Thursday, 3 July 2008

We are strongly condemn HUN SEN's government of running the Social Affairs Center at Koh Kor as a detention camps to execute the poor Cambodian people

Detainee with serious neck rash. Picture by LICADHO Cambodia

Barrels of dirty river water in detention room – the only drinking and bathing water available – next to open toilets (at left) behind a low wall. Picture by LICADHO Cambodia

A mentally-ill detainee, one of many sent to Koh Kor. The center lacks any psychiatric or other social services. Picture by LICADHO Cambodia

The body of Un Sopul, an older woman, who died June 19. She had been sick since she arrived from Prey Speu in mid-April and was never sent to hospital. Picture by LICADHO Cambodia


A seriously-ill man, too weak to even sit up, later removed on a stretcher by LICADHO staff. There is no doctor at Koh Kor. Picture by LICADHO Cambodia

Detainees supplement the meager rations of rice and watery soup by eating leaves gathered when allowed outside. Picture by LICADHO Cambodia

Two unaccompanied boys, aged 12 & 8, with fellow detainees who said the boys cried at night for their mothers. Picture by LICADHO Cambodia

Youths are used as guards at Koh Kor. They and local children, armed with slingshots, have reportedly helped to recapture escapees. Picture by LICADHO Cambodia

Most detainees sleep on the bare floor, with no mats or mosquito nets. Picture by LICADHO Cambodia

Detainees include homeless people, beggars, sex workers, the mentally ill and others rounded up from the streets. Picture by LICADHO Cambodia

Men, women and children are detained together. Picture by LICADHO Cambodia

Koh Kor detainees said they were allowed outside for 30-60 minutes once or twice a day – much more than another government center, at Prey Speu, where detainees were allowed outside for as little as 20 minutes a day. Picture by LICADHO Cambodia
A 9-month pregnant woman, and her malnourished 4-year-old son, with other detainees who were arbitrarily arrested on Phnom Penh streets. Picture by LICADHO Cambodia

The government-run Social Affairs center on Kor island, built on the site of a former Khmer Rouge-era prison and execution camp. Picture by LICADHO Cambodia
" The government needs to find real solutions to the economic and social problems which cause people to live and work on the streets - it cannot simply round these people up and throw them into detention camps. It is not a crime to be poor, and the government should stop treating people as though it is. LICADHO Director Naly Pilorge "

We are the Khmer people, would like to condemn the Hun Sen's government of running the detention camps so called the Social Affairs Centre at Koh Kor as a place for execution the poor Cambodian people.

The government of Cambodia has declared that The Kingdom of Cambodia is a democracy country. As pictures has brought up by LICADHO in Cambodia are proof that The Hun Sen's government in Cambodia is a government which is follow the foot steps of Democratic Kampuchea of Khmer Rouge regime by killing the innocent Khmer people. Hun Sen attempted to kill all of those poor Cambodian people is a crime against humanity and should be brought to the justice.

We are strongly urge the world and all Cambodian people around the world to support LICADHO and to help all of those men women and especially children to be free from the detention camps as soon as possible. Those men women and children are humanbeing, they are not animals nor committed any crimes to be punish and put into such a terrible place like that. Please help to save lives of those poor people.

re: Sacravatoons : " A Man is called :" Ieng Sary "

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

Confusion over Preah Vihear Temple continues

The Nation

Confusion over Cambodia's bid to list Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage site continued on Thursday when Unesco in Bangkok said it referred to a wrong date in its letter to the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee.

Sheldon Saeffer, director of Unesco (Bangkok), said his July 1 letter to the Senate committee should have made reference to the June 18 Thai Cabinet endorsement of Cambodia's bid to have the Hindu temple be listed as Unesco's World Heritage site.

"I would like to clarify on the matter of fact I wrote to the Chairman of the Senate's Foreign Affair Committee based on the information I have from Paris. The information of the date of the approval in the document was not quite accurate.

"I'm told and the final agreement was signed in both Phnom Penh and Bangkok on June 18. So an original agreement that I referred was a informal document but clearly pending cabinet approval in June."

Saeffer's letter pointed to the May 22 meeting in Paris when Noppadon "unofficially" endorsed Cambodia's bid.

On June 18, Noppadon's pledge became "official" when the Thai Cabinet endorsed the pledge made in Paris.

The move sparked an outcry from street protestors and the opposition who raised the issue during a censure debate in the Parliament.

The biggest set back came this past weekend when the Administrative Court issued an injunction to the Cabinet's endorsement. The government since then changed its stance in order to comply with the Court's order.

Noppadon summoned Saeffer to protest over the letter Saeffer replied to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Musician keeps Cambodian tradition alive

Pin peat music uses a Cambodian xylophone (roneat) and oboes (sralai). (Steven Georges/Staff Photographer)


Ho Chan, a master of traditional Cambodian pin peat music, plays a roneat, a Cambodian xylophone, at his Long Beach home. (Steven Georges/Staff Photographer)
Press-Telegram

By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 07/02/2008

For years, the silence was immense, the work torturous and the hunger unremitting.

The experience of Ho Chhing Chan wasn't so different from that of millions of his countrymen. Chan was one of the lucky ones who survived the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge reign in Cambodia.

His grandfather wasn't. Chan Chug was one of the 1.7 million or more who died in the four years Pol Pot was in power.

Ho Chan survived and so did his music, that last great gift of his grandfather. Today, Chan is a master of traditional Cambodian pin peat music and keeps the ancient form alive in his new country.

"I wanted to keep the tradition alive and play like my grandfather," Chan says.

Toward that end, Chan has taught his son, Dyna Chan, 26, to play, as well as other members of the family including his nephew and brother-in-law. On occasion he even presses his wife, Narith, into playing finger cymbals.

Music seems to course throughout the family. Chan's son-in-law is Prach Ly, a Cambodian rapper who is well-known in Long Beach. The elder Chan also teaches weekly classes at the Cambodian Association of America in Long Beach.

When not playing, Chan is a janitor on the graveyard shift at Long Beach City College.

Master Chan and his pin peat ensemble will perform their music Saturday at Koos Art Center in Long Beach as part of the concert "Threads of a Tonal Dream Tapestry."

The concert also will feature guitarist, KPFK (90.7 FM) Pacifica Radio host and microtonal composer John Schneider, who will perform microtonal compositions of Lou Harrison from a recently released album.

The show will conclude with intercontinental music by local musician Sander Wolff's group, Ain Soph Aur and Friends.

Pin peat music, which generally consists of ensembles of six to nine pieces, uses Cambodian xylophones (roneat ek and roneat dek), drums (sampho and skor thomm), gongs (kong tauch, kong thomm and chhing) and oboes (sralai) to produce its unique sounds and rhythms.

The music traces its history back to the Angkor dynasty of the ninth century, and was performed in the royal palaces when Cambodia was the dominant force in Southeast Asia.

Representations of pin peat players and instruments can be found in the bas-reliefs of temples at the famed Angkor temple complex in Cambodia.

The music remains an important part of life in the country, where it is played at festivals, funerals, weddings and in Buddhist temples. It is often used to accompany Apsara dances and other traditional entertainment.

An integral part of the musical history of the country, pin peat exists primarily in the memories of masters who pass it to students. Only in recent years has the music begun to be written down for posterity.

It is partially for this reason that Wolff said he was so excited to be able to get Chan to play.

Wolff said pin peat is a remarkable and fragile form of music that he fears is slowly dying away and being relegated to the world of academia.

Chan first learned the music as a 16-year-old in his village outside of Battambang city. He later studied under Master Nith Chaou, whose picture hangs in a place of honor in Chan's house, and Tan Im. In the U.S., Chan met Ngek Chum, with whom he has continued collaboration and friendship.

When the Khmer Rouge rose to power, it sought to create an agrarian utopia unburdened by tradition. As a result, many of the cultural arts were forbidden and artists and performers were regularly targeted for death and persecution. Although Chan was spared, the music that had become a part of him began to disappear.

"In four years I didn't touch an instrument," Chan says. And during that time, he says, he forgot some of the traditional music.

Chan remembers vividly, though, the first time he was able to play music after the Khmer Rouge were driven out by the Vietnamese army in 1979. Chan's old master gathered musicians from across the countryside to play in a temple.

"We were so happy," Chan recalls. "For four years there was nothing. It was like you were born again."

Vietnam: Restore Full Freedom to Buddhist Monk Tim Sakhorn


HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

Human Rights Defender Released from Prison, but Whereabouts Unknown

(New York, July 3, 2008) – The Vietnamese authorities should immediately lift any restrictions on the liberty of Buddhist monk Tim Sakhorn, who was released from prison in Vietnam on June 28, 2008, Human Rights Watch said today. Sakhorn’s whereabouts are unknown. He was last seen in the company of government officials.

On June 30, 2007, authorities in Cambodia arrested and defrocked Sakhorn and sent him to Vietnam. On November 8, 2007, a criminal court in An Giang province sentenced Sakhorn to one year of imprisonment on charges of “undermining national unity” under article 87 of Vietnam’s penal code. Sakhorn reportedly had no legal representation during his trial. Human Rights Watch said that the politically motivated prosecution of Sakhorn was a thinly veiled attempt by the Vietnamese and Cambodian governments to stop peaceful dissent by the Khmer Krom minority in both countries.

“While his release from prison is welcome, as a peaceful activist and human rights defender, Tim Sakhorn should never have been imprisoned in the first place,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Sakhorn should now be able to go where he wants, when he wants, but it is not clear that he is able to do so.”

Sakhorn, 40, a member of the Khmer Krom ethnic minority group that lives in both southern Vietnam and Cambodia, had been a monk at a Buddhist pagoda in Takeo province, Cambodia, for 17 years. A member of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation, a US-based advocacy group, Sakhorn had actively promoted the rights of Khmer Krom people and provided shelter in his pagoda in Cambodia to Khmer Krom migrants and asylum seekers from Vietnam.

Upon Sakhorn’s release from prison on June 28, government officials escorted him to his birthplace in An Giang province, where the authorities had organized a welcome party for him. Local officials reportedly offered Sakhorn a plot of land and a large house in An Giang as an apparent incentive to remain in Vietnam. Villagers who met Sakhorn said he was dressed in civilian clothes, not monks’ robes, and appeared healthy. After only a few hours in his village, however, villagers reported that government officials escorted Sakhorn away, reportedly to Ho Chi Minh City.

“Now that Tim Sakhorn has been released from prison, the Vietnamese government should fully restore his freedom,” Adams said. “He should be able to travel freely and to meet his friends and family members in private. And the Cambodian government should publicly confirm that he is free to return to Cambodia, where he is a citizen.”

Sakhorn was born in southern Vietnam but had lived in Cambodia since 1978, when he and his family fled border fighting between Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese forces. Like other members of the Khmer Krom minority living in Cambodia, Sakhorn and his family were recognized by the Cambodian government as Cambodian citizens. In 2002, Sakhorn was promoted to abbot of Northern Phnom Den Pagoda in Takeo - a position that only Cambodian citizens can hold - by Cambodia’s Supreme Buddhist Patriarch, Tep Vong.

Cambodian authorities defrocked Sakhorn in Takeo provincial town on June 30, 2007, on Tep Vong’s orders for allegedly violating Buddhist rules by “harming the solidarity” between Cambodia and Vietnam and using his pagoda to disseminate propaganda. After his defrocking, Sakhorn was forced into a car attached to the Cambodian Ministry of Interior and sent to Vietnam, where Vietnamese police arrested him for “illegal entry.” Documents were later produced stating that Sakhorn had “volunteered” to return to Vietnam.

Newspaper accounts in the government-controlled press in Vietnam stated that Sakhorn had distributed bulletins and videos about Khmer Krom history and politics, “incited” Khmer Krom people in Vietnam to file complaints and demonstrate about confiscation of their land, and served as a representative in Cambodia of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation.

In the months preceding Sakhorn’s arrest, government authorities in both Cambodia and Vietnam had become increasingly uneasy about a number of peaceful protests conducted by Khmer Krom monks and farmers in both countries calling for greater religious freedom and land rights. Protesters also called for the release of five Khmer Krom Buddhist monks imprisoned in Vietnam after a peaceful demonstration in Soc Trang, Vietnam, in February 2007.

Sakhorn’s deportation to Vietnam was in violation of the Cambodian Constitution and Nationality Law, which state that Khmer citizens shall not be arrested and deported to any foreign country unless there is a mutual extradition treaty, which does not exist between Cambodia and Vietnam.

Human Rights Watch said it feared that Sakhorn may be pressured or forced to return to his birthplace - not his pagoda - and placed under house arrest and police surveillance, like other imprisoned dissident monks in Vietnam, such as those from the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. Upon their release from prison, political and religious prisoners in Vietnam are sometimes placed under house arrest, or “probationary detention” (quan che), for periods of one to five years, under article 38 of the criminal code. During that time they are placed under the supervision and “re-education” of local officials and deprived of certain rights, such as the right to travel, vote, or preside over religious organizations.

“Tim Sakhorn’s arrest and deportation were totally unjustified,” Adams said. “He should not have been imprisoned for simply promoting people’s rights or being in contact with an international advocacy organization. Now, ensuring that he is completely free is the priority.”

Former Khmer Rouge appeals detention

Former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, center, stands in the dock as judges come into the courtroom for a hearing Monday, June 30, 2008, at the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Ieng Sary appeared before Cambodia's genocide tribunal Monday to press for his release from pretrial detention. (AP Photo/Nguyen Tan Kiet, POOL)

By KER MUNTHIT

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia's genocide tribunal heard an emotional plea Thursday from the former Khmer Rouge foreign minister, who asked to be moved from pretrial confinement in its jail because of ill health.

Hearings on Ieng Sary's appeal for release from pretrial detention began Monday and ended after his plea without the judges giving a date for their ruling.

Defense lawyers presented several arguments for their appeal, including a controversial royal pardon their client had previously received when he led a surrender of large numbers of Khmer Rouge guerrillas who had been battling the government.

Ieng Sary is one of five former senior Khmer Rouge officials being held by the U.N.-assisted tribunal, which is attempting to establish accountability for an estimated 1.7 million deaths under the communist group's rule from 1975 to 1979.

The court has charged 82-year-old Ieng Sary with crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The former foreign minister, who was allowed to address the court while seated in an apparent recognition of his infirmities, referred to his heart ailments.

"The detention facility does its best to give me care but the main problem is the lack of people to look after me," he said.

His voice cracking, he said sometimes no one responded when he pressed a button in his cell used to summon assistance.

"The problem is there is a lack of caring attention," he said.

His American lawyer, Michael Karnavas, said they were not seeking Ieng Sary's liberty, but rather his transfer from the tribunal's jail to preventative detention at Ieng Sary's home or a hospital, where more people could look after his health.

His lawyers argued Wednesday that a 12-year-old royal pardon exempts him from being tried, but the prosecution said the pardon was improper and should be scrapped.

He was condemned to death by a tribunal under a communist government installed by Vietnamese troops after they toppled the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979. That tribunal, which was covered by the pardon, was a show trial with no real effort to present a defense.

Helen Jarvis, a spokeswoman for the tribunal, said it might take several weeks before the five judges of the tribunal's pretrial chamber rule on the appeal because of the complexity of the case.

Observers said the pardon presents a tough dilemma for the judges.

If the judges validate the pardon, Ieng Sary could walk free and that would turn the tribunal, which took several years to negotiate and establish, into a meaningless effort, said Lao Mong Hay, a senior researcher with the Hong Kong-based Human Rights Commission.

"Then what will be the meaning of the trial?" he said in a telephone interview.

Former King Norodom Sihanouk pardoned Ieng Sary in 1996 as a reward for leading some Khmer Rouge to surrender and join the government, a move that foreshadowed the Khmer Rouge's collapse in 1999, bringing an end to the civil war.

Prosecutor Yet Chakriya asked the court to nullify the pardon since under Cambodian law convicts must serve two-thirds of their sentences before pardons can be granted.

But Ieng Sary "has never served his sentence, not even a single day," said Yet Chakriya, urging the court "to stop the culture of impunity enjoyed by the leaders of the country who had committed serious crimes" against their own people.

Lawyers claim jail could kill former KRouge minister

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — The former Khmer Rouge foreign minister is so ill that staying in jail could kill him, his lawyers said Thursday as they appealed for his release from detention by Cambodia's UN-backed genocide court.

Ieng Sary, 82, is one of five top regime cadres detained in connection with the Khmer Rouge's bloody rule over Cambodia from 1975-79, when up to two million people died from starvation, overwork or executions.

The joint Cambodia-UN tribunal was established two years ago, after nearly a decade of haggling, to bring to justice those responsible for one of the 20th century's worst atrocities.

Like most of the defendants, Ieng Sary appears frail. He has been hospitalised several times for a heart condition since he and his wife Thirith were arrested in November.

His lawyers told the court's panel of five judges that his health had become so poor that he should be released from jail and placed under house arrest until his trial.

"We submit that the detention conditions present an actual risk to Mr Ieng Sary's life," said defence layer Ang Udom.

Co-defence lawyer Michael Karnavas argued that Ieng Sary was too ill to pose a flight risk.

"How can he possibly flee if he's going to be in hiding? He's going to have to get medical attention," Karnavas said.

Prosecutors say the claims of ill health are a ploy to delay the trial. Ieng Sary's hearing Monday adjourned earlier than expected after a doctor said he was too ill to continue.

The four other defendants at the tribunal are mostly in the 70s and 80s, and worries for their health have clouded the court as critics worry they could die before trials are completed.

Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998. The tribunal's first trial isn't scheduled to begin until later this year.

Ieng Sary's lawyers earlier argued for his outright release, saying that a royal pardon for his surrender to the government in 1996 should shield him from prosecution.

Ieng Sary was convicted of genocide in a 1979 trial in absentia conducted by the government installed after Vietnam occupied the country and ended the Khmer Rouge's bloody reign.

However, he was pardoned in 1996 upon surrendering to the Cambodian government.

Resolving how to reconcile a past amnesty with the international court's authority poses one of the key challenges facing the tribunal, which operates on a mixture of Cambodian and international law.

Brittany Enterkin reaches out from Fayette County to Cambodia....

The Cambodian students Brittany Enterkin is helping changed her life, she says


Fayette Daily News
By Trey Alverson
2008-07-02

Over a year ago, Brittany Enterkin caught a segment on the evening news that changed her life.

“The feature was on the impoverished villages of rural Cambodia that are still struggling to recover from the genocide of the Khmer Rouge years, which killed over a million people,” Enterkin recalled.

“Children are still being sold into slavery, people are barely surviving and many rural areas don’t even have the most basic services like clean water and schools.

“Before I saw the report, I didn’t know anything at all about Cambodia or Pol Pot or the Killing Fields.

To be honest, I couldn’t even point out Cambodia on a globe.“But, once I saw the report, I felt like I needed to do something.”

The Fayetteville teenager began by contacting Bernard Krisher, the former Newsweek Tokyo bureau chief and founder of the non-profit organization American Assistance for Cambodia.

Since retiring from journalism, Krisher has dedicated himself to reaching out to Cambodia’s most vulnerable communities.

His organization launched the Rural Schools Project in 1999, and has since helped build over 400 enriched primary and lower secondary schools in Southeast Asia.

“He explained the program to me and it sounded like something that we could do,” Enterkin said.

The Rural Schools Project seeks out private donors like Enterkin to sponsor the construction of a school in a village that currently lacks one.

The donors must raise $13,000 for the school, while Krisher’s organization secures matching funds from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

Undaunted by her full load of extracurricular activities and AP classes at Whitewater High School, Enterkin set out to raise money for the construction of a Cambodian school.

She tirelessly solicited for donations, organized a catered dinner, held a benefit rock concert and put on a theatrical performance.

“We ended up raising $17,000,” Enterkin stated. “I could never have done it all by myself. So many people helped out and contributed their skills and money.”

And little over two months ago, the Steve and Mary Enterkin School officially opened in the village of Kon Trac, Cambodia. Brittany Enterkin named the school after her parents.

On June 4, with the encouragement of Krisher, Enterkin, her parents and her older sister Christian flew to Cambodia to see the school in person.

“When I met with Bernard, he said that he would like it if we actually went out and formally dedicated the school,” Enterkin explained.

“At first it didn’t seem possible. It is very expensive to fly over there, but my Dad planned it as my graduation gift and my family and friends helped out with the expenses.”

The Enterkins flew from Atlanta to Thailand via California. From Bangkok, they took a plane to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital and largest city.

The same city that Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot completely evacuated three decades ago as part of his disastrous plan to return Cambodia to a totally communal agrarian society.

“The poverty in the capital was completely overwhelming,” Enterkin said.

“Police officers don’t work at all on the weekends, so the crime is rampant.

There are dirt roads in the city and a river filled with sewage flows right through the middle of town.”

The Enterkins visited the elaborately decorated Cambodian royal palace and met with a translator and local officials.

After a night in Phnom Penh, the family embarked on a four and a half hour journey by car to the remote jungle village of Kon Trac.

“When we drove into the town, the kids were lined up in parallel lines along the side of the road clapping their hands,” Enterkin said.

“The schoolchildren and local leaders were ecstatic that we were there. They were so genuinely thankful to have the opportunity for an education.

“As it was, the only goal people in the village had was to have a rice paddy to farm and if they were privileged or lucky, they might get a cow.”

Enterkin delivered a speech through her translator. The new students then sang a song that they had prepared in English specially for the Enterkins.

“They sang, ‘If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands,’” Enterkin said. “It was great.”

A local official also spoke at the school’s dedication ceremony. He shared his nightmarish experiences of living under the Khmer Rouge.

“His story and all the stories you hear are heart-wrenching,” Enterkin stated.

“This man in particular was assigned to work in a rice field, but he would be killed if he tried to eat any of the rice he was harvesting.“So there he was, literally starving to death and unable to eat the food in his hands.

“He said that he managed to survive by collecting and eating grasshoppers under the cover of night.”

The Enterkin family spent just one day in the village, traveling back that night to accommodations in Phnom Penh, but it was a day that they will never take for granted.

“When I was in that village I wanted to break down and cry,” Brittany Enterkin said.

“I was standing there in the heat, seeing the poverty and at the same time, seeing how thankful everyone was.

We were the first westerners these people had ever encountered. “I was standing there thinking that I wished everyone could see this.”

Brittany’s mother Mary Enterkin called her experience at the village, “The highlight of my life.”

Both mother and daughter agreed that the trip left them with an overwhelming urge to do more for the less fortunate.“It’s really not that hard to do,” Brittany Enterkin said.

“Anyone anywhere is capable of helping somebody. I hope people will see that if I can do something like this, anyone can.”

Before she begins any new large scale humanitarian projects, Enterkin will spend the remainder of the summer near Rome, Georgia working as a camp counselor.

Her freshman classes at Berry College begin in the fall.In the meantime, Enterkin’s close friend Sarah Crawford continues to raise money for the Uganda Orphanage Relief Fund.

“Because of what Brittany was able to do, I knew it would be possible for me to make a difference,” Crawford said.

“What Brittany did was incredible.”Crawford, also a recent Whitewater graduate, has already raised over $5,000 for her cause.

Rights group urges Vietnam to free Buddhist monk

Buddhist monks, seen here in August 2007, pray in Phnom Penh to demand the release of fellow monk Tim Sakhorn


HANOI (AFP) — Human Rights Watch called on communist Vietnam Thursday to lift any restrictions on the liberty of an activist Buddhist monk who disappeared on the day he was released from prison last week.

Tim Sakhorn, an activist for the Khmer Krom ethnic Cambodian minority of southern Vietnam, was freed Saturday, but his whereabouts were unknown since he was last seen together with government officials, the rights group said.

"While his release from prison is welcome, as a peaceful activist and human rights defender, Tim Sakhorn should never have been imprisoned in the first place," said Brad Adams, Asia director of the New York-based group.

The rights group said it feared Sakhorn may be under house arrest and police surveillance, like other dissident monks in Vietnam.

Vietnam-born Sakhorn, 40, had lived in Cambodia since 1978, when his family fled border fighting between Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese forces, and became a Cambodian citizen and, 17 years ago, a Buddhist monk.

He had sheltered Khmer Krom asylum seekers from Vietnam at his pagoda and was a member for the US-based Khmers Kampuchea Krom Federation, which campaigns for the minority's religious freedoms and land rights.

In February 2007, Buddhist monks and farmers in Cambodia noisily protested against a visit by Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet, claiming Hanoi was repressing ethnic Cambodians in southern Mekong delta areas.

The region, home to about 10 million ethnic Cambodians, was made part of Vietnam during the French colonial reign but remains a source of tension between Hanoi and Khmer nationalists who want it returned to Cambodia.

On June 30 last year Cambodian authorities defrocked Sakhorn for "harming the solidarity" between Cambodia and Vietnam and arrested and deported him.

Vietnam jailed him in November for "undermining national unity."

Sakhorn was released on June 28 and, dressed in civilian clothes, escorted to his An Giang province birthplace, where officials reportedly offered him land and a house as an incentive to remain in Vietnam, HRW said.

However, hours later, according to villagers, government officials escorted Sakhorn away, reportedly to Ho Chi Minh City, said the group.

"He should be able to travel freely and to meet his friends and family members in private," Adams said. "And the Cambodian government should publicly confirm that he is free to return to Cambodia, where he is a citizen."

Anti-Vietnamese sentiment remains strong in Cambodia, fuelled by resentment over Vietnam's past territorial expansions and Vietnam's 1978 invasion that ousted Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime and started a decade-long occupation.

All's quiet at Thai embassy in Cambodia

Phnom Penh (dpa) - The Cambodian government would not tolerate "anti-government elements" making Preah Vihear temple a political issue and would not permit a proposed march on the Thai embassy, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Thursday.

He was responding to an announcement by the little-known Society, Morality and National Culture Institute that it was lobbying for permission to stage a 3,000-strong rally around the Thai embassy.

The group's leader, Po Samnang, said the rally was aimed at showing Cambodian support for listing the 11th century Hindu border temple as a World Heritage site.

"These are anti-government groups, so we will treat it as a domestic Cambodian matter.

Thailand tries to help Cambodia, so we should not confuse this issue," Kaharith said.

"We should stay calm, because whatever happens, it is not in dispute that Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia."

He said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had spoken to his Thai counterpart Samak Sundaravej about the issue, and relations between the governments were very cordial.

Continued political strains in Thailand and five-yearly national elections scheduled for July 27 in Cambodia have made the issue a sensitive one on both sides of the border, and Kaharith blamed opposition elements for trying to inflame the issue.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An is currently in Canada arguing for the temple to be listed as a World Heritage Site. Some Thais have objected, saying it should be jointly managed.

In 2003 an angry mob destroyed the Thai embassy and businesses after a Thai actress was falsely rumoured to have claimed Angkor Wat temple was Thai. Cambodia has vowed that such violence will not be repeated.

Govt can lodge temple protest

The Bangkok Post
Thursday July 03, 2008

Unesco: Heritage panel can decide if it'll listen

THANIDA TANSUBHAPOL

The Administrative Court's injunction against Thailand's support of the listing of Preah Vihear might not overrule the joint communique signed by Thailand and Cambodia on May 22 in Paris, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

In a reply letter to appointed senator M.R. Priyanandana Rangsit, Sheldon Shaeffer, director of the Unesco office in Bangkok, said Thailand may try to protest against the listing in its capacity as an observer before the 21-member World Heritage Committee.

In the joint communique, Thailand gave support for Cambodia's proposed listing of the ancient Khmer temple ruins. The court's injunction last Saturday put on hold the government's moves concerning the temple.

The government said the joint communique was signed on June 18 between Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in Bangkok one day after receiving cabinet endorsement.

It contradicted information held by the UN agency, which said it was signed on May 22.
Mr Noppadon was in Paris to hold talks with Mr Sok An and Unesco to find a way out for the issue on that day.

The committee is meeting in Quebec, Canada, until July 10 to approve new sites, and the Preah Vihear temple is on the agenda.

However, Mr Shaeffer said whether Thailand can address the committee depends on its chairwoman Christine Cameron.

''Should Thailand consider that the information concerning the proposed inscription of Preah Vihear on the list lacks important elements that need to be brought to the attention of the committee, it may address the meeting in its capacity as observer, based on the consent of the chairperson of the committee as per the rules of procedure,'' said Mr Shaeffer in the letter.

It is unclear whether the government's change in stance on the listing will affect Cambodia's proposal to list the temple.

''This joint communique has been brought to the attention of the World Heritage Committee for consideration as part of the nomination file. The World Heritage Committee will have to take the final decision on this matter,'' Mr Shaeffer said.

However, Unesco has forwarded M.R. Priyanandana's petition which requested deferral of the inscription of Preah Vihear to the committee.

On June 24, M.R. Priyanandana and her fellow senators sent a petition to Unesco, asking that consideration of the listing of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site be deferred on the grounds that the ancient ruins should not be proposed for listing by Cambodia alone, as it borders both Thailand and Cambodia.

The senators urged Unesco to examine all the information coming out of Cambodia.

In his letter, Mr Shaeffer said Unesco has no responsibility over World Heritage list nominations.

Mr Noppadon will lead a Thai delegation to Quebec to oppose the proposed listing of Preah Vihear during the committee meeting.

The Foreign Ministry's advance team went to Quebec last Tuesday. Mr Noppadon, who is expected to be in Canada from Saturday until next Tuesday , yesterday reaffirmed the ministry's stance to comply with the Administrative Court's temporary injunction against the joint communique with Cambodia.

He said that the letter on the court injunction has been sent to Unesco, the 21-member committee, and Cambodian ambassador to Thailand Ung Sean who came to the ministry to receive the letter himself. ''Thailand will show its position to the World Heritage Committee that we cannot support the content of joint communique,'' he said.

The government on Tuesday asked its legal arm, the Council of State, about what to do in the wake of the Administrative Court's ruling. Meechai Ruchupan, an executive of the Council of State, said the council recommended the government appeal against the order with the Supreme Administrative Court if it disagreed.

Cambodian Government Operating Khmer Rouge-Like Detention Camps in Phnom Penh, Housing Homeless, Beggars and Sex Workers

The front gates of the Koh Kor Center


Women and children locked in a detention room in the Koh Kor Center

" The government needs to find real solutions to the economic and social problems which cause people to live and work on the streets - it cannot simply round these people up and throw them into detention camps. It is not a crime to be poor, and the government should stop treating people as though it is. LICADHO Director Naly Pilorge "
LICADHO
Published on July 2, 2008

In a bid to clean up the streets of Phnom Penh, the government has been removing the homeless, beggars and sex workers and dumping them in two detention centers supposedly for rehabilitation and education. The reality however is that these people are being unlawfully detained and forced to live in appalling conditions where meals consist of a small plastic bag of rice and bucket in the middle of the room serves as a communal toilet.

Arbitrary arrests
Authorities conducting regular nighttime sweeps of public areas in Phnom Penh particularly around Wat Phnom, Phsar Chas and other areas of Daun Penh district have arbitrarily arrested numerous sex workers, homeless people and beggars. Such sweeps have occurred for years in Phnom Penh but appear to have increased in 2008. These operations are usually conducted by district officials, district police officers, district security guards and public park guards, and/or Municipal Social Affairs Department staff. According to victims and witnesses, sex workers are rounded up and forced – often with violence or threats – into trucks to be taken away to be detained.

It appears that many of these arrests are unlawful. Non-police personnel, such as district security guards and Municipal Social Affairs Department staff, have often conducted arrests although they have no legal powers to do so. Even if conducted by police, the arrests appear to be completely arbitrary and not based on any investigation of alleged crimes.

Unlawful Detention
After arrest, persons are typically taken to the district office or district police station where they are detained. They are not charged with any crime. Some are released after money is extorted from them. They are all vulnerable to sexual or physical abuses or other mistreatment, including theft of their property. They are then usually transferred to an "education" or "rehabilitation" center run by the Phnom Penh Municipal Social Affairs Department.

Detention Centers
The first center is in Prey Speu village, Chom Chao commune, Dangkor district of Phnom Penh and is known as the "Prey Speu" or "Chom Chao" center. The second one, called Koh Kor or Koh Rumdoul, is on an island in Kandal's Saang province.

Officially, the centers exist to provide rehabilitation services to homeless persons and other poor persons who voluntarily agree to stay at them. In reality, according to LICADHO investigations, they have been used for the systematic unlawful detention of sex workers, homeless people, beggars and others arbitrarily arrested on Phnom Penh streets. Abuses against detainees by guards and abominable living conditions have been reported at the centers.

All these detentions are unlawful. There is no legal basis for the short or long-term detention of individuals who have not been charged, convicted or sentenced for committing any crime.

According to female sex workers and a male homeless individual detained at Prey Speu or Koh Kor centers in 2008 and interviewed by LICADHO, detainees suffer from physical and sexual abuse. They are beaten and some women are being raped. One woman recounted being locked in a dark room at Prey Speu with about 50 people, including children. Another said she was locked in a room at Prey Speu with so many people it was difficult to find a place to sleep, and allowed outside only two times a day briefly. .


LICADHO Visit to Koh Kor Center
On June 17, 2008, LICADHO staff paid an impromptu visit to the Koh Kor island Center in the Bassac River, in Saang district of Kandal. The center, built on the site of a former Khmer Rouge prison during the Pol Pot regime, is accessible only by boat.

Inside, LICADHO found more than 20 men, women and children locked in a detention room together. These detainees included a nine-month pregnant woman and her 4-year-son; two gravely-ill people, an elderly woman named who lay comatose on the floor and who died on June 19th, as well as a middle-aged man, reportedly sick with HIV-AIDS, who lay on the floor, unable to sit up or walk, suffering from diarrhea and other symptoms; a 9-year-old girl with epilepsy who was unable to receive her usual medicine because of her detention; and various other adult men and women, some of whom appeared disoriented or suffering from mental problems and were unable to explain how long they had been detained.

Within 48 hours of the elderly woman's death, another person reportedly died at Koh Kor – a young man who disappeared, believed to have drowned, while attempting to swim across the river after escaping from a detention room on the night of June 20. There are also accounts of deaths at the Prey Speu center, where at least two people have reportedly died in 2008 although details of these deaths are unclear.

Extremely poor conditions - including lack of adequate food, clean drinking water and medical care - as well as violence by guards have been reported at both centers, but particularly at Prey Speu. Former detainees said they had to use a bucket or barrel in the middle of the room as a toilet.

LICADHO was able to negotiate with the center's director for the release, on medical grounds, of the 9-month-pregnant woman (along with her 4-year-old son), and the middle-aged man reportedly suffering from HIV-AIDS.

On June 24, after LICADHO sent the government photographs of men, women and children locked behind bars at Koh Kor, nearly all the detainees there were abruptly released. Loaded onto trucks, most of them were driven to Phnom Penh and dumped on roadsides - a reverse of how they were arrested in the first place. However, Koh Kor has not been closed and five people, who reportedly suffer from mental problems, continue to stay there.

In addition, the Prey Speu center remains operating, with an unknown number of people there.LICADHO is deeply concerned by these recent events that are gross violations of the human rights of innocent Cambodian citizens. LICADHO urges the government and civil society organizations to take the following actions to put an end to these abuses:

Immediately order a halt to the nighttime sweeps of Phnom Penh streets and parks which are being conducted to arrest sex workers and others.

• Immediately close the Prey Speu and Koh Kor centers, and all other Social Affairs centers, pending a review of their purpose and management and an investigation into abuses committed at them. Ensure the immediate release of all detainees being held at Koh Kor, Prey Speu or any other Social Affairs Center, and permit NGOs to provide assistance to these people.

• Issue instructions to all relevant authorities that any sex workers or other vulnerable individuals who are in need of shelter should be sent (voluntarily) to NGO-run centers only, and not to Social Affairs centers.

• Ensure that anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts are focused on the investigation and prosecution of traffickers, rather than the arrest and detention of sex workers.

• Ensure that all anti-trafficking law enforcement operations are conducted only by specialist police units (with officers trained in dealing with sex workers and victims of sexual abuse and exploitation), and not by district police or other units.

• Issue instructions that non-police personnel, including district security guards and Social Affairs staff, must not conduct arrests of anyone at any time; in addition, instruct that district security guards in all areas of Phnom Penh should in no way have any official role in dealing with sex workers, homeless people or other individuals on the streets.

• Ensure the disciplining and prosecution of any police or other government personnel who unlawfully arrest, detain or commit other crimes against sex workers or others.

Exit tax to be incorporated into flight price at Cambodia's int'l airports

www.chinaview.cn
2008-07-03

PHNOM PENH, July 3 (Xinhua) -- Starting from Sept. 1, the departure tax that airline passengers line up to pay at the international airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap will be transferred to ticket price, local newspaper the Cambodian Daily said on Thursday.

The government has not made an official announcement yet on thetax, but a meeting between authorities, airport management firm and about 20 airlines that serve the international airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap is tentatively set for mid-July, said Ho Vandy, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents.

Moving the tax payment to ticket price is a victory for the industry and travelers, he said.

"Often people don't carry the money, or don't carry U.S. dollars, so it is very difficult for the tourists who don't know they will have to pay (the airport tax)," he added.

The airport management service fee, 25 U.S. dollars for foreigner and 18 U.S. dollars for Cambodian, has been levied by the government since 2003 and goes to airport infrastructure construction, as well as service and security improvement.

Editor: Du Guodong

Dengue Fever Puts A Refreshing New Spin On The Music Of Cambodia

Dengue Fever (HANDOUT / June 30, 2008)

July 5, Northampton
By KENNETH PARTRIDGE Special to the Courant
July 3, 2008

The strange and colorful Cambodian pop music of the 1960s was born of and killed by military conflict.

Its haunting mix of American surf, garage, and psychedelic rock, as well as traditional Khmer lyrics and vocals, was the result of Cambodian musicians listening to U.S. Armed Forces Radio broadcasts from neighboring Vietnam.

The sound thrived until 1975, when the dictator Pol Pot seized power and began massacring much of the population.

Thirty years later, the Los Angeles sextet Dengue Fever is reviving the forgotten genre. Over the course of three albums, the band has gone from rerecording lost classics to writing its own songs, honoring the era's hybrid spirit by crossing its music with a variety of global influences.

"We're really about changing and shifting and not being any one way," bassist Senon Williams says by telephone, before beginning a tour that stops Saturday in Northampton, Mass.

Williams discovered Cambodian pop in 1995, when he traveled to the country and was floored by the updated version he heard while riding in a taxicab.

"It was a medley between Madonna and the Rolling Stones, and then it would be Sonny and Cher, and then it would be the Cars, and it would be mixed in with Cambodian vocals," he says.

He began buying stacks of '60s records, an obsession he shared with friends Ethan and Zac Holtzman, who developed the idea of starting a band.

The three enlisted a drummer and saxophone player and headed to Long Beach, a Los Angeles neighborhood with a sizable Cambodian community.

They found Chhom Nimol, a Cambodian native who was already famous back home. She reluctantly accepted the job.

"Her big concern was, and it still is, 'Why would these American people like a Cambodian singer when they can't understand the lyrics or what the music is about?'" Williams says.

Any doubts about the band's appeal soon dissipated: At its first show, Dengue Fever managed to move a roomful of notoriously dance-averse Los Angeles hipsters.

"The music is organ, bass, fuzz and wah guitar, saxophone, and drums, so it's kind of this Western core," Williams says. "Then we have Nimol, who bends notes between our 12-note scale. She sings all these invisible notes. Then she breaks into this voice called 'the ghost voice,' which is almost like yodeling."

"This voice soars really high and hits this soprano register, not in an operatic way, but in a more chilling way. It's kind of dreamy."

DENGUE FEVER performs Tuesday 7 p.m. with Chica Libre at the Iron Horse Music Theater, 20 Center St., Northampton, Mass. Tickets are $12 in advance, $14 at the door.

Cambodia sends riot police to guard Thai embassy: officials

Cambodia police are protecting the Thai Phnom Penh embassy over fears that the Preah Vihear temple dispute may escalate

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodia has deployed riot police to protect the Thai embassy for fear that a border dispute over an ancient Hindu temple could spark violent protests, officials said on Thursday.

The move came after Thailand suspended its endorsement of Cambodia's bid for the UN cultural agency UNESCO to grant the long-disputed Preah Vihear temple World Heritage status.

"We have deployed security forces to protect Thai embassy because we fear that extremists could do something bad again to the embassy, like in 2003," Phnom Penh's police chief Touch Naruth told AFP, declining to give more details.

A spat in 2003 over Cambodia's Angkor Wat temple -- the most significant symbol of the country's ancient Khmer empire -- sparked a night of riots in which Thailand's embassy and several Thai-owned businesses were burned and looted.

General Khieu Sopheak, the interior ministry spokesman, told AFP that the riot police were put on guard after a report that thousands of Cambodians would protest at the Thai embassy.

The forces will remain at the embassy for 24 hours to protect "the mutual interests" of both countries, he said.

Security forces were also mobilised to protect Thai-owned businesses in the capital Phnom Penh, he said.

"We prevent all protests. We will prevent any bad thing from happening (against Thailand) like in 2003," Khieu Sopheak said, adding that everything is "under control."

Witnesses said anti-riot police were stationed outside the embassy with several fire trucks on standby.

In 1962, the dispute over the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple went before the World Court, which ruled that the temple belongs to Cambodia, although the main entrance lies at the foot of a mountain in Thailand.

The long-standing row appeared resolved last month, after Thailand endorsed Cambodia's plan to seek World Heritage status at a UNESCO meeting in Canada this week.

But the deal sparked a political controversy in Thailand, and last week Cambodia closed the mountaintop temple after more than 100 Thais marched to the compound to protest the deal.
A Thai court then forced the government to suspend its endorsement of the plan.

Cambodian Killing Fields Survivor Tells His Story In New Book



By Greg Flakus
San Antonio, Texas
02 July 2008

Flakus report - Download (MP3) Flakus report - Listen (MP3)

Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Economic and Social Council Sichan Siv has written a new book, called "Golden Bones," that tells how he survived the Khmer Rouge terror in his native land and came to prosper in the United States. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from San Antonio, Texas, the author admits that luck had a lot to do with it.



On a patio outside his home, Sichan Siv shares a toast with friends who have come to celebrate the 32nd anniversary of his arrival in the United States. At that time he had only $2 in his pocket.

But Sichan Siv had something else on his side, as he explains in his book "Golden Bones."

"Cambodians believe that somebody who is very blessed and lucky is a person with golden bones," he said.

Luck and a lot of hard work helped Sichan Siv go in 13 years from being a poor refugee to being the first Asian-American deputy assistant to the president of the United States, under the first President George Bush. In 2001, the current President Bush appointed him U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Economic and Social Council.

But Sichan Siv's real luck started well before all that. He survived one of the most brutal periods of modern human history when the Khmer Rouge took over his country in 1975.

He was working with the relief agency CARE at the time and could have escaped had he made it to the U.S. embassy on time.

"I missed the last helicopter by 30 minutes because I decided to go to a meeting trying to help some 3,000 refugee families stranded in the province," Siv recalled. "Five days later, the Khmer Rouge came and they emptied the cities and all the urban centers and they put everybody to forced labor."

He lost his mother and all other members of his family in the killing fields, and nearly lost his own life as well.

"I survived 10 brutal months under the Khmer Rouge with countless brushes with death," said Siv. "Then I made it to Thailand after I spent three days walking across the jungle in northwest Cambodia. I fell in a booby trap and was severely wounded, but I arrived in Thailand completely exhausted."

Thai authorities arrested him for illegal entry and then took him to a refugee camp where he taught English to fellow refugees and intensified his devotion to Buddhism.

Although he avoids bitterness, Sichan Siv says he wants to see former Khmer Rouge leaders held accountable for their crimes.

"There is not one Cambodian who has not lost someone or something dear to them so everybody wants to see justice brought to these people," he said.

Five former Khmer Rouge officials are being prosecuted by a special genocide tribunal in Cambodia. Their cases are expected to be tried later this year.

Today, Sichan Siv enjoys going for rides around San Antonio on his motorcycle. He cannot forget the horrors of the past, but he seems determined to concentrate on his new life here. This self-styled "Cambodian cowboy" also enjoys horseback riding and has helped herd cattle on a ranch in west Texas where his wife, Martha, was born and raised. She says they chose to live in San Antonio partly because of its western atmosphere.

"Sichan says that when he was growing up in Cambodia he listened to all those John Wayne movies dubbed in French, so now he is living it out in San Antone!," she said.

As his book goes on the market, Sichan Siv hopes he can help readers understand what it has meant for him to have this new life in the United States.

"I hope that they will understand that in America everything is possible, that when you have dreams you can turn your dreams into reality," he said.

Sichan Siv has found his dream here, but he says he will never forget those in Cambodia who were unable to escape their nightmare.

Conservation campaign

Heng Chivoan: Electricity du Cambodge wants city households to voluntarily cut down on their power consumption.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Lyria Eastley
Wednesday, 02 July 2008

The nation’s state-run power utility is calling on the citizens of Phnom Penh to take voluntary measures to conserve electricity.

A statement issued by Electricity du Cambodge (EdC has asked all of its customers in the capital city, particularly household users, to try to reduce the amount of power being used unnecessarily.

Conservation measures are necessary, the statement said, as current energy supplies are insufficient to meet demand by about 20 megawatts (MW) per day.

Most Phnom Penh residents have experienced power outages at some point, but the electricity shortages have had some of the keenest impacts on the operations of small businesses.

“The blackouts cause problems for us,” said Chhun Touch Leang, manager of the Java Café and Gallery. “When the power goes off, the fridges also go off, and so lots of the food goes bad. It’s also bad for the customers if it happens at night. There’s no light, so we have to use candles.”

While the EdC statement does not set a specific target for the amount of electricity it expects to save through voluntary conservation measures, EdC director general Keo Rattanak said the utility was conducting an “awareness campaign.”

Noting the high cost of electricity for consumers, Keo Rattanak said the aim of the campaign was “to help consumers realise the steps they can take to save energy and money” over a long periods of time. He admitted, however, that the measures “will not change people’s behaviour overnight.”

A number of educational pamphlets would be distributed to consumers free of charge as part of the campaign in order to give them information about how to more efficiently use their electrical appliances, he said.

Seven power-saving measures would be stressed, including the suggestion that air conditioning only be used when people are sleeping and not at other times during the day.

To ensure that Phnom Penh has sufficient power in the short-term, Keo Rattanak said two short-term solutions had been put in place.

“We are buying 10 MW of power from an additional generator in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone,” he said. “On a smaller scale, we are getting 5 MW from the Souvanna Phoum coal plant, although this plant has the capacity to provide us with an additional 7 MW.”

In the medium-term, EdC was building a power grid from the Vietnam border to Phnom Penh, funded by a loan from the World Bank. This would enable power to be brought in from Vietnam to compensate for electricity shortages in Phnom Penh.

Construction of this grid would not be finished this year due to technical delays, Keo Rattanak said, necessitating conservation measures. Longer- term solutions would include a national power grid and more new power plants in Cambodia itself, he added, pointing to a hydroelectric facility currently under construction in Sihanoukville.

A new museum puts a Thai imprint on Angkor

The new Angkor National Museum in Siem Reap has stirred controversy in Cambodia. Above, the exterior of the museum with the "Cultural Mall" on the right. ( John McDermott)

International Herald Tribune
By Robert Turnbull
Published: July 2, 2008

SIEM REAP, Cambodia: A common disappointment for visitors to Angkor today is the paucity of sculptural artifacts offered by the site. Without the "furniture" that once graced its magnificent temples, it can be hard to imagine the customs and rituals that animated Cambodia's formidable empire in its heyday.

Of the religious icons that survived looting or appropriation to French museums, many were relocated over decades to Cambodia's National Museum, created in the 1920s by the architect and curator George Groslier. The snag for Angkor-bound tourists in Siem Reap is that the museum is in the capital, more than 300 kilometers, or 185 miles, away.

Now Vilailuck International Holdings, based in Bangkok, has opened what it has opted to call the "Angkor National Museum" only a few kilometers from the Angkor park. Constructed over three years from a Thai design, it is currently displaying objects borrowed from the National Museum in Phnom Penh.

The other source of artifacts is the Conservation d'Angkor, a storage facility of some 6,000 pieces created by the Ecole Française d'Extrème Orient (French School of Asian Studies) in 1908 and currently in the hands of the Cambodian Ministry of Culture. Previously inaccessible, the collection has functioned as a hospital for broken pieces but also contains important Buddhas from several periods, as well as stone steles with invaluable inscriptions.

Thai interest dates to 2001. For 16 years Vilailuck's parent company, the Samart Corporation, has been a major investor in Cambodia in the telecommunications and air traffic control sectors. Charoenrath Vilailuck, the company's CEO, has an acquisitive interest in Cambodia's patrimony as evidenced by his own large collection.

But the new museum has picked up powerful detractors, especially among the tight-knit international restoration community that casts a hypercritical eye over what happens at Angkor.

The name has drawn the most controversy. The vast majority of offerings come either from pre-Angkorian times or from centuries after. Then, as the Siem Reap-based historian Darryl Collins pointed out, an enterprise that is foreign-owned and "primarily interested in turning a profit" can hardly be called national, especially when Cambodia already has a National Museum.

Collins is among those concerned that the new venture will deter tourists from visiting the National Museum in Phnom Penh, with its profusion of Khmer treasures spanning several centuries. For the Cambodian cognoscenti, too, the Angkor National Museum's appearance on the scene seems ominous, especially given centuries-old sensitivities concerning Thai designs on Cambodian patrimony.

Until 1908 Thailand had control not only of Angkor but of large swathes of northern Cambodia. In spite of a 1962 International Court of Justice ruling in Cambodia's favor, its neighbor still disputes the "ownership" of land surrounding the 10th century Preah Vihear temple at Cambodia's northern border and once threatened to veto Unesco's plans to honor the mountain temple with World Heritage Site status, which is still pending. Anti-Thai riots, which claimed the Thai Embassy and several Thai businesses, broke out in Phnom Penh in 2003 after a Thai actress allegedly said Angkor Wat still belonged to Thailand.

The most serious incident occurred in 1999. Large sections of walls with superb bas-relief images of the multi-armed Lokeshvara were looted from the 12th-century Banteay Chhma temple near the Thai border on what was generally assumed to be the orders of a Thai collector. The stolen art was intercepted by Thai police and returned to Cambodia, but suspicions linger.

The museum's design has also provoked some derision. The hint of Angkor Wat's honeycomb towers and its surrounding moats tends to be overshadowed by pink sandstone walls, which clash with its glazed orange corbel-vaulted roofing. It doesn't help that the lion's share of the 20,000-square-meter, or 215,000-square-foot, interior takes the form of retail space or a "Cultural Mall."

"This seems to have been foremost in the mind of the designers, while the collection came second," said Azedine Beschaouch, a special adviser to Unesco's assistant director general for culture and an expert on Angkor.

Anxious to promote the museum as a "learning cultural institute," the Thais are easily stung by such criticism. "We want to educate Cambodian people about their own history," said the museum's managing director, Sunaree Wongpiyabovorn. There are those "who know little about its monuments, and even less of the progress of Buddhism and what led up to it," she added.

Wongpiyabovorn insists there is no fortune to be made from the Angkor National Museum. Given that Vilailuck had to triple its original investment of $5 million due to the cost overruns, the company said it didn't expect to see a profit until at least a third of the 30-year lease has expired; under its "build, cooperate and transfer" contract, the management and financial control of the collection will then revert to the Cambodian authorities and the Ministry of Culture.

Moreover, several complications seem to have left the Thais frustrated, especially with regard to the terms and conditions of the loans. Under the original plan, the Phnom Penh museum's former director, Khun Samen, agreed to hand over as many as 1,000 artifacts - more than 950 hundred of them small 20th-century Buddhas - for the 30-year term, as well as 31 major pieces for a six-month loan.

His successor Hab Touch immediately reduced the 31 pieces to 23. "I am not going to surrender important pieces that should be permanently displayed here for the integrity of the collection," he said.

Another deal signed with the government in 2003 that gave Vilailuck extensive rights to a Conservation d'Angkor collection was threatened when, to the dismay of the Thais, the Cambodian government granted control to a South Korean company calling itself Angkor Treasure. Vilailuck requested that Deputy Prime Minister Sok An "release" the Koreans from the contract. He did, but only on the condition that the Thais agree to compensate the Koreans for an undisclosed sum.

According to Wongpiyabovorn, Unesco "maintains a strong sense of ownership of Cambodia's patrimony." Beschaouch supports the Thai initiative but is impatient about what he called "presentation that cannot claim to reflect international standards in museology." The majority of the wood, stone and silver Buddhas in the gallery of "1,000 Buddha Images," he said, "allude in design to later Ayutthaya-era temples in Thailand and have no aesthetic link with Angkor."

Unesco is engaged with the Angkor museum in improving the situation. But it didn't help that by the time of the grand opening last fall, months behind schedule, not only had most of the Angkor National Museum's artifacts still not been captioned but some copyrighted images had been lifted without permission for display. In the museum's defense, Wongpiyabovorn said that the Conservation d'Angkor's outdated card system of documentation was lost during Pol Pot's reign, leaving many artifacts with few historical records.

Will the museum have been worth the trouble? As it stands today, it will have negligible interest for the connoisseur or serious student of Angkorian art. At $12 compared to $3 for the National Museum in the capital, the price of admission for foreigners is high - the result of high fuel costs for air-conditioning, said the management.

But the museum has its uses. It should be commended for facilitating the display of objects long out of view. And, for a first time, the equinox sunrise simulations over Angkor Wat, the documentary-style videos in seven languages and the like go some way in explaining to visitors the temples' significance.

As for content, the "apsaras" and architectural features like decorated lintels replicate a lot of what is already copiously displayed on site. Yet sculptures from the pre-Angkorian capitals of Sambor Pre Kuk and Phnom Kulen merit attention. The 7th-century Phnom Da Standing Vishnu and the blue-tinted 9th-century Standing Shiva from Prasat Trapeang Phong reveal Cambodia's Hindu and Brahmanist legacy, and there are further galleries devoted entirely to Buddhist Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom and to the devaraja, or god-kings, who built these temples.

The museum insists it needs more time to develop its identity. Although its strength may not yet lie in a permanent collection, it aims to create exhibitions that inform and illuminate. The museum's curator, Chann Charouen, who is Cambodian and a former employee of the World Monument Fund, plans to rotate artifacts in a series of exhibitions from the aforementioned collections and from other Cambodian provincial museums such as those at Battambong and Kompong Cham.

It remains to be seen if the museum will embrace the growing scholarship and broad debates that currently characterize Angkorian studies, or be content to target tourists making an obligatory stop and bound inevitably for the inflated knick-knacks of the Cultural Mall.

Unesco weighs temple dispute

The Bangkok Post

Thanida Tansubhapol

The Administrative Court's injunction against Thailand's support of the listing of Preah Vihear might not overrule the joint communique signed by Thailand and Cambodia on May 22 in Paris, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

In a reply letter to appointed senator M.R. Priyanandana Rangsit, Sheldon Shaeffer, director of the Unesco office in Bangkok, said Thailand may try to protest against the listing in its capacity as an observer before the 21-member World Heritage Committee.

In the joint communique, Thailand gave support for Cambodia's proposed listing of the ancient Khmer temple ruins. The court's injunction last Saturday put on hold the government's moves concerning the temple.

The government said the joint communique was signed on June 18 between Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in Bangkok one day after receiving cabinet endorsement.

It contradicted information held by the UN agency, which said it was signed on May 22.

Mr Noppadon was in Paris to hold talks with Mr Sok An and Unesco to find a way out for the issue on that day.

The committee is meeting in Quebec, Canada, until July 10 to approve new sites, and the Preah Vihear temple is on the agenda.

However, Mr Shaeffer said whether Thailand can address the committee depends on its chairwoman Christine Cameron.

"Should Thailand consider that the information concerning the proposed inscription of Preah Vihear on the list lacks important elements that need to be brought to the attention of the committee, it may address the meeting in its capacity as observer, based on the consent of the chairperson of the committee as per the rules of procedure," said Mr Shaeffer in the letter.

It is unclear whether the government's change in stance on the listing will affect Cambodia's proposal to list the temple.

"This joint communique has been brought to the attention of the World Heritage Committee for consideration as part of the nomination file. The World Heritage Committee will have to take the final decision on this matter," Mr Shaeffer said.

However, Unesco has forwarded M.R. Priyanandana's petition which requested deferral of the inscription of Preah Vihear to the committee.

On June 24, M.R. Priyanandana and her fellow senators sent a petition to Unesco, asking that consideration of the listing of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site be deferred on the grounds that the ancient ruins should not be proposed for listing by Cambodia alone, as it borders both Thailand and Cambodia.

The senators urged Unesco to examine all the information coming out of Cambodia.

In his letter, Mr Shaeffer said Unesco has no responsibility over World Heritage list nominations.

Mr Noppadon will lead a Thai delegation to Quebec to oppose the proposed listing of Preah Vihear during the committee meeting.

The Foreign Ministry's advance team went to Quebec last Tuesday. Mr Noppadon, who is expected to be in Canada from Saturday until next Tuesday , yesterday reaffirmed the ministry's stance to comply with the Administrative Court's temporary injunction against the joint communique with Cambodia.

He said that the letter on the court injunction has been sent to Unesco, the 21-member committee, and Cambodian ambassador to Thailand Ung Sean who came to the ministry to receive the letter himself. "Thailand will show its position to the World Heritage Committee that we cannot support the content of joint communique," he said.

The government on Tuesday asked its legal arm, the Council of State, about what to do in the wake of the Administrative Court's ruling. Meechai Ruchupan, an executive of the Council of State, said the council recommended the government appeal against the order with the Supreme Administrative Court if it disagreed.

Cambodia, Japan to finalize trade pact by end of July

www.chinaview.cn
2008-07-03

PHNOM PENH, July 3 (Xinhua) -- An investment protection agreement between Cambodia and Japan will finally come into force at the end of July after nearly a decade of negotiation and revision, English-Khmer language newspaper the Mekong Times said Thursday.

Diplomatic notes on the trade pact, labeled the Agreement for the Liberation, Promotion and Protection of Investment, were exchanged between the two nations in Phnom Penh on July 1 and will come into force on July 31, the paper quoted a Japanese Embassy statement as saying.

The agreement is expected to "improve Cambodia's investment environment and further strengthen the economic relationship between the two countries," said the statement.

Cambodia hopes the deal will attract investment from Japan which Prime Minister Hun Sen has personally visited 15 times, according to the paper.

The possibility of concluding an agreement on investment protection and promotion was first raised by the premier during his visit to Tokyo in 1999.

Japan, the world's second largest economy, lags behind other Asian countries in terms of investment.

Editor: Du Guodong

Making a Difference - Cambodia's Theary Seng Works to Heal Her Country

By Rory Byrne
Washington D.C
02 July 2008

Theary Seng video profile / Broadband - Download (WM)
Theary Seng video profile / Broadband - Watch (WM)
Byrne report - Download (MP3) Byrne report - Listen (MP3)

Theary Seng's story is one of hope over adversity. As a child, she lived through the brutal Khmer Rouge years, before fleeing to the United States, where she studied to become a lawyer. Now, she is back in Cambodia, promoting human rights. As head of the Center for Social Development, Theary Seng is an outspoken critic of corruption and abuse wherever it exists. Rory Byrne has this report for VOA's Making a Difference series.

Human rights activist Theary Seng has been shaped by her country's tragic history. As a child, she collected cow dung among the graves of the victims of the Khmer Rouge to fertilize the crops. Her parents died at the hands of the ultra-Maoist group, which ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.

During their four years in power under the extreme-Communist leader Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge were responsible for the death of at least 1.5 million Cambodians killed by political executions, starvation or forced labor. In late 1978, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge fled to the countryside following invasion by neighbor and former ally Vietnam. The 10-year Vietnamese occupation (1979 - 1989) touched off almost 13 years of civil war in Cambodia.

After the fall of the Khmer Rouge, Theary escaped to Thailand and then the United States, where she became a lawyer.

Now she is back in Cambodia, working to help her impoverished country. "So, for me, it's to take my history and the loss of my parents and to shape it, to not let the Khmer Rouge leaders have the better of me - by making it into something more hopeful," she explains.

Theary heads the Center for Social Development, which works to overcome the dark chapter of the Khmer Rouge. "The Khmer Rouge years have scarred our psychology," she says. "There is a lot of beauty [in Cambodia], but it's unfortunately overwhelmed by all these social problems and ills of our current society."

Theary also speaks out against abuses around the world. At a recent demonstration in Phnom Penh, she tried to lay a wreath to honor those killed in the civil war in Sudan's Darfur region. Government officials prevented her from doing so.

Theary takes a special interest in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, or KRT, which is starting to prosecute the group's leaders for their crimes. She serves as an official tribunal representative for the victims. "I see the opportunity for other voices to join mine, and to enlarge the space where other voices could be heard in addition to mine," says Theary.

"The thing about Theary Seng is that she is unique in Cambodia, because she is able to bridge the chasm between America's view of things and Cambodia's understanding of the world," says US Ambassador to Cambodia Joseph Mussomeli. "Whether it's the KRT process or justice in general, or corruption issues, or land issues, Theary adds a certain dimension that is very unique and very special."

The activist, author and attorney uses every opportunity to promote human rights in Cambodia. She even hosts a TV show looking to find the country's next generation of youth leaders.

"Really, my work here is not to do anything big, but to be a common citizen back in my homeland, where I've suffered a lot," says Theary. "And now, I'm taking that suffering, and shaping it into hope, and trying to work with individuals who had not the time and space to heal that I've had."

It has been a long journey for Theary Seng, from a child slave under the Khmer Rouge to a gifted voice of fellow citizens striving to overcome their country's terrible past.

Australia Announced to Provide US$30 Million to the Electric Energy Sector in Indochina

Posted on 2 July 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 567

“The Australian Foreign Minister announced that his government will provide US$30 million to help develop electric energy in the three countries of Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.

“According to the announcement by the Australian Embassy on 1 July 2008, Mr. Stephen Smith, the Australian Foreign Minister, spoke about providing these funds during his visit in Vietnam.

“Mr. Stephen Smith announced that Australia will provide funds to countries in Asia to meet their urgent needs for the supply of electricity with sustainability.

“Mr. Stephen Smith said that ‘Australia will proved more than US$30 million through the World Bank for the period of four years, in order to improve the supply of electric energy in rural areas, to reduce the loss of energy during distribution, and to push the development of methods to use new sources of electric energy in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.’

“He added, ‘In Cambodia, only 6% of all families have access to electricity. Australia will provide US$12,300,000 to support the expansion of the supply of electricity to 13,000 families and to some enterprises in rural areas.’

“He continued, ‘Some funds will also be provided as loans to guarantee new investments for new energy resources, and to provide cookers using bio-substances to reduce the effect by greenhouse gas and by the pollution of the atmosphere.’

“This initiate was made based on the basis of a strong cooperative program which has been used previously in Cambodia. The government of Australia will provide approximately Australian Dollars 61,200,000 (approx. US$56,600,000) as development aid for Cambodia from 2008 to 2009 (from June 2008 to July 2009). The priority sectors of this cooperation include agriculture, rural development, the health sector, and law and judicial reforms.

“Nowadays, Cambodia has only about 230 megawatt of electricity for the supply in cities and other populated areas, and in order that all citizens have access to electricity, Cambodia needs more than approximately 1,000 megawatt.

“According to the plan, the Cambodian government intends to distribute electricity countrywide by 2010, and important electric sources are to come from investment in hydro-electric plants and from imports from other countries.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4630, 2.7.2008