Posted on 20 July 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 621
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 621
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 621
This time, we bring an assortment of reports, opinions, and references to other sources, and invite our readers to join into weighing them. Even a clear separation of information about facts and about opinions is not easy. And if one tends to trust – at least – clear figures, the famous warning by the Second World War time British Prime Minster Winston Churchill is a reminder to be cautious, as he said: “The only statistics you can trust are those you falsified yourself.”
During the week, we mirrored:
“Moneaksekar Khmer – Khmer Conscience – which had been an opposition newspaper for more than 10 years, stopped its publication, and this newspaper can no longer be purchased at the newspaper stands in Phnom Penh since 10 July 2009… Moneaksekar Khmer halted its publication in exchange for the order from Mr. Hun Sen to government lawyers to withdraw 18 complaints, related to 18 articles previously published by Moneaksekar Khmer, which the government claims are inciting and provoking friction among the Cambodian People’s Party, and the complaints were brought to the court as criminal complaints. Because of these complaints by the government for alleged disinformation, the editor-in-chief wrote letters of apology to Mr. Hun Sen and to other leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party, surprisingly with the promise to support the government policy under the leadership of Mr. Hun Sen, and Mr. Dam Sith agreed to stop the publication of Moneaksekar Khmer.”
The report closed with these words:
“The spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Phay Siphan, said that Mr. Dam Sith decided himself to close Moneaksekar Khmer. He said, ‘He did it for his personal reasons, and no one forced him to close Moneaksekar Khmer.’”
Then we mirrored that the Phnom Penh Municipality had prepared almost 700 uniformed personnel to evict the residents of Group #78 on 17 July 2009, if they do not agree to move out, accepting the compensation offered, leading to a solution (?) of the problems:
An Issue Dragging on for Three Years Ended by Removing the Houses of People of Group 78.
And a Deputy Governor of the Phnom Penh Municipality, Mr. Mann Chhoeun, denied that there were evictions of poor people. He said that critics just disrespect the Phnom Penh Municipality unreasonably, as people had agreed to accept the solutions proposed by the municipality.
Among those ‘unreasonable critics’ were also the following – we repeat some sections form the Saturday edition of the Mirrors:
“Development partners have appealed to the Cambodian government to stop evictions using force against citizens living in disputed locations in Phnom Penh and in other places in the country, until proper and transparent mechanism to solve land disputes and a broad resettlement policy have been organized.
“The Australian, Bulgarian, Danish, German, and US embassies, the World Bank, the United Nations, the European Union, the Asian Development Bank, and the Swedish Development Agency released a joint statement on 16 June 2009 with this appeal.
“The statement said that development partners have seen that land disputes are challenging the development in the country, and they call on the government to adopt proper and transparent systems to clarify land ownership by focusing on people living in cities, and to recognize all citizens’ equal rights, and to protect them. Development partners are prepared to help support the creation of a national policy instruction that will guarantee that evictions and resettlements are made following legal procedures and evictees are properly compensated.
“The World Bank and some development partners have worked closely with the government on secure land ownership in Cambodia. The government was praised for providing more than one million land ownership certificates to people, as this provides the opportunity to promote economic growth and to alleviate poverty…
“International experience shows that secure land ownership is quite important to ensure economic growth and poverty alleviation, and the appropriate implementation for resettlements is a key to create an effective system of land control and of provisions that will protect all citizens’ rights.
“Development partners would like to express their commitment again to cooperate with the government to help solve land problems with justice and morality, and they would like to ensure that the rights of poor people will be advanced and protected.”
The Cambodian Human Rights organization LICADHO reported about the final eviction of the remaining Group 78 residents, and has also, under LICADHO Videos, a documentation of the demolition team, arriving in the dark hours of the early morning. [Links to different LICADHO videos can be found here - Group 78 Evictions (17 July 2009 – mistakenly named as 17 April 2009)].
But even such evidence has been questioned – the following appears almost as a desperate act of defense when no other arguments are left: two famous and popular Cambodian comedians and their groups – Chy Koy and Krem – staged a number of TV plays since June, to ridicule anti-corruption NGOs, after a Clean Hands Concert, where the US ambassador had called corruption one of the main obstacles to the development of Cambodia.
The comedians accused critical NGO workers and journalists of staging fake evictions and scenes of poverty to motivate their foreign donors to provide money – with the main purpose to criticize the government. Anti-Corruption NGOs were said to be money hungry, making up stories about actually non-existent corruption – all on government controlled TV stations – saying that reports about socio-economic conflicts are made up so that some foreigners interested in money to stay in expensive hotels exploiting Cambodian women get funding.
The LICADHO website has many additional links to videos, and their Photo Albums are also worth to receive visits – LICADHO must have made tremendous efforts to “fabricate” these “fake” evictions during the last couple of months. Please see for yourself.
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