Film shown in Club exposes truth of Cambodian genocide

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The documentary "New Year Baby," shown in the Club on April 15, follows the story of a Cambodian family during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. (Photo from

By Heather Pilkington
The East Texan
(Student newspaper of Texas A&M U., Texas, USA)

A&M-Commerce students showed the documentary “New Year Baby” on April 15 to raise awareness of the Cambodian genocide.

Those students have or are currently participating in “Service Learning: The Cambodia Project,” a project whose goal is to raise global awareness of Cambodian culture through various service activities.

“New Year Baby” documents the struggles of Socheata Poveu’s family during the reign of the Khmer Rouge, the ruling party in Cambodia in the late 1970s, which was responsible for the deaths of two million people. Poveu’s family escaped to Thailand the day of her birth on April 13, the Cambodian New Year.

“Our goal here is to bring awareness to the importance of the genocide and to the ‘Cambodia Project,’” junior political science major Kristin Lewis said. “In Cambodia, they are just now beginning to teach the genocide to their students.”

The documentary highlights Poveu’s discovery of the secret her family hid from her for 25 years. She discovered that her two “sisters” were actually her cousins, and that her “brother” is actually her half brother through her mother’s first marriage. Poveu and her family then returned to Cambodia to learn the truths about the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror.

“I had heard of the terrors the Khmer Rouge did,” graduate theater student Gerald Taylor said. “It was a really great thing to be able to put faces to their story.”

The Khmer Rouge wanted a classless society and forced all Cambodians to move into labor camps. People were encouraged to renounce their parents and break with the past. Anyone who didn’t agree with the Khmer Rouge was put to death, while others died because of disease or lack of food.

Families were frequently separated and arranged marriages were commonplace. To this day, no member of the Khmer Rouge has stood trial, and 75 percent of Cambodia’s population is 25 years old or younger.

Poveu’s parents were forced into marriage because of their differences.
Nin Poveu, Poveu’s father, smuggled his three adopted children and his then-pregnant wife across the border to Thailand in a series of four dangerous trips.

“He was what she (her mother) needed to get us all across,” Poeuv said in the documentary. “He was her strength.”

After immigrating to the U.S., Poveu’s parents instilled American philosophies in their children and enriched their lives with American opportunities; today they live in Dallas, Texas.

“This story is absolutely inspirational,” senior theater major Antonio Wright said.

Students participating in the “Cambodia Project” are currently aiding the development of the Cambodian village Lak 62. They are working with Elizabeth School in Lak 62 to collect school supplies and child-sized flip-flops. To make a donation contact Dr. JoAnn Digeorgio-Lutz in the political science department.
READ MORE - Film shown in Club exposes truth of Cambodian genocide

Sacrava's Political Cartoon: The Mourning Day

Cartoon by Sacrava (on the web at
READ MORE - Sacrava's Political Cartoon: The Mourning Day

Preparing to graduate, Cambodian monk redefines life goals

Friday, April 16, 2010
By Erika Hafer
Special to the Pirate's Log
(Student newspaper of Modesto Junior College, California, USA)

Muny Korn has much more than a degree to be proud about. Underneath his gown on graduation night, Korn will be wearing different clothes than he would have three months ago; underneath his cap, he will be wearing a different hair style than he would have three months ago, and on his feet he will be wearing a different type of shoes as well.

Korn came to Modesto Junior College as a Buddhist Monk from Cambodia in late 2004. The 27-year-old spent his first 21 years in Cambodia, where he joined the monkhood at 15. “Because my country is under poverty the life of most people isn’t that easy. We lack access to schools; we lack pretty much everything,” Korn explained. Following the Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot, which was defeated in 1979, Cambodia’s economy was devastatingly affected by a shortage of jobs and the lack of a properly educated workforce. Though Korn’s family were farmers, his mother, father, sisters and young brother remained poor. Korn says that becoming a monk was a way to escape the grip of poverty. He felt with joining the monk community, he would have more support and, in return, could live to support his family.

“Buddhism is a good way to offer opportunity. Most people want to become monks because they have nothing to do. They are poor. We get more chances now,” he explains.

Similar to the many reasons U.S. citizens join the U.S. military system, many Cambodian citizens find support, guidance and direction in the Cambodian religious system. The schooling and living expenses of monks are paid by the charitable donations of others.

Because Buddhism is an integral part of Cambodian culture (the majority of Cambodians are Buddhist), Buddhist monks represent honor and strength along with respected social status.

“It is important to know about our religion to know how to discipline ourselves, how to behave in society,” he says, acknowledging that these skills served him well when he became an MJC student.

There are ten basic rules to life as a monk, Korn says: 1) no killing, 2) no stealing, 3) no sex, 4) no alcohol or drugs, 5) no lying, 6) no dinner, 7) no perfume, 8) no gambling, 9) no sitting higher than a Senior Monk, and 10) no happiness for belongings. Not even “fibbing” is permitted. Monks are not allowed to eat after 12 p.m., because food may interrupt afternoon contemplation and prayer. Monks wear orange robes draped around them to distinguish their “homelessness” from others; they shave their heads twice a month, so as not to worry about style, and they wear sandals for simplicity even when the weather is cold. The goal in life, Korn says, is simplicity.

“We are different. We are called a homeless person…. How can we train ourselves?... We are supposed to live our lives with lay people,” Korn explains.

Muny was a novice monk for five years before his promotion to a senior monk at the age of 21. The same year, 2004, Korn, along with many monks from his community, moved to the U.S. as a mission to help the U.S. Cambodian temples with religious services. He was brought to Modesto specifically to help the Wat Cambodian Church located on Paradise Avenue, now relocated on Grimes Avenue.

Muny started attending MJC in order to study sociology. He said the change of atmosphere and culture was surprising for him and all the monks, but they knew that they were different and so were other people. He learned tolerance and acceptance of others from Buddhist teachings. On the basis of human existence, all beings are the same, he says.

Korn said that as a student, the Modesto Junior College atmosphere was very warm and non-discriminatory. “People showed curiosity, not discrimination.” But Korn couldn’t say that for non-collegiate Modesto. In 2008, the Wat Cambodian Church requested rights from the County Planning Commission to build a temple on Grimes Avenue. But the church was denied this request by the commission due to the concerns of “worried neighbors” over possible conflicts. It took the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors over a month to review the commission- denied case and override the building veto. The church was finally built.

“They [The County Planning Commission] voted against our request… We had nothing wrong with our regulations… They were discriminating against our people. Why did the commissioners not vote for us?”

Three months ago, Muny Korn took off his robe and sandals and replaced them with a cotton, collared shirt, jeans and a pair of Vans. He wore a ring on his right-hand finger. He had left the monkhood. Korn said it was a personal decision. He felt he could not go any farther as a monk; he had earned the merits of discipline.

“There is no expiration,” he says. “I knew how long I had been a monk in my previous life to lead me to this life, but I didn’t have a good feeling to go any farther.”

Muny had felt that what he had done as a monk before in his past life and in this one made up a satisfactory ending to his career as a monk. A religious ceremony based on the retirement of the robes was held for Korn to commemorate this event. He now bears two gold rings as gifts from his grandmother and aunt in blessing of his new life and his lives to come. With his goals of graduating this spring from Modesto Junior College and transferring to California State University, Stanislaus, he is focusing on his education. He plans to finish his bachelor’s degree, earn a nursing degree, and eventually bring his parents and siblings to the U.S.

Korn looks back at his monk experience now with great pride and appreciation, acknowledging that he grew in confidence and strength under the guidance of the Cambodian church. In the weeks to come, he will receive another merit of accomplishment as he is handed his diploma for an associates of arts degree in behavioral and social science.

Muny’s determination and radiance makes him a shining example of a Modesto Junior College graduate: a scholar with open ears, an open heart and a gallant stride.

“Never give up, whatever happens. Never give up hope, whatever happens. As long as we are still alive, we still have time to pursue our dreams. Do it with confidence, do it with a smile. We have a long way to go,” Korn offers.

The Modesto Junior College Graduation Commencement is April 30 at 6 p.m. at the MJC Stadium on East Campus. It is free and open to the public.
READ MORE - Preparing to graduate, Cambodian monk redefines life goals

Year Zero

Brother No. 1 Pot Pot: The father of Year Zero

April 17, 2010
By Peter Wilson American Thinker

The Khmer Rouge declared revolutionary Year Zero thirty-five years ago today, on April 17, 1975, the day Communist guerrillas in black pajamas and truck-tire sandals marched victoriously through the streets of Phnom Penh. An indication of the regime's brutality came within 24 hours, when the Khmer Rouge ordered the two million residents of Phnom Penh, including hospital patients, to evacuate the city.

Their reign of three years, eight months left Cambodia devastated, with the better part of an entire generation -- approximately 1.7 million Cambodians out of a population of 7.9 million -- annihilated by bullet, axe, shovel blow to the back of the head, plastic bag suffocation, unspeakable torture, or by starvation caused by ruinous economic policies.

The Pol Pot clique set out to create history's most pure form of Communism in a single bound, striving to surpass even Mao's disastrous Great Leap Forward. Their success was Cambodia's failure. Despite the legacy of another horror-filled Marxist experiment, the lessons of the Khmer Rouge remain shrouded in equivocation and myth.

Myth #1: Despite the example of the Khmer Rouge, Marxism remains a valid political philosophy.

Marxist sympathizers like columnist James Carroll still argue in polite society "Marxism has yet to be really tried." It's just that by strange happenstance Communist governments have always been subverted by corrupt brutal men.

Corruption and brutality however are not incidental to Communism; they are part of its essence.

In order to redistribute wealth, the State must assign power to fallible humans. Our democracy has checks and balances that constrain (we hope) those who hold power. The Khmer Rouge leaders wielded absolute power, which corrupted absolutely, with predictable tragic consequences.

Every time it has been tried, Marxism leads to the charnel house, turning subject countries into giant concentration camps, each a "vast Belsen," as Robert Conquest described Stalin's Soviet Union. Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Castro, Che Guevara, Abimael Guzman, Mengistu, Kim Jung Il are among history's most accomplished butchers. To argue that the Communist ideology that motivated them is incidental to their crimes devalues the deaths of the 100 million murdered by Communism in the 20th century.

Myth #2: The Khmer Rouge were not really Communists.

Like the Viet Cong, they were "rice paddy nationalists." Or freedom fighters battling French and American imperialism, gone wrong. Or Asian Nazis. Or some perverted Buddhist agrarian sect.

Evidence to the contrary is not difficult to find. As students in Paris, Pol Pot and Ieng Sary (Brother Number One and Number Two) joined the Cercle Marxiste where they imbibed Marx and Rousseau. To point out the obvious, Pol Pot and Ieng Sary named their army the "Red Khmer," red being the color of Communism. They were funded by Beijing, Moscow and Hanoi. Theirs was closer to a Maoist interpretation of Marxism than to Stalin's urban Communism with its Five Year Plans fetishizing steel mills and cement factories. Khmer Rouge terror techniques were drawn from Stalin and Mao: the brutality, the destruction of the family, the abolition of religion, the terror famines, the internal purging that George Orwell described so accurately three decades earlier in the terrifying scenes of Napoleon forcing confessions in Animal Farm.
Myth #3: Nixon's secret bombing of Cambodia was responsible for the Khmer Rouge victory.

Blaming America for the Khmer Rouge began early on in William Shawcross's Sideshow, Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia (1979). Roland Joffe's 1984 movie The Killing Fields disseminated the narrative of American guilt to an entire generation, one that is repeated in many American history textbooks.

According to data released by the Clinton Administration and reported by Ben Kiernan and Taylor Owen, from 1969 to 1973 American B-52s dropped "2,756,941 tons' worth [of explosives] in 230,516 sorties on 113,716 sites," more than was dropped by all parties in World War II. Innocent Cambodian villagers were surely killed, although estimates vary wildly, from 5,000 to 600,000.

Nevertheless, despite the rage of the anti-War movement, the tin soldiers and Nixon's coming, four dead in Ohio, the bombing was not entirely unjustified.

The bombing proceeded in two distinct phases, with different objectives. President Nixon's Operation Menu began in March 1969, striking at North Vietnamese sanctuaries where the NVA delivered food and arms to supply depots less than 100 miles from Saigon, protected by Cambodia's neutrality under the Geneva Convention. Although Prince Sihanouk agreed to the passage of NVA supplies coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail and through the Port of Sihanoukville, evidence shows that he grew fed up with North Vietnamese intrusions into his country, and gave Nixon a green light to bomb NVA military targets.

In the second phase, as the Vietnam War was winding down, American bombing continued at the request of the Lon Nol government to slow the advance of the Khmer Rouge.

History may judge Nixon and Kissinger harshly for the humanitarian costs of the bombing. It appears that the bombing assisted Khmer Rouge recruitment efforts, but overall it delayed the Khmer Rouge takeover. Keep in mind the simple facts that Communist countries backed the Khmer Rouge with arms, materiel, money and ideology, while the U.S. supported the pro-western Lon Nol government in an attempt to defeat the Khmer Rouge and stop the spread of Communism. As Peter Rodman writes in a 1981 American Spectator article on Sideshow: "By no stretch of moral logic can the crimes of mass murder be ascribed to those who struggled to prevent their coming into power."

Myth #4: "American ruthlessness turned Communists into totalitarian fanatics." [Historian Philip Windsor, quoted by Noam Chomsky and Bernard Herman in Manufacturing Consent (1988).]

In addition to bearing responsibility for bringing Pol Pot to power, the American bombing is also guilty of pushing the Khmer Rouge over the edge into insanity. Nixon and Kissinger are therefore guilty of war crimes, with the blood of 1.7 million Cambodians on their hands.

This myth is an international relations version of the "society made me do it" defense for the brutal criminal, akin to blaming mass murder on police brutality. It transforms the Khmer Rouge from aggressors to helpless victims reacting to aggression.

The theory that violence generates violent retaliation may make sense on a psychological level, but it is implausible that the Khmer Rouge "auto-genocide" -- the systematic campaign of destruction of their own people -- was motivated by desire for revenge against Americans. During the Khmer Rouge reign from 1975-79, Cambodia was isolated from the outside world; the last American bomb fell in August 1973.

Historical examples also contradict this theory: the ruthless Nazi blitzkrieg did not transform Londoners into totalitarian fanatics.

This myth did however alleviate the anti-war Left of any responsibility it might have felt for pressuring Congress to withdraw the financial support for South Vietnam promised in the Paris Peace Talks, which certainly played a role in southeast Asian dominoes falling in 1975: Cambodia on April 17th, South Vietnam on April 30th, and Laos on November 28th.
Today the Khmer Rouge has few enthusiastic defenders. In Jean-Francois Revel's wry phrase, "One of the most richly enrolled clubs on the planet is the Enemies of Past Genocides." It is not enough to condemn the Khmer Rouge. We must condemn the Marxist ideology that motivated them.

Peter Wilson has a large extended family of Khmer Rouge survivors and has worked on children's television in Cambodia. His blog is walkingdogcapitalist.
READ MORE - Year Zero

Wounds remain 35 years after Khmer Rouge rise to power

Chum Mey (Photo: The New York Times)

Chhum Mey cheered Cambodia's Khmer Rouge foot soldiers when they came to power but now he weeps every day for his wife and children lost to Pol Pot's totalitarian regime.

By Patrick Falby

PHNOM PENH, April 17, 2010 (AFP) - Chhum Mey cheered Cambodia's Khmer Rouge foot soldiers when they came to power but now he weeps every day for his wife and children lost to Pol Pot's totalitarian regime.

The Khmer Rouge swept into Phnom Penh 35 years ago Saturday, launching a four-year pursuit of a communist utopia that lead to the deaths of up to two million Cambodians through overwork, starvation and execution.

"We were happy that there was no more fighting as we waved white flags to the soldiers but things turned out so miserably and millions of people were killed," says Chum Mey, 79, who also endured horrors imprisoned by the regime.

Last year Cambodia began UN-backed genocide trials in a bid to bring justice to a handful of surviving members of the regime, which emptied the cities and forced the population to work on collective farms.

But Chum Mey, who told the tribunal last year he buried his two-year-old son died as the Khmer Rouge marched them from Phnom Penh, says there is lingering hostility from that era that won't be resolved in a court.

"Some people have let the past go but some still feel the hatred," he said.

"We need reconciliation in order to avoid revenge against each other. If we continue to take revenge against each other we fear that our young generation will follow the path of the Khmer Rouge," he added.

The regime was toppled by Vietnamese forces in early 1979 but its soldiers continued a fierce guerrilla war, beating a retreat to western areas along the Thai border before collapsing altogether in 1998, the year Pol Pot died.

"It has been more than 30 years so the situation has changed. People have chosen different ways of living and they think peace is the most important thing in their lives," Khmer Rouge tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said.

Despite the passage of time, a survey last year by the University of California, Berkeley found the majority of Cambodians still harbour feelings of hatred towards members of the Khmer Rouge responsible for violence.

Almost half of the respondents said they were not comfortable living in the same community with former Khmer Rouge members, while 71 percent said they wanted to see former cadres suffer in some way.

Meanwhile, 40 percent of Cambodians said they would take revenge against former Khmer Rouge members if they could.

Daravuth Seng, director of the Centre for Justice Reconciliation, says decades after the Khmer Rouge have left power, many Cambodians are still afraid to speak out against perpetrators of atrocities who live among them.

"Unfortunately with the legacy of the Khmer Rouge, they not only destroyed infrastructure, they also destroyed a lot of the components that hold together a society like trust, trust in one's family," he said.

"Now that there's a Khmer Rouge tribunal, there's a safe space. All of the history is getting dug up with everyone else."

While he does not expect the UN-backed court to reconcile all traumas from Cambodia's Khmer Rouge past, Chum Mey was offered the opportunity to face the regime leader who oversaw his torture and imprisonment.

As a witness last June at the trial of former prison chief Kaeng Guek Eav, alias Duch, Chum Mey described being subjected to beatings, electric shocks and shuddering in pain when two of his toenails were pulled out.

The agony finally ended when he falsely confessed to being a CIA and KGB agent, Chum Mey said, and his life was then spared because he was put to use in prison repairing sewing machines and a water pump.

"We need reconciliation in order to avoid revenge against each other," Chum Mey said. "If we continue to take revenge against each other we fear that our young generation will follow the path of the Khmer Rouge."
READ MORE - Wounds remain 35 years after Khmer Rouge rise to power

Cambodian, Thai troops clash on border

April 17, 2010

Cambodian and Thai troops exchanged fire briefly on their border on Saturday - the latest in a series of clashes between the neighbours, officials from both countries said.

The shoot-out on Cambodia's northwestern border lasted for about 15 minutes, but there were no reports of casualties, Cambodian defence ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat told AFP.

"While our troops were patrolling the border, the Thai soldiers opened fire at them. So our troops fired back," he said.

He said troops from both sides fired rockets and grenades as well as rifles, but calm returned after a meeting between Cambodian and Thai military commanders in the area.

The Thai military confirmed the shoot-out.

"It was a misunderstanding and nobody was injured in the clash," said a Thai army officer who asked not to be named.

Cambodia and Thailand have been locked in nationalist tensions and a troop standoff at their disputed border since July 2008, when Cambodia's 11th century Preah Vihear temple was granted UNESCO World Heritage status.

The latest skirmish was in a different area to the temple, which has been the focus of deadly clashes between the two armies in the past.

Relations deteriorated further in November after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen appointed fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as his economic adviser and refused to extradite him to Thailand.
READ MORE - Cambodian, Thai troops clash on border

Thai, Cambodian troops clash along border

BANGKOK, April 17 (Xinhua) -- Thai and Cambodian troops on Saturday clashed at a border area with injuries reported, local media said.

The clashes occurred at the border area near Kap Choeng district in northeast province of Surin, some 500 km from the capital of Bangkok, when a group of Thai scouts encountered Cambodian border troops, Thai PBS (TPBS) TV said.

The two sides exchanged fire twice around 07:30 a.m. and 09:30 a.m. with injuries reported from both sides, TPBS said.

The Cambodian troops entered the area to construct permanent camps, Thai Channel 7 said.

Both sides have strengthened their force along the border after the clashes and a Cambodian army commander has inspected the area, TPBS said.
READ MORE - Thai, Cambodian troops clash along border

Cambodian, Thai soldiers exchange gunfire in brief clash at disputed border

April 16, 2010

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodian and Thai soldiers engaged in a brief gunbattle in a disputed border area Saturday, with Cambodia accusing its neighbor of instigating their latest clash. No injuries were immediately reported.

Troops fired rifles, machine guns and rockets in the 15-minute gunbattle near the Ou Smach checkpoint in northern Cambodia, said Pech Sokhin, governor of Oddar Meanchey province where the border is located.

The countries accuse each of encroaching on the other's territory.

Pech Sokhin said the Thai soldiers fired shots after Cambodian troops ignored a demand to shift their location deeper into Cambodia.

"Once the Thais got back to their side, Thai forces opened fighting and Cambodia had to respond," Pech Sokhin said, adding that no Cambodian soldiers were wounded.

Thai authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.

Gen. Chea Tara, Cambodia's deputy military commander, said commanders from both sides met and called a truce.

Relations between Cambodia and Thailand have been strained over the status of land at a historic temple at another spot along their border. The International Court of Justice in 1962 recognized the Preah Vihear temple as belonging to Cambodia, a decision only grudgingly accepted by Thailand and still challenged by Thai ultra-nationalists.

Deadly clashes have occurred near the temple.

Thailand also was angered last year when Cambodia named fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an adviser on economic affairs. Tensions worsened after a subsequent visit by Thaksin, and Cambodia's rejection of a formal request from Thailand to extradite him.
READ MORE - Cambodian, Thai soldiers exchange gunfire in brief clash at disputed border

Cambodia’s temples of consumerism

Street vendors at a market in Siem Reap, Cambodia

April 17 2010
By The Mystery Shopper
Financial Times (UK)

After a recent spate of work-related visits across south Asia – five days of conversations with bankers, lawyers, union leaders, politicians, activists and salespeople – I decided to reward myself with 48 hours in Bangkok. But then, having landed at Suvarnabhumi airport, our huge commercial jetliner came to a halt on the runway to let pass a tiny turbo prop plane ferrying a handful of people to ... Cambodia. At first I glared out the window but eventually I had to smile at the moxie of the pilot and crew in holding up a much bigger aircraft. They must have been in a pretty big rush.

And I knew why. Hundreds of thousands of khaki-clad visitors flood the city of Siem Reap during the dry season, armed with guidebooks, sunscreen and professional-grade cameras. At the risk of sounding heretical, most soon realise that if it’s the temples at nearby Angkor Wat (6km north of the city) that draw you in, it is the shopping that brings you back.

It was then that I realised that I could just as easily (and much less expensively) spend my two-day holiday in Cambodia as Bangkok and, in the time it took to taxi to the terminal, I said a mental sayonara to the malls in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit area, scooted to the Bangkok Airways ticket counter and reversed course on to a 35-minute flight to Siem Reap.

I’d been to Siem Reap before so this time I wasn’t even going to pretend to be interested in the 12th-century religious monuments. You can use rickshaw transport but Siem Reap is a small city, and most of the shops and markets are within walking distance of each other.

The best place to start is in the Old Market, or Phsar Chas. While hundreds of sellers offer neatly arranged and affordable items such as wood carvings, paintings, jewellery and ready-made clothing, if you can get past the $3 Angkor Beer T-shirts and traditional costumes, the locally produced garments are worth a second look. I found a pair of black lightweight cheongsam-style silk pajamas for $10 and a $5 washable black silk shirt with a mandarin collar and froggings, which reminded me of more casual and machine-washable versions of styles from luxury brand Shanghai Tang, with a Khmer flair. And though bargaining is welcome, it felt a little ridiculous to negotiate beyond the advertised price.

In an alley one block west of the market is Wanderlust, a wee boutique run by Elizabeth Kiester, the founder and former chief creative director of LeSportsac. who came to Cambodia on a visit in 2008 and decided to stay. Her hybrid designs are very wearable. I bought two cotton dresses; the black gingham Kyoto ($68) with a deep V-neck, waist pleats, wide three-quarter length sleeves and patch pockets; and the black Palm Springs ($78), with more of an A-line shape, a square neck and ruffly sleeves. They had sold out of my size in the Tunisia tunic: a lightweight black cotton number with tiny white stars. Still, I felt pleased, if slightly confused about the names, since I’ve never encountered gingham anywhere in Japan or starry-patterned fabrics in Tunisia. (I have, however, seen plenty of ruffles in Palm Springs.)

An $8 pair of espadrilles replaced my dusty flip-flops and transported me to the Foreign Correspondent’s Club, home to Eric Raisina, Siem Reap’s high-fashion flagship store, as well as all-you-can-drink icy pitchers of sangria. Having once had his silks used in an Yves Saint Laurent bustier, the Madagascar-born Eric Raisina can claim the title of Cambodia’s most famous couturier. His “haute texture” designs do not resemble any other fabric I’ve ever seen: a lemon bolero jacket looking as if it was covered in feathers that turned out to be tiny shreds of yellow silk, and an orange-and-fuchsia stole whose furry edges were actually made of thousands of strands of silk.

After a valiant excavation of the tiny store, however, I had found no items in my preferred colour palette. But when I steeled myself to ask for black, the designer himself led to me his dark “silk fur” stoles ($179).

In the same FCC shopping centre is Jasmine Boutique, but you can also find her collection in the gift shops at some of the finer hotels in town. I bought a crisp black silk shantung wrap shirt with a high pointy collar ($85) as well as a sleeveless black and white balloon dress ($130).

I stopped at Angkor Candles to pick up a stash of aromatherapy candles in the shape of some of the temple ruins. And, rather wonderfully, the team at the Amansara provides hotel guests with photo mementos of the more famous wats upon checkout, so no one ever has to know how you really spent your time.

The Mystery Shopper is a globetrotting executive who reveals her international shopping discoveries
READ MORE - Cambodia’s temples of consumerism

Thai soldiers shoot on Khmer soldiers in Samrong district, Oddar Meanchey province

17 April 2010
DAP news
Translated from Khmer by Komping Puoy

A report from Oddar Meanchey province indicated on Saturday morning that Cambodian and Thai soldiers shot at each other for about 30 minutes from 7:35AM to 8:05AM at Khla village, Samrong district, Samrong district, near border post no. 14 in Oddar Meanchey province.

The report added that the reason for the shooting stemmed from Thai soldiers who came to chase away Cambodian villagers who were farming on their lands. These farmers refused to leave and the shooting ensued.

It is not known yet if there was any casual during this skirmish or not.

Tea Banh, the minister of Defense, told DAP news on Saturday morning that the shooting took place due to a small misunderstanding only, there was nothing major about it.

READ MORE - Thai soldiers shoot on Khmer soldiers in Samrong district, Oddar Meanchey province

"17 Mesa T'Ngai Pro-at Pras" a Poem in Khmer by Hin Sithan

READ MORE - "17 Mesa T'Ngai Pro-at Pras" a Poem in Khmer by Hin Sithan

"Tumnuk Bang Suom (in Khmer Rouge Regime)" by Sam Vichea

READ MORE - "Tumnuk Bang Suom (in Khmer Rouge Regime)" by Sam Vichea

Neak Mê (Our Mothers): Song on the fall of 1975

Dear webmaster of Khmerization,

I would like to post a video on a song that my daughter Bosba Panh. Khmer soprano age 13, is singing about the fall of 1975 and the pain left on the families. It is a beautiful song with meaningful lyrics in Khmer and English.

bosbaPANH November 17, 2009Bosbapanh, Khmer Soprano age 12, opened her 2009 concert with this song to announce the imminent drama of a family of teachers, who has to relocate as the French redefined the frontiers of Indochina. Using the melody of the Concierto d'Aranjuez composed by Joaquim Rodrigo, in 1939 in the turmoil of the Second World War, the song evokes both the happy days before the war and the tragedies that follow. Bosbapanh is reminded of the story of her grand mother who died after the evacuation of Phnom Penh in 1975 and witnessed the death of most of the family members. This is a tribute to Bosbapanh's grand mother and all mothers, the foundation of our families.

Neak Mê (Our Mothers
Sung by Bosba Panh (Niece of the internationally-acclaimed film director Rithy Panh)

Below is the lyrics:

Over the mountains

Across the rivers

Through the thunder

The wind brings back our words, our screams

At sunset, Neak Mê

The junk leaves the port

The grand river Kompong Tonle whimpers

Now the temple is beyond repair

No roof left, all swallowed by fire.

To meditate too much on the passing seasons

We store up years

Since this early morning of April

When they arrived

Yelling, singing, aiming

Writing on walls

They shot and they wrote

Words that made us tremble

The vines of roses grow from the stains

And on these walls, blood-red petals

Break out every April

The roses climb among the bruises and

Turn so red that they pierce us

The well is dry and empty

Rice fields are burnt by the sun

During the parched prang season of April

Counting the rhythm of the seasons

Dozens of years pile up

Since these early hours of April

When they arrived

Their chests covered with roses

Like deaf-mutes

Barefoot, with tense bodies

In their fiery eyes

Begins the strange smile of the powerful

One can guess the trails of blood

So violently red on these walls

But these are only roses.
READ MORE - Neak Mê (Our Mothers): Song on the fall of 1975

"17 Mesa Chetsep Pram Cham Chea Nich!" a Poem in Khmer by Sam Vichea

READ MORE - "17 Mesa Chetsep Pram Cham Chea Nich!" a Poem in Khmer by Sam Vichea

Duty of Memory: Please help share your stories under the Khmer Rouge regime

Friday, April 16, 2010

(Photo: AP)

Song interpreted at Khao-I-Dang camp:
ចារទុករឿងខ្ញុំ (Write down my story)
Click here to download or listen (MP3)
Originally posted by mpreuk on Camdisc

Dear Readers,

As you all know, the anniversary of “17 April 1975,” the date when the Khmer Rouge killing started, is just around the corner. In order to commemorate the memory of our loved-ones who lost their lives under the KR regime, we are calling on all of our readers to please help share your life stories under this tragic period. In addition to commemorating the memory of our loved-ones, these stories will also shed light to newer Cambodian generations who did not witness this event.

As survivors and relatives of survivors of the KR regime, such information sharing is our “duty of memory” so that they will never happen again!

Please send your story contributions in Khmer, English or French to us for posting, at the following email address:

Thank you very much!

KI-Media team
READ MORE - Duty of Memory: Please help share your stories under the Khmer Rouge regime

Al Jazeera's "101 East" - Thai red shirts

READ MORE - Al Jazeera's "101 East" - Thai red shirts

Thai "red shirts" gather after botched arrests

Fri Apr 16, 2010
Nopporn Wong-Anan and Sukree Sukplang

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thousands of Thai anti-government protesters gathered at a central Bangkok site on Friday after police botched an attempt to arrest three of their leaders as the authorities vowed to crack down on "terrorists."

One protest leader slid down a rope from a hotel balcony to escape riot police, while others were rescued by hundreds of "red shirts," who heavily outnumbered security forces at a Bangkok hotel owned by the family of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The three leaders later joined around 10,000 of their supporters at a shopping center in the middle of the city, now the main site of month-long protests in the Thai capital.

"If they use force to disperse us, we will flatten the entire neighborhood," said Jatuporn Prompan, a protest leader who was not among the three escapees, on a red shirt stage at the intersection of posh shopping malls and luxury hotels.

The government, which had previously said it would not directly confront the protesters, also stepped up the rhetoric,

although there were no troops on the streets of Bangkok.

"We will arrest and suppress the terrorists. We have set up special task forces hunting for the terrorists," Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said.

The move against leaders of the red shirts on Friday follows a failed attempt by troops to eject protesters from one of their encampments in the city last weekend. At least 24 people were killed and more than 800 injured in Thailand's worst political violence since 1992.


The risk of further instability in Thailand sent stocks down 2.1 percent and the market has now lost almost all its gains this year.

Thailand's five-year credit default swaps (CDS), often used as a measure of political risk, were trading at 110/115.57 against 105/111 bps on Monday, the last trading day prior to a three-day holiday.

The "red shirts" back Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup, and want Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to step down immediately and call early elections, which he has refused to do.

Abhisit had been due to hold his first news conference in four days at 1 p.m. local time (2:00 a.m. EST) but it was delayed, although no reason was given.

Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij told Reuters on Thursday Abhisit would not resign as it would "be very negative for the country.

Protesters called off plans to march on television stations that they accused of biased coverage, removing one potential flashpoint with security forces. They hunkered down at their base in a central Bangkok shopping district, which they vowed to make a "final battleground" with the security forces.

The government has also said it would crack down on people it believed to be financing the red shirts and issued summonses under emergency powers for 60 people to report to a military barracks, where Abhisit has set up emergency headquarters.

The violent protests have hit Thai tourism, with occupancy rates less than a third of normal levels in Bangkok, according to a tour operator body.

According to a report from investment bank Morgan Stanley, losses to tourism, which accounts for 6 percent of gross domestic product, could clip 0.2 percentage point from economic growth this year.

The government believes Thailand's economy could grow 4.5 percent this year, although Korn warned that forecast could prove optimistic.

(Additional reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Writing by David Chance; Editing by Alan Raybould and Bill Tarrant)
READ MORE - Thai "red shirts" gather after botched arrests

Understanding the law: Property ownership without title

The occupation of a real estate without title

02 April 2010
By Seng Dina
Radio France Internationale
Translated from Khmer by Komping Puoy

Land disputes are quagmires in Cambodia. The old ownership rule prior to 1979 was canceled. The number of those who occupy lands after 1979 without having a land tile is still high. Therefore, the “Understanding the law” program will touch upon the land dispute issue first, and on this Thursday, we will first start with the occupation of land without having property title. The clarifications will be provided by Dr. Hel Chamroeun.

1- I occupied a piece of land since 1979. I was a legal occupation, but I did not have the property title. What is my right on this piece of land?

Those who occupy lands or any other real estate since 1979, even if they do not have a property title issued by the authorities, then they are not the owner of that real estate, they are only considered as “legal occupant.”

2- As the “legal occupant”, what are my rights on this piece of land?

The “legal occupant” has similar rights to the title owner as well, i.e. he has the rights to use, to live, to plant, to rent, to pawn, to sell, to transfer the rights to their children, etc…

In the case of transfer of right, the recipient of the real estate also retains the right of “legal occupancy”, he is not turning into the title owner.

The “legal occupancy” and the ownership have the same amount of rights, what differs between the two is that the ownership is a final right and he can receive full protection from the law. As for the right of the “legal occupant”, it is only a temporary right that could lead to dispute in the future.

3- Can the “legal occupant” become the owner or not?

Yes! If the occupation was done legally according to 5 conditions:
  • It’s a true occupation, i.e. it’s not an occupation by someone who is just a land keeper, a housekeeper, or a farm keeper for somebody else.
  • It was not an occupation that took place with violence, i.e. there was no forced entry to occupy.
  • The occupation is publicly known, i.e., it was not a surreptitious occupation without anybody’s knowledge.
  • It was a continuous occupation, i.e. there was no abandon of this real estate during a long period of time.
  • The occupation was done honestly, i.e., when the “legal occupant” came to occupy, he does not know that the real estate had a prior owner already.
The “legal occupant” who fulfills these 5 conditions above will become the property owner after he occupies that real estate continuously for 5 years without any interruption.

4- After occupying according to the conditions (above) for a period prescribed by the law, can I automatically become the property owner?

The property ownership is not automatic. The “legal occupant” can become the final property owner only if the authority issues a title for him, following a registration of the property.

5- During the waiting period to receive the final land title, can the “legal occupant” receive a document to recognize the occupation of this real estate or not?

Yes! The authority must issue a document certifying the occupation of the real estate to the “legal occupant” who legally occupies. However, this document is a proof of the right to occupy only, it is not a title that nobody can protest about.

6- If I see an empty real estate without an owner, can I enter into its occupation as a “legal occupant” at any time or not?

The occupation of a real estate as a “legal occupant” that the law recognizes is only for an occupation that took place prior the adoption of the land law, i.e. before 2001. All real estate occupation after the adoption of the land law is illegal and is a crime punishable by the law.

Poor people who want land, they must send a petition to the authority through the social land concession program.
Note: The following article in entirely in Khmer Unicode

ការកាន់កាប់​ អចលនវត្ថុ​ដោយ​គ្មាន​ប័ណ្ណ​កម្មសិទ្ធិ

ដោយ សេង ឌីណា
Radio France Internationale

បញ្ហា​ដីធ្លី នៅ​តែ​ជា​រឿង​ចម្រូងចម្រាស់​មួយ នៅ​ប្រទេស​កម្ពុជា។ របបកម្មសិទ្ធិ​ចាស់ មុន​ឆ្នាំ​១៩៧៩ ត្រូវ​បាន​លុបចោល។ អ្នក​ដែល​​កាន់កាប់​​​ដីធ្លី ក្រោយ​ឆ្នាំ​១៩៧៩ នៅ​តែ​មាន​ច្រើន ដែល​កាន់កាប់​ដោយ​គ្មាន​ប័ណ្ណ​សម្គាល់​កម្មសិទ្ធិ។ វិវាទ​បាន​កើត​ឡើង​ជា​ញឹកញាប់ ជុំវិញ​បញ្ហា​ដីធ្លីនេះ។ ហេតុ​ដូច្នេះ​ហើយបាន​ជា នៅ​ក្នុង​នាទី​យល់​ដឹង​អំពី​ច្បាប់​នេះ វិទ្យុយើង​​​នឹង​លើក​យក​បញ្ហា​ដីធ្លី មក​និយាយ​មុនគេ ដោយ​ចាប់​ផ្តើម​ដំបូង នៅ​ថ្ងៃ​ព្រហស្បតិ៍​នេះ អំពី​​​ការ​កាន់កាប់​ដី ដោយ​មិនមាន​ប័ណ្ណ ដោយ​មាន​​ការ​ឆ្លើយ​បំភ្លឺ​ពី​បណ្ឌិត ហ៊ែល ចំរើន។​

សូម​ចុចខាងក្រោម ដើម្បីស្តាប់ ការ​ឆ្លើយ​បំភ្លឺ​របស់​បណ្ឌិត ហ៊ែល ចំរើន
Click here to listen to the audio program in Khmer

១-ខ្ញុំកាន់កាប់​ដី​មួយ​កន្លែង​តាំងពី​ឆ្នាំ​ ១៩៧៩​មក។ ជា​ការ​កាន់កាប់​ដោយ​ស្របច្បាប់ ក៏ប៉ុន្តែ មិនមាន​ប័ណ្ណ​កម្មសិទ្ធិ។ តើ​ខ្ញុំ​មាន​សិទ្ធិ​ជា​អ្វី​ លើ​ដីនេះ?

អ្នក ​ដែល​បាន​កាន់កាប់​ដី ឬ​អចលន​វត្ថុ​ផ្សេងទៀត ពី​ឆ្នាំ​១៩៧៩​មក បើ​សិន​ជា​មិនទាន់​មាន​ប័ណ្ណកម្មសិទ្ធិ​ចេញ​ដោយ​អាជ្ញាធរ​មាន​សមត្ថកិច្ចទេ អ្នក​នោះ​មិនមែន​ជា​ម្ចាស់​កម្មសិទ្ធិ​លើ​អចលនវត្ថុ​នេះ​ទេ គឺ​មាន​សិទ្ធិ​ត្រឹម​តែ​ជា​ភោគី (អ្នក​កាន់កាប់​ស្របច្បាប់) ប៉ុណ្ណោះ។

២-​ក្នុង​ឋានៈជា​ភោគី តើ​ខ្ញុំ​មាន​សិទ្ធិ​​អ្វី​ខ្លះ​លើ​ដីនេះ?

ភោគី​​មាន​សិទ្ធិ​ ប្រហាក់​ប្រហែល​នឹង​ម្ចាស់​កម្មសិទ្ធិ​ដែរ ពោល​គឺ​មាន​សិទ្ធិ​ប្រើប្រាស់ អាស្រ័យ​នៅ ដាំដុះ ប្រវាស់ ជួល បញ្ចាំ លក់ ឬ​ផ្ទេរ​ទៅ​ឲ្យ​កូនចៅ ។ល។

នៅ ​ក្នុង​ករណី​មាន​ការ​ផ្ទេរ​កម្មសិទ្ធិ​នេះ អ្នក​ទទួល​អចលនវត្ថុ​ពី​ភោគី គឺ​ទទួល​បាន​ត្រឹម​តែ​សិទ្ធិ​​ជា​ភោគី​ដដែល មិនមែន​ជា​ម្ចាស់​កម្មសិទ្ធិ​នោះទេ។

ភោគី និង​កម្មសិទ្ធិករ​ មាន​ទំហំ​សិទ្ធិ​ដូចគ្នា។ អ្វី​ដែល​ខុសគ្នា គឺ​នៅត្រង់ថា សិទ្ធិ​ជា​កម្មសិទ្ធិករ​គឺ​ជា​សិទ្ធិ​ស្ថាពរ​ ហើយ​អាច​ទទួល​បាន​ការ​គាំពារ​ពីច្បាប់ ដោយ​ពេញលេញ។ ចំណែក​សិទ្ធិ​ជា​ភោគី​វិញ គឺ​ជា​សិទ្ធិ ដែល​មាន​លក្ខណៈ​បណ្ដោះអាសន្ន ដែល​អាច​មាន​ការ​ជំទាស់​តវ៉ា​បាន ទៅ​ថ្ងៃ​ក្រោយ។

៣-តើ​ភោគី​​អាច​ក្លាយ​ជា​​កម្មសិទ្ធិករ​​បាន​ ដែរ​ឬទេ?

បាន! ប្រសិន​បើ​​ការ​កាន់កាប់​នេះ ធ្វើ​ឡើង​ដោយ​ស្របច្បាប់ ដោយ​គោរព​តាម​ល័ក្ខខ័ណ្ឌ ៥៖

-កាន់កាប់​ដោយ​ ពិតប្រាកដ ពោលគឺ​ មិនមែន​ជា​ការ​កាន់កាប់ ក្នុង​ឋានៈ​ជា​អ្នក​ចាំដី ចាំ​ផ្ទះ ឬ​ចាំ​ចម្ការ​ឲ្យ​គេ។

-កាន់កាប់​ដោយ​គ្មានហិង្សា ពោលគឺ មិន​ប្រើ​កម្លាំង​ចូល​ទៅ​ដណ្តើម​កាន់កាប់។

-​កាន់កាប់​ដោយ​មាន​ការ​ ដឹងឮ​ជាសាធារណៈ ពោល​គឺ​ មិនមែន​​ចូល​កាន់កាប់​ដោយ​លួចលាក់ មិន​ឲ្យ​គេ​ដឹង។

- ​កាន់កាប់​ដោយ​គ្មាន​ការអាក់ខាន ពោលគឺ​ មិនបាន​បោះបង់​អចលនវត្ថុ​នេះ​ចោល ក្នុង​គម្លាត​មួយ​ធំ។

-កាន់កាប់​ដោយ​សុចរិត ពោល​គឺ ​ពេលចូលកាន់កាប់ ភោគី​មិនបាន​ដឹង​​ថា អចលនវត្ថុ​នេះ​មាន​ម្ចាស់​រួចទៅហើយ​នោះទេ។

ភោគី ដែល​បំពេញ​តាម​ល័ក្ខខ័ណ្ឌ​ទាំង ៥ ខាង​លើ​នេះ អាច​ក្លាយ​ជា​ម្ចាស់​កម្មសិទ្ធិ​បាន ក្រោយ​ពីបាន​កាន់កាប់​អចលនវត្ថុ រយៈពេល ៥ឆ្នាំ ជាប់ៗ​គ្នា​ឥតដាច់។

៤- ក្រោយ​ពី​បាន​កាន់កាប់​តាម​ល័ក្ខខ័ណ្ឌ និង​គ្រប់​រយៈពេល ដែល​កំណត់​ដោយ​ច្បាប់​ហើយ​ តើ​ខ្ញុំ​អាច​ក្លាយ​ជា​ម្ចាស់​កម្មសិទ្ធិ​ដោយ​ស្វ័យប្រវត្តិ​ឬទេ?

សិទ្ធិ ​ជា​កម្មសិទ្ធិករ មិន​អាច​ទទួល​បាន​ដោយ​ស្វ័យប្រវត្តិ​នោះទេ។ ភោគី អាច​ក្លាយ​ជា​ម្ចាស់​កម្មសិទ្ធិ​ស្ថាពរ លុះត្រា​តែ​​អាជ្ញាធរ​មាន​សមត្ថកិច្ច​​ចេញ​ប័ណ្ណ​សម្គាល់​កម្មសិទ្ធិ​ឲ្យ ក្រោយ​មាន​ការ​ចុះ​បញ្ជីដីធ្លី​មានលក្ខណៈ​ជា​ប្រព័ន្ធ។

៥-ក្នុងពេលរង់ចាំ​ការទទួល​បាន​ប័ណ្ណកម្មសិទ្ធិ​ ស្ថាពរ តើ​ភោគី​អាច​ទទួល​បាន​​ប័ណ្ណ​អ្វី ដែល​សម្គាល់​ការកាន់កាប់​អចលនវត្ថុ​​នេះ​ដែរឬទេ?

បាន! អាជ្ញាធរ​មាន​សមត្ថកិច្ច​ត្រូវ​ចេញ​ប័ណ្ណ​សម្គាល់​សិទ្ធិ​កាន់កាប់​ អចលនវត្ថុ​ ទៅ​ឲ្យ​ភោគី ដែល​កាន់កាប់​ស្រប់ច្បាប់។ ក៏ប៉ុន្តែ ប័ណ្ណនេះ​ គ្រាន់តែ​ជា​ភស្តុតាង​បញ្ជាក់​អំពី​សិទ្ធិ​កាន់កាប់​ប៉ុណ្ណោះ មិនមែន​ជា​ប័ណ្ណ​កម្មសិទ្ធិ ដែល​តវ៉ា​មិនបាន​នោះទេ។

៦-ប្រសិន​បើ​ខ្ញុំ​ឃើញ​មាន​អចលនវត្ថុ​ទំនេរ​ គ្មាន​ម្ចាស់ តើ​ខ្ញុំ​អាច​ចូល​កាន់កាប់​ធ្វើ​ជា​ភោគី​បាន​គ្រប់ពេលឬ?

ការកាន់កាប់ ​អចលនវត្ថុ ក្នុង​នាម​ជា​ភោគី ដែល​ច្បាប់​ទទួល​ស្គាល់ គឺ​មាន​តែ​ការកាន់កាប់ មុន​​ពេល​ច្បាប់​ភូមិបាល​​ចូល​ជា​ធរមាន​ប៉ុណ្ណោះ ពោល​គឺ​ មុន​ឆ្នាំ​២០០១។ រាល់​ការ​​ចូល​កាន់កាប់​អចលនវត្ថុ នៅ​ក្រោយ​​ច្បាប់​ភូមិបាល​ចូលជាធរមាន គឺ​ជា​ការ​កាន់កាប់​ខុសច្បាប់ ដែល​អាច​ទទួល​ទោស​ព្រហ្មទ័ណ្ឌ។

ប្រជាជន​ក្រីក្រ ដែល​ចង់​បាន​ដី ត្រូវ​តែ​ធ្វើ​ពាក្យ​សុំ​ទៅ​អាជ្ញាធរ តាម​រយៈ​យន្តការ “​សម្បទាន​ដី​សង្គមកិច្ច”។
READ MORE - Understanding the law: Property ownership without title

Cambodians in the USA

READ MORE - Cambodians in the USA

Lake Group Continues Push for World Bank Inspection

(Photo: AP)

A group defending residents facing eviction from a lakeside development in Phnom Penh say they will continue demands for an investigation into a World Bank project.

Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Thursday, 15 April 2010

“We’ll continue to call for full inspection, in order to correct the current situation regarding the LMAP, as well as to remedy past violations of human rights that have occurred in the context of this project”
A group defending residents facing eviction from a lakeside development in Phnom Penh say they will continue demands for an investigation into a World Bank project.

The Minnesota-based Center on Housing Rights and Evictions says residents at Boeung Kak lake, which is slated for a multi-million dollar development, lost land they had lived on for years, despite a World Bank land management project.

The World Bank’s inspection arm submitted an internal report to the bank’s board earlier this month, concerning the Land Management and Administration project, but its conclusions are pending.

“We’ll continue to call for full inspection, in order to correct the current situation regarding the LMAP, as well as to remedy past violations of human rights that have occurred in the context of this project,” Bret Thiele, a legal expert for the group, said in an e-mail to VOA Khmer last week.

Some 4,000 lake residents are facing eviction to make way for commercial and residential properties under a government deal with a private developer. But many residents say they have a right to the land, having lived there for 20 years.

More than 900 families have been removed to an area far on the outskirts of the capital. Some families took lump-sum compensation. Still others want their homes to be developed along with the area.

A World Bank representative said its board of directors has until April 14 to look into recommendations on whether to investigate the land management project, which the CHRE says failed to protect the residents.
READ MORE - Lake Group Continues Push for World Bank Inspection

Thailand Mulls Returning Ambassador

Deputy Prime Minister Trairong Suwankiri, speaks to VOA, while on a visit to Washington for a nuclear summit. (Photo: VOA)

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington DC Thursday, 15 April 2010

Thailand is considering returning its ambassador to Cambodia, following a slight thaw in relations between the two countries, a senior Thai minister said Monday.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said assured Thailand last week that Cambodia would not be used by ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra as a political base to attack the current government, which is weathering a prolonged protest in Bangkok.

Such assurances had made the government “very happy,” said Deputy Prime Minister Trairong Suwankiri, on a visit to Washington for a nuclear summit. “So now we are considering sending our ambassador back.”

Trairong told VOA Khmer in Washington Monday that Thailand wanted to normalize its relations with Cambodia, but he would not give a date when an ambassador would return.

Both sides withdrew their respective ambassadors in November 2009, following the appointment of Thaksin as economic adviser to Hun Sen. Cambodia and Thailand remain at odds over the border near Preah Vihear temple and a sea boundary agreement.

A Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said Thailand had not yet sent an official letter concerning reinstating an ambassador. Cambodia will send its own ambassador back “15 minutes” after the Thais return theirs, the spokesman said.
READ MORE - Thailand Mulls Returning Ambassador

Thai Minister’s US Remarks Rankle Officials

Kasit Piromya

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Phirumya upset Cambodian officials with remarks he made at a US university last week.

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Thursday, 15 April 2010

“We see this as putting the horse before the cart, no the cart before the horse, and that created some displeasure on the part of Cambodia,” Kasit Phirumya said.
Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Phirumya upset Cambodian officials with remarks he made at a US university last week.

Addressing students and others at Johns Hopkins University in a lecture on Thai politics, Kasit said Thailand had three issues pending with Cambodia: questions on the inclusion of Preah Vihear temple to a Unesco World Heritage list; a 2001 sea border agreement; and an exchange of prisoners.

Kasit said Cambodia’s management plan of Preah Vihear temple would have to include a map that Thailand considers unlawful.

The temple is at the heart of a border dispute between the two neighbors.

“We see this as putting the horse before the cart, no the cart before the horse, and that created some displeasure on the part of Cambodia,” he said.

Meanwhile, a border drawn in the sea was done more through “political expediency” than international law and is now deemed unlawful by the current government, he said.

Kasit said Thailand was still holding four Cambodian prisoners as it awaits step-by-step amnesty approval from the government.

Cambodia’s border committee head, Var Kimhong, said Thailand should leave the sea border alone, as it has been agreed on. He also said Kasit should push Thai parliament to adopt the minutes of a border committee meeting between both sides that clarifies the border.
READ MORE - Thai Minister’s US Remarks Rankle Officials

Fresno Judge Sentences Elderly [Cambodian-American] Killer

April 15, 2010
By Dennis Hart
KMJ 580 AM Radio (Fresno, California)

A Fresno judge on Thursday sent an elderly Cambodian refugee to prison for more than two decades for stabbing the man's estranged wife to death.

Pech Sok, 69, was convicted of first-degree murder last month in connection with the slaying of his estranged wife, who had recently left him.

A judge sentenced Sok to 26 years to life in prison.

Pech Sok had come to the U.S. to seek a new life after his first wife died in Cambodia -- a victim of dictator Pol Pot's purges.

His second wife died 11 years ago.

She drowned in the San Joaquin River as she tried to save the lives of two of their children, who also drowned.
READ MORE - Fresno Judge Sentences Elderly [Cambodian-American] Killer

Western Siem Pang - Land of the Giants

Giant Ibis (James Eaton/ Birdtour Asia, from the surfbirds galleries)

April 15, 2010
Surfbird News

Western Siem Pang in Cambodia is one of the few sites in the world that supports five Critically Endangered bird species. It is perhaps best known as the home of the world's largest population of White-shouldered Ibis Pseudibis davidsoni. However, its importance for another species of ibis is now becoming clear.

A recent BirdLife survey team recorded an astonishing 16 Giant Ibis Thaumatibis gigantea over a ten day period during a rapid survey of the western sector of the site.

"At the height of the dry season one would expect a greater encounter rate as Giant Ibis along with other wildlife become concentrated at seasonal wetlands (trapeangs) in the forest and grasslands, but to record so many birds in such a short period from such a small area suggests the population at Western Siem Pang is much larger than we previously thought", said Jonathan Eames, Programme Manager for BirdLife International in Indochina.

This is good news for Giant Ibis, Cambodia's national bird, which has an estimated global population of only 200 individuals. The global range of Giant Ibis has shrunk and it now only occurs in southern Laos and northern Cambodia.

Giant Ibis has declined as a result of hunting, wetland drainage for agriculture, and deforestation. The destruction of dry dipterocarp forest and the associated wetlands in Thailand and Vietnam during the 20th Century, lead to its extinction in those countries and the same processes continue in Cambodia.

It relies on seasonal pools, which in the past were created by the now much depleted megafauna. The species appears to be very sensitive to human disturbance, particularly during the dry season when birds are concentrated around available waterholes, and this is almost certainly the greatest threat, rendering much apparantly suitable habitat unusable.

"The Giant Ibis shuns people", continued Eames, "it is a magnificent bird, that with its evocative call, will only be saved from global extinction when more people recognise that the economic values of the dry dipterocarp forests of Cambodia extend beyond cassava plantations and poorly conceived biofuel projects."
READ MORE - Western Siem Pang - Land of the Giants

Myanmar blasts kill at least nine in Yangon

Thu, 15 Apr 2010

Yangon - A series of explosions on Thursday killed at least nine people and injured up to 62 while they were enjoying Myanmar's traditional New Year celebrations in Yangon, police and hospital sources said.

Three blasts, believed to have been caused by grenades, were reported in Mingalartaungnyunt township near a popular lake in Yangon at 3:10 pm (0840 GMT), said a policeman who asked to remain anonymous.

The area was packed with people enjoying the New Year.

Yangon hospital officials told reporters that five women and four men died in the blasts, which injured 45 men and 17 women.

The official toll was put at six dead and 75 injured.

It was the worst act of urban terrorism in Yangon, Myanmar's former capital and largest city, since May 2005 when bombs exploded in popular shopping districts, killing 11 people and injuring up to 160.

Those bombs were blamed on the Karen National Union and Shan State Army, two rebel groups that have been fighting the central government for decades.

Thursday's blasts came while people were enjoying the Thingyan Pandal festival, believed to of Brahmin origin, which is accompanied by water splashing and the smearing of talcum paste on people's cheeks.

It comes at the peak of the hot season in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, which also celebrate their traditional New Year this week.
READ MORE - Myanmar blasts kill at least nine in Yangon

Former Khmer Rouge express views on reconciliation

April 15th, 2010
Source: Deutsche Welle

150 former Khmer Rouge gathered last week at the compound of their last leader, the late general Ta Mok, on the outskirts of Anlong Veng in northwestern Cambodia.

Anlong Veng was the last stronghold of the Khmer Rouge and only came under government control in 1998. Some of the Khmer Rouge’s most notorious leaders are still highly regarded here.

The former cadres came to the gathering to give their opinions on what reconciliation and justice mean to them, and to discuss the psychological trauma from decades of war.

Preventing atrocities in future

Daravuth Seng, who heads the Center for Justice and Reconciliation that organized the meeting, said that despite the trauma of the Khmer Rouge’s four-year rule – when up to two million people died – and the subsequent two-decade long civil war, precious little reconciliation work had been done in Cambodia.

“People in general are very much social animals, and they want to come back into the fold,” Seng said while explaining the background for the gathering. “So we have to be really careful in not putting them into a context where they are saying things they don’t necessarily mean, but yet leaving the language open enough so that meaningful reconciliation can happen.”

A Cambodian-American who trained as a lawyer in the United States, Seng added that another reason for the gathering, which was funded by the German development service, was to try to understand why the Khmer Rouge cadres had followed the path they did.

Knowing this could help prevent future atrocities of a similar kind, he explained.:“If we are to say never again, we really need to understand both sides, to understand the way these folks perceive the world.”

Concern about UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal

The participants told the meeting that when it comes to justice, they believe the UN-backed war crimes tribunal that is underway in Phnom Penh should try only the five former senior Khmer Rouge who are currently in custody.

“We should only try those top revolutionary leaders. We should not try those middle or lower ranking officers because they are only the followers of the leaders,” one former cadre said in clear reference to recent news that the tribunal is looking to prosecute five more suspects.

Some people in this former stronghold worry that they could end up being among the five. They have warned that the tribunal could destabilize the reconciliation process.

Remorse is a sign of hope

Unsurprisingly, most of the participants of the gathering rejected the term “former Khmer Rouge”, which has become synonymous with murder and persecution. They said it unfairly tainted their children’s future prospects.

Overall, Daravuth Seng said the event had gone better than he had originally hoped. People had turned up and spoken about what they wanted and what they feared.

He said that one woman had even cried and told him she regretted some of her acts. The fact that her remorse seemed genuine was a sign of hope, he added.
READ MORE - Former Khmer Rouge express views on reconciliation

When Samdech Si[hanouk] met Samdach Xen ... it's all in the family

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Undated photos (most likely March/April 2010), originally posted on

READ MORE - When Samdech Si[hanouk] met Samdach Xen ... it's all in the family

Mental Health Crisis Strains Cambodia

Cambodian psychiatrist Sotheara Chhim, from non-profit group the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization - Cambodia (Photo: VOA - A. Belford)

Aubrey Belford, VOA
Kampot, Cambodia 15 April 2010

Cambodia is a country with a more traumatic past than most. Recent decades have seen civil war, followed by genocide and more civil war. Despite a growing economy and rapid development, mental health workers say the psychological scars have yet to heal.

Cambodia suffers from high rates of mental illness, and very little treatment.

Psychiatrist Sotheara Chhim, who heads the Cambodia office of Dutch aid group, the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization, or TPO, says the country's dark past bubbles up in an exceptionally high rate of mental illness.

"In my opinion I think the past plays a very important role in attributing to the problem…. I think every Cambodian is like a glass carrying some water, meaning the traumatic past. If more water is put in, the glass fills easier than an empty glass," says Chhim.

A study by TPO found 35 percent of Cambodians suffer from some kind of psychiatric problem, from mild disturbance to full-blown illness.

The legacy of past conflict means more than a quarter of the population shows signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, and over 10 percent suffer major depression, even though most of the population is too young to remember the darkest years.

But there is little treatment. Only one percent of the government's health budget goes to mental health. For a population of 14 million people, there are about 40 psychiatrists, and only around 10 of them outside the capital Phnom Penh.

At the mental health ward at a hospital in the southern town of Kampot, Dr. Kim Vutha complains of a shortage of funds and medications.

He says Cambodians, particularly in rural areas, usually seek out mainstream treatment as a last resort after trying temples and traditional healers. In villages, it is quite common to find the seriously ill chained to posts or kept in makeshift cages.

Satya Pholy, a counselor in Phnom Penh, says that despite the prevalence of mental illness, many Cambodians simply do not want to acknowledge the problem.

"There's a stigma in Cambodian society," he said. "If someone talks to a counselor or goes to a psychologist or psychiatrist, 'Oh he's crazy, what's wrong with him?'"

He says traditional culture often plays a role in how mental illness is address.

"It goes back to animism and Buddhism and Hinduism, where most illnesses come from the unbalance of the wind, the soil, the fire and the water. Also, if you offended the spirits of the mountains or of the trees, you know, then the spirit will try to get you back, have revenge, make you sick," he explains.

Foreign aid organizations can not fill the gap. Sotheara Chhim says the economic crisis has meant less money for his organization, which travels around the country doing mental health outreach.

"I think mental health gets less attention, left behind in Cambodia. [The] Ministry of Health used to say keep saying mental health is one of the priorities but I don't think it's a priority," he said.

Sotheara says donor cuts forced him to fire 50 employees late last year.

Among the small government efforts to deal with the crisis, 10 new psychiatrists are being trained every year. But people working in the field, such as Sotheara, say this is still not enough.
READ MORE - Mental Health Crisis Strains Cambodia

Red shirts consolidate forces

The area near Phan Fa Bridge on Ratchadamnoen Avenue is practically deserted by Wednesday afternoon after red shirt protesters abandoned the site to consolidate their forces at Ratchaprasong intersection. APICHART JINAKUL

ANALYSIS: The UDD has moved to Ratchaprasong to prepare for what one leader says is the 'final stage' of the fight


Wassana Nanuam, Mongkol Bangprapa and Achara Ashayagachat
Bangkok Post

The red shirts' strategic decision to move to a single stronghold in the heart of the capital will force the government to abandon any plans to launch another crackdown, a source says.

It means the government's only course to resolve the stalemate will likely be through negotiations.

Four days after the deadly clashes between soldiers and anti-government protesters, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship yesterday abandoned its stage at Phan Fa Bridge to consolidate its forces at one main gathering site at Ratchaprasong intersection.

Last night, tens of thousands of red shirts had gathered in the upmarket shopping district.

''The government said it wanted the Phan Fa area back but never said it wanted Ratchaprasong intersection. So we returned Phan Fa and moved to Ratchaprasong intersection because we do not want another clash,'' UDD co-leader Natthawut Saikua said.

''I hope the government won't demand the return of another area as another excuse for gunning down people again.''

The idea behind shutting down the Phan Fa stage and keeping only one going in the shopping and tourism district is to strengthen the numbers and morale of the anti-government group.

The move is to prepare for the ''final stage'' of the fight against Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his administration, said Jatuporn Prompan, another UDD leader.

The UDD yesterday cancelled a march to the 11th Infantry Division to avoid confrontation with the army.

A source at the Centre for Public Administration in Emergency Situations said the one-stage tactic was a strategy to corner the government to end the stand-off by political means only.

The Ratchaprasong area posed a problem for the use of force to clamp down on the demonstrators because there are too many buildings for soldiers to control, the source said.

The location was perfect for snipers to shoot people from high vantage points and a crackdown could cause severe damage to shops, shopping centres and hotels around the occupied area, the source said.

''A decision to crack down on protesters at Ratchaprasong would mean solders would have to take control of every floor in every building, which would require a huge force.

''More importantly, the operation needs units specially trained in an urban operation. I cannot imagine the number of soldiers needed,'' the source said.

''Key UDD leaders have advisers who are current and retired soldiers. They have studied the same textbooks and probably studied at the same army command school [as serving officers].

''They believe the army will probably launch another attack on the Phan Fa demonstration and have decided to move to only one place at Ratchaprasong intersection, which is more difficult for military operations.''

The Phan Fa stage was set up on March 12 and the Ratchaprasong area has been occupied since April 4.

A commander of an army unit in Bangkok said soldiers were very familiar with areas on Ratchadamnoen Avenue as it has been the site of bloody clashes from Oct 14, 1973, to Black May in 1992 and the most recent deadly incident on Saturday.

The officer admitted the army would obviously be at a disadvantage if another military operation was carried out at Ratchaprasong.

''The other side has stayed there for some time. They [their security guards] have checked and prepared for this scenario,'' he said.

Another source at the centre said that if a military crackdown was ruled out, another option for security authorities would be to capture key leaders who are the subject of arrest warrants.

Michael Nelson, a visiting scholar in political science at Chulalongkorn University, said confusion loomed large as the government had still to find those responsible for the bombings and shootings that took place before the April 10 skirmish.

''No one would like to see more casualties. No one would like to see third- or fourth-hand instigators. But the situation is still fluid and the responsibility lies with all sides not to kick-start the next round of mayhem,'' Mr Nelson said.

The UDD's relocation to Ratchaprasong intersection is due to be completed this morning with all traffic routes returned to normal.

Pitsamai Mokekul, 39, from Sakon Nakhon, said the merger of the Phan Fa and Ratchaprasong stages would give the UDD more bargaining power.

''Here we are in the heart of the business quarter. If the government remains defiant, it risks dragging down the national economy,'' she said.
READ MORE - Red shirts consolidate forces