Tuesday, 13 July 2010

REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea: Disabled war veteran protest near Cambodian Prime Minster Hun Sen's house in Phnom Penh

Disabled war veteran Say Nhanh, 53, who lost his legs to a landmine in 1991 during a civil war, sits in a wheelchair at a park as he protests near Cambodian Prime Minster Hun Sen's house in Phnom Penh July 13, 2010. Around 300 villagers from three provinces, representing killed and disabled soldiers from 700 families, protested on Tuesday to press the government to keep their promise in 2008 to provide them with social land concession, according to local rights group The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) chief investigator Chan Soveth. The investigator added that the disabled soldiers are currently facing forced eviction since they live in the government's protected area and land that has been granted to a foreign rubber company. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea


Disabled war veteran Kouth Koeun (C), 45, Im Saroeun (L), 46, who both lost a leg to a landmine in 1988 during a civil war, sit in a park as they protest near Cambodian Prime Minster Hun Sen's house in Phnom Penh July 13, 2010. Around 300 villagers from three provinces, representing killed and disabled soldiers from 700 families, protested on Tuesday to press the government to keep their promise in 2008 to provide them with social land concession, according to local rights group The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) chief investigator Chan Soveth. The investigator added that the disabled soldiers are currently facing forced eviction since they live in the government's protected area and land that has been granted to a foreign rubber company. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Helping girl take her first steps

via Khmer NZ

By John Ranallo

Published: Monday, July 12, 2010

Local woman works in clinic in Vietnam

Janna Tamminga will never forget the 10-year-old girl she treated at a clinic outside of Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

The girl was carried in by her dad as she had lost all functionality in the right side of her body because of an illness that she contracted when she was 1 year old. The girl’s dad had carried her around for close to 10 years.

Looking at the girl, Tamminga, a physical therapist and certified kinesiotape practitioner, wasn’t sure if there was anything she could do for her, but decided to let her try using a cane. Tamminga didn’t really expect good results.

The girl tried standing with the help of the cane. Moments later she slowly crept forth with her weight balanced and took the first steps she had ever taken by herself. They were the first true steps in her 10-year-old life. The girl smiled and let out a loud giggle as her eyes welled up with tears. The eyes of Tamminga and others in the clinic welled up too. It was a special moment.

Tamminga has lived in Beloit for the last 20 years and operates Building Blocks Pediatric Physical Therapy LLC and works part time in Beloit Turner School District. Tamminga returned home after a five-week humanitarian-aid mission in Cambodia and Vietnam at the beginning of July.

Project Hope was responsible for the humanitarian mission which Tamminga was on. The mission brought together members of the U.S. Navy and many volunteer doctors and nurses on a medical boat that traveled around Southeast Asia treating those in need. Many of the visitors to the clinic did not speak English but expressed their gratitude to the volunteers. Tamminga and others worked mostly through translators and saw patients in Vietnam and Cambodia.

During the course of the trip she served on the USNS Mercy and treated illnesses, aches and pains, splinted broken bones and taught people exercises and activities to help them care for their bodies. She was one of many volunteers in the effort.

“I think we made a tremendous difference,” Tamminga said. “It was a wonderful experience.”

As a pediatric physical therapist Tamminga works with newborns, kids with Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy and those needing joint and body rehabilitation. She likes knowing she can make a difference and loves her jobs. Her favorite part is the kids. She spends lots of time playing with them to help build muscle strength, coordination and control.

“We have a lot of fun,” she said. “It is a joy to get up and go see the kids.”

Tamminga has often times thought of taking other mission trips but was waiting for the right time and opportunity. Without kids or any family in the area, she felt she could be helpful during the five-week-effort. Tamminga said Project Hope helped by organizing the effort and finding arrangements for its volunteers. Tamminga is happy to be home but enjoyed helping. She feels blessed for all she has and is thankful for her newfound experience.

Before going on the trip she prayed to God that she would touch at least one life. Judging from the girl in the clinic, it is safe to say she reached at least one. Tamminga said there was no way to describe the girl’s giggle upon taking her first steps.

“She just couldn’t stop the overwhelming joy,” Tamminga said. “I found it very, very heartwarming just to be with the people.”

VN tourism industry prone to losing position in top five ASEAN countries

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday ,Jul 13,2010

Vietnam’s tourism industry is in danger of falling behind Cambodia and losing its top-five ranking among ASEAN countries, as the tourism sector has developed ploddingly during recent years.
Foreign tourists visit Cai Rang Floating Market in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho (Photo: H.Y)

Cambodia’s tourism rising

While in general, international tourism has been sluggish due to the global economic crisis, Asia-Pacific nations have received many foreign visitors.

With a tourism growth rate of over 30 percent in early months of 2010, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) ranked Vietnam fourth in the world, behind only Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

However, tourism officers are not satisfied with the achievement as they said the sector has yet to develop to its full potential; meanwhile, Cambodia has made great breakthroughs in their tourism industry.

Cambodia received over 2.3 million international tourists in 2009 and has targeted to welcome three million this year.

Vietnamese tourist companies have become anxious, as seemingly the whole world rushes to Cambodia’s Angkor World Heritage Site.

With concrete strategies and effective operation, Cambodia’s tourism sector has grown steadily and may exceed Vietnam’s and usurp its position among ASEAN nations.

A leader of Ho Chi Minh City’s tourism sector said Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia began cooperation four years ago to develop a tourism program called “3 countries - 1 destination.”

Laos and Cambodia implemented proposed plans under the program immediately.

For instance, Cambodia exempted Vietnamese, Malaysian, Singaporean and Filipino people from visa requirements as of June 2008.

The Cambodian Government has lost an estimated US$14 million in revenue due to the visa exemption, but on the other hand, the country has been rewarded with 500,000 ASEAN visitors every year.

So Mara, an authority from Cambodia’s Tourism Ministry, said during his recent visit to Ho Chi Minh City that there are on average about 100 trips per day transporting travelers between Cambodia and Vietnam.

Cambodia was the top market for Vietnamese tourists in 2009 with an increase of 50 percent in arrivals, while it ranked second in 2008, he added.

Vietnam has become a transit destination for international tourists to Cambodia, as Cambodian air services are still underdeveloped.

Vietnam’s tourism sector should make changes

Though the sector has obtained achievements and made great contributions to the country’s economic development, the sector has not grown further in recent years due to its failure to keep customers.

Philip Kotler, father of modern marketing, has ever said that in business, attracting customers is important, but keeping them is more important.

But the sector has not been successful in adopting this philosophy as the number of foreign tourists who come back to the country is very small.

The sector has estimated Vietnam will receive only 4.2 million six million tourists this year, while it had expected to welcome six million.

Tran The Dung, deputy director of Young Generation Tourism Company, said Vietnam’s tourism will die off if the sector does not adapt basic development measures.

At present, many big tourism projects have been put into operation hastily after only 40-50 percent of state goals have been completed, leading to disappointment from visitors due to untidiness, making them not want to return to Vietnam, he added.

Mr. Dung said the Government should take measures to stop investors from shoddy implementation of programs to attract foreign tourists.

In addition, he said, local restaurants and hotels usually raise prices sharply on holidays.

The Tourism Association should intervene by calling upon its members to boycott and not take visitors to overpriced luxury restaurants and hotels, he added.

By My Hanh – Translated by Hoai Hy

Phnom Penh boutique hotel a step back in time


via Khmer NZ

Lush walled villas, art galleries in abundance in 'Foreigner's Quarter'

By Michael McCarthy, Special to Vancouver Courier

The “Foreigner’s Quarter,” where many ex-pats live, has an abundance of relaxed cafes and restaurants.Photograph by: Michael McCarthy, Vancouver Courier

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia--Imagine you're in a movie. You are sitting comfortably in a white wicker chair, sipping a cold martini under lush green palm fronds, the ceiling fans silently stirring the moist tropical air, soft classical music wafting through the café, tiny motorbikes buzzing along the street outside, attentive French-trained waiters hovering nearby ready to take your order, the smell of fresh-baked baguettes drifting out of the kitchen. Either it's a dream, or you are staying at the Anise, a charming little 20-room boutique hotel in Phnom Penh Cambodia.

In the award-winning film The Quiet American, a Graham Greene spy thriller starring Michael Caine set in 1950s Saigon, filmmakers were able to find certain tiny sections of Saigon that actually looked like they hadn't changed since the French occupied what was then known as Indo-China.

Thanks to creeping globalism, these days you can travel all over Asia and you won't find many cities that still boast such quaint colonial charm. On the south side of the Cambodia capital of Phnom Penh, however, in what both locals and ex-pats alike refer to as the Foreigner's Quarter, the lovely walled villas, relaxed cafés, quaint tree-lined boulevards, art galleries, bars and parks reminiscent of a 1930's Paris can still be enjoyed by visitors who know just where to look.

Phnom Penh is what Bangkok used to look like before the Thai capital turned into the Los Angeles of Asia. The city has recovered nicely from the civil war started by the insane dictator Pol Pot way back in the 1970s (brought to life in the film The Killing Fields) and it's starting to be discovered by tourists looking for an authentic colonial experience, but the vast majority of foreign travellers stays in downtown hotels and frequents the riverside promenade cafés and restaurants that give the city much of its charm.

It takes good luck, a good guide or meeting an ex-pat to discover the charms of the hidden Foreigner's Quarter, well south of downtown, but it's luck well worth having.

Hail a tuk tuk, the quaint three-wheeled taxis of southeast Asia, and tell the driver you want to go to Boeung Keng Kang. Bordered by Sihanouk, Norodom, Mao Tse Toung and Monivong boulevards, the neighbourhood has been the city's ex-pat quarter since the 1980s. Home to many NGOs, embassies and international organizations, as well as expatriate residences and hotels catering to long-term visitors, the area is dotted with hotels, restaurants, bars, silk shops, and spas, with the greatest concentration at the northern end of Street 278, particularly between blocks 51 and 63. It's well worth a stroll any time of day, but especially for lunch or dinner, or even better in the early evening when the bars and cafés are full and the street is at its liveliest.

Despite being somewhat off the beaten tourist path, Phnom Penh has dozens of wonderful attractions well worth the visitors time, including street markets, pagodas, museums, palaces, boat cruises on the river, restaurants and bars, but you'll have a hard time finding anything to match the visual charm of Boeung Keng Kang. Last time I was there, fully air conditioned rooms at the Anise were just US$25 a night, and that modest price included a wonderful Khmer dinner on the patio watching the world drift by. With a little imagination you can pretend you are Ralph Fiennes in the English Patient, or Debra Winger in The Sheltering Sky. In the old colonial quarter of Phnom Penh, time travel does exist, just like an old classic movie.

For more Michael McCarthy travel stories, log on to http://www.intentional-traveler.com/ .

Cambodia Conducts Peace Keeping Military Exercise

via Khmer NZ

PHNOM PENH, July 13 (Bernama) -- The first phase of a large-scale military exercise entitled "Angkor Sentinel 2010" started here on Monday with the participation of more than 1,000 soldiers from 26 countries.

According to Vietnam News Agency (VNA) this is the first time Cambodia has hosted such a multi-national military exercise.

Speaking at the opening of the "Command Post Exercise (CPX)" Gen Moeng Sampham, Secretary of State of Cambodia's National Defence Ministry, said the exercise aimed to enhance capacity for both the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and military from various countries through the process of multi-national operations exercise in order to fulfil the UN standards for peacekeeping operation.

The second phase of the exercise entitled "Field Exercise" will officially take place in Kompong Speu province, about 50 km from Phnom Penh, on July 17 with the presence of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Both of the military exercises are part of the Global Peace Operations Initiatives (GPOI), a UN-US peacekeeping training programme for strengthening peace and security.

Chhum Socheat, spokesman of the Cambodian Ministry of National Defence, said the military exercise will conclude on July 30.

Enemies of the People Trailer


via Khmer NZ

July 12th, 2010


Enemies of the People is a compelling personal documentary exposing for the first time the truth about the Killing Fields and the Khmer Rouge who were behind Cambodia’s horrific genocide. Winner of a dozen top documentary festival awards, including a Special Jury Prize at Sundance and the Grand Jury Award at the Full Frame Documentary Festival, this is a riveting film that takes audiences as close to witnessing evil as they are ever likely to get.

The Khmer Rouge ran what is regarded as one of the twentieth century’s most brutal regimes. Yet the Killing Fields of Cambodia remain unexplained. Until now.

In Enemies of the People, the men and women who perpetrated the massacres – from the foot-soldiers who slit throats to the party’s ideological leader, Nuon Chea aka Brother Number Two – break a 30-year silence to give testimony never before heard or seen. Unprecedented access from top to bottom of the Khmer Rouge has been achieved through a decade of work by one of Cambodia’s best investigative journalists, Thet Sambath. He is on a personal quest: he lost his own family in the Killing Fields. The film is his journey to discover not how but why they died. In doing so, he hears and understands for the first time the real story of his country’s tragedy.

After years of visits and trust-building, Sambath finally persuades Brother Number Two to admit (again, for the first time) in detail how he and Pol Pot (the two supreme powers in the Khmer Rouge state) decided to kill party members whom they considered ‘Enemies of the People’. Sambath’s remarkable work goes even one stage further: over the years he befriends a network of killers in the provinces who implemented the kill policy. For the first time, we see how orders created on an abstract political level translate into foul murder in the rice fields and forests of the Cambodian plain. Sambath’s work represents a watershed both in Cambodian historiography and in the country’s quest for closure on one of the world’s darkest episodes.

The United Nations and the Cambodian government have set up a tribunal to try the senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge for international crimes. Brother Number Two’s trial is expected to start in 2010.

Also check out the short film


Enemies of the People Trailer


Cambodian American Trailer

Images of Hope and Resilience for the Khmer People

http://www.theepochtimes.com/

via Khmer NZ

By Shahrzad Noorbaloochi
Epoch Times Staff

Pov Sinoun, a middle-aged Khmer Kraom woman, witnessed her entire family be murdered by the Khmer Rouge. Today, in addition to her job cooking for young monks, she travels from village to village trying to better understand her civil rights and hopes to use it to seek justice. (Rothany Srun, Access to Justice Asia Summer Intern)
Cambodia has become synonymous with the Killing Fields and Khmer Rouge prisons, so much so that tuk-tuk drivers in Phnom Penh offer visitors a day of genocide tourism, says Vinita Ramani.

Ramani is co-founder and director of Access to Justice Asia (AJA), a non-profit, non-funded organization that seeks to give voice to Asia’s “forgotten survivors.”

AJA uses art-based community development to help communities tell their stories through their own voices. Their latest project—the Justice, Art, and Memory project—takes on the plight of the Khmer Kraom community, a community devastated by the Khmer Rouge, one that is all but forgotten. Through the medium of documentary photography, the group’s team of photographers hopes to “offer these communities a different way of perceiving themselves.”

The forgotten Khmer Kraom

While Security Prison 21 and the Killing Fields are now tourist hotspots, some 30 years ago, these sites were the center for the systematic murder of tens of thousands of people at the hands of Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, the notorious commandant of S-21.

The Khmer Rouge, an ultra-Maoist group organized by Pol Pot in the jungles of Cambodia, was established with the ostensive aim of setting up a “utopian” rural society in the 1960s. By 1970, the group had accumulated enough momentum to initiate an insurgency against the Cambodian government with the help of Vietnamese troops.

What ensued was a mass killing of intellectuals, skilled workers, anyone owning “modern technology” such as eyeglasses and wristwatches, and of ethnic minorities, including the Khmer Kraom.

Today, the United Nations-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia are holding a tribunal against five former leaders of the Khmer Rouge, known as Case 002.

The Khmer Kraom’s accounts were excluded from the trials, despite the fact that the Khmer Rouge eradicated nearly 80 percent of their community. The decision to keep out the Kraom’s accounts was made because of, what some have called, a technicality.

“Historically, the Khmers of the lower Mekong delta region—called the Khmer Kraom … have been a marginalized minority group due to their geographical, historical, and cultural ties to both Cambodia and Vietnam,” said Ramani.

“Their inter-related identity also made the Khmer Kraom community a prime target during the Khmer Rouge who referred to them as traitors with ‘two minds’ or ‘Khmer bodies with Vietnamese minds.’”

Kroem Ken, 85, a Khmer Kraom woman living in Andoung Kien Village located in Takeo province, discusses her everyday life and Khmer Kraom culture. Despite her age, she continues to sell noodles at a food stand to make a living. ( Rothany Srun, Access to Justice Asia Summer Intern)

Redemption and resilience

AJA’s team has been working on the Tribunal, attempting to help the Kraom people be heard.

“After half a year of vacillation, the [Tribunal’s] prosecutors have finally accepted our story-based data and audio-visual reports,” said Ramani. On June 13, she said that they admitted that the Khmer Kraom had been “mistakenly neglected thus far, and that they would do their best to ensure that the voices of the Khmer Kraom victims would be heard in court.”

Through their efforts, 15 Khmer Kraom individuals were recognized as “civil parties” and were admitted to the trials with rights to “support the prosecution” of the Khmer Rouge leaders on trial and to request collective reparations.

According to Ramani, the real story of the Kraom, one that has never been told, is one of resilience and hope. Ramani says the photographs aim to tell a deeper story, moving away from stories of killing and victimization towards those of memory (Jnaana), survival (Jiiva), and renewal (Punarvana).

“Very few ‘victims’ are allowed to exist beyond victimhood. They are rarely seen as survivors who have emerged from conflict and wish to share both stories of trauma and stories of continuity and hope, and who often have a sense of humor and an indefatigable spirit for life,” says Ramani.

All photographs by Rothany Srun, Access to Justice Asia Summer Intern

Recipe: Kylie Kwong's Cambodian-Style Fish Poached in Coconut Milk


via Khmer NZ

The West Australian
July 13, 2010

Kylie Kwong says: I love this recipe because it is quick and simple to make, yet so exotic in flavour.

The galangal, turmeric and kaffir lime leaves add that gorgeous earthy, aromatic flavour so particular to South-East Asian cuisine, and the taste and texture of fish cooked gently in coconut milk is sublime.


If you like, you can substitute the fish with any other seafood, or even chicken.

RECIPE: KYLIE KWONG'S CAMBODIAN-STYLE FISH POACHED IN COCONUT MILK

Serves 2-4 as part of a shared meal

Ingredients:
3 garlic cloves
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
3cm fresh galangal, peeled and roughly chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and finely sliced
1 tsp finely sliced fresh turmeric or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp paprika powder
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 x 400g can coconut milk
4 kaffir lime leaves
450g firm, white-fleshed fish, cut into 2cm chunks

juice of 1 lemon

Place garlic, red onion, galangal, lemongrass, turmeric, paprika, fish sauce and brown sugar in a blender and process until finely blended.

Add the coconut milk and process until thoroughly blended.

Transfer the coconut mixture to a heavy-based pan.

Crush the kaffir lime leaves in your hand to release their aroma, and add them to the pan. Bring coconut mixture to the boil then reduce to a gentle simmer.

Cook for 10 minutes, to allow the flavours to infuse and the liquid to reduce slightly.

Add the fish chunks and poach gently for 4-5 minutes. Stir through lemon juice, then transfer to a large shallow serving bowl and serve immediately.

(Recipe from Kylie Kwong: It Tastes Better, Penguin Lantern Books)

Cambodian children learn life-saving skills

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
By Robert Carmichael, dpa
Allen Tan, the regional manager for the Golden West Humanitarian Foundation, helps one of the children testing a new computer game at a Phnom Penh orphanage. (dpa)

PHNOM PENH -- It is a familiar scene in many countries: Children huddled around a computer game, chipping in with instructions, competing and encouraging each other.

But this is no ordinary game. In a Phnom Penh orphanage, a dozen children are testing a unique U.S.-designed program its inventors hope would reduce deaths and injuries by landmines and unexploded ordnance.

Four decades of conflict have left Cambodia with an unenviable legacy of millions of such explosives. Last year, 47 Cambodians were killed and 196 injured by them. Around a third were children, most of them boys.

It would take decades to rid the country of mines, so educating people on how to recognize the risks they pose is vital. But these efforts are typically passive, using presentations or leaflets.

The computer game requires active participation, says Professor Frank Biocca of Michigan State University, where the game was developed.

Biocca was in Phnom Penh in June overseeing testing ahead of the game's expected launch there later this year. He says active involvement in the game, which is targeted at 6- to 15-year-olds, means the children retain more information.

Twelve-year-old Sin explains the game's purpose: Find food for his electronic dog while keeping a sharp eye out for landmines.

“We walk straight, and if we see the red danger sign, then we turn around and come back,” he says. “Or we can turn left or right to avoid the landmine.”

The on-screen landscape is comprised of photographs of Cambodia's countryside, which makes it both realistic for the children and cost-effective. The warning signs are also local: red signs with a white skull, a red-and-white striped pole, an inverted red triangle.

When the player gets it wrong, an explosion fills the screen, accompanied by a loud boom. Both the dog and child avatars cower but are deliberately uninjured, and a man in a Cambodian demining uniform appears on-screen, blowing his whistle and explaining what happened.

The game began its life as a request two years ago to the university in East Lansing, Michigan, by the Golden West Humanitarian Foundation, a charity that provides technical assistance for international demining operations.

The university's final-year project for one of its undergraduate programs sees students building so-called “serious games” — games with a purpose beyond entertainment. The mine education game struck a chord.

“We decided this specific project was something to continue to pursue with a focus on making it work across different platforms and making sure it can be updated for different markets cheaply,” Biocca says.

Allen Tan heads Golden West's regional office, which provided the developers with technical information and images for the game. Tan, a former bomb-disposal expert in the US Army, says the game has the potential to benefit dozens of countries.

“Certainly any post-conflict zone could be a target for this type of training and especially those with young populations that might not have been around when the conflict happened,” he says.

The game runs on Windows, Mac OS and Linux operating systems, the last of which is the standard operating system for the One Laptop Per Child initiative, the effort to get computers into the hands of children across the world at a cost of 100 dollars per laptop.

But Biocca says developers started off assuming it had to work on other platforms too, including the internet and mobile phones.

“We think that, ultimately, the true US$100 laptop is the cell phone — some version of the cell phone is becoming the Third World computational device,” he says. “And those are selling for underneath US$100.”

He says that once the game has been launched in Cambodia, it would be adapted for other countries to reflect their culture, landscape, languages and even their landmine signs — all for US$1,000 to US$10,000 per country.

Cambodia's Child Sex Crackdown

via Khmer NZ

By KEVIN DOYLE/PHNOM PENH
Thursday, Oct. 05, 2006

In his 17 years on the Cambodian police force, Keo Thea has seen a lot. But nothing quite prepared the deputy chief of Phnom Penh's anti-human trafficking police for the raid on the home of German national Karl Heinz Henning in August.

At Henning's apartment, tucked away in a leafy neighborhood favored by foreign aid workers in the Cambodian capital, Keo Thea sifted through the country's largest-ever haul of hardcore child pornography. Amongst the bondage gear, handcuffs, whips and battery-operated sex aids, Keo Thea's unit found soft cuddly children's toys. There was also video and photographic cameras, and 18 videotapes, each one hour long, depicting the S&M-style rape and torture of young local children by the tall, gaunt 61-year-old and another German, Thomas Engelhardt, 42, who was arrested a day later. Eight computer hard drives were also bagged for the court. (Karl Heinz Henning's lawyer has denied his client's guilt and the Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor said that Engelhardt told the prosecutor that he had probably taken drugs at the time and didn't know what happened.)

"It was very disturbing," Keo Thea recounted on a recent morning at his small unit's headquarters. A father of two, the 35-year-old deputy police chief, who looks older than his years and stockier than most Cambodians, had just returned from Miami, Florida, where he had given evidence in the case of a U.S. national arrested and deported from Cambodia on child abuse charges in 2004.

"I am sending a message to pedophiles to not come here. I promise you, you will be arrested and sent to jail in Cambodia or you will be extradited and jailed in your own country," he said.

Strong words, and he means it. But to fulfil that promise, Keo Thea has his work cut out. Not only are resources tight to fight child trafficking, especially in the rural provinces, but the courts in Cambodia are notoriously corrupt, and whether they actually carry through with prosecutions is entirely another story.

Cambodia has been a haven for foreign sexual predators since the U.N. brought peace to the war-ravaged country in 1993, and more recently, since its neighbor Thailand started its own crackdown on child sex abuse over the last couple of years. But the arrest of at least eight alleged foreign pedophiles since the beginning of this year may signal that Phnom Penh is finally getting serious about stopping the sexual abuse of children.

The arrests began in February with U.S. national Michael John Koklich, 49, who was apprehended after plowing his motorcycle into a police barricade — and badly injuring Keo Thea's leg in the process — as he tried to escape arrest. Koklich was charged with having sex with children in a Phnom Penh slum and deported to the U.S. He defended himself to reporters by saying that he only had sex with the children for "a very short period."

Those working to protect children in Cambodia agree that the police force has recently shown a far stronger commitment to targeting pedophiles. But it's not just law and order that is doing the trick. A new political will to root them out is the result of diplomatic incentives and pressures, both the carrots of international donors and the stick of the U.S. State Department, say child protection workers.

Cambodia's generous donor governments and international organizations have invested a substantial amount of money in anti-trafficking and child protection training for Cambodian officials. But the stick came in 2005 when the U.S. State Department, fed up with the impunity enjoyed by traffickers here, relegated Cambodia to it lowest tier 3 rating on its global trafficking report. Cambodia was lumped in with Burma, Cuba and North Korea, and Washington threatened sanctions against Phnom Penh for its inability to comply with "minimum standards" to combat human trafficking and convict officials involved.

Chastened by its international dressing-down, Cambodia's police started to make a number of high-profile arrests, including:

- In April, a German national was charged with sexually abusing young homeless boys in the coastal resort town of Sihanoukville; the man has strongly denied the charges. The same month, a Belgian national, who claims he is innocent, was arrested at his Phnom Penh guesthouse with a 13-year-old boy; according to Cambodian police, he had previously been jailed in Belgium on sex abuse charges.

- U.S. citizen Michael Joseph Pepe, 53, was arrested in June and charged with sexually abusing girls ranging in age from eight to 13 years. Pepe, who has remained silent since his arrest, is still in a Cambodian prison awaiting deportation to the U.S.

- Most recently, U.S. national Terry Darrell Smith, 55, was arrested in Phnom Penh on Sept. 20. He had been charged by Cambodian police with sexually abusing (and filming 10 hours of footage of the abuse) two girls, 13 and 14, at his "Tramp's Palace" bar in Sihanoukville. The girls had been allegedly held as sex slaves for five months by Smith and his 26-year-old Cambodian girlfriend before they were rescued by police, who were tipped-off by the low-key but highly effective U.S.-based anti-pedophile organization International Justice Mission. Smith's Cambodian lawyer has denied the charges against his client.

Already by June of this year, Cambodia was elevated slightly on the latest State Department tables to a tier 2 "watch list." Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said that the government has its sights set even higher. "We don't want to stay on tier 2. We want to go to tier 1," he said. "We have the political will. Cambodia will not be a place for child sex tourists."

When it comes to Cambodia's new hard line, the writing is on the wall — literally. Posters on display at the airport warn foreign visitors that abusing children will be paid for with as many as 20 years in prison. Some posters tout the slogans "Turn a sex tourist into an ex-tourist" and "Abuse a child in this country, go to jail in yours." Child predator message boards on the Web have also taken note, said the IJM investigator who staked out Smith's bar and spoke on condition that his identity remain a secret due to the nature of his undercover work.

"Two years ago, Cambodia was the number one destination for pedophiles," the investigator said. Now, he added, the Web sites identify the country as a risk. Cambodia is still a destination for child abusers but it has been surpassed in the last two years by even more lawless places such as the Dominican Republic, Bosnia and Guatemala.

"Ten years ago they would come here with impunity to do what they want and leave," the investigator said. "They are still coming to Cambodia but... they've got to be a little bit smarter."

For Chanthol Oung, executive director of the Cambodian Women's Crisis Center, the recent arrests are a cause for celebration. But, she says, it's far too early to declare a victory against pedophiles.

Rather than cease coming to Cambodia, pedophiles will become smarter and also harder to track, as they branch out of Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville and into the provinces, such as the tourist town of Siem Reap and free-wheeling Koh Kong and Poipet on the Thai border, she warned. The majority of the country's rural areas don't have a specialized anti-trafficking and juvenile protection force like that operated by Keo Thea in the capital.

And though the government may have the political will to combat pedophiles, it will also need to allocate physical and legal resources, Chanthol Oung said. Pedophiles are adapting to the new regime, and are working together in networks for safety and studying the loopholes in Cambodia law that could see them walk free if they are arrested, Chanthol Oung warned. "They are still coming, but they are being smarter," she said. Which means the authorities will have to stay even smarter if they are to have more success rooting out "tourists" who are no longer welcome.

Day of reckoning for Cambodia's chief torturer

http://atimes.com/

via Khmer NZ

By Marwaan Macan-Markar

BANGKOK - The torturer-in-chief of a notorious prison during the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror in Cambodia will finally learn what price he has to pay for the almost mathematical precision with which he carried out his duty to torment and kill nearly 14,000 people.

In the first international trial of a surviving Khmer Rouge leader, the verdict hearing on July 26 will be a groundbreaking moment for the Southeast Asian nation, coming 31 years after the genocidal regime led by Pol Pot was driven out of power.

The 77-day trial of Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, at the United Nations-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on the outskirts of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, began on March 30, 2009.

Duch, who came into court after spending eight years in a military prison, had initially pleaded guilty and asked for his victims' forgiveness. However, in the last days of his trial he did an unexpected u-turn, requesting an acquittal as he said he was just following orders.

Last week fired his French lawyer Francois Roux, and is seeking a Chinese lawyer, according to the Phnom Penh Post. "The reason that Duch wants a Chinese lawyer is because China is a communist country and during the Pol Pot regime [Cambodia/Kampuchea] was also a communist country," his Cambodian lawyer, Kar Savuth, told the newspaper. "He doesn't want a lawyer from a free country to judge the communist people."

The prosecution in this hybrid war crimes tribunal, which includes international and domestic jurists and lawyers, has pushed for a 45-year sentence for the 67-year-old chief jailer of the Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh. Duch faces charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder and torture.

Tuol Sleng, or S-21 as the extremist Maoist group called it, was a former high school where Duch and other jailers interrogated and tortured civilians, including children, who were considered enemies of the Khmer Rouge. Only 11 people came out alive from the estimated 12,380 to 14,000 people imprisoned in Tuol Sleng. It was one of nearly 200 detention centers the Khmer Rouge maintained across the country during its rule from April 1975 to January 1979.

Over this period, close to 1.7 million people, or nearly a quarter of that country's population at the time, were executed or died due to forced labor or from starvation as the reclusive Pol Pot pushed to create an agrarian utopia.

Among those who survived the Khmer Rouge's "Killing Fields" is Vann Nath, for whom the Duch trial has been a personal matter because he was among the 11 prisoners of Tuol Sleng who walked out alive. Duch was "the butcher of Tuol Sleng" Vann Nath wrote in a book about the horrific period he spent in the Khmer Rouge's most notorious prison.

It was his talent as a painter that kept him alive. Vann Nath was ordered to produce regular portraits of Pol Pot, a man he hardly knew apart from the black-and white photographs he was shown. There was little room for error in making the initial black-and-white and subsequent color portraits of the Khmer Rouge leader.

"I will go to the court to hear the verdict if my health is good," the now 63-year-old Vann Nath said in a telephone interview from Phnom Penh, where he is recovering from surgery on his left arm. "I hope the court will be fair and provide justice in its verdict."

Other Cambodians like Youk Chhang, director of the Phnom Penh-based Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam), are more demanding of Duch's judgment. A long sentence for Duch spending the rest of his years in a prison where "he will be fed daily" and "do nothing more" may not "satisfy all the people who followed his trial and learnt of all the horror that took place", Youk said.

"He should be made to read the confessions of what he did to the victims in Tuol Sleng every day in prison as a reminder of his actions," said Youk, whose center has recorded the accounts of nearly one million victims and identified the presence of 20,000 mass graves. "Some people want him to get a life sentence so that he could never be a free man."

Whatever the judgment, the significance of the Duch trial has not been lost on a country still struggling to recover from nearly two decades of conflict, from the early 1970s through the mid-1990s.

After Duch, four powerful surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge are headed for the tribunal. They include Nuon Chea, who was Pol Pot's deputy, Khieu Samphan, the country's president during the Khmer Rouge years, Ieng Sary, the foreign minister at the time, and his wife, the former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith.

Beyond the legal importance of its work, the tribunal has also been helping in fulfilling the broader objective of helping Cambodians reach closure in a painful part of their history. The national broadcasts of its proceedings serve as a court-sanctioned narrative of a dark period that had not been subject to official scrutiny.

"The court's outreach has had a measure of success in informing the public about what was going on at the Duch trial," says Rupert Abbot, a lawyer at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. "The process has had a role in people understanding what happened and why things happened."

"The trial will help bring some closure," he said in an interview from Phnom Penh. "It will help draw a line about a period in Cambodian history, especially since you have a new generation."

However, with the upcoming verdicts on the cases of aging Khmer Rouge leaders, the question is how much support the tribunal will receive from the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was himself a low-ranking Khmer Rouge member.

Just last week, an international organization monitoring the tribunal warned that “corrosive” government interference could bring it down. The Open Society Justice Initiative said Cambodian government officials were attempting to influence the court, citing two examples. "Troubling evidence exists that the Cambodian government is improperly attempting to limit what the court can and cannot do," the group said.

"The government has not been playing ball," says Abbot. "The Duch trial was easy, because he was willing to admit to what he did, and it was just at S-21. In the next cases, the crime scene is the entire country."

(Inter Press Service)

Cambodian mission opens teens' eyes


via Khmer NZ

Orphanage alters world view for trio from Boiling Springs

Photo provided Buy photo
Alec Turner poses with a child in an orphanage in Cambodia.

By LEE G. HEALY
lee.healy@shj.com

Published: Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Brendan O'Connell said his life was forever changed after first visiting the Cambodia Care orphanage in A-Rie-Ksratt, Cambodia, three years ago. It was an experience he wanted to share with others, starting with two of his classmates from Boiling Springs High School, Graham Sprinkler and Alec Turner.


The trio of rising seniors recently spent about a week and a half in Cambodia, under the care and supervision of Brendan's father, Colman O'Connell, who regularly travels to the country for business. The elder O'Connell brought the teens home to Spartanburg last month before returning to Cambodia for work.

All three teens said the stay at the orphanage was by far the highlight of the trip, but it wasn't their only eye-opening experience. They visited 10 of the 24 provinces in Cambodia, which is bordered by Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. They saw remote villages and countrysides with brilliant green rice fields, and they visited ancient temples and walked on white sand beaches.

“The first time I went, it was mind blowing,” Brendan said.

After 32 hours in the air, the group spent three days at Cambodia Care, located on an island in the Mekong River. It's a 20-minute ferry ride from the capital, Phnom Penh.

The orphanage, founded by Australian couple John and Tess Castledine, houses 102 children.

After his first trip, Brendan helped raise $10,000 for the orphanage to build a new water treatment system. He was happy to finally see the fruits of that fundraiser.

“I really fell in love with all the kids,” he said.

The local teens helped teach the children English in between kicking around a soccer ball and lending muscle to a new construction project on the orphanage grounds. They also donated clothes, candy, toys and school items.

Colman O'Connell, who works in the textile field and is organizing and managing a new textile plant in Phnom Penh, said the trip was understandably a culture shock for Graham and Alec, as it had been for Brendan on his first visit. But it didn't take long for the teens to warm up to the children and the culture.

“I know that Brendan's visits to Cambodia have effected a transformation,” O'Connell said. “He quickly realized the enormous advantages which he enjoys as an American.”

Graham and Alec both said the experience was one they won't forget. If the opportunity ever presents itself again, they'll happily return to Cambodia and the orphanage.

“Before, I would see a commercial about orphanages like this one, but it'd be gone in a few seconds,” Graham said, adding that he hopes to enter a profession that allows him to help people every day. “When you're actually over there and experience it, that's when it gets to you.”

“Before the trip, I was like every other American kid,” Alec added. “But when I came back, it made me thankful for everything I have.”

S.Korea to screen bachelors seeking foreign brides

South Korea is to screen bachelors seeking overseas brides after a mentally unstable man killed his Vietnamese wife

A South Korean couple pose for their wedding photographs in Seoul's Toksu Palace


via Khmer NZ

SEOUL — South Korea will screen bachelors seeking brides from overseas following the fatal stabbing of a Vietnamese woman by her mentally ill husband eight days after she arrived, an official said Tuesday.

The 20-year-old from Ho Chi Minh City was killed by her 47-year-old husband last Thursday in the southern port city of Busan.

The man turned himself in and told police he had heard a "ghost's voice" urging him to kill the bride when they quarrelled. He had been treated 57 times for schizophrenia since July 2005, police said.

The case prompted the justice ministry to announce a raft of measures it has been studying to curb abuse of foreign brides.

"We will screen bachelors seeking to find brides abroad," Moon Soo-Yong, a ministry deputy director, told AFP.

"Those with a history of mental illness or a violent crime record and those who have married and divorced foreign brides three times or more will face restrictions on applying for visas for their would-be brides."

Koreans seeking foreign wives will have to take a class on human rights and foreign customs and culture, the ministry said.

More than a third of South Korean fishermen and farmers who married last year chose immigrant brides, some because they were unable to find local women happy to lead a rural lifestyle.

Official figures show foreigners -- mostly from China or Southeast Asia -- were brides in 1,987 marriages to farmers and fishermen in 2009, 35 percent of the total.

The figures showed 47 percent of the foreign brides came from Vietnam, 26 percent from China and 10 percent from Cambodia.

South Korean matchmaking agents arrange short overseas trips for Korean bachelors to find candidates.

The entire procedure from their first interview with brides to the marriage ceremony and honeymoon usually takes less than a week.

Activists say some foreign brides, coaxed by false promises or deceptive advertising, end up living with spouses who have few assets or who are ill, alcoholic or just difficult.

Such unions often end in divorce and there have been cases of suicide and spousal abuse.

Cambodia in March suspended marriages between South Koreans and its citizens in what it said was an attempt to curb human trafficking. The ban was lifted a month later after safeguards were introduced.

Under a new law, staff of matchmaking agencies can face a maximum prison term of two years or heavy fines for giving potential foreign brides false information about spouses or about married life in South Korea.

1,000 year old lion statue unearthed in Cambodia

via Khmer NZ

English.news.cn 2010-07-13

PHNOM PENH, July 13 (Xinhua) -- A statue of lion with a date back about 1,000 years has been unearthed in Cambodia's northwestern province, an official said Tuesday.

Kim Sophoan, chief of heritage office of the provincial culture and fine arts department, said that the statue of stone lion, 78 centimeters tall and about 80 kilograms in weight, was unearthed last weekend. It could be dated back in 11th century or about 1, 000 years old.

He said the statue was discovered on Saturday when the construction workers were using a tractor to renovate national road from Battambang province to Pailin province.

Soon after he was informed with the unearth of the lion statue, he said, he went up to see it and took it to a museum in Battambang province.

Kim Sophoan said it was a nice statue with good shape except both legs were broken.

After several decades of civil war, many statues and pieces of cultural heritage were lost, stolen, trafficked or covered under the ground.

For already many years, many heritage pieces have been returned, discovered or repatriated from foreign countries through bilateral cooperation between Cambodia and those countries.

Located in Southeast Asia, Cambodia is known as a country rich in cultural heritage such as Angko Wat Temple, Preah Vihear Temple, both were registered as Word Heritage Sites, and hundreds of more temples across the country as well as arts, culture and tradition.

Editor: Bi Mingxin

Cambodian delegation to attend Asian political parties meeting in China

via Khmer NZ

July 13, 2010

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An on Tuesday leads a delegation to attend an Asian political meeting held in Kunming, China, where Asian leaders will exchange their views on the poverty reduction strategy and find ways how to improve their cooperation for the mutual benefit of the peoples in the region, said a top Cambodian official.

Tekreth Samrach, deputy minister of the Office of the Council of Ministers, said that leaders who represent about 1,000 parties will take part in the conference, which was organized by the Communist Party of China (CPC) and to be held from July 16 - 18.

"His Excellency Sok An will share Cambodian experiences about its win-win strategy how to bring peace for the country after 30 years of wars," said Tekreth Samrach.

An estimated 30 percent out of the country's total 14 million people live below the poverty line of less than one dollar a day. "We expect to reduce poverty one percent per year thanks to the leadership by the ruling party, Cambodian People's Party, and by 2020 we expect to reduce poverty to below 20 percent," he said.

Cambodia will host the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) in early December, aimed at enhancing exchange and cooperation between the political parties for the benefits of the peoples in the region.

Source:Xinhua

China opens the floodgates


Photo by: AFP

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 13 July 2010 15:03 AFP

Water gushes during the year’s biggest release from the sluice for flood prevention at the Three Gorges Dam in Yichang, in China’s Hubei province, on Sunday. Floods triggered by torrential rain in northwestern China have killed 25 people. Heavy rain caused havoc across a wide area of the south in June, killing 266 and leaving 199 missing.

Fresh census targets RCAF’s ‘ghost soldiers’


via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 13 July 2010 15:03 Sam Rith

DEFENCE Ministry officials say a more “thorough” census of the military currently under way will reduce the number of “ghost soldiers” on the government payroll.

Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said yesterday that officials were confident this year’s census would be more accurate than those carried out in previous years, in large part because of a new computerised storage system that includes information on each soldier.

“It is the annual census to find out the real number of soldiers ... by cutting the number of soldiers who have retired, died or did not appear,” he said.

As part of the census, which began last week, every soldier in the military will be required to show up in person at regional offices to verify their identities and salary claims.

Those who failed to do so by the end of the month would forfeit their salaries, Chhum Socheat said.

The problem of ghost soldiers – those who are on the military payroll yet serve no function – has plagued the country for years, sparked by the aftermath of the peace process in the early 1990s that saw fighters from various factions amalgamated into the national military.

But it remains unclear how many such soldiers there are. A 1999 survey eliminated more than 15,000 ghost soldiers and 160,000 nonexistent dependents from the records and declared a total force of 131,227, according to a 2008 World Bank report on a donor-funded demobilisation scheme. Yet those results were “widely discredited”, the report stated. By September 2002, Ministry of Economy and Finance statistics showed the defence payroll had been reduced to 112,359.

A security assessment on Cambodia released this year by defence publisher IHS Jane’s suggested that the military has an on-paper strength of 110,000, but a field strength of 70,000 troops.

Cheam Yeap, a senior parliamentarian with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said the new census procedure was implemented after Prime Minister Hun Sen urged all institutions, including the military, to reduce “the number of people who do not have names”.

“We are doing this more thoroughly than before. No one can fake,” he said.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, described the problem of ghost soldiers as “critical”. “Many soldiers ... are not active and they’re not trained. Who are these people? I don’t think the government itself even knows,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY IRWIN LOY

Mine plan threatens Koh Kong woodland


via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 13 July 2010 15:03 David Boyle and Cheang Sokha

THE conservation NGO Wildlife Alliance yesterday criticised plans for the development of a titanium mine in Koh Kong province, saying the project would scare off ecotourism investors and derail implementation of a lucrative pollution-reduction scheme.

Suwanna Gauntlett, the group’s country director, said the United Khmer Group had recently obtained a permit from the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy for the mine, which she said would cover 15,000 to 20,000 hectares in Thma Bang district.

“Now they need a permit from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, but they’re ready to go. They’re building the roads already and redoing the bridges,” she said.

Company representative Phorn Thou confirmed his company intended to mine titanium in the province, but said no permits had been granted. “My company is in the process of mapping out the area,” he said.

Pech Siyon, director of the provincial Industry, Mines and Energy Department, said a concession for a titanium in the district had recently been granted, but he declined to name the company or give any other details.

Gauntlett said the mine would threaten 144,000 hectares of protected forest in the district, as well as ecotourism projects that support 150 families in Chi Pat commune. Her organisation, she said, had spent nearly US$600,000 developing community-based tourism projects there over the past nine years.

“If we had known about this mine about three years ago we would have never had invested all this money in this area,” she said.

She also said the mine would doom plans to implement a Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation scheme that NGOs and officials had been hoping to launch in 2011. The scheme allows polluting companies in developed countries to offset their carbon emissions by paying developing countries to protect forests. Wildlife Alliance believes it would generate at least several million dollars in revenue.

Vann Sophanna, chief of the Forestry Administration’s Coastal Inspectorate who is due to meet concerned Chi Pat villagers today, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Disabled vets petition PM for land


Photo by: Pha Lina
A group of protesters, many of them disabled, gathers near Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh home yesterday in a bid to resolve a dispute over land in Kratie province. The veterans defied both inclement weather and official warnings to disperse.

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 13 July 2010 15:03 Chhay Channyda

REPRESENTATIVES of more than 600 disabled military veterans and their families protested in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in Phnom Penh on Monday to renew demands for land they say was promised to them.

The protesters, who numbered roughly 100, said authorities had failed to adequately address their claims after pledging to do so during a meeting in early June.

Yan Yoeuk, director of Association Cripple Development, said four representatives met officials at the Ministry of Environment and the premier’s cabinet yesterday.

He said they were asked to resubmit documents, including a letter from National Assembly President Heng Samrin, ordering officials to resolve the situation.

“They still ask us to wait, but we cannot wait anymore,” Yan Yoeuk said after the meetings.

In 2008, the families asked for 4,000 hectares of protected land in Kratie’s Snuol district, Yan Yoeuk said. However, provincial officials told them in April this year that, rather than being protected, the land belonged to five private companies.

He said authorities also accused the families of using fake documents in submitting their request.

Ung Seng, chief of cabinet at the Environment Ministry, said Monday that the case was “complicated”, and that senior officials would be consulted before a decision was reached on what to do with the “protected land”.

Kham Phoeun, the governor of Kratie province, said the land the veterans were demanding was part of a wildlife sanctuary.

He confirmed that the government granted the land to five private companies, which he declined to name, to develop rubber plantations.

“The companies clearing the land have legal concessions from the government,” Kham Phoeun said. “The government has a policy to give disabled soldiers land concessions, but they can’t just point when they want this plot or that plot.”

But the families say they need somewhere to live. Chorn Leap, one of the villagers, said the families have been forced to squat on land in Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom, Kratie, Takeo, Svay Rieng and Prey Veng provinces.

“We want the government to give us land so that we have rice fields to grow and feed our families,” she said. “We do not want to fight with any company.”

Senior US diplomat to arrive for two days of talks


via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 13 July 2010 15:03 Meas Sokchea

A SENIOR US diplomat is set to arrive in Cambodia this week for talks with government and opposition officials and civil society groups, and to preside over the return of Khmer artefacts from the US, officials from both countries said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said William Burns, the US Undersecretary for Political Affairs, was to meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday for bilateral talks. The following day, Burns was to attend a ceremony at the National Museum for the handover of an unspecified number of Angkorian statues, Koy Kuong said.

US embassy spokesman John Johnson confirmed that Burns would be in the country on Thursday and Friday.

“During his visit he will meet with members of the Royal Government, representatives from civil society organisations and with members of several opposition parties,” Johnson said. He added that more details would be forthcoming.

Members of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party said they plan to meet with Burns on Thursday to discuss human rights, land disputes and judicial reform.

“We will ask the US, which is a development partner, to help reinforce respect for human rights in Cambodia and help reform the judiciary,” said SRP spokesman Yim Sovann.

SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua, who is in the middle of a legal battle with Prime Minister Hun Sen, said she planned to attend the meeting if she was not behind bars. She added, though, that she would not bring up her own case.

“I will not ask for intervention from them. But if I am imprisoned, I hope that they will go to meet me in prison,” she said.

In August 2009, Mu Sochua was convicted of defaming Hun Sen and ordered to pay a fine and compensation totalling 16.5 million riels (around US$3,928).

After the Appeal Court and Supreme Court dismissed her appeals against the ruling, she was given until July 3 to pay the fine and until last Saturday to pay the compensation. She has declined to pay both.

Tith Sothea, a spokesman at the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, said the government was not fazed about the SRP’s talks with Burns, and that Mu Sochua’s case had been tried “according to procedure”.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO

Swift action called for in killing spree


via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 13 July 2010 15:02 Thet Sambath

A MAN whose wife and three children suffered serious gunshot wounds during a shooting spree in Kampong Cham province has called for the suspect to be swiftly detained and prosecuted, though the soldier remained on the run yesterday.

Last Thursday, 50-year-old Sles Yeb, a soldier with Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Battalion 203, allegedly opened fire on residents of Kroch Chhmar district after an argument with his wife and son.

Three people were killed in the rampage.

In addition, the wife and children of Nhor Vann Trey, 32, were hit by bullets fired from an AK-47 assault rifle and remain hospitalised in serious condition.

Nhor Vann Trey said by phone yesterday that he was shocked at the apparently random act of violence.

“I do not know why he shot at my family. I have no dispute with him,” Nhor Vann Trey said.

He added that he had submitted a request for the rights group Adhoc to intervene and pressure authorities to arrest Sles Yeb as soon as possible.

“We want him arrested and punished. If he is at large and free, villagers are living in fear,” he said.

“He is a soldier, and soldiers are always supported by their military commanders. With this support from the military commander, it is difficult for the authorities to arrest and punish him.”

But Sim Uy, the district military commander, said he had no intention of aiding Sles Yeb.

“No one will dare to intervene in this case. We have tried very hard to find him and put him in jail to stop the killing in the future,” he said.

Kroch Chhmar district police chief Lay Nguon said yesterday that police believed Sles Yeb was being aided by “colleagues”, but that there was no concrete evidence of this.

He added that a raid of a guesthouse in Kampong Cham town had been fruitless, and speculated that the suspect could very well have fled elsewhere after carrying out the attack.