Friday, 25 April 2008

The Mekong Times : In Khmer and English Language

The Mekong Times #54.pdf

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•Cambodia hopes to export 8 million tons of rice by 2015•Gov’t allows agriculture sector to import heavy machinery ...

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Actress/Singer Sok Pisey Out of Danger From a Car Accident
Reported in English by Khmerization

Courtesy of Khmerization at

After a serious car accident which killed her two grandmothers, a niece and her mother, Sok Pisey (pictured) has gained sympathy from people everywhere, including a sympathetic gesture from her nemesis, Kim Heng, owner of K.H. Promotions who sued her over breach of contract and now agreed to withdraw the suit out of respect for her unfortunate situation. The withdrawal of a law suit by Mr. Kim Heng is considered good news for Sok Pisey.

Other good news are that, since the accident on the 14th of April, Sok Pisey had received helps and donations from other artists, generous people as well as businesses. The wine company, Randonal, has donated US$5,000 toward her treatments and as a consolation and condolences to her for the loss of her 4 relatives in the accident.

On the first day of her accident there were rumours circulating that Sok Pisey had died from the accident. There were some other rumours which said that she survived the accident but was paralysed from one side of her body. In fact she just had a broken thigh and a minor cut on the right side of her face.

Doctors at Calmette Hospital said that, after operations to implant a steel plate in the thigh and the treatments of her facial injuries, she has now recovered. She was not taken for treatments in Vietnam as was rumoured. Latest news coming out of the hospital is that Sok Pisey will be discharged from the hospital in the next 4-5 days.

Up until today, news of the deaths of her grandmothers, a niece and her mother has not been told to her. Her father, Mr. Sok Heng, who is a military officer, wish to hide the deaths of these people as long as he could so as not to shock her that might make her conditions worsened.

The cause of the accident has been attributed to high speed. Her Lexus veered of a bent road and hit 5 roadside poles before plunging to the fields killing 4 people.

Citywalk: Phnom Penh

Poul Lange

April 25, 2008
Wall Street Journal

Cambodia flourished in the 1950s and 1960s as the economy grew under the reign of the young King Norodom Sihanouk. But domestic insurgencies in surrounding countries eventually seeped in, allowing the Communist Khmer Rouge to gain power.

In 1975, the rebel group seized, sacked and left for dead Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh. The city's two million residents were marched into the countryside as the revolutionaries pursued a crazed plan to transform the country into a Maoist, peasant-dominated agrarian cooperative. All told, it cost a quarter of the country's population their lives.

Today, the scars of the brief, brutal Khmer Rouge reign -- the regime was overthrown in 1979 by invading Vietnam forces -- are visible in parts of Phnom Penh, but even these are rapidly disappearing as the city modernizes into another Southeast Asian metropolis.

This half-day tour by foot and tuk-tuk taxi travels through some areas of Phnom Penh where evidence of the city's recent tragic history as well as some of its early-20th century architectural gems still survive.


Begin on the corner of Samdech Sothearos Boulevard and Street 184 in front of the Royal Palace, a classically styled Cambodian complex of structures with soaring spires and flying celestial eaves that dates back to the late 1860s.

The palace -- now home to King Norodom Sihamoni, a former ballet dancer and the son of Sihanouk -- is one of the few important buildings spared by the Khmer Rouge after it captured Phnom Penh. Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge's shadowy leader, and his senior henchmen stayed there in May 1975 as they plotted Cambodia's descent into madness.

Across from the palace is the lemon-colored Unesco building. The original purpose of this French-colonial villa, built in 1920, remains uncertain. (Cambodia was a French protectorate from 1863 to 1953.) However, from the 1940s until the rise of the Khmer Rouge, it was the residence of Tan Pa, a wealthy Khmer-Chinese businessman. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization renovated the building in 1991 and rents it from the government.

Many French colonial buildings are disappearing in Phnom Penh, as are other structures built in the "New Khmer" architectural style, a term that refers to Cambodian buildings dating from the 1950s and 1960s. Those who want to see the inside of the Unesco building are out of luck; it isn't open to the public. But you'll get an inside view of another restored French villa later in the tour.


From the corner, walk west along Street 184 toward the National Museum. This wide, tree-lined street, like many in the capital, was designed by the French to recall the wide boulevards of their homeland. When silent movie actor Charlie Chaplin visited Phnom Penh in 1936, he admired the city's shady avenues and called them "little sisters" to the Champs-Elysées -- the grandest avenue in Paris.

Take note of the park to your right. This is where the Royal Plowing ceremony is held each May, presided over by King Sihamoni, of course. Oxen walk the park's sandy perimeter three times and are then led to bowls that contain various grains. Whatever grains the oxen choose to eat, and the amount they consume, are taken as indicators of the size of the country's next grain harvests.

The russet-colored National Museum is your next stop. The museum, which is a colonial design that reworks the traditional Khmer pagoda, opened in 1920. It houses a collection of sculptures and artifacts that date from the Angkor period (ninth to 15th century), when Cambodian kings ruled unrivaled in the region. The museum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. (Corner of Street 184, 855-23-211-753)


After the National Museum, flag down a tuk-tuk -- find one with an English-speaking driver -- and head west along Street 178, which runs beside the museum.

Cross over Norodom Boulevard and continue along Street 178 until you reach the house at No. 37. You can wander through this meticulously restored two-story French villa. It is home to Ambre, the clothing boutique of rising French-Khmer designer Romyda Keth. Her elegant feminine ensembles in colorful silk and organza fill the rooms. (37 Street 178; 855-23-217-935)


Leaving Ambre, have the tuk-tuk drive toward Street 63, take a right and head for Phsar Thmey, Phnom Penh's central market. The extraordinary art-deco building was completed in 1937. Today, it bustles with locals buying food, clothes, electronics and jewelry. Rare U.S. maps of Indochina from the 1960s can still be found there, among the mish-mash of stalls at the east entrance of the market.


From Phsar Thmey take the tuk-tuk east along Street 130 toward Norodom Boulevard. At Norodom turn left, and keep your eyes peeled for Street 102, where you will want to turn right.

As you drive along Norodom Boulevard, you pass a large pink neoclassical building on your right, which is the National Bank of Cambodia, the country's central bank. The original central-bank building was blown up by the Khmer Rouge as part of its rejection of capitalism, a policy that included abolishing money. The new bank was built in 1990.

Turn right onto Street 102 and continue until you reach Post Office Square. This Provençal-style square was filled with bistros before the 1970s. War correspondents used to telex their reports from the post office there. Today, a few restaurants are returning to the square, such as Van's, which is in the former Indochine Bank building. ( 855-23-722-067; open daily from 11.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 10.30 p.m)


From Post Office Square ask the tuk-tuk driver to go toward Sisowath Quay and turn left. As you drive along Sisowath Quay you may see long-tail fishing boats on the river. During colonial times, it was common to see expatriates water-ski along the river's safer parts.

Turn left on Street 90 and follow it until it intersects with Street 47. At this junction is the modest gallery of artist Vann Nath, which sits between a pharmacy and a shop selling billiard tables. If you look hard, you'll find a small painted wooden sign for the Khmer Art Gallery. No. 17, Street 47. ( 855-92-549-089; Web:

Vann Nath is a survivor of the Tuol Sleng torture center. About 16,000 men, women and children were sent to Tuol Sleng, a high school that became the infamous detention and torture center of the Pol Pot regime. Of the seven people known to have survived, only three are alive today -- one of them being Vann Nath. Tuol Sleng, also known as Security Prison 21 or S-21, is now a museum. It is not included in this tour, however, because it requires several hours and is best done separately.

Today, Vann Nath, 63 years old, is a self-taught artist, and his artworks, often described as naïve, are on display and available for sale at the Khmer Art Gallery. Conversation may be at a minimum unless you bring a translator.

Also on Street 47 is the Preah Ket Mealea Hospital, which was one of Phnom Penh's biggest. When the Khmer Rouge took the city, hospitals were forcibly emptied. Doctors dropped scalpels and walked out of operating rooms, and patients, including those with intravenous drips and blood plasma bottles still attached, were ordered to join the march to the countryside.


From Vann Nath's gallery, take the tuk-tuk around Wat Phnom, veering off to the right onto Street 92 and to the final stop at Hotel Le Royal.

The hotel, a blend of art-deco and French colonial architecture, opened in 1929 and was home to visiting dignitaries and celebrities such as Jacqueline Kennedy, who came in 1967. It was also a favorite watering hole for French bureaucrats and expatriates.

But by the tumultuous 1970s the guest list comprised mostly war correspondents and Red Cross officials. During this period the hotel became known as Le Phnom and the exterior was fenced in with barbed-wire barricades.

When the Vietnamese overthrew the Khmer Rouge and occupied Cambodia in 1979 they changed the hotel's name to Samaki, or Solidarity Hotel. Soon, aid workers occupied the by-then-decrepit rooms. Eventually, the hotel was bought and refurbished by the Raffles Group, which reopened it as the Hotel Le Royal in 1997.

Walk into the hotel's intimate, high-ceiling lobby and from there make your way to the elegant Elephant Bar for a well-earned drink. (92 Rukhak Vithei Daun Penh, off Monivong Boulevard Sangkat Wat Phnom, 855-23-981-888)

Cambodian Genocide Tribunal Denies Financial Mismanagement

PHNOM PENH (AFP)--UN officials Friday denied allegations of financial mismanagement at Cambodia's genocide tribunal after ordering a review of the cash-strapped court in an effort to restore the confidence of foreign donors.

International backers have appeared hesitant to pledge more money to the UN- backed court, which was set up to try former Khmer Rouge leaders, amid allegations of mismanagement and political interference.

"Through the various audits that have been conducted to date, there has never been any issue with regard to the management of the (tribunal's) financial resources," said Jo Scheuer, country director of the UN development program, which now oversees the financial management of the Cambodian side of the court.

"All of their financial transactions have passed audit scrutiny," said Scheuer, who is also a member of the tribunal's project board.

Last year, the New York-based Open Justice Society Initiative alleged that Cambodian tribunal staff, including judges, had bought their jobs.

Tribunal administrative director Sean Visoth said the allegations were " unspecific, unsourced and unsubstantiated."

"There is no government policy to take kickbacks from staff," he said, but added no one could guarantee a system was 100% corruption-free.

"With the results of the special review we are sharing with you today we can finally close this chapter and move on to continue the very positive achievement the (court) has made in discharging its historic mandate," Visoth said.

The officials made the comments during a press conference to release an independent special human resources management review of the tribunal.

The review stated "there were no recent allegations of mismanagement" in the tribunal and found staff on the Cambodian side were "robust and ready to take on the challenges of the next phase of operation." Scheuer said the review was important "to restore donors' confidence" and address all the allegations.

Originally budgeted at $56.3 million over three years, the tribunal, which opened in 2006 after nearly a decade of wrangling between the UN and Cambodia, has significantly raised its cost estimates to $170 million.

Up to two million people died of starvation and overwork, or were executed as the communist Khmer Rouge dismantled modern Cambodian society in a bid to forge an agrarian utopia during its 1975-1979 rule.

Five former regime leaders have been detained by the tribunal for their alleged role in one of the 20th century's worst atrocities.

Genocide court crash?
Fri, 25 Apr 2008

UN officials on Friday denied allegations of financial mismanagement at Cambodia's genocide tribunal after ordering a review of the cash-strapped court in an effort to restore the confidence of foreign donors.

International backers have appeared hesitant to pledge more money to the UN-backed court, which was set up to try former Khmer Rouge leaders, amid allegations of mismanagement and political interference.

"Through the various audits that have been conducted to date, there has never been any issue with regard to the management of the (tribunal)'s financial resources," said Jo Scheuer, country director of the UN development programme, which now oversees the financial management of the Cambodian side of the court.

"All of their financial transactions have passed audit scrutiny," said Scheuer, who is also a member of the tribunal's project board.

Last year, the New York-based Open Justice Society Initiative alleged that Cambodian tribunal staff, including judges, had bought their jobs.

Tribunal administrative director Sean Visoth said the allegations were "unspecific, unsourced and unsubstantiated."

"There is no government policy to take kickbacks from staff," he said, but added no one could guarantee a system was 100 percent corruption-free.

"With the results of the special review we are sharing with you today we can finally close this chapter and move on to continue the very positive achievement the (court) has made in discharging its historic mandate," Visoth said.

The officials made the comments during a press conference to release an independent special human resources management review of the tribunal.

The review stated "there were no recent allegations of mismanagement" in the tribunal and found staff on the Cambodian side were "robust and ready to take on the challenges of the next phase of operation."

Scheuer said the review was important "to restore donors' confidence" and address all the allegations.

Originally budgeted at $56.3-million over three years, the tribunal, which opened in 2006 after nearly a decade of wrangling between the UN and Cambodia, has significantly raised its cost estimates to $170-million.

Up to two million people died of starvation and overwork, or were executed as the communist Khmer Rouge dismantled modern Cambodian society in a bid to forge an agrarian utopia during its 1975-1979 rule.

Five former regime leaders have been detained by the tribunal for their alleged role in one of the 20th century's worst atrocities.


Remembering our heroes

Derek Flynn 145704
WE WILL REMEMBER: Former and current servicemen gather for the Anzac Day dawn parade in Picton this morning.

Courtesy of The Marlborough Express
Maike van der Heide and Jo Gilbert - Marlborough
Friday, 25 April 2008

Generations of Marlburians turned out in their droves to the region's two Anzac Day dawn parades to honour those who were lost and who returned from battles overseas.

Both the Seddon and Picton services attracted larger crowds than last year.

In Picton, hundreds of people, including many children, gathered in silence at the seafront war memorial for the traditional service.

The parade, led by the Blenheim and Districts Highland Pipe Band, included former and current servicemen, members of the Picton police and volunteer fire brigade and local scouts and sea scouts.

Commander of the New Zealand Defence College, Captain Gwyn Rees, touched many in the crowd by speaking of a Picton soldier, James Alfred Godfrey, who is buried in Belgium but whose name is inscribed on Picton's war memorial.

After the service, the crowd placed poppies below small white crosses bearing the names of battles where New Zealanders lost their lives, including both world wars, the Boer War and battles in Malaya, Vietnam and Korea.

Mr Rees said Anzac Day was not just about those who had been lost, but about the families they left behind.

Generations later, Kiwis were still heading to overseas battles like their forefathers, Mr Rees said.

"Our challenge today is to keep living up to their high standards."

Picton local Peter Yarrell this morning attended his first Anzac Day parade in 25 years. Mr Yarrell, who did a year of compulsory national service when he was 20, said there appeared to be a renewed understanding by the public of the cost of freedom in the world.

"People have started to realise after 93 years that it cost people a lot of lives."

"I think I'll be back next year."

Greg Ashby took his seven-year-old twins, Hannah and Jackson, to their first ever Anzac dawn parade today. Jackson said he came down because of the soldiers, with his father saying that the children had been learning about the meaning of Anzac Day.

Martin Birch, who served in the New Zealand Navy for 24 years and in Cambodia in 1993, attended an Anzac Day service each year.

"I just like to remember the servicemen," he said.

Ron Musgrove said he found Mr Rees' speech about the Picton soldier very moving. He said the Anzac Day crowd was growing bigger every year, which was good to see.

Marlborough mayor Alistair Sowman agreed, saying it was heartening to see so many young people in the crowd.

Meanwhile, in Seddon, the large crowd was well appreciated said Brian Schwass, a member of the Awatere Returned Servicemen Association who helped lead the service.

"It gives us great heart to see so many people turning out, especially the young ones," he said.
Royal New Zealand Navy Lieutenant Commander Mike Stephens addressed the crowd about the importance of remembering those who went before them and of life in the New Zealand armed forces today.

Marlborough RSA vice president Peter Callahan said he had never seen so many people at the Seddon dawn parade.

"I was absolutely amazed to see all the people at the foot of the hill when we got there. People are starting to take more of an interest in what their grandfathers and fathers have done," he said.

As the World War 1 bugle from the Anzacs' Gallipoli campaign sounded and the sun pushed its way through the cloud cover, tears were dabbed away and the crowd headed back down the hill.

Menu dispute lands Thai chef in hot water in Cambodia

Thai Chef at Asian Beer Restaurant (Koh Santepheap) Picture by Samai

M&G Asia-Pacific News
Apr 25, 2008

Phnom Penh - A menu dispute between a Thai chef and the Cambodian restaurant manager led to a severe beating for the Thai, local media reported Friday.

Khmer-language Koh Santepheap daily reported the dispute started when chef Y Noy, 55, bought some new seafood ideas to the attention of the Cambodian manager of Asean Beer restaurant, named only as Nor.

Underwhelmed by the response he received from the Cambodian to injecting some Thai flair, Noy decided to eat his creations himself.

The paper said Nor then accused Noy of stealing the food and ordered several wait staff to chase the Thai into his bedroom and beat him in a concerted and vicious attack.

Food is a frequent bone of contention between Thais and Cambodians, with both claiming superiority and authenticity.

Noy, who had been resident in the north-western city of Battambang, 300 kilometres from the capital, for 10 years, received medical attention but it was unclear if charges would be laid.

Aussies mark Anzac Day in Cambodia

The Age
April 25, 2008

Hundreds of Australians, New Zealanders and Cambodians gathered near the capital's most important Buddhist sites to commemorate Anzac Day.

The ceremony near downtown Phnom Penh's Wat Phnom commemorated the day Anzac forces landed on the beaches of Turkey for the start of the Gallipoli campaign 93 years ago.

Held under tight security due to fears of possible terrorist attacks, the Anzac service is seen as a poignant one by expatriates because of Cambodia's own recent history of war.

Australia played a leading role in ending Cambodia's 30-year civil war with its negotiations to bring warring factions and international mediators to the table for talks in 1988 and 1989.

The dawn service was organised by the Australian embassy and around 250 people attended, according to those present. Australia is home to tens of thousands of Cambodian migrants and former refugees.

Cambodia hopes to export 8 mn tonnes of rice by 2015: minister

Rice seller in Phnom Penh (Photo: AP)

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua): Cambodia expects to be able to export eight million tonnes of rice per year by 2015, Khmer-English language newspaper the Mekong Times on Friday quoted Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Chan Sarun as saying.

"We will encourage farmers to crop twice or three times a year and further strengthen irrigation systems in order to increase rice production," the minister told an exhibition of natural agricultural products held on Thursday in Kampong Chhnang province, stressing that the country has three million hectares of agricultural land.

Yang Saing Koma, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, agreed that the harvest could be boosted.

"Cambodia has vast tracts of land and current rice output is still low. We believe that Cambodia can achieve the goal, " he said, adding that the government must invest more in the agricultural sector so that farmers have resources and techniques to increase rice yields.

In fact, he said, the kingdom could produce up to 10 million tonnes of rice in the next four or five years.

According to official statistics, Cambodia had a surplus of over two million tonnes of paddy rice from a total harvest of 6.72 million in 2007. High-quality rice sells around one U.S. dollar a kilogram currently in Cambodia.

Last month, the government imposed a ban on rice export and released its stockpile to the market to curb spiraling rice prices.

The inflation occurred reportedly as a result of world food shortage and over purchase of Cambodian rice by Vietnamese and Thai businessmen.

Lawyer for Khmer Rouge leader adds to tribunal's woes
April 25, 2008

Phnom Penh: A French lawyer known for his provocative style and infamous clients has taken centre stage at the tribunal for Cambodia's former Khmer Rouge leaders, challenging the judges and adding to the woes of an already troubled court.

The aggressive stance taken by Jacques Verges at an appeal by former Khmer Rouge President Khieu Samphan for release from pretrial detention augurs possible new hurdles for the tribunal, plagued over the past few years by political wrangling and corruption scandals.

Conflict within the defence team surfaced yesterday when Khieu Samphan's other lawyer, Cambodian Say Bory, urged the Frenchman to tone down his provocative style.

"If he doesn't, it could be the end for him - and then what would happen to the case?" Say Bory said. "I want this to move forward."

The long-delayed UN-assisted tribunal seeks justice for the estimated 1.7 million people who died from starvation, disease, overwork and execution as a result of the communist Khmer Rouge's radical attempt to build a classless society when it held power in 1975-79.

But the spotlight in a pretrial hearing on Wednesday was on the 83-year-old Verges, who triggered a delay with an outburst over the court's failure to translate thousands of pages of documents into French.

Verges is every bit as controversial as the people he defends, going back five decades to Algerian freedom fighters accused of terrorism. He was the subject of a documentary film last year, Terror's Advocate. His past clients include Nazi Gestapo officer Klaus Barbie and French collaborators, Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal, various Palestinian hijackers, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, and serial killer Charles Sobhraj.

He has also looked after the interests of Saddam Hussain and several brutal African dictators

Dith Pran on the Cambodian Holocaust

Written by David C. Innes
April 24, 2008

In November of 1986 at Boston College, I heard Dith Pran relate his experiences in “the killing fields” of Cambodia under the radical communist Khmer Rouge (as if communist weren’t radical enough). Many are familiar with him as the photojournalist in the 1984 Roland Joffe film, The Killing Fields. He died in New Jersey of pancreatic cancer at age 65. This is what he told us that day.

The population of Cambodia was 7 million in 1970 when Cambodia entered the Vietnam War. The Khmer Rouge took power in 1975, and by 1978 when the Vietnamese toppled them they had killed 2-3 million Cambodians, one third of the country’s population. They did this for the good of humanity.

Dith became convinced that something was monstrously wrong when the Khmer Rouge began emptying the hospitals. They also emptied the cities, abolished all institutions, even money.

To establish a truly communist society and build a new humanity, everyone whom they did not kill had to become a peasant. Put simply, the people must work the land. To reach this goal they killed off the educated class. Wearing eye glasses was sufficient indication of one’s corruption by education. If you were a high official, you and your whole family were killed. Lower officials were also killed, but not their families. People would tell the Khmer Rouges what they used to do as an occupation in the hope of getting their jobs back, but they were put to death unless they were unskilled. Teachers would admit to being so because they could not imagine a country without education. These were not killed right away, but sometimes a few years later. To save his own life, Dith pretended to be an illiterate taxi driver.

Generally, people’s imagination for evil fell far short of the plans the Khmer Rouges executed. Dith said it was as though they were from another planet. But of course they were not. They share the same human nature that we do. What restrains us? What civilizes us? Whatever it is, are we preserving it, or eroding it? This question gets scant attention in our universities.

(Obviously, it is a central concern at The King’s College in New York City where I teach.)

The Khmer Rouges came in both male and female form, he said. Both were brutal. People had to pull both plough and wagon. Eighty year olds had to work. Everyone who ate had to work. There was no mercy. They killed children in front of their parents. Husbands and wives were tortured in front of each other. They separated husbands, wives and children. They buried the dead in wells (the only source of water), B-52 craters and trenches.

People played stupid. “The Khmer Rouges has many eyes.” If you said, “I miss coffee” or “I miss noodle soup,” you had an imperialist, capitalist mind. When they gave you your meager food ration and asked you, “Is that enough?,” you were sure to say, “yes.”

Dith said that The Killing Fields is a very accurate account of his experiences although the film is mild compared to what actually happened because American audiences can’t stomach anything stronger. I require my Introduction to Politics students to see The Killing Fields (or one of a number of other films of that sort) in order to make them dramatically aware of the stakes that are involved in political life, the dimensions of evil that can proceed from the human heart, and thus how important it is for them to understand tyranny and liberty, wise and unwise political institutions, the importance of political culture and citizen character, the dimensions of God’s amazing common grace, and where we are and in what direction we are moving on the spectrum between the Founding and the killing fields.

Of course, this is just a glimpse at the horror. Sydney Schanberg, the New York Times journalist whose life he saved, wrote The Death and Life of Dith Pran (1980). Dith himself wrote Children of Cambodia’s Killing Fields: Memoirs By Survivors (Yale, 1999). Haing Ngor, a Cambodian doctor with no acting experience who played Dith in The Killing Fields, wrote Survival in the Killing Fields (2003). You may also read Dith Pran’s obituary in
The New York Sun.

Embarrassed son kills dad

Picture from Koh Santepheap (Photo by Rithisen)


Phnom Penh - A Cambodian man has been charged with murdering his father after becoming "embarrassed" by village gossip that the man was a sorcerer, police said on Thursday.

Penal police chief in the central province of Kampong Chhnang, Chim Bunthueon, said Tong Syleina, 20, attacked his father, Khat Tongly, 56, on Monday, hacking him to death with a machete.

He was charged late on Tuesday evening.

"He admitted that he did the murder because he felt ashamed and embarrassed about village gossip that his father was a sorcerer. The villagers insulted his family with this talk and called him son of sorcerer and witch boy," Bunthueon said.

Executions of accused sorcerers remain common in rural Cambodia, where people are often deeply superstitious.

If convicted, Syleina faces up to 20 years in prison.

German man sentenced to 2 years in jail for indecent acts against Cambodian girl

The Associated Press
Published: April 24, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: A Cambodian court sentenced a 61-year-old German man to two years in prison Thursday for sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl, a prosecutor said.

Jopen Reimund Hubert, who was convicted of committing indecent acts against a minor, was also fined US$750 (€470) and ordered to pay US$2,000 (€1,250) in compensation to his teenage victim, Phnom Penh court prosecutor Sok Kalyan said.

Judge Iv Kim Sri could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Police arrested Hubert, from Cologne, Germany, in November after raiding his Phnom Penh hotel room and finding him in bed with the girl.

The raid followed a tip off from a French child rights group, Action Pour Les Enfants, which had been monitoring his activities.

The group said Hubert had given the girl expensive gifts and money in return for sex.

It is not clear whether Hubert planned to appeal his conviction.

Rights Commission Blasts Bribery in Fire-Fighting

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
24 April 2008

Khmer audio aired April 24 (903KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired April 24 (903KB) - Listen (MP3)

The Hong-Kong based Asian Human Rights Commission censured Cambodian firefighters Monday, accusing them of taking bribes to put out blazes.

The Rights Commission called for an investigation of the firefighters involved in an April 11 conflagration that swept through Tuk Thla commune on the outskirts of Phnom Penh and destroyed 450 homes, leaving thousands without shelter for the Khmer New Year.

Villagers said at the time firefighters refused to battle the blaze because they were not paid bribes. Officials have said the roadways between the shanty homes were too narrow for their trucks.

Two more fires burned in the week following the Tuk Thla disaster, one at Naga Casino in Phnom Penh and another in Psar Damko commune, where 44 homes were destroyed.

The Rights Commission said in a statement Monday both residential fires were followed by accusations of bribe demands.

“The Cambodian government cannot ignore this problem and continue to condone such bribery,” the rights group said. “It is all the more imperative for it to address this issue and stamp out any corruption in the fire service.”

The group called for an immediate investigation into the bribery allegations and for the government to “take action against those firemen involved.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Khieu Sopheak said neither the government nor the ministry condoned bribery, though he did not deny such practices may exist.

Bribe demands “might occur,” he said, but “as a principal, the ministry does not allow [firemen] to do that, and we are please to be receiving complaints from the real victims.”

Crowd Demands Release of 6 Alleged Loggers

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
24 April 2008

Khmer audio aired April 24 (903KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired April 24 (903KB) - Listen (MP3)

More than 60 villagers gathered in front of the Ministry of Agriculture’s fisheries department office in Battambang province Thursday to demand the release of six people accused of illegal clear-cutting, officials said.

Military police and fisheries department officials arrested the six in Battambang’s Mong Russey district Wednesday, alleging they had illegally clear-cut land for farming, officials said.

Ngorn Chart, 42, a village representative, said the villagers had been using the area for farming since 1992 and the grounds for arrest had no merit.

Heng Piseth, director of the provincial fisheries office, said the suspects had cleared the land for farming, but it was meant as a site for fish to spawn.

In Kong Chhit, an investigator for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said villagers had proposed to their commune chief to keep the land for farming.

He would further investigate the arrests, he said.

Sam Rainsy Asks US for Clean Elections

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
24 April 2008

Khmer audio aired April 23 (2.91MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired April 23 (2.91MB) - Listen (MP3)

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy called on US officials in Washington this week to help ensure July’s general elections are free and fair.

Sam Rainsy met with State Department Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill Tuesday, as well as members of the US Congress during a two-week visit to the US.

“The election can be free and fair, as long as the ruling party stops manipulating the courts to suppress the opposition,” Sam Rainsy told VOA Khmer Wednesday.

He was referring to the recent arrest of an opposition activist on charges relating to land issues.
In meetings with officials, he said, he had asked the US to respect the right of Cambodian people for assembly.

The opposition was planning a demonstration soon to demand the government act to mitigate the effects of inflation in the country, he said.

“When the price of goods increases, salaries should be increased at the same time,” he said.

Sam Rainsy himself is facing a lawsuit in Cambodian courts over remarks he made at an April 17 ceremony to mark the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong has filed suit alleging that Sam Rainsy singled him out as a member of the Khmer Rouge, a charge the minister denies.

Sam Rainsy said Wednesday he was not worried about the suit.

“Those who react like this have a guilty conscience,” he said.

“I did not mention anyone’s name,” he said. “I just said in general.”

There remain many officials in government who participated in the Khmer Rouge regime, he said.

Second Policeman Dies After Drug Bust

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
24 April 2008

One policeman who was in critical condition following a drug bust shootout Tuesday died of his wounds Wednesday, officials said.

Sgt. Sreng Bunnareth, 37, a member of the municipal anti-drug police since 1996, died from wounds he received in the arrest of a drug trafficking suspect, officials said.

“He was one of the very active policemen and nearly always present in operations,” said Touch Muy Soir, chief of the anti-drug unit.

“In the operation we had four wounded, as well as a policeman killed,” he said. “A second died on the 23rd because of a very critical injury.”

“We are now seeking the leader of the group of traffickers,” he added. “We already have a lead.”
Police arrest trafficking suspect Keb Samon, 27, on Tuesday, but only after he was able to pull a gun and shoot at the arresting officers.

Keb Samon had already been handcuffed, hands in front, when he pulled a gun and fired at police. Officer Chhoeung Vireak, 36, died immediately from gunshot wounds.

Following the arrest, police confiscated a supply of crystal methamphetamine, and Touch Muy Soir said the suspect was part of an important group involved in drug trafficking in the capital.

Experts have said Cambodia is now becoming a source of drug manufacturing, not just a transit point, as it had been in the past.

Opposition Condemns Hun Sen ‘Threat’

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
24 April 2008

Khmer audio aired April 24 (891KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired April 24 (891KB) - Listen (MP3)

The opposition Sam Rainsy Party blasted statements made by Prime Minister Hun Sen Thursday, calling his remarks to a public gathering in Kratie province earlier this week “a threat to voters.”

Hun Sen told a public gathering that if the people voted for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party “there is no war” and they “do not need to run to the trenches.”

The prime minister made similar remarks to a group of private investors in Phnom Penh this week.

“SRP considers the prime minister’s statement a threat to voters,” the party said in a statement, calling on the authorities to ensure a peaceful election period ahead of July’s general polls.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith denied Hun Sen’s statements were a threat.

“Sam Rainsy has said he will review all concession contracts [and] redistribute land, and he accuses young people who support the CPP of being Vietnamese, so he will not be a prime minister for national unity,” Khieu Kanharith said.

In recent weeks, political parties have begun to increase their political rhetoric, hoping to sway voters on Election Day.

Im Francois, who is responsible for election issues at the Center for Social Development, said these were only words by Hun Sen.

However, he said, according to the law, people must go to vote peacefully.

Documentation Center to Build Genocide Institute

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
24 April 2008

Khmer audio aired April 24 (1.05MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired April 24 (1.05MB) - Listen (MP3)

The Documentation Center of Cambodia, which for more than a decade has worked to catalogue crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge regime, plans to build a genocide research facility beginning next year.

The institute will include a museum, library, research center and classes for national and international genocide experts to study, Youk Chhang, director for the Documentation Center said.

“This institute will be built across 5,600 square meters on the former Khmer Rouge detention camp of Boeung Trabek,” he said.

The Cambodian government provided the land, and the US government has contributed $2 million for the construction of the institute, he said.

“We will particularly focus on the study of the genocide in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979, genocide in Africa, in Europe, and in the other places in the world,” he said.

The institute will be a center of study for all facets of the Khmer Rouge: its build-up, armed struggle and take-over, evacuation of cities, administrative power and control, internal power struggles and purges and its collapse, Youk Chhang said. It will also be a place to study the movement’s continued battles with government forces through the 1991 peace accords.

“This institute is for the participation of genocide prevention and to reduce violations of human rights in Cambodia,” he said. “This institute is very important for one individual, one human, one country, and for victims’ children to fulfill their duty to build up the rule of law and human rights promotion.”

Chum Mey, a survivor of the regime’s infamous Tuol Sleng prison, said the institute would be of “historical importance.”

“I feel very happy for the construction of the genocide institute, because it’s a very valuable thing for the Cambodian young generation and to prevent the loss of concrete history of the Khmer Rouge regime,” he said.

Happy New Year, Cambodian-style!

GORDON DANIELS Fort River School students take part in a girls' line dance during the Cambodian New Year celebration at the school April 17.

Amherst Bulletin
By Mary Carey
Staff Writer
April 25, 2008

They really know how to celebrate the Cambodian New Year at Fort River Elementary School, as the joyful celebration last week of the Year of the Rat made clear.

There was chanting and a blessing from Cambodian monks, a fun presentation of Year of the Rat activities by sixth-graders, a girls' line dance, a boys' monkey dance, a coconut dance and a fashion show. All the students at Fort River attended the festivities, clapped along with the monkey dancers and gave their Cambodian classmates rousing rounds of applause.

Fort River Principal Russ Vernon-Jones said it was the best Cambodian New Year celebration he has seen yet.

"You don't manufacture enthusiasm like our students showed for our Cambodian students today," Vernon-Jones said. "It's a rich cultural experience for all of us."

Cambodians began flocking to Amherst about 25 years ago, often after having spent years in Thai refugee camps after fleeing the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Their children have found a welcoming place at Fort River, largely thanks to Seiha Krouch and Thyda Thy.

Krouch and Thy, who are married, are aides at the school and leaders of the Cambodian after-school club. About 30 children participate, most of whom belong to the 60-plus Cambodian families living in Amherst. Krouch estimates there are about 150 Cambodians in town. The Web site ranks South Amherst 12th among the top 101 cities with the most residents born in Cambodia.

Children love the after-school club, said Torie Weed, an English-language learner teacher at Fort River. "I think the attention that they get from Seiha and Thyda is really important."

"It's interesting to see the kids in a different kind environment," she said. "They really come to life."

Cambodians in Amherst have maintained close ties with each other, said Krouch, who came to Amherst more than 20 years ago and has worked at Fort River for 14 years. A few of his current students are the children of former students. Some Cambodians like Amherst because the cows and fields remind them of home, he said.

"I love the school here; they love Cambodians," said Sok Lim, whose son, Saiyha Ngin, and daughter, Tharranee Ngin, were dancers in the show.

Coconuts, cool masks

The coconut dance and the monkey dance prompted some of the most lively reactions from the audience. According to the slide-show the students presented, the coconuts used in the dance came with ice cream in them, which the students ate before fashioning the coconuts into props.

First, the dancers banged together two coconuts shells that each dancer was holding to make a pleasant clicking sound. Then, the dancers started banging their shells against the other dancers' shells, making faster-paced clicking sounds.

In the monkey dance, the boys began doing traditional steps while wearing student-made papier-mache monkey masks. Later, they took the masks off and performed individual monkey-themed break dances, while the crowd clapped and roared.

Krouch's mother, Svay Sivor, sewed many of the outfits worn by the performers.

"I liked how they used the real coconuts and the way the noise vibrates," fourth-grader Laney Morse said after the show.

"I liked the really cool monkey masks," said fourth-grader Caroline Borden.

Eight Questions of the Private Sector Answered

Posted on 25 April 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 557

“Hun Sen has dealt with eight requests of the co-chairs of Working Groups of the private sector, which were raised by Senior Minister Keat Chhon at the 13th Government-Private Sector Forum [the Working Groups are the main fields of activities of the forum; each is co-chaired by a minister and a member of the private sector]. On the occasion of this forum, the Cambodian Prime Minister addressed also ‘the situation of inflation and measures to maintain the stability of the macro-economy, and to guarantee further growth in Cambodia.’

“On Wednesday 23 April 2008, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of Cambodia, presided, as usual, over the 13th Government-Private Sector Forum, convened to provide outlook, strategies, measures, and high level decisions for implementation.

“Senior Minister and Minister of the Economy and Finance Mr. Keat Chhon coordinated the forum.

“The difference between the 13th Government-Private Sector Forum and previous forums was that, among all eight representatives of the Working Groups, not one person raised the questions directly to Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen. Senior Minister Mr. Keat Chhon raised the eight questions from the co-chairs of the Working Groups, and Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen responded, and presented his outlook and his strategies.

“1.The Working Group on Agriculture and Agro-Industry (Group A) requested a decrease of customs tax, and an exemption from value added tax on goods imported for the agricultural sector.

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen responded that he resolved this issue already and signed it, since 11 April 2008, in a sub-decree on the decrease of tax and the exemption from value added tax on goods imported for the agricultural sector. The tax rate on goods will drop to zero.

The goods for the agricultural sector, for which the tax will decrease to zero, include simple truck replacement transporters, tractors, plowing machines, rice threshing machines, rice mills, incubators for hatching eggs, seed germination appliances, animal food, and materials for the production of animal food etc. Samdech Dekchor added that this is a measure to help investors in agriculture, and it supports also our farmers.

“2. The Working Group on Tourism (Group B) requests the royal government to create a conference center or an exhibition facility in the city, to attract conferences of organizations or international exhibitions to Phnom Penh.

“Samdech Dekchor provided an outlook for this request, saying the royal government does not have enough funds to construct a conference or exhibition center in Phnom Penh. This should be conducted by investment companies. Samdech said the construction of the CamKo Satellite City, the project of the GS Company (on the land of the former site of the theater that burned down), and the project to build a Novotel hotel - all these plans include the construction of conference centers, so this request should be solved with the private sector.

“3. The Working Group on Manufacturing and Small and Medium Enterprises (Group C) requested encouragement for the local production and export of goods. Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen said that he made a decision on this request, together with the request from the agricultural sector, already on 11 April 2008. Samdech Dekchor stated that the royal government has already decided to decrease the tax rate to zero on some materials, on metal such as zinc, aluminum, copper, and nickel, and on some chemicals, and to decrease the tax rate from 35% to 7% for organic chemicals.

“4. The Working Group on Law, Tax and Good Governance (Group D) requested to speed up the issuing of land titles, in order to use land titles as collateral for capital loans.

“Samdech Dekchor said that he welcomes this request because it is reasonable. Samdech agreed that land titles can be used as mortgage for capital loans; they are not only for the safe holding of property, but they can be used when seeking capital from a bank. For this reason, the royal government welcomes this and promises to push the issuing of land titles.

Samdech said that at present, 25,000 land titles are issued per month, and this will be increased to 30,000 per month, after some officials of the Ministry of Territorial Management, Urbanization and Construction will have finished their training.

“5. The Working Group on Services, including Banking and Finance (Group E) requested the National Bank of Cambodia to increase the reserve capital that the commercial banks have to deposit with the National Bank form 8 to 16%.

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen said the increase of the required reserve capital for commercial banks is to reduce the amount of money in circulation, especially to cut down the credit from the banking systems to the private sector, which had increased strongly during these last few months. The required reserve capital for commercial banks is at present 8%. As the first step, the National Bank of Cambodia plans to increase this rate to 16%, paying interest to the commercial banks for the required reserve capital, which will increase by 8%. Samdech Dekchor said that we would like to call all commercial banks to understand this as a measure to avoid risks to our entire nation. However, to what level the rate should eventually increase, and how much interest should be paid, ‘please discuss this together with the private sector.’

“6. The Working Group on Energy, Infrastructure, and Transport (Group F) requested to open offices for selling tickets to passengers and to buy insurance under agreements for the transportation across the Cambodian-Vietnamese border.

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen advised to create a delegation to negotiate with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, and to ask for the opening of such offices and sites for selling tickets for travel to Vietnam. To buy insurance requires a meeting to discuss this with the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

“7. The Working Group on Export Processing and Trade Facilitation (Group G) requested the limitation of the rate of contributions for covering risks at work. Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen said that for the further study and discussion, covering of work related risks is set at the rate of 0.8% of social benefit payments; but as to the question how much, in percentage, the private sector wants to set, ‘please continue to discuss this with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor.’
“8. The Working Group on Industrial Relations (Group H) requested the royal government to create a law on trade unions, and a law to create labor courts.

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen responded to this request that the Ministry of Labor must conduct further research to draft a law, discussing this with partners. As for labor courts, which have already been foreseen in the labor law, the Council of Legislative Reform or the Ministry must prepare the creation of such courts.

“Furthermore, Samdech Dekchor Prime Minister Hun Sen commented in detail on the inflation, which existed since the beginning of 2008, and he also provided an outlook, strategies, and many good suggestions for government official to be implemented.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4571, 24 .4.2008

Wee ones get walking for orphanage

Children take part in the sponsored walk at Bught Park in aid of Maggie's Highland, CLIC Sargent and other charities. Iona Spence

Highland News
24 April, 2008

A CHILDREN'S charity walk last Sunday helped raise funds for a school set up in Cambodia in memory of Inverness man Rudi Boa, who died tragically in a stabbing incident in Australia in 2006.

Sunday's Great Scottish Wee Walk was launched by Highland councillor Bet McAllister at Bught Park in Inverness and among the 200 participants was two-year-old city toddler Ryan Wann, whose family raised cash for the orphanage.

Rudi (27), from Culloden, died at a holiday park in Tumut, New South Wales, when he was stabbed in the chest by a fellow backpacker. He had visited Cambodia weeks before with his girlfriend Gillian Brown, from Nairn, where they worked with orphans.

His attacker, Alexander York from Essex, was later jailed for five years for Rudi's manslaughter.
A spokeswoman for the Great Scottish Wee Walk said: "Ryan took part in the walk for the Rudi Boa school for street children, which was set up Rudi's name.

"Ryan took part in the walk along with Rudi's parents, who are friends of the family."

Ryan's mum Fiona said: "I am really proud of Ryan for taking part in the walk and raising money for such a worthwhile cause.

"He ran all the way round and kicked his football too. He is looking forward to taking part again next year."

The Great Scottish Wee Walks are held at venues across the country and the Inverness event attracted more than 200 participants. The walks are specifically for children under the age of 16 accompanied by parents or guardians.

Buckie and District Pipe Band struck up at 11am to mark the start of the two-mile walk and all entrants received a goody bag, medal and certificate to mark their achievement.

Children taking part are invited to raise money for over 100 affiliated charities including schools and community projects of their choice.

A spokeswoman for the walk said: "The Wee Walks are very much family-orientated, fun events and children often come in fancy dress to take part. Walkers are encouraged to bring along the whole family."

Tesco is the main sponsor of the event, which is aimed at encouraging children to take part in and enjoy exercise and social activities with their friends and family.

Sports personality Liz McColgan and health secretary Nicola Sturgeon have endorsed the Wee Walks.

A further six walks will take place across Scotland between now and August and last year over 1,600 children took part.

The weather was perfect for this year's event. Charity CLIC Sargent brought their penguin mascot and Maggie's Cancer Careo had a stall, while all charities were given the opportunity to put walkers forward and get involved in the day.

"Each walker raises on average about £50 for their chosen charity. Ryan was a real character and his fund-raising was exceptional for a boy of his age," the spokeswoman added.

Doris Dillon School opens in Cambodia

Bret Harte teachers Jim and Denise DeLong, center, with the students of the Doris Dillon School. The sign reads “The Doris Dillon School, donated by Bret Harte Middle School/Almaden community, The Ministry of Education and Sports and the Asian Development Bank, 2007.”

Jim and Denise Long hold certificates of appreciation for Bret Harte Middle School and the Almaden community.

Almaden Times
April 24, 2008

By Jeanne C. Carbone
Staff Writer

For exceptional teachers, inspiration for education never ends. Doris Dillon was one of those exceptional teachers. And now a world away in Cambodia, a school is built in her legacy.

“I would like to tell you of Doris Dillon, whom your school is named,” said Bret Harte Middle School teacher Jim DeLong in his speech for the inauguration of the school. “She was a teacher in Almaden Valley. All of you have a favorite teacher who is very special to you. Her students, even many years later, after they became adults, felt that way about her.”

During spring break DeLong and his wife Denise, who also teaches at Bret Harte, traveled to the Doris Dillon School in the Cambodian village of Banteay Meas. They were joined by DeLong’s sister Michaelene and her husband Rod Pyle as well as Bret Harte teacher Laura Fujikawa and her 17-year-old daughter Susan Gelman for the inauguration.

“Bernie Krisher, the 77-year-old founder of the American Assistance for Cambodia, the nonprofit organization that has built over 400 schools in Cambodia, told me that the inauguration of this school that we all worked so hard to build would be ‘one of the most memorable experiences of my life,’” said DeLong. “Needless to say it was.”

The genesis of the Doris Dillon School in Cambodia started on New Year’s Day 2007 when DeLong read about the American Assistance for Cambodia. Six months later, with the help of the Bret Harte Invisible Issues Club and Almaden community donations, the Doris Dillon School broke ground.

The need for schools started long before the American Assistance for Cambodia. In 1975 political leader Pol Pot who led Khmer Rouge guerrillas against the government proclaimed the country the Democratic Republic of Kampuchea and served as its premier [1976–79]. Under his rule there was a systematic murder of members of various groups; the complete destruction of individual rights; forced labor, disease and starvation in Cambodia. He transformed the developing country into a xenophobic agrarian society. Over 1.5 million out of a population of approximately seven million died during his rule, which ended with an invasion by the Vietnamese in late 1979. As any type of individual “thought” was forbidden, schools were closed.

Though the Doris Dillon School is now teaching 114 high school students in the five-room building, it still has needs. Currently, the school has one solar powered computer. DeLong would like to provide at least 10. He’d like them to set up and coordinate a fair-trade Web site to sell the unique handmade silk scarves made in nearby villages. He estimates the cost to be $6,000.

This year, Bret Harte’s Cultural Fair on May 21 and the Almaden Art and Wine Festival in September will be selling the scarves, leaher shadow puppets, bamboo bracelets, woven handbags, framed artwork and banana leaf gift bags—all made by Cambodian crafts people. He also urges anyone interested in helping to donate cash or digital cameras and memory cards, photoshop software, art supplies, Microsoft Windows compatible webcams for computers, musical instruments and scanners.

"Or-goon in Khmer, or thank you all for any help you can give towards making this become a reality for these students.”

To send donations, make a check out to “American Assistance for Cambodia” and mail to Jim DeLong, 1021 Mount Darwin, San Jose, CA 95120 noting it is for the Doris Dillon School. For tangible goods, e-mail at

Jacques Vergès: charmer who defends the world's monsters

Terror's advocate: Jacques Vergès

A documentary about lawyer Jacques Vergès, champion of notorious tyrants and criminals, is one of the year's most chilling films. Sheila Johnston talks to its director Barbet Schroeder and his irrepressible subject

Drawing appreciatively on the fine fat cigar that has become his trademark, Jacques Vergès smiles with the air of a cat that has swallowed the cream. "A message is being put across in the media that I'm a bastard," he says. "But the Frenchman is not as stupid as they think. Yesterday, while I was walking around in the streets, a lot of people came up to me to say, 'Bravo, Maître! Keep it up!' This film will give them even more reasons to love me."

The film is a documentary portrait of this flamboyant, high-flying lawyer and some of the causes he has defended in his long career. You may draw your own conclusions from the title: Terror's Advocate. And you are unlikely see a more chilling movie this year.

Vergès started out on the side of the angels, fighting for de Gaulle's Resistance during the Second World War. His next big cause was also justifiable: the liberation of Algeria from French rule. He defended, fell in love and married Djamila Bouhired, who planted a bomb in an Algiers milk bar. Vergès argued, successfully, that she was not a terrorist but an anti-colonial freedom fighter.

But where is the shadowy line that divides the two? Over the years, Vergès's clients became increasingly unsavoury; he moved in high circles and also the lowest ones. He defended Klaus Barbie, Carlos the Jackal and the Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy.

This week, he flew to Cambodia to represent the Khmer Rouge kingpin Khieu Samphan; he has also been working for the Saudi Arabian Prince Nayef Bin Fawaz al-Shaalan, who is accused of smuggling Colombian cocaine into France under cover of diplomatic immunity.

Vergès now holds court on a quiet, sunny roof terrace in Cannes. Terror's Advocate had its world premiere here the previous night, but that has nothing to do with his presence. He is in town - just by coincidence, of course - purely to promote his latest book, a rambling memoir called Que mes guerres étaient belles! ("How Beautiful My Battles Were!"), a signed copy of which he now presses into my hand. I haven't read it. But he turns out to be quite happy to talk about the film instead, even if one feels he's not taking it terribly seriously.

He oozes charm to the point of flirtatiousness. He will not admit to self-doubt for a nanosecond. But surely even Vergès must admit that the film is hardly flattering: what about the title for starters?

"Personally, I'd have preferred it to be called 'Vergès, Anti-Colonialist'," he says. "But the title is catchy. And, although it was the director's aim to harm me, in my view a tiger can devour you; a pussycat cannot. I used him as you would use a knife and fork at table. I'd even say I used him like a client would use a prostitute for 15 minutes." He laughs delightedly at his own outrageous imagery.

The director, Barbet Schroeder, describes Vergès as a "decadent aesthete" but also as "a man of extraordinary intelligence. His client list includes the Who's Who of international terrorism. I'm attracted to monsters."

Among the "devils" who have populated Schroeder's work are the Skid Row poet Charles Bukowski (in the feature film Barfly) and socialite Claus von Bülow, played in Reversal of Fortune by an Oscar-winning Jeremy Irons. A remarkable early documentary, General Idi Ami Dada: Self-Portrait, gave Amin precisely enough rope with which to hang himself. Like that film, Terror's Advocate was made with the full co-operation of its subject.

Vergès, however, proves himself a much more slippery customer than the blustering Ugandan dictator.

"I asked him all the right questions," Schroeder recalls. "The ones he didn't like, he answered with a smile or some kind of clever remark. He always has an answer. When he starts saying at the beginning of the film that there was no genocide in Cambodia, am I going to start to argue with him? I won't ever win. So I tried to make a movie where he has the chance to say his thing, and it's up to people to decide what they think."

What is the current state of their relations? "He calls me 'my dear enemy', and we are on good terms. But we're not having dinner together."

Today each man remains firmly convinced that he has got the better of his opponent. "When Monsieur Barbet Schroeder asked to have the final cut himself, I agreed," Vergès says. "My friends told me, 'But he'll trap you.' I said, 'He might have trapped Idi Amin Dada. But he won't trap me. First of all, I'll appear just as I am. I won't have horns. I won't have a long tail. And I will explain exactly what I did, and why.'

"And afterwards, I said to him, 'You've unintentionally made a masterpiece, thanks to me.'"

Talks called on Preah Vihear site

Bangkok Post
Friday April 25, 2008


Thailand will meet Cambodia in Paris at the invitation of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to tackle the dispute over registration of the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site. Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama will take a delegation to the meeting in Paris on May 2-3, said a Foreign Ministry official.

Unesco wants the two sides to talk about Cambodia's proposal to register Preah Vihear temple _ ancient ruins on the border between the two countries. Unesco is about to consider the request.

''Thailand is ready to negotiate with the Cambodian side about the process,'' the official said.

Bangkok says it is not opposed to the registration of the temple by the Phnom Penh government, but it must not affect the disputed borderline.

The Foreign Ministry this month registered a protest after Cambodia sent its troops to the disputed area around Preah Vihear.

Thailand said it violated the 2000 memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two countries over Preah Vihear.

Under the MoU, both countries agreed not to do anything to change the area.

Milton nears $30K goal

Milton High School juniors Nicole Troutman, left, and Kristin Shoop show the remaining gap in fund raising for Team Cambodia, the project to build a school in Kampong Cham, Cambodia. So far, Milton students and community volunteers have raised over $25,000 for the project. Wayne Laepple/The Daily Item

Students raising money for 'Team Cambodia
By Wayne Laepple
The Daily Item

MILTON — The Coke bottle tote board outside Michael Conn’s classroom at Milton Area High School isn’t quite full yet, but it’s getting close.

The bottle is filled to the $25,000 mark, within striking distance of the $30,000 goal for the school’s “Team Cambodia” fundraiser.

The Coke bottle is a bit of a joke by students involved in the project who know of Conn’s affinity for the sugary soft drink. A popular social studies teacher, Conn started the project after visiting Cambodia last summer. He came away profoundly moved by the poverty and lack of education he saw there. Many teachers were among the 2 million Cambodians murdered by the Khmer Rouge in the mid-1970s, leaving the country without an education system.

Conn learned of a program run by an American expatriate to build schools in the country, and he pitched the idea of raising funds to Milton students. What happened next was nothing short of inspiring, Conn said.

Students throughout the school district, from kindergarten on up, took the project to heart. With help from their teachers, the students came up with a host of fundraising ideas, and since December, have raised more than $25,000, with more coming in every day.

“There’s been tremendous participation from students and parents,” Conn said. “People have bought into this. They think it’s a good idea.”

When the first $15,000 was raised, Team Cambodia selected a village where the school will be built.

“We know the school will be built in Kampong Cham in southeastern Cambodia near the Mekong River and the border with Vietnam,” Conn said last week.

Everything from spaghetti dinners to dances to a volleyball tournament have brought in dollars, and several students have spoken before community civic groups, churches and other organizations, receiving additional donations.

First-graders did chores at home, Conn said, and raised $1,300. A penny war at the high school brought in more than $2,500, and a student-teacher fun day at the middle school raised $830.

Students designed a Team Cambodia T-shirt with the logo “Educate Cambodia” and have sold hundreds. Others have made individual donations.

“This is not an affluent community,” Conn said, “but they are compassionate, and the way they have come together is spectacular.”

He said people in Lewisburg, Sunbury, Danville and Northumberland have also sent in donations.

“One woman sent $2,” he said. “She said she was on Social Security and that was all she could afford.”

Several additional events have been scheduled to try to raise the remaining $5,000, and Conn is confident that by the end of May, the $30,000 goal will be reached. A volleyball tournament currently under way is expected to bring in $1,000.

A Cut-A-Thon is scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at A Cut Above on Route 15 in Lewisburg. On May 3, an outdoor concert in Alumni Stadium, featuring high school Principal Bryan Noaker’s band Milltown Blues, as well as several other bands, is also upcoming.

With the balance of the $30,000 in hand, along with matching funds from the World Bank, teachers of English, composition, math and science will be assigned to the school. A satellite link, desks, textbooks in the Khmer language and other supplies will be furnished, and a well will be dug.

“As far as I can tell, Milton is the only public school in the U.S. to do this,” Conn said. “We’re all very proud of that.”

The school in Kampong Cham will be named the Milton School in honor of its benefactors.
“I hope to take a small group of students to Cambodia next December to attend the dedication of the school,” Conn said.

Art Made of Guns - PAPC Guns for Peace (GALLERY)

Over its long years of civil war, the Cambodian government has collected and destroyed more than 160,000 weapons across the country.

Some of the weapons which were not destroyed were donated to the PAPC. The PAPC (Peace Art Project Cambodia) is a project that was started by British artists Sasha Constable and Neil Wilford, both of which are small weapons specialist with the European Union.

The weapons were recycled (sculpted, forged or welded) into amazing works of art such as chairs, tables, bikes, animals and various other sculptures by student artists from the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh.

ECCC aiming to end investigation into ex-Khmer Rouge prison chief by July

Mike Rosen-Molina
[JURIST] Officials from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] said Thursday that the court expects to complete an investigation into former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav [TrialWatch profile], also known as Duch, by July. In a statement [PDF text], the court said:

Indeed, the [Co-Investigating Judges] intend to notify the parties that they have finished their investigations in the first case file in early May 2008 (this is the formal notification under Rule 66(1) of the Internal Rules). Thereafter, the CIJ will work towards issuing a formal Closing Order relating to Duch in early July 2008 on whether and, if so on what charges, to send Duch forward for trial. However, the procedures between early May and final closure in July 2008 do not depend on the CIJ, but rather on the exercise by the parties of their procedural rights. The CIJ have therefore taken certain initiatives to ensure that all parties understand the projected proceedings and timetable, and work in the same direction to maintain the objective of closure in July 2008.
On that basis, it is hoped that any trial of Duch on charges raised in the Co-Prosecutors' Initial Submissions could commence at the beginning of the last quarter of 2008.
Duch, who was in charge of the notorious S-21 prison in Phnom Penh, is one of five top leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime [JURIST news archive; BBC backgrounder] currently in ECCC custody. So far no top Khmer Rouge officials have faced justice, although the ECCC said Thursday that Duch may become the first to go to trial later this year. AP has more.Duch was arrested in 1999 on genocide charges and was subsequently charged with war crimes by a military court in March and with crimes against humanity [JURIST reports] by the ECCC in July. Those charges were primarily brought to keep Duch in custody while the ECCC started operations. A panel of ECCC judges ruled late last year that Duch should not be granted bail [JURIST report] while preparations for his trial continue.

Thailand and Cambodia to tackle temple dispute in Paris

The Earth Times
Fri, 25 Apr 2008
Author : DPA

Bangkok - Thai and Cambodian officials will meet in Paris next week to tackle their ongoing dispute over the registration of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site, media reports said Friday. Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama has confirmed that he will head a delegation to discuss the contentious bilateral issue with Cambodia on May 2-3 at the invitation of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said the Bangkok Post newspaper.

UNESCO reportedly wants both sides to discuss Cambodia's proposal to register Preah Vihear, an ancient Hindu temple that straddles the Thai-Cambodian border, as a heritage site.

Thailand blocked the Cambodian proposal last year on the grounds that there is an ongoing territorial dispute about parts of the temple compound that were to be included in the World Heritage Site.

Ownership of Preah Vihear has been a contentious issue between Thailand and Cambodia for decades.

The dispute was taken to the International Court of Justice, which ruled on June 15, 1962, that the temple belonged to Cambodia.

Although the temple, perched on a cliff overlooking Cambodia, is now under the management of the Cambodian government, the easiest access to the site for tourists is via Thailand.

It is hoped that the demarcation disagreement will be settled before the next World Heritage committee meeting from July 4 to 12 in Canada.

Cambodia to host international women's boxing match

PHNOM PENH, April 24 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia will host an international female boxing match between Japanese boxer Kayoko Ebata and Thai boxer Samson Sor Siriporn on April 26, a press release from the World Boxing Council (WBC) said Thursday.

The two boxers wanted to compete in a neutral country, therefore WBC selected Cambodia as the host country for their match, the press release said.

They will fight 10 rounds in flyweight match, it said, adding that Samson has to defense her belt from WBC.

The match will have three judges and an American arbitrator called Gene Debianco, the press release said.

Cambodian Television Channel 5 is the event organizer and the boxing match will conduct at the old stadium in Phnom Penh, it added.

Editor: An Lu