Tuesday, 11 March 2008

International Women’s Day – LICADHO Press Release

Mother is in cell and the children must be in cell too?

LICADHO Cambodia
6 March 2008


My name is Lina* and I live in prison with my daughter, Maly in a prison cell with twenty-five other women. I had no other choice but to bring my daughter with me into prison. Maly was very young at the time. My husband had died and I didn’t have any family living near that could take care of Maly.

In prison everyday I struggle to feed Maly, because even though I have an extra mouth to feed I am not given any extra food. I have to share what little food I receive with Maly. We only have access to dirty drinking water that is always black and makes me sick. Maly gets very sick from drinking this water also . If you don’t have any money to buy coal to boil your water, or money to buy bottled water, then you have to drink this dirty water.

The worse thing about having Maly live in prison is that she is treated just like a prisoner. She is always locked up and does not have any freedom. She is never allowed to play like a regular child.

Maly is too young to understand what is happening or to understand what living in prison means, however I am always very sad at the thought that my child has to grow up in prison in such bad conditions.

Lina is one of over 640 female prisoners living in prison and one of the 43 women who currently live with their children in prison - her daughter is one of those 50 children. Their story is told in the LICADHO report, entitled Prison Conditions in Cambodia 2007: The Story of a Mother and Child, which is being released to mark International Women's Day, March 8 2008.

The report aims to provide a first hand account of life in prison for women who bring their children with them to live in prison. Cambodian law permits children under the age of six to live in prison with their parent, if no other alternative care is available. The main issues of concern for these children are that they do not receive enough food (no extra food is allocated to mothers with children, they must share their food), there is no adequate access to education and that while they live with their mothers in prison the children are essentially treated like prisoners.

"International Women's Day is day that is meant to celebrate all women and promote the rights of women. In particular on this day we would like to remember those women living in prison and their children, who are also vulnerable members of society that should not be treated any less nor forgotten." Kek Galabru, LICADHO President.

To commemorate International Women’s Day and to draw attention to the situation of women in Cambodia’s prisons, LICADHO will distribute food and materials to female prisoners, children living with their mothers in prison and female prison guards at 20 prisons all over the country.

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Kek Galabru, President of LICADHO at 012 940 645


LICADHO Cambodia
March 11, 2008


The Cambodian League for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (LICADHO) is gravely
concerned by the unlawful detention and alleged torture of a man in the custody of the Ministry ofInterior.

Mr Priep Pov, a Damnak Chang’aeur district policeman from Kep Municipality, was arrested without court warrant in Kep on February 18. Transferred to Phnom Penh on the same day, he has since been detained for three weeks at a compound used by the Ministry of Interior's Order Police and the Intervention Police units. He has been beaten and kept shackled with handcuffs by foot and hand for at least some of that time, and is in poor health, according to credible information received by LICADHO.

The policeman is reportedly involved in a land dispute with Princess Marie Ranariddh, over land he and his family are currently living on in Kep.

Several senior Ministry of Interior officials have stated that the policeman is being detained on the direct orders of National Police chief General Hok Lundy. They all have repeatedly refused to allow NGO doctors or human rights investigators to meet him in detention, saying that this is contrary to the orders of Hok Lundy.

Officials have stated that Priep Pov is being held for "disciplinary re-education" for disobeying orders of his superiors in regard to the land dispute. LICADHO is aware of no legal basis which permits the Ministry of Interior to indefinitely detain, or handcuff or otherwise mistreat, a policeman as a form of discipline. Under the 1995 Ministry of Interior Circular on Discipline of the National Police Force, police officers who disobey orders can be warned or reprimanded, demoted or expelled from the police.

Under Cambodia's Criminal Procedure Law, criminal suspects arrested by the police can be detained for a maximum of 48 hours without the approval of a court prosecutor.

Officials have made it clear that Priep Pov could be released if he signs a document giving up his family’s claim to the land in Kep. As such, he has effectively been held hostage as a way of attempting to coerce his family to leave the land.

LICADHO emphasizes that all land disputes should be resolved by proper and independent investigation by the judiciary and other State bodies according to the law. In this case, regardless of who should be considered the legal owner of the land, a completely unlawful process of arbitrary arrest and detention has been used.

We strongly urge the immediate release of Priep Pov from Ministry of Interior custody, because he has been detained unlawfully. If he is not released immediately, at a minimum the Ministry of Interior should grant NGO doctors immediate access to him to ensure he can receive adequate medical care.

For more information, please contact:
Naly Pilorge, LICADHO director, 012 803 650

Trial opens in Cambodia ' s largest paedophilia case

Police escort Russian businessman Alexander Trofimov (L) into the Phnom Penh municipal court. Trofimov, who is accused of sexually abusing at least 19 Cambodian girls, went on trial Tuesday in the country's largest-ever paedophilia prosecution(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — A Russian businessman accused of sexually abusing at least 19 Cambodian girls went on trial Tuesday in the country's largest-ever paedophilia prosecution.
Alexander Trofimov was arrested last October after six girls and their parents filed complaints with the police accusing the 41-year-old of abusing them.

Since then, 13 more girls have filed complaints against Trofimov, a high-profile figure in the seaside town of Sihanoukville, where the alleged crimes are believed to have occurred. The girls are aged between 11 and 18.

Trofimov has been charged with debauchery, a criminal charge covering a wide range of sex offenses that carries a 20-year penalty.

One alleged victim, a 14-year-old girl, told Phnom Penh municipal court on Tuesday that Trofimov forced her to have unprotected sex with him four times.

"I was in pain and crying when he had sex with me," she said.

Trofimov has denied the accusation, saying he does not know her.

But prosecutor Sok Kalyan told the court that an investigation into the girl's claims had turned up large amounts of evidence against Trofimov.

The court expects to rule Friday on the 14-year-old's claims. More trials stemming from the other cases were expected, court officials said.

Trofimov is chairman of the Koh Pos Investment Company, which in 2006 received permission to build a 300-million-dollar resort on Koh Pos, or Snake Island, an area Cambodia is trying to develop as a luxury tourist destination.

Sihanoukville has gained a reputation as a haven for paedophiles drawn to the easy access to young beachside vendors.

Dozens of foreigners have been jailed for child sex crimes or deported to face trial in their home countries since Cambodia launched an anti-paedophilia push in 2003.

While lauding the government's efforts to fight child sex crimes, officials, including foreign diplomats, have urged authorities to also target Cambodian paedophiles, who are thought to make up more than half of all sex offenders.

Laughing as his trial begins.. the swirly-face paedo suspect

Christopher Neil smiles as he makes his way to a prison bus at criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand on Friday, Jan. 11, 2008. (AP / Apichart Weerawong)


By Mark Dowdney

Grinning in the dock, teacher Christopher Neil stands accused of being one of the world's most dangerous paedophiles.

Interpol branded him their most-wanted child abuser after officers began to unravel hundreds of digitally distorted "swirly face" images of a man who abused children as young as six.
Neil, 32, was shackled as he appeared in court in Bangkok, Thailand.

He pleaded not guilty to four charges of molesting and distributing pornographic images of two Thai boys.

If found guilty, he could get 20 years. He told reporters: "I hope there is justice in Thailand."
Neil was seized in Thailand last October due to a trace on the mobile phone of his 25-year-old transvestite boyfriend, who identified himself to reporters only as Ohm.

The pictures - of which 70 have been unscrambled - are thought to have been taken in Vietnam and Cambodia, where Neil was teaching. After he fled to Thailand, two Thai brothers accused him of paying for sex when they were nine and 14.

Ohm said: "He never did anything to my nieces or nephews when he visited my family.
"He was a romantic man. I believe he did not do it. I will wait for him."

Canadian Neil could be extradited after serving any sentence as Cambodia and Vietnam want to quiz him. The trial was adjourned until June 2.

Sacravatoons no 915 :" The Art Monument of Pol Pot's Victims "

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

Sacravatoons : " Election 2008 & Hun Xen "

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

Torture Bill: Override this veto

March 10, 2008

Any bill banning the use of controversial torture techniques by the CIA seems like the sort of common, values-based bill most of us could get behind. Harsh, inhumane treatment of terror suspects (who knows to what extent those being waterboarded are actually culpable?) is a dark and foolish road to travel. The Washington Post reports that according to torture experts and congressional testimony, the CIA's waterboarding technique is similar to methods used by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and to what is now being employed in Myanmar.

Sad to say -- and predictably -- President Bush vetoed a bill that would have limited the CIA to using the same 19 interrogation techniques available to the Army. Claiming, as Bush does, that treating these suspects worse than we do any other sort of criminal is somehow justifiable in that it might prevent terrorist attacks is specious at best.

When it comes to violating human rights, the ends simply can't justify the means. Would Bush think sweatshop labor or the trafficking of sex slaves are good ideas because they create cheap goods and jobs?

Torture often leads to false confessions or false statements made on behalf of the suspect. As Navy Rear Adm. Mark Buzby (commander of the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay) said last week, interrogators yield more "dependable information" from suspects by "just sitting down and having a conversation and treating them like human beings in a businesslike manner."
Congress must overturn this odious veto.

Big Government under Big Mouth

By Kok Sap
March 10, 2008
Courtesy of RepublicofCambodia Yahoo Group

Cambodia claims Buddhism its national religion. This religion strongly embraces self restraint in basic five precepts. In reality from Royal Palaces to the village chief stall, daily activity is nothing close to Buddhist. In pecking order, officials behave as they are above land creatures and impose fear onconstituency.

It appears in every poor inhabitant seems full of fear to even look at the official face. The visible rise of classism, societal division, alcoholism, prostitution, gambling, shameless feudalism and bribery is sprung up all over the country. It is frightening to see systematic feudalism -ego eccentric and immoral conduct thriving in short span of time up to the sky limit.

In cities, the poor especially female learns how to entertain and drink alcohol in early teen in order to work in restaurants or nightclubs. The future Cambodia mother and wife are strapped with government social mischief and development failure. In the same hand imagine, who are the patrons and operators of these sin filled establishments?

Meanwhile poor young male sees glamour of self cheating in society and in officials of in government to amassing wealth.The emergence of communist control and materialism drowned Buddhiststo the bottom of Canal Vinh Te and Preah Vihear. The erosion inpatriotism and self righteousness is incredible. People do not trust government. Worstmost do not see hope in life.

Let's examine the big government leader behavior. He forgets Cambodia belong to citizens who sure can replace any government in either way. Never failed in each of public address, the big mouth fell in love in own speeches. He loves to berate opponents in vulgartone, character defamation, and self perpetuation. He thought all made him look good worldly. Insult own people to impress foreign benefactors a la Sihanouk. The big mouth never encourages people inself determination and rights to stand up to hypocrisy. He sees people beneath him and family. This is surely a mental disease. It is an error in his Mekong prawn brain judgment.

No secret, such behavior reflects in the poor living along Cambodia borderlines. There are countless examples recurred in Eastern, S Eastern, S Western , North and Northwestern zone. The government armed forces dissipated in the wind when crisis arrived and let land owners stranded alone then pulled back while the neighboring countries sent in reinforcement of armed battalion. The government big mouth shut his hole and never bothered to climb on his helicopter or else to personally find facts. In all incidents, big mouth never dared to send armed forces to secure people safety and homes. No matter what the neighboring armed men can intrude and destroy citizens' properties as they please. Never once big mouth would raise his Iron Fist.

Fear of democratic process and accountability, the big government under big mouth increases tactics to put fear in own people hearts and belligerence toward the world handful sympathizers. Big mouth saw no fault in his big speeches and systematic corruption. All are well and good in his disturbed mind yet he is so fearful of his own shadow let alone to walk the street in day time. Big mouth never ceased to boast millions love him but completely forgets a handful of keys big government personality never believed a word he said. This is the problem, big mouth lies too much so he almost believes his own craps.

Since 1982, in spite of long historical feuds and misrepresentation injected by neighboring countries the big government never encouraged proper education in geography and history so people would know what to look for when dispute arose. All borderlines dispute remain myth and false rhetoric in big mouth arguments. Usually no matter what, government obliges people demands. But under big mouth government, it is the other way around. To date big government is good in increasing national debts and decreasing future human resources and morality. All voters, it's time to move on and vote own conscience for a change to restore country moral duty and Buddhism.

Basic living but Janet has learned so much

10 March 2008

By Rachel Mayfield

This month marks the 50th anniversay of the international development charity Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO).

Since its inception more than 32,000 people from all over the world have been VSO volunteers.Working in countries from Bangladesh to Zambia, volunteers have changed their lives and made a real difference to hundreds of others.

To mark the anniversary Rachel Mayfield spoke to Spalding woman Janet Gracey, who went to Cambodia as a VSO volunteer in September 2006 for two years.

Janet is living in Sisophon and working as a teacher trainer adviser at a college with 136 students.

The facilities are very basic as Janet explains: "The classrooms are in a concrete block with bare walls and the students sit on rickety benches at rickety desks.

"The dormitories are so basic. The girls share three classrooms, 11 to a room, while the boys have wooden shacks with earth floors, no windows – 19 to the room.

When it rains, which is often, the tin roof leaks."Janet has been observing lessons including English, computers (eight computers for 31 students), housekeeping, administration, dance and teaching materials.

She added: "They have absolutely no resources in the college or in the schools. Whatever a teacher needs they have to make from scrap materials."Classes often have 40 to 50 children sitting on rough wooden benches.

Most children attend either morning classes from 7am to 11am or afternoon school from 2pm until 5pm."Most teachers do either morning or afternoon school and nearly all have another job because their pay is so low, around $30 a month.

"In her first year in Cambodia Janet has spent $11,000 – collected through fundraising and donations from people in the UK – on sport, play equipment, books, library, repair of roofs, a new floor, decorating classrooms and a basketball court.

She has received a medal from the Provincial Education Ministry for the work she has done.Travelling in Cambodia is not easy as the roads are very busy and heavily potholed.

Janet said: "Think of the worst Fen road, widen it a little and put it in place of the A1.

"Lorries, four-wheel drives, buses, vans, cars, motorbikes, horse drawn carts, cyclists and walkers all share the road and everybody blasts their horn when overtaking."

Road accidents are the commonest way to get injured or die, not land mines.

"Janet decided to apply for her post after being encouraged by friends and later seeing an advert in the paper.

She said: "I had never been to Asia and knew very little about Cambodia but I knew it was where I wanted to spend the next two years.

"I was 56, had taught all my life and felt I had the knowledge and skill I could share so accepted the post.

"I enjoy the relaxed way of life – sometimes so relaxed it can be frustrating in the work situation."Being a volunteer is not as altruistic as it sounds.

I have learned and am still learning so much from this experience."

Chevron gives go ahead for $3 billion Thai gas project

A customer pumps gas at a Chevron gas station in Louisville, Kentucky in this file photo from February 2, 2007. (REUTERS/John Sommers II)

March 9, 2008

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Chevron Corp. , the second-largest U.S. oil and gas company, said on Monday it has decided to go ahead with the Platong Gas 2 project in Thailand at a cost of $3 billion.

The project would increase processing capacity in the Gulf of Thailand by 420 million cubic feet a day, Jim Blackwell, president of Chevron's Asia-Pacific exploration and production division, said at a speech at a gas conference in Thailand.

(Reporting by Fayen Wong)

AP Executive Morning Briefing

The top business news from The Associated Press for the morning of Monday, March 10, 2008:

Oil Prices Steady Above $105 a Barrel

SINGAPORE (AP) — Oil prices steadied on Monday after retreating from last week's record amid easing tension between oil producers Venezuela and Colombia over the weekend. Crude contracts had risen above $106 a barrel on Friday after a weak U.S. jobs report that fueled hopes the Federal Reserve would continue cutting interest rates.
Investors Await Retail, Inflation Data

NEW YORK (AP) — This week on Wall Street, investors will find out if consumers' worries about housing, jobs and rising prices are affecting their spending — and, in turn, posing a further threat to the economy. The market begins Monday with the Dow Jones industrial average back below 11,900 and having closed at its lowest level since October 2006. Stocks were battered last week by another round of bad news about the economy and the staggering credit market.
Investing Joins 3 R's at Unusual School

CHICAGO (AP) — Like their peers elsewhere, the students at a one-of-a-kind public elementary school on the South Side of Chicago are dazzled by pop-culture stars — Beyonce and Common, Kanye West and Lil' Wayne, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Listen closely to the hallway chatter at Ariel Community Academy, though, and you may hear unexpected references to uncool dudes like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. After all, these kids have their portfolios to worry about.
BMW Cuts at Home, Builds Up US Factories

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — On one side of the Atlantic Ocean, BMW says it will cut 7.5 percent of its work force over two years. On this side of the water, the company says it plans to increase production by more than 50 percent by 2012. "This is completely driven by the plunge in the dollar," said Greg Gardner with Oliver Wyman, publisher of the Harbour Report on automotive manufacturing activity. "It is untenable to produce at a much higher cost in Germany."
Reports: FBI Investigating Countrywide

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Federal authorities are investigating Countrywide Financial Corp. for securities fraud, according to media reports. The FBI is in the early stages of an inquiry into whether company officials misrepresented its financial position and the quality of its mortgage loans, The Wall Street Journal first reported Saturday, citing law enforcement officials and finance executives with knowledge of the development.
Cambodia Property Boom Enriches, Divides

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — An old hospital was razed to make way for Phnom Penh's tallest building — a 42-story twin condominium tower. A garbage-strewn slum became prime real estate after police evicted its dwellers to a parched rice field outside the capital. Cambodia is experiencing a construction boom fueled by foreign investment, particularly by South Koreans, and buying and selling among the country's few nouveaux riche — while leaving the poor majority behind.
Chile Boosts Public Pensions for Poor

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Once a model for privatized social security in dozens of countries from Peru to the U.S., Chile is undertaking the largest-ever overhaul of its pioneer private system, adding sweeping public payouts for low-income seniors. The new $2 billion-a-year program will expand public pensions to groups left out by private pensions — the poor and self-employed, housewives, street vendors and farmers who saved little for retirement — granting about a quarter of the nation's work force public pensions by 2012.
Foreign Companies Become NYC Landlords

NEW YORK (AP) — For foreign companies in New York, it's a huge cost of doing business: Employees move to the city or come here on assignment, and the company has to put them up in temporary corporate housing that routinely exceeds $4,000 a month. But a growing number of foreign firms are buying up high-end Manhattan condos and taking on the role of landlord themselves, brokers say. The companies, many from Europe and Asia, say the strategy makes perfect sense because of the booming Manhattan real estate market and the favorable exchange rate.
Ameriprise to Begin Issuing MasterCards

NEW YORK (AP) — Asset manager Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. is pairing up with MasterCard Inc. to become a credit card lender for the first time, the two companies planned to announce Monday. It looks like a tough time to be entering the credit card space. Default and delinquency rates are climbing from what had been historically low levels due to the housing slump and a rebound in bankruptcies.
Japan Opposition Doubts Bank Nominee

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's opposition suggested Sunday it would fight the government's choice of a nominee for the central bank chief, setting the scene for a divisive fight in the country's stalled parliament. The government on Friday nominated Toshiro Muto, a deputy governor at the Bank of Japan, to take over later this month. The term of the current bank head, Toshihiko Fukui, ends March 19.
Gold Prices

LONDON (AP) — Gold bullion opened Monday at a bid price of $979.90 a troy ounce, up from $976.15 late Friday.
Japan Markets

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's stock market fell to its lowest level in 2 1/2 years in since September 2005 amid renewed concern about a slowdown in the U.S. economy.

TOKYO (AP) — The dollar fell against the yen and the euro in Asia Monday on speculation that gloomy economic conditions in the U.S. will prompt the Federal Reserve to slash interest rates next week.

Communism new focus for history agency

10 Mar 08

Sweden's Living History Forum on Monday launched a new project designed to highlight crimes against humanity committed by communist regimes around the world.
The project will explore the actions of the Soviet Union, China, and Cambodia.

The Forum, which was created by the government and launched in 2003, has dedicated its activities to educating people about the Holocaust for the last four years.

At the behest of the government, the agency is now concentrating on crimes committed in the name of communism.

Among planned activities is a traveling exhibit about a boy named Pavel, a hero for youth in the east who was famous for informing on his own father.

“It is introductory material designed to increase knowledge of totalitarian regimes and the practice of informing,” said project leader Erika Aronowitsch.

The material on display focuses on the Soviet Union, China, and Cambodia from 1917 to 1989.

Soviet prison camps, China’s Cultural Revolution, and the emptying of cities in Cambodia are just a few examples of what’s in store.

“In these three countries one can most certainly talk about crimes against humanity.

But we could have also mentioned North Korea, Cuba, or countries in East Europe,” said Lund University professor Klas-Göran Karlsson, who is responsible for compiling research for the project.

A study conducted last spring by the organization Information about Communism (UOK) showed that 95 percent of young people in Sweden between the ages of 15 and 20 knew about Auschwitz, but 90 percent didn’t know about the Gulag, the Soviet system of prison camps.

Expelled Frenchman arrested for trying to sneak into Thailand

March 11, 2008

A Frenchman was arrested yesterday in Sa Kaew's Aranyaprathet district while trying to breach through a border fence between Thailand and Cambodia.

Checking immigration records, police later found that Levy Gilbert Gille, 55, had been expelled from Thailand for his theft conviction and overstaying Thai visa in April 2006.

Gille, a certified assistant engineer, was sentenced to a suspended one-year prison term for stealing and overstaying Thai visa in Pattaya by the Chon Buri court, which ordered his expulsion.

Gille has been charged with illegal entry and violating expulsion order and is now in custody of Khong Luek police.

The Nation

Bullets over Phnom Penh


The Captain stumbled and slipped down the stairs at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Phnom Penh. Not the best way to start a Monday morning, he thought.

When he emerged onto the sidewalk, a moto driver was leaning on his scooter. "Sir, sir, do you want to shoot a gun?"

Bullets and beer, a buck a pop.

After maneuvering down the bumpy dirt side street and clearing the single checkpoint, the entry to the Cambodian Special Forces shooting range is just ahead.

An employee rushes out to greet the car. A menu then falls on one of the half-dozen tables in front of the shooting area. A tray of cold Angkor beer ($1) - yes, beer - and soft drinks arrives quickly thereafter. But alcohol is not the only thing that makes this range special.

The price list includes just about every kind of armament known to man: machineguns, rifles, and handguns.

"Treat all firearms as if they are loaded," reads one posted rule.

The range, operated by Cambodia's 911 Paratrooper Commandos, is a 20-minute drive outside of central Phnom Penh and offers visitors a chance to shoot, launch, or toss dozens of different kinds of weapons in a country still scarred by the brutal regime of Pol Pot three decades ago.

Samples of the available weapons, all well-oiled, can be seen hanging by wood pegs mounted onto a bamboo wall. A Luger pistol, an Uzi submachine gun, and an AK47 automatic rifle are but a few. Dangling strings of ammunition round out what is truly an intimidating scene. At the register young boys fill empty magazines with bullets from boxes.

The range has two main areas. For lighter weapons, such as the AK47 or a M16 (either at $30 for 30 rounds), slots spaced a few meters apart allow about a dozen shooters to take aim at targets containing a silhouetted marksman mounted 150 meters away in a grassy field.

"Keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard," another rule requests, "until ready to shoot."

Visitors, wearing ear muffs, must obey the orders of their personal guide just prior to raising their weapon and opening fire.


After a few pulls, each shooter lowers his muzzle and peers into the distance to observe his work.
Though in 2001 then King Norodom Sihanouk objected to the use of live animals as targets, very little coaxing of range officials is required to learn that chickens ($5) are indeed available.

Various livestock and water buffalos range between $100 and $300, which are quite handsome sums given that in Cambodia a monthly wage of much less than $100 is common for school teachers and garment workers.

Such prices, however, are not a deterrent to foreign visitors. As far as popular tourist attractions, Cambodia's gun ranges, which are often staffed by former Khmer Rouge soldiers, are mentioned in guidebooks nearly as frequently as the Killing Fields and the torture museum Tuol Sleng, both of which stand as morbid reminders of Pol Pot's murderous rule that spanned between 1975 and 1979.

"Do not point at anything you are not willing to shoot."

A narrow room of bricks with rows of sandbags at the end is used for unloading weapons like the K50, a submachine gun (not too dissimilar from a "Tommy Gun") fabricated in North Vietnam during the Vietnam War and capable of firing more than 10 rounds a second.

The gun roars: "POP! POP! POP! POP! POP! POP!"

Powder clouds rise and shell casings and sparks fly inside the enclosed area. The sandbags twist and fray with each blow.

Also on offer is the M60, a machine gun that comes with a bipod mounting and an effective range of 1,100 meters.

Still not satisfied? Single grenades can be launched from a M79 ($100) or a B40 ($200). For both, staff will transport the shooter to a "safe" location, which is about 40 minutes by car.

Should that distance be off-putting, a mere $15 is all that is required to lob a grenade into a pond on the range's property. Upon each detonation, a cloud of water rises above the pond, not too dissimilar from a nuclear blast.

Perhaps an ominous sign posted on the wall of weaponry sums up the no-holds-barred attitude of the range best: "Mess with the best, die like the rest."

Cambodian Women Still Lacking: Rights Group

By VOA Khmer, Reporters
Original reports from Washington and Phnom Penh
10 March 2008

Khmer audio aired March 7 (1.53MB) - Listen (MP3) Khmer Khmer audio aired March 8 (1.07MB) - Listen (MP3)

Women across Cambodia still lack education and other basic needs, a leading female rights worker said ahead of International Woman's Day Saturday.

"We have a lot of resources, so we better use them all to develop the country and not leave them in vein," said Kek Galabru, founder of the rights group Licadho said.

Members of Licadho traveled to PJ, Prey Sar and Takmau prisons Saturday to highlight the conditions across Cambodia's penal system.

More than 500 women live in Cambodian prison, and in February the group found four pregnant.

About 50 children nationwide live with their mothers in prison, Licadho says.

Kek Galabru told VOA Khmer ahead of International Women's Day that women need more higher education and encouragement from their families and society in general.

Fearful Villagers Flee Shots in the Night

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

Khmer audio aired March 10 (930KB) - Listen (MP3)

About 50 Villagers returned to their homes on the border of two districts in Battambang province Monday morning, after spending one to two days away for fear of fighting between local police and former Khmer Rogue soldiers.

Villagers who heard signs of violence on the nights of March 7, 8 and 9, told VOA Khmer they ran because they feared a land dispute was leading to armed conflict.

Mei Sandab, a villager from Banan and worker for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said Monday more than 10 villagers fled their home village to spend the night elsewhere.

Authorities could not confirm Monday whether the former Khmer Rouge were armed.

Residents See Waste Over Sign Ban

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

Khmer audio aired March 10 (1.05MB) - Listen (MP3)

Residents of Phnom Penh's Tuol Kork district watched Monday as local police confiscated a political party's sign. Next to the sign was an overflowing shipping container of trash. That pile of trash, the residents said, should have received more priority.

Instead, the Human Rights Party was not allowed to hang its party sign, an act the group called illegal.

Party signs are a common form of party propaganda ahead of elections.

After about a dozen police put a large party sign in the back of a truck and carried it away, neighbors at the site told VOA Khmer the signs were not hurting anyone, but the reeking pile of garbage needed more attention.

"The removal is not a good sign for the political party, or for a democratic country," said 70-year-old resident Men Sean. "And the way the authorities act will affect the voters' feelings."

Local Painter's Exhibition Sees Life Through Skin

By Seng Ratana, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
10 March 2008

Khmer audio aired March 8 (1.29MB) - Listen (MP3)

A new exhibition by local artist Leang Seckon seeks to teach its viewers more about themselves through their own skin, and the skin of others.

"All people stand in front of mirrors to see their faces, complexion and appearance several times a day, and they always notice the unsatisfactory defects," Leang Seckon said, opening his exhibition, "Skin," which opened March 6 and will continue through the month of March.

The show incorporates paintings on several types of skin, including snake.

Only 30 years old, Leang Seckon, has long had experience in painting and is recognized by the international community.

His paintings hang in the national museums of the US and Singapore, and he has sold paintings to patrons from many countries.

Reactions to his latest exhibition varied on Thursday's opening.

Hor Vireak said at the exhibition opening he didn't understand the paintings and maybe needed one month more to do so.

Fleur Smith, from New Zealand, said that the skin sent a message, that even though we have different skin and different colors, we can all be friends and should not discriminate.

Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said that the paintings were good for foreigners as well as Cambodia's young generation.