should not choose to lodge a complaint at the moment,” said Ny Chakrya, chief investigator for the rights group Adhoc. “It is better to keep the good atmosphere for elections.”

Hor Namhong said Tuesday that if Sam Rainsy apologized, the minister would withdraw his suit.
Sam Rainsy is currently out of the country.

Policeman Killed in Drug-Bust Shootout

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
22 April 2008

Khmer audio aired April 22 (864KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired April 22 (864KB) - Listen (MP3)

One policeman was killed and three injured in a shootout with a drug trafficking suspect in Phnom Penh, officials said Tuesday.

Chhoeung Vireak, 36, was killed and Soeung Yutha, Sreng Bunnareth and Kong Chanthy were injured, police said. A fourth man who worked as part of the police network, Chi Bunleang, was also injured.

Police arrested Keb Samon, 27, a suspected drug trafficker, following the shooting at Ly Meng Thmei guesthouse in the capital, Phnom Penh Police Chief Touch Naroth said.

“Even though we were able to arrest the perpetrator, we are still very sorry that our colleagues died and were injured,” he said. “This was our carelessness, leading the perpetrator to be able to fight back against our police, and this is our experience for the next time.”

Touch Muy Soir, chief of the Anti-Drug Trafficking Office of Phnom Penh, said the three policemen were seriously injured.

“We confiscated a pistol, some of the drugs and other evidence [from the suspect],” he said.

HRP Now Seeks Party Unity

By Seng Ratana, VOA Khmer

Phnom Penh
22 April 2008



Khmer audio aired April 22 (762KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired April 22 (762KB) - Listen (MP3)

Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha said Tuesday competing parties should seek to unite against the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in July’s polls, as political party registration deadline approaches.

His statement comes after nearly a year of failure for the countries three largest competing parties to join together in an effort to defeat the CPP in this year’s general elections.

Kem Sokha said he had never overtly refused to join a coalition with the other parties, including the opposition Sam Rainsy Party and the Norodom Ranariddh Party.

If the parties do not unite now, it will be too late, he said at a press conference Tuesday.
SRP officials did not welcome the declaration, and an NRP spokesman called it a bid to confuse the public.

At least one election monitor said the parties could find other ways of defeating the CPP, which has been in power for nearly 30 years.

Stomach Cancer Hard to See Early: Doctor

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
Washington
22 April 2008

Khmer audio aired April 21 (5.85MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired April 21 (5.85MB) - Listen (MP3)

Stomach cancer has non-specific symptoms in its early stages, a doctor said Monday.

“Because of its poor prognosis, by the time symptoms occur, the cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body,” said Dr. Taing Tek Hong, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

Stomach cancer can cause the following signs and symptoms: heartburn or indigestion in the early stage, and abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, weigh loss and blood in the stool in the later stages, Taing Tek Hong said.

“Surgery is the most common treatment for stomach cancer,” he said. “The surgeon removes part of the stomach, as well as some of the tissue around the stomach.”

“Endoscopic mucosal resection is a treatment for early gastric cancer that has been pioneered in Japan,” the doctor said. “The procedure is to remove the tumor from the wall of the stomach using an endoscope.”

Cambodia Promises to Support Universal Action against Fake Medicines

Posted on 23 April 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 557

“Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the Royal Government of Cambodia Mr. Sar Kheng confirmed the vow of Cambodia for good cooperation with Interpol, especially for cooperation to fight fake medicines, while he visited the Interpol General Secretariat in Lyon, France, during the previous week.

“Brigadier General Por Pheak, the chief of the Department of International Relations of the Ministry of Interior, said on 21 April 2008 that, on the occasion of staying in France form 12 to 19 April 2008, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng met Interpol Secretary-General Mr. Ronald K. Noble, and he promised that he will fully support the cooperation between Interpol, the World Health Organization [WHO], and the World Customs Organization [WCO] by focusing on the manufacture and distribution of fake medicines all over Southeast Asia for the treatment of life-threatening diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.

“This project is supported by the International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force (IMPACT) with further participation by Interpol, the WHO, and the WCO, in collaboration with national police, customs officers, authorities concerned with public health, and health support organizations. Operations which target mainly the illegal trafficking [of medicines] in Southeast Asia will be created by Interpol and partners soon; this is the reason that the support also of Cambodia is very warmly welcome.

“Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng said, ‘Cambodia vows to work with the partners to implement law enforcement not only in Southeast Asia, but also worldwide, to fight against fake medicines, Therefore we are really pleased to support all efforts against those criminal organizations, which benefit from the damage they cause to innocent people.’

“Cambodia also volunteered to host a meeting to support and coordinate the international cooperation against the manufacture and distribution of the fake medicines.

“The Interpol Secretary-General said, ‘I would like to thank the Deputy Prime Minister for his will and vow against fake medicines, which are a national and an international problem.’

“Cambodia has already shown its intention on the national level to protect its citizens from the danger of fake medicines by creating an office to control such crimes, and Cambodia welcomes to work together closely on the international level to fight the manufacture and distribution of fake medicines.

“Brigadier General Por Pheak said that also other issues were discussed during the visit – including the support of Cambodia for the Operation VICO of Interpol towards the identification of a perpetrator who had committed sexual abuse against children, whose name had not been known. Through skillful work and efforts of the Cambodian police, also in cooperation with Cambodian citizens, Christopher Neil, the suspect of sexual abuses against children, has been identified [and arrested in Thailand].

“Interpol Secretary-General Mr. Ronald K. Noble admired the efforts of the Cambodian authorities to protect children form being abused by criminal sex tourists.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4569, 22.4.2008

Cambodian king's Olympic attendance

M&G
Apr 22, 2008

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni will attend the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The king's decision to be present at the event has been announced by China's ambassador to Cambodia, who also thanked the country's government for barring demonstrations against the Games.

There have been widespread demonstrations against the upcoming sporting event, with many objecting to China's human rights record, particularly their violent treatment of protestors campaigning for independence for Tibet.

In January US actress Mia Farrow was barred from protesting at the genocide museum in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh with her group Dream for Darfur, which seeks to highlight China's links to the current bloodshed in Darfur.

Since 2003, tens of thousands of people have been killed in Darfur by the Sudanese military and the government-sponsored militia known as the Janjaweed, and activists have criticised China for its financial support of the Sudanese government.

Other international figures, including Britain's Prince Charles and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, have refused to attend the opening ceremony in Beijing in August.

Earlier this month, Norodom, 85, returned to Cambodia after spending three months in Beijing resting and undergoing routine medical checkups for ailments including diabetes and high blood pressure.

Danish Woman In Custody Risk Up To 10 Years in Cambodian Prison

ScandAsia.com
2008-04-22

By Bjarne Wildau

The Danish woman, Axelexen Johanne Vinther, who got arrested for an attempt to smuggle more than 10000 headache pills tablets out of Cambodia, is now held in police custody. And she could face up to 10 years in a Cambodian prison, if convicted.

The woman arrived in Cambodia three weeks, before at fast thinking post officer in a post office got suspicious, and alarmed the police. A few minutes later, she was arrested in front of the post office.

The Danish representative in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh is aware of the case, and has already paid a visit to the 45 year old woman, who is held in a woman and youth prison at the outskirt of the town, writes the Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet...

”She is very calm and composed, but at the same time also shaken by the fact that she is in jail. But she is doing fairly well, and is treated well. The prison is in a reasonable condition, and she can talk a little with the other prisoners", say the head of the Danish representation, Tom Hansen.

Axelexen Johanne Vinther stayed in Cambodia on a tourist visa before her arrest. She has asked the Danish authorities not to inform her kin’s about her situation. She has confessed that she tried to smuggle the Headache pills out of the country.

“It seems like she would send the pills to her friends in Denmark by mail, to help someone, and to make a little extra money. How much’s, I don’t know. And it’s not my feeling, that she explains her self and her acts very well, Tom Hansen says.

According to the woman’s own explanation, she did not see the shipment as a problem, because the pills can be bought without any prescription in Cambodia. The Danish authorities haven’t seen the written foundation for the conviction, witch is extremely important for the fate of the woman. Right now the Danish citizen is leaning her self to a final conviction of between five and 10 years in jail, Tom Hansen says to Ekstra Bladet.

At the moment Mr. Hansen is trying to find the Dane a lawyer. Axelexen Johanne Vinther will propably stand in front of a just within a week or so, and then the conviction will be decided.

U.N. sees food prices unleashing silent tsunami

swissinfo
April 22, 2008

LONDON (Reuters) - A "silent tsunami" unleashed by costlier food threatens 100 million people, the United Nations said on Tuesday, and aid groups said producers would make things worse if they curbed exports.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Britain would seek changes to EU biofuels targets if it was shown that planting crops for fuel was driving up food prices -- a day after the bloc stood by its plans to boost biofuel use.

The World Food Programme (WFP), whose head Josette Sheeran took part in a meeting of experts Brown called on Tuesday to discuss the crisis, said a "silent tsunami" threatened to plunge more than 100 million people on every continent into hunger.

"This is the new face of hunger -- the millions of people who were not in the urgent hunger category six months ago but now are," she said ahead of the meeting.

Riots in poor Asian and African countries have followed steep rises in food prices caused by many factors -- dearer fuel, bad weather, rising disposable incomes boosting demand and the conversion of land to grow crops for biofuel.

Rice from Thailand, the world's top exporter, has more than doubled in price this year. Major food exporters including Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Egypt and Cambodia have imposed curbs on food exports to secure supplies.

Sheeran said artificially created shortages aggravated the problem: "The world has been consuming more than it has been producing for the past three years, so stocks have been drawn down."

Rising prices meant the WFP was running short of money to buy food for its programmes and had already curtailed school feeding plans in Tajikistan, Kenya and Cambodia.

Sheeran said the WFP, which last year estimated it would need $2.9 billion in 2008 to cover its needs, now calculated it would have to raise that figure by a quarter because of the surge in prices of staples like wheat, maize and rice.

END OF AN ERA

Britain pledged $900 million to help the WFP alleviate immediate problems and Brown raised further doubts about the wisdom of using crops to help produce fuel.

"If our UK review shows that we need to change our approach, we will also push for change in EU biofuels targets," he said a day after the EU stood by its target of getting a tenth of road transport fuel from crops and agricultural waste by 2020.

Japanese Agriculture Minister Masatoshi Wakabayashi said Tokyo would propose the World Trade Organisation set clear rules for food export restrictions imposed by producer countries.

Tokyo wanted a WTO mechanism for food importers such as Japan to be able to give an opinion when notified about restrictions by an exporting country, Wakabayashi said, according to the text of a news conference published on the ministry's website.

Rajat Nag, managing director general of the Asian Development Bank, said the era of cheap food was over and urged Asian governments not to distort markets with export curbs but use fiscal measures to help the poor.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said dearer food risked wiping out progress on cutting poverty.

His predecessor Kofi Annan said climate change was aggravating the global food crisis and many poor countries could be facing the start of "major hunger disasters".

"The poor are bearing the brunt and they contributed the least to climate change. The polluter must pay," he said. "Climate change is an all-encompassing threat -- a threat to our health, security, political stability and social cohesion."

(Written by Richard Meares, editing by Jon Boyle)

Cambodia targets more European, Chinese flights

Opodo's travel
22 April 2008

The south-east Asian country of Cambodia is planning to boost its tourism industry this year with more flights from China and locations in the EU, according to reports.

Tourism minister Thong Khon was quoted by the Mekong Times as saying that Cambodia needs daily flights to big cities in southern China.

He also said that a lack of direct services from major source markets in Europe was a problem that needs to be addressed, reports the Xinhua news agency.

"At present we have direct charter flights from Finland and Italy, but we would like to see that grow as 60% of our tourist arrival [is] by air," the minister said.

More flights could put a strain on Cambodia's airports – Siem Reap currently handles 37 international services a day and Phnom Penh sees around 30 flights every day.

The Cambodian government recently announced that it welcomed some 400,000 visitors in the first two months of 2008, a 17% increase on the previous year.

Down with the Dalai Lama

April 22, 2008

Cambodia is not happy with the Dalai Lama.

Cambodia opposes attempts by the Dalai clique to sabotage the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing by making use of the Tibet issue, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong said on Monday.

Cambodia also opposes any foreign interference in China’s internal affairs, said Hor, who is also minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, during a meeting with a visiting Chinese delegation.

Speak out against policies that result in the large-scale slaughter of innocent civilians and the Cambodian government thinks you’re meddling in the affairs of a sovereign nation. Implement policies that result in the large-scale slaughter of another country’s innocent civilians and the Cambodian government thinks you’re just dandy.

Somebody obviously missed a lesson or two on karma.

A legacy in a soundtrack

Freelance musician Reuben Kee composed the soundtrack for a film set in Cambodia a year before the dragon-boating accident claimed his life. -- PHOTO: ERM MARKETING


The Straits Times
Web Radio
April 22, 2008

HE LOST his life in the tragic dragon-boating accident last year in Cambodia. But a year before he died, freelance musician Reuben Kee composed the soundtrack for a film set in the country.

The 104-minute film, titled To Speak, is about a 12-year-old girl's struggle to help her family out of poverty and was written and directed by Singapore-based Australian Craig Ower, a freelance business consultant.

It made its debut at the Montreal World Film Festival last September and was also screened at the recent Singapore International Film Festival.

The film will be shown once more this Saturday, to raise funds for the Tabitha Foundation, a non-governmental organisation that champions micro-savings among the needy in Cambodia.
The screening will also be held in honour of Kee and the funds collected will be donated in his name.

The audience will be able to listen to the 50-minute soundtrack, a fusion of modern sounds and traditional Cambodian music that Kee worked on for eight months.

Ower says: 'You would think listening to the music that there was this Hollywood soundtrack going on, but it was him working on it from his HDB bedroom.'

Kee, a self-taught musician who played the piano, had also composed music for eight film scores, six musical and theatre works and six game soundtracks.

He had studied digital media design at Nanyang Polytechnic.

He was among five Singapore dragon boaters, members of the national team, who drowned in the Tonle Sap River in Phnom Penh when the dragon boat they were in capsized after a race. Their 17 teammates survived.

Actress/Singer Sok Pisey’s Conditions Improved

Sok Pisey put her palms together as a gesture of gratitude to visitors who have genrously donated to her treatments.

Courtesy of Khmerization
The Koh Santepheap Daily
Reported in English by Khmerization

Actress/Singer Sok Pisey’s conditions have improved after treatments at the Calmette Hospital. Sok Pisey suffered a broken thigh from a car accident on 14th April that killed her two grandmothers, a niece and her mother.

Oknha Sam Dararath, Chairman of SDR company and advisor to Senate president Chea Sim, who visited Sok Pisey in the hospital along with his wife and sister, lady Sam Dararasmy and Gen. Kun Daravann, said that he was shocked when he heard that Sok Pisey had a serious car accident. He presented Sok Pisey with flowers and US$500 as a sympathetic gesture.

Sok Pisey’s father, Mr. Sok Heng, told the Koh Santepheap Daily by telephone that, after the car accident, many generous people have donated money for her treatments, including Buddhist monks from Unnalom Temple and Tuol Krosaing Temple.

On the 15th, a day after the car accident, Randonald(?), a wine company has donated US$5,000 for her treatments. Mr Sok Heng said that he felt overwhelmed by the generosity of the people, including strangers. He wish to thank them all, especially the Randonald Wine Company, for their generosity.

Sok Pisey was driving her Lexus along national route 4 when she lost control of the car at a bent section in Koh Kong province and her car hit many roadside poles before plunging to the fields, killing 4 people and seriously injuring 6 people. She was taken to Calmette Hospital and she recovered after her left thigh was operated on. She was not sent for treatment in Vietnam as has been rumoured. After treatments at Calmette Hospital, her conditions have improved markedly and was able to talk to visitors who come to visit her at the hospital.

Unimaginable suffering

Andy's Cambodia:
http://www.andybrouwer.co.uk/blog/

Book Review:
The Road of Lost Innocence
by Somaly Mam

Last week Somaly Mam, the Cambodian activist who rescues girls from sexual slavery, was honoured as the winner of the World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child. Somaly Mam is president of AFESIP, the French acronym for Acting for Women in Distressing Situations, which builds safe houses to provide refuge, food, health care and schooling for girls saved from slavery. She has rescued over 4,000 girls in Cambodia and neighboring countries. She has won many awards for her incredible work.

Last night I finished reading her autobiography. I am exhausted. It's a book that was difficult, very difficult, to read. Somaly Mam's life story begins when she was sold into sexual slavery as a child by her family. She was repeatedly beaten, raped, starved and mutilated by the men she serviced. Its a story of unimaginable suffering, degradation and lack of self-worth. Its her story and that of thousands of others in Cambodia. Written without flowery prose or sensationalism, its matter of fact style makes it all the more powerful and uncomfortable reading. Very uncomfortable reading. Everyone should make themselves read it - so they are aware of exactly what takes place in the brothels and alleyways of countries like Cambodia. There is no place in this world for sexual abuse and slavery.

Inspirational, courageous, miraculous - such words are barely adequate to describe Somaly Mam and how she has recovered from her own living hell. I am surprised she is still alive. She has made many powerful enemies in her fight to protect and save the innocent. Her own daughter was kidnapped and her life threatened time after time. Today she is feted across the globe but lives in danger in her own country. Some people make a real difference in their lifetime. Somaly Mam has survived her own personal hell to do exactly that.

Handcuffed drug suspect kills Cambodian police officer, wounds 4 others during raid

The Associated Press
Published: April 22, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: A handcuffed suspected drug dealer fatally shot a policeman and wounded four other officers with a concealed handgun during a raid Tuesday, police said.

Phnom Penh police Chief Touch Naroth blamed the officers for failing to properly search the suspect when they stormed his room in the Cambodian capital.

After handcuffing the suspect, the raiding officers pushed the man to the floor without patting down his body for hidden weapons, he said.

While police carried out a search of the room, the suspect picked up a small gun that had fallen from the waistband of his pants and started shooting, killing a 31-year-old officer instantly. Four others were hurt.

"It was their negligence for not searching his body right after apprehending him," Touch Naroth said, adding the wounded officers were being treated at a hospital.

Touch Naroth said police found about 1 kilogram (2 pounds) of a powder believed to be an illicit drug in the room, but he did not say what it was.

Cambodia is not a major drug producer but has increasingly become a transit route for illegal drugs including heroin and methamphetamine.