Sunday, 31 January 2010

From "killing fields" to halls of United Nations

via CAAI News Media
By Guy Busby
January 30, 2010

FOLEY, Ala. -- Sichan Siv escaped Cambodia in 1976, walking for days through the jungle, starving, wounded, the only one of 16 members of his family to survive the genocide that became known as "the killing fields."

He returned to Cambodia 16 years later, leading a diplomatic mission as the representative of President George H.W. Bush. He later became U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush.

Former U.N. Ambassador Sichan Siv addresses South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce

On Friday, while he was in Foley to address the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, Siv attributed his success -- and survival -- to his mother.

"The most important words that she instilled in me was 'never lose hope. No matter what happens, never give up hope,'" he said.

When the Khmer Rouge communist rebels took over Cambodia and began targeting intellectuals, which included college graduates such as Siv, his mother gave him a scarf and a bag of rice and told him to flee.

He rode a bicycle across Cambodia for three weeks, almost reaching the border of Thailand before being captured. A man saved Siv's life by convincing his captors that he was a truck driver.

Siv, however, had thrown away his glasses, a sign of being an intellectual. "I told the Khmer Rouge I was a truck driver, but without glasses, I couldn't see the road," Siv said.

He escaped after jumping off a logging truck. That time he reached Thailand.

After spending several months in a refugee camp, he was allowed to enter the United States.

"On June 4, 1976, I arrived in Warringford, Conn., with $2 in my pocket, my mother's scarf and an empty rice bag," he said. "I was exhausted. I was tired. I was sick, but I was full of hope."

Siv picked apples, worked in an ice cream shop and drove a New York taxi until he received a scholarship to Columbia University.

After working in the 1988 Bush campaign, Siv was named deputy assistant to the president.

When Siv returned to Cambodia, he went to his father's village. The people there told him he had "golden bones," the Cambodian term for someone who is very blessed.

Siv made the term the title of his autobiography. He said, however, that "Golden Bones," refers not just to his own life, but his adopted country.

"We are all people of golden bones because we very lucky, very blessed to be in America," he said.

Siv, now lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his wife, Martha. Alabama, however also has a connection to his life. His brother was stationed in Huntsville in 1973 for military training and wrote Siv about the area.

Siv said he concluded his book with a line his brother wrote while in Alabama. "This is a beautiful country."

Cambodia says Thai soldier killed in border clash

via CAAI News Media
By SOPHENG CHEANG
Associated Press Writer
Sunday, January 31

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Cambodian reported Saturday its troops killed one Thai soldier in the latest border clash between their militaries.

Khuy Sokha, governor of western Pursat province, said troops from the two sides fought for about 15 minutes late Friday after about 20 Thai soldiers crossed into Cambodian territory and refused to leave when confronted by Cambodian soldiers.

Cambodian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Chhum Socheat said one Thai soldier was killed, with Cambodian troops firing AK-47 assault rifles and B-40 rocket propelled grenades.

Thai officials were not immediately available for comment.

Cambodia's relations with Thailand deteriorated two years ago, when nationalistic public opinion forced Bangkok to withdraw its support for a Cambodian application to designate a famous border temple a U.N. World Heritage site. The issue sparked renewed interest in some small tracts of disputed territory near the Preah Vihear temple, and the two countries' soldiers since then have clashed several times.

Khuy Sokha said the body of the Thai soldier killed in the latest clash was turned over to Thai authorities Saturday morning after negotiations.

Cambodian, Thai troops exchange second fire

via CAAI News Media
English.news.cn
2010-01-30 20

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- A Cambodia's National Defense Ministry official said Saturday that there was another small fire between Thai and Cambodian troops in Veal Veng district in Pursat province.

Maj. Gen. Chhum Socheat, spokesman of Cambodia's National Defense Ministry told reporters that the clash happened at about 10 p.m. on Friday night but "we are still investigating the reason and who started the fire first." He said he also learned from the troops that the fire has resulted in the death of one Thai solider and injury of a few others.

But no one was reportedly killed or injured from the Cambodian side, he said.

Keo Sokunthear, vice police chief of Pursat province told reporters that as many as 20 Thai soldiers were trying to trespass Cambodian territory on Friday night before fire exchanged.

He said no Cambodian soldiers had lost lives in the fire, but one Thai soldier was killed and a few others might be injured, but he could not give the actual number.

On Sunday last week, Thai and Cambodian troops also exchanged a fire at the border area, east of Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple, a place of the border dispute between the two countries since July 2008.

Editor: Xiong Tong

Cambodia ship held by court, not taken by Somalis

Australian customs officers boarding the Cambodian-flagged fishing boat, FV Taruman as the patrol boat Oceanic Viking (foreground) stands by, in the Southern Ocean south of the Australian island state of Tasmania September 10, 2005.  REUTERS/Australian Customs/Handout

via CAAI News Media
Sat Jan 30, 2010

HARGEISA (Reuters) - A Cambodian vessel reportedly hijacked off Somalia instead was detained in the Somaliland port of Berbera on court orders, a port official said on Saturday.

The Kenya-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme earlier in the week had said the MV Layla-S had been hijacked after discharging its cargo in the breakaway northern enclave of Somaliland last year.

However, assistant chief of Berbera port Bile Hirsi said the ship was held after a local businessman, whose goods were destroyed in a fire on board another ship that belongs to the owners Layla-S, asked the court to detain it.

"The ship is in Berbera port by the order of the regional court of Berbera, because Abdillahi Omar -- a businessman who had a lot of merchandise on the ship that burned outside the port last October -- made a complaint to the regional court and the court ordered that the ship should remain in the port," he said.

Bile said the businessman wanted compensation for merchandise destroyed in the Maria Star fire.

Somaliland, which declared itself independent in 1991, is proud of its relative stability compared with the south of Somalia, where hardline Islamist rebels control large amounts of territory and are battling a weak Western-backed government.

Cambodian, Thai troops clash


via CAAI News Media
Jan 30, 2010

PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIAN and Thai troops have had a brief shoot-out on their disputed border, a Cambodian defence ministry spokesman said on Saturday, in the latest such flare-up.

Mr Chum Socheat told AFP that soldiers from the two countries exchanged fire for two or three minutes on Friday evening.

'We are now further investigating into the problem to find out how it started. We can't tell who started it first,' he said. He added that Cambodian troops reported a Thai soldier was killed in the skirmish, however Thai military officials were not immediately available to comment.

Troops from the two countries briefly exchanged fire in disputed territory near an ancient Khmer temple last Sunday.

Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads over their border for decades. Nationalist tensions spilled over into violence in July 2008, when the Preah Vihear temple was granted Unesco World Heritage status.

Four soldiers were killed in clashes in the temple area in 2008 and three more in a gunbattle last April. The border has never been fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia. -- AFP

Saturday, 30 January 2010

CAMBODIAN PREMIER URGES FOR PROMOTING THE CAPACITY OF RCAF’S HUMAN RESOURCES

via CAAI News Media

NAM NEWS NETWORK Jan 30th, 2010

PHNOM PENH, Jan 30 (NNN-AKP) — Cambodian prime minister has urged the Ministry of National Defense to promote the capacity of the human resources in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) at the level equal to that in the regional countries as well as in the world.

Addressing the closing seminar to review the reform of RCAF in the last five years (2005-2009) and set its objective in the next five years (2010-2014), Hun Sen noted that in the early 21st century, Cambodia still has a gap if compared to some regional countries, mainly a lack of human resources to be faced, which he requested the ministry to surmount.

He said since the military reform in 2000, Cambodia has seen many difficulties and big sacrifices by successfully carrying out ?win-win policy? that brings peace, national reconciliation, country unity and certainty to the Cambodian people.

He also highlighted the situation and the main principles for implementing the policy of national defense, being aimed at being sure to maintain national independence, sovereignty, peace, security, public order for contributing to the national development.

He also gave some recommendations to Cambodian officers on the viewpoint in the future based on the present, the past experiences of advantage and disadvantage, the challenging issue and opportunities for solving the problem in response to the urgent development in the region and the world.

In his speech, the Cambodian premier also reminded the soldiers to perform good deeds for the sake of the nation and the people. — NNN-AKP

Royal honour for croc doc who saved ‘extinct’ species

A young Siamese crocodile

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A SCIENTIST from Cambridge has been given a royal honour by the government of Cambodia – for saving one of the world’s rarest crocodiles.

The Siamese crocodile was believed to be extinct in the wild, but several years ago Dr Jenny Daltry, from the Cambridge-based conservation charity Fauna & Flora International (FFI), discovered a tiny number were still alive in Cambodia.

She has since spearheaded a successful campaign to save them – and yesterday the Royal Cambodian Government recognised her efforts by awarding her the title Officer of the Order of Sahemetrei.

The award is given for “distinguished services to the king and nation”.

Dr Daltry, a senior conservation biologist at the charity, told the News: “I’m overwhelmed and grateful.

“For a conservationist to receive this rare honour does, I think, signify the importance that Cambodia places on its wildlife, forests, and protected areas.”

She has worked for FFI for 15 years and much of her time has been spent in Cambodia, where she has led several field expeditions, resulting in increased protection of forested areas in the Cardamom Mountains.

After discovering Siamese crocodiles surviving there in the year 2000, she set up a community-based programme to protect the endangered reptile.

She has also led a ground-breaking initiative to establish a new generation of Cambodian scientists.

An FFI spokeswoman said: “Because the Pol Pot regime largely wiped out the educated classes, the country lacks enough qualified practitioners to manage its wildlife and help it to develop sustainably. Under FFI Cambodia’s University Capacity Building Programme, Dr Daltry created the first permanent Masters of Science programme at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Nearly 150 Cambodians have enrolled on the course so far.”

The honour was presented to the Cambridge scientist at a ceremony attended by senior government officials, international dignitaries and the British ambassador to Cambodia.

Dr Daltry said: “The achievement I feel most proud of is helping talented Cambodians to become leaders in biodiversity conservation. I also thank my colleagues and co-workers for their tireless commitment and support for more than a decade.”

Rights group criticizes Cambodia opposition leader's conviction


via CAAI News Media
Friday, January 29, 2010
Steve Czajkowski

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Friday called [press release] the closed door trial of Cambodia's opposition leader Sam Rainsy [official profile] and two others a "farce," saying the ruling demonstrates the government's control over the country's judiciary. Rainsy was convicted [RFA report] Wednesday, in absentia, of inciting racial discrimination and intentionally destroying posts demarcating the border between Cambodia and Vietnam. Two villagers were convicted of the same crimes. HRW Asia Director Brad Adams said the decision was the result of political motivations by Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen [official profile]:


The Cambodian government's relentless crackdown on critics continues apace in 2010. Hun Sen seems intent on reversing the political pluralism that has been created over the past two decades. Any hopes of slowing Hun Sen's assault on the political opposition now depends on the donor community, which props up the government financially. This political trial should make donors recognize the gravity of the situation.

Rainsy was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 8 million riels (approximately USD $2,000), and the two villagers were each sentenced to one year in prison. All three were required to pay 55 million riels (approximately USD $13,000) for destroying the border markings.

The charges stem from an incident [Phnom Penh Post report] in October where Rainsy joined Cambodian villagers in removing six temporary border markers, which the villagers said were placed on their lands by Vietnamese authorities. Rainsy called the planting of the border markers a border incursion and said his conviction was requested by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung [BBC profile]. Rainsy was stripped of his parliamentary immunity in November, and an arrest warrant was issued for him in December after he failed to appear for questioning about the incident. He has said he would return to the country and allow himself to be taken into custody if the two villagers are released from prison.

Cambodia: A beautiful, haunting and heart-breaking country


Cycling in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh

The Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh

Tourists view skulls at the killing fields memorial

The well-preserved stone carvings at the Banteay Srei temple depict scenes from Hindu stories

The country has a history that is both inspiring and depressing

via CAAI News Media
By Christina Patterson
Saturday, 30 January 2010

I was greeted with the smell of lemongrass. After a night flight to Bangkok, and a dawn flight to Phnom Penh, and a car-ride through the chaos that is the Cambodian capital in rush-hour – a chaos full of miracles, like entire families perched on mopeds and apparently surviving – we arrived in an oasis of calm. There were mint cocktails waiting for us, and giant, carved elephants and men in pointy hats and purple knickerbockers, and grand staircases that you could imagine yourself swishing down, in evening dress, before meeting some Ernest Hemingway-type figure for martinis in the bar.


For this is Raffles Hotel Le Royal, built in 1929 in the heyday of French colonialism, when Cambodia was a peaceful country full of temples and paddy fields and Buddhas. It was the favoured haunt of writers and foreign correspondents, and it was here they fled in 1975, when the Khmer Rouge marched on Phnom Penh and launched one of the bloodiest regimes in history.

It's hard to believe now, as you collapse on a vast bed in a room that's all dark wood and gracious living, or wander to the Amrita Spa for a soothing massage, or sample the delicious buffet in the Café Monivong, but you can't get away from history in Cambodia, and this is a place – like everywhere else – that saw chaos and terror and death.

You could spend all afternoon, after your massage, and your lie-down, and your lunch, sipping G and Ts by the pool – and I have to admit it's tempting. The last thing you want, in fact, after no sleep, and the stress of getting yourself there, and that journey through the rush-hour traffic, is to be bussed out, in the heat of a burning sun, to a place where thousands of people were killed. But it's also, in a peculiar way, the best way to start your trip to Cambodia.

If you want sunshine, go to Torremolinos, but if you want to get a true taste of the beautiful, haunting, heart-breaking country whose capital, Phnom Penh, was once regarded as the "Pearl of Asia", you have to see the killing fields. You have to see the beauty born out of blood, and the courage that has grown – yes, like a pearl – out of suffering beyond imagining.

There are brilliant pink flowers and a stall selling canned drinks at the entrance to Choeung Ek. This was the point where the trucks stopped, two or three times a month, to deliver men, women and children to death and mass graves. Between 1975 and 1979 – a time when in Britain we were watching Starsky and Hutch and listening to Abba – about 17,000 died here, bludgeoned to death, poisoned, disembowelled or buried alive. Many of the killers were children, children who learnt to smash babies' skulls against the rough bark of a "killing tree" before later being killed themselves. Loudspeakers played music to drown out the victims' screams.

Even now, you can see bits of bone and cloth poking up through the ground. Many of the mass graves have never been disinterred. But if you can't see the bodies, you can see some of the skulls. There are more than 8,000 of them, arranged by sex and age, behind the glass panels in a Memorial Stupa, created in 1988. Green mats next to it say (in English) "Welcome" and next to them are buckets of chrysanthemums.

Inside, funeral music is playing. In a hut nearby, there's a notice, presumably put up by the Cambodian government. "They have the human form," it says of the Khmer Rouge, "but their hearts are demons' hearts."


ppp


Back in Phnom Penh, we saw more evidence of the "demons' hearts".

When the Khmer Rouge took the city, they requisitioned the Tuol Svay Prey High School as a centre for detention and torture.

"While getting lashes or electrification, you must not cry at all" says a sign outside the former "Security Prison 21" – a sign offering detailed guidance on how prisoners should behave while having their torsos whipped with iron chains, or their organs, or bowels, cut out. In the rooms used for torture there are still iron beds, electrical sockets, and some of those chains. The floors, walls and ceiling are flecked with blood.

In rooms nearby are the most haunting photographs I've ever seen. Thousands of men and women – men with the same cropped hair, women with the same regulation bob – stare out at you, eyes frozen with fear. Upstairs are the tiny cells – some built in brick, some in wood – where they awaited torture and death. In theory, they were sent to Choeung Ek to die, but some died in those iron beds, and were beheaded so they couldn't be identified.

"I will see you down here," said our gentle guide. "I don't want to go up there," she added quietly. Like so many others in Cambodia, she is still living with the legacy of what she witnessed. She spent 14 years in a refugee camp, but was lucky to survive. Three million Cambodians did not.

You carry these thoughts with you wherever you are in Cambodia, and you're right to. This is not something you can wash away with cocktails in the Elephant Bar (there's a cocktail, the Femme Chic, in honour of Jackie Kennedy, who stayed at Le Royal) or by eating a delicious dinner in the Restaurant Le Royal, or even with a few gentle lengths in the pool. But those cocktails and that dinner provide vital tourist dollars to a country recovering from profound trauma. They won't erase it. Nothing can erase it. But to see a country, and understand its past and present splendours, you have to know its history.

It was, nevertheless, a relief to have a day of gentle sight-seeing in Phnom Penh, a vibrant mix of temples, markets and colonial buildings, and of bustle and crumbling grace. First, we went to the Royal Palace complex, still the official residence of King Sihamoni (a 50-something bachelor ballet dancer who has so far failed to produce the requisite heir) and therefore with only selected bits open to the public. Much of it is 20th-century, though there's a pavilion that was built for Napoleon in Egypt in 1869 and moved here in 1876. What the palace lacks in age, it makes up in grandeur. The Silver Pagoda, covered in 5,000 tiles and five tons of silver, is breathtaking. Inside, there are more Buddhas than you could shake a sceptre at: a massive emerald one, a life-size gold one, studded with diamonds, an 80kg bronze one, and thousands of tiny ones, surrounded by silver floral arrangements and silver cigarette boxes. Asian kings, it seems, like their bling.

One of the chief pleasures of wandering around this Disneyland-with-a-royal-Asian-twist is watching the Cambodians relaxing on a Sunday afternoon. It was one of the pleasures of our next stop, too: a small wat (temple) at the top of 300 steps. Vendors nearby were selling bacon and eggs, flowers and grilled pork to offer to the gods, or the chance to set a songbird free. Inside the temple, there was a giant Buddha (of course), accompanied by flashing neon lights and tinkling music.

The artefacts on display at the National Museum were a little more tasteful. They're magnificent, in fact – more than a millennium's worth of fabulous Khmer sculpture, including an eight-armed Vishnu from the sixth or seventh century, giant wrestling monkeys carved from sandstone and practically an army of post-Angkorian Buddhas, many rescued from Angkor Wat.

We had lunch overlooking the Mekong, and after (at last!) a few hours by that gorgeous hotel pool, we went back to it, to glide down the river in a little wooden boat, and drink beer while the sun set. In a fishing village of huts on stilts a woman swung in a hammock, girls washed their hair, and children bobbed in the water like happy ducks. As we gazed out at the pointed roofs silhouetted against a sky shot through with brilliant pink and orange, the city at last seemed at peace.

Now it was time for the temples. If you do them properly, you have to get up early, and so we got up early for the long drive to Sambor Prei Kuk, originally known as Isanapura, the pre-Angkorian capital of Chenla. On the way, we stopped off at a service station, where travellers and passersby were enjoying a wide range of snacks, including fried crickets, ants and tarantulas. One of our party grabbed a long, hairy leg and took a bite. From the expression on her face, it clearly wasn't delicious. It is, however, probably not a great idea to risk anything that might turn your stomach because the roads outside Phnom Penh can do that on their own. They may have been cleared of mines – thoughV C there are still up to four million left in the country – but they're a far cry from smooth Western Tarmac. By the time we arrived at Sambor Prei Kuk, we felt like thanking all the gods for our arrival.

And there were plenty of opportunities, because there are more than 100 temples scattered through the forest, many dating back to the early seventh century. There were plants poking through the ancient bricks and among the Sanskrit inscriptions and the carvings, and it felt like a world lost to nature and forgotten, except by the children who followed us around. They asked us – in better English than the government-sponsored guide who was thrust upon us – our names and what we earned. In Cambodia, according to our real guide (who had to defer to the government guide), everyone asks everyone what they earn.


ppp


In the next few hours, on the bumpiest roads I've ever been on, we had the chance to see more of this fascinating country: landscape that shifted from lush green to arid brown, and then back again, animals scrabbling for food under houses on stilts, and in one village what appeared to be an entire school – dressed in the standard national uniform of white shirts and blue trousers or skirt – on bikes. In the same village, we saw men chipping away at stone Buddhas – as if there was a national shortage of Buddhas. Which, I can tell you, there isn't.

By the time our minibus juddered to a halt, at the end of a track in the depths of the jungle, we were ready to collapse. Refreshment, thank god, was at hand, but first we were taken to our accommodation – a whole tent each, with a real bed, and a separate (tented) loo and ingenious shower. In those few moments, dusk descended, and we emerged to flaming torches and margaritas.

The men looking after us – of which there seemed to be an embarrassingly large number – made top-notch cocktails, and a top-notch dinner, too. We ate and drank late into the starry, flame-lit night.

As we staggered out of our tents, clutching our heads, at sunrise, that no longer seemed such a great idea, but spirits rose with a spectacular, hangover-crushing breakfast and with the sight, behind us, of a vast, brick pyramid. This, it turned out, was Prasat Thom, a seven-story sandstone temple built 1000 years ago. We were in Koh Ker, for a brief period (from AD928 to 944) the capital of Cambodia, and this magnificent building looming in front of us was, it turned out, only the beginning. We were in a vast temple complex, which looked as if it hadn't been touched for centuries, and with the exception of the odd khaki-clad guard, and the cicadas, we were alone. The surrounding area was teeming with temples: temples with Shiva Linga (vast phallic symbols) in them, like Prasat Thneng and Prasat Leung, and others (like Prasat Neang Khmau) in which the gnarled tree-roots and strangler figs laced, like a lattice-work, over them, looked as old as the stones.

And now we were on our way to the biggest temple in the world, but first, thank the Buddha, there was civilisation, in the form of the Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor. For 75 years, this magnificent hotel on the edge of Siem Reap has been the place where anybody who was anybody – anybody, that is, seeking a bit of 1,000-year old epic splendour – has stayed. Gracious elegance, with dark woods and antique furnishings, was just the ticket after our night under canvas, and the gargantuan pool proved irresistible.

There was more punishment ahead, in the form of a pre-dawn alarm call, but the punishment, we were assured, would be rewarded. And so it was. The sight of the sun rising over the vast, spiky skyline of one of the most spectacular spiritual buildings in history is one you'll never forget. Particularly, it has to be said, when accompanied with the tongue-tinglingly delicious patisserie in the lavish packed breakfast that Raffles had provided.

You need sustenance for the hours ahead, to drink in the delights of Angkor Wat, a three-tiered pyramid crowned by five towers, like beehives, that rise 65 metres above the ground. It was probably built as a funerary temple for Suryavarman II (1112 – 1152) to honour the Hindu god, Vishnu, who lurks (in the form of a statue) in one of the towers. But it feels more like a homage to history, religion and life. In the extraordinary bas-reliefs, which stretch around the outside of the central temple complex, and which would take a lifetime to study, you can see pictures of battles from the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, military marches from the army of Suryavarman (complete with parasols, elephants and the royal tiara), armies of monkeys and scenes from heaven and hell.

Nothing in Cambodia – or indeed in much of the world – is as spectacular as Angkor Wat, but other temple complexes are fascinating in different ways. Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Angkorian empire, has an entrance flanked by 54 massive gods on one side, and 54 massive demons on the other, each with a different expression – sad, happy, sneering – on their face. The carvings in the main temple are touching in their humanity: men cooking meals, women weighed down by children, chubby-buttocked soldiers in loincloths fighting, a man wincing because his bottom has been bitten by a tortoise. Ta Promh, "discovered" by the French explorer Henri Mouhout in 1860, and left as he found it, is a symbol of human impotence in the face of nature: a magnificent, collapsing, mythical mix of giant roots and giant stones.

On our last day, we went on a boat trip to Tonle Sap, one of the biggest freshwater lakes in Asia. Four million people live on the lake, or the banks of it, many in tiny floating boats, in floating villages. There are floating schools, and floating restaurants, and floating health centres, and floating crocodile farms. It's a hard, hard life, to scrape a living and bring up a family in a space the size of a small room. But they do it. Day after day, they do it. Like so much else in this beautiful, sad, fascinating country, they weather the storms and go on.

Travel essentials: Cambodia

Getting there

* Cox & Kings (020-7873 5000; coxandkings.co.uk) offers a nine-night trip to Cambodia from £3,195 per person. The price includes Thai Airways flights from Heathrow via Bangkok, private transfers, two nights' B&B at Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh, four nights' B&B at Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor in Siem Reap, two nights' B&B in a tented temple camp, some meals and all excursions.

* There are no direct flights between the UK and Cambodia; the gateway is Bangkok, served by Thai Airways (0870 606 0911; thaiairways.co.uk), British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com), Eva Airways (020-7380 8300; evaair.com) and Qantas (08457 747767; qantas.co.uk) from Heathrow. Connections to Phnom Penh are offered by Thai Airways and Air Asia (0845 605 3333; airasia.com).

Staying there

* Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh (00 855 23 981 888) and Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, Siem Reap (00 855 63 963 888): raffles.com

Visiting there

* National Museum of Cambodia, Phnom Penh (cambodiamuseum.info). Open daily 8am-5pm; admission US$3 (£2).

Chevron Buys More Time Offshore Cambodia

via CAAI News Media

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa)
Friday, January 29, 2010

Chevron Corp has extended its offshore energy exploration deal with the Cambodian government, local media reported Friday, but the company provided no other details citing "commercial reasons."

"Chevron welcomes the ongoing opportunity to evaluate the Block A resource," spokesman Gareth Johnstone told the Phnom Penh Post newspaper.

Block A, an area off Cambodia's coast in the Gulf of Thailand, is thought to be one of the nation's most promising areas for oil and gas exploration in the coming years.

Announcement of the deal after almost a year of negotiations with the Cambodian government puts an end to speculation that Chevron might quit the country.

The newspaper noted that Chevron has spent $125 million and drilled 15 exploratory wells in Block A since 2002. The latest date for production, which has been pushed back several times, is 2013.

Chevron is one of many extractive companies that have been criticized in recent years for their refusal to say what they are paying for the rights to tap Cambodia's natural resources. Corruption is endemic in the impoverished South-East Asian nation, and there are concerns that any windfall from oil and gas revenues will be squandered.

DAP News ; Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

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Human Rights Watch Backs PM’s Warning to Generals

Saturday, 30 January 2010 02:41 DAP-NEWS

Human Rights Watch on Friday welcomed Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s warning to several top military officials over illegal actions and corruption.

Ou Virak, the agency’s president, told DAP News Cambodia that he urged action seriously to those who break the law, such as suspending them from their jobs, or convictions.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday warned senior military officials who he said were not performing thier duties well.

Speaking at a meeting of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), PM Hun Sen said that Som Samnang, director general the of finance unit, has cheated soldiers of their money. “I agreed to hand each soldier with CR5000 as a bonus but this man gave only CR2500 to each soldier. I want to fire this guy but (defence minister) Tea Banh begged me not to do like that,” he said. He also warned Choeurn Chanthon, another top military official, who apparently wanted to be deputy commander in chief of RCAF. “I did not agree to appoint him because this man just came into military services and this man had a conspiracy with Ong Somkhan, former navy commander, to sell the navy headquarters and I did not agree to sell that headquarters,” the PM said.

Ou Virak said that “The military work is the whole nation’s story. They should not regard this story as a joke to commit illegal actions so that low ranking soldiers will be discouraged from serving the nation.”

He said that the government should take action this time, as previously no legal action was taken.

Human Rights Watch Condemns Rainsy Ruling

Saturday, 30 January 2010 02:40 DAP-NEWS

A Cambodian court’s closed-door conviction and sentencing of the opposition leader Sam Rainsy and two others takes Prime Minister Hun Sen’s campaign of persecution of critics to a new extreme and highlights government control over the judiciary, Human Rights Watch said today.

On January 27, 2010, the Svay Rieng provincial court convicted Rainsy and two villagers, Meas Srey and Prom Chea, on charges of racial incitement and destroying demarcation posts on Cambodia’s border with Vietnam.

Rainsy, who was in Paris, was tried in absentia and sentenced to two years in prison and fined 8 million riels (approximately US$2,000). Meas Srey and Prom Chea were each sentenced to one year in prison for destroying public property. The court also ordered the three to pay 55 million riels (approximately US$13,000) in compensation for the removal of border markers with Vietnam.

“The Cambodian government’s relentless crackdown on critics continues apace in 2010,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Hun Sen seems intent on reversing the political pluralism that has been created over the past two decades.”

The cases were brought after Rainsy and local villagers pulled six temporary border markers from the ground in Chantrea district of Svay Rieng. Local villagers alleged that the border markers represented an attempt by Vietnam to encroach on Cambodian land, a longstanding claim of Rainsy and his party.

However, the above claim and criticism of Human Right Watch’s President was not welcomed and was rejected by the government official.

“They reported and claimed like this is to get aid from donors and to support Sam Rainsy’s action was like to support Sam Rainsy’s mistakes and abuse of this country’s law,” Tith Sothea, a member of Council the Ministers told DAP News Cambodia on Friday.

Tith Sothea warned Sam Rainsy that if he still shows his “illegal and disorder map,” he will face further complaints from the government.

Sok Sam Oeun, president of the human rights protection organization, declined to comment SRP. He said the court’s decision was their right.

HIV/AIDS down 0.7 Pct in 2009

Saturday, 30 January 2010 02:39 DAP-NEWS

HIV/AIDS had decreased 0.7 percent in the last 12 months, revealed Bun Rany Hun Sen, wife of the PM, at a forum at attended by senior government officials.

Cambodian Cross Red Director Bun Rany said that HIV positive Cambodians received good medical care. She stressed the global importance of the fight against AIDS.

The new HIV/AIDS policy being promoted is called “Friends to educate to another,” she said.

She identified goals as: focus on health education; extend health centers; attention to gender; prevent new transmissions; and emphasize and encourage all sufferers to pay attention to their disease.

Chinese Ambassador Ended its Terms for Cambodia

Saturday, 30 January 2010 02:39 DAP-NEWS

Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Zhang Jinfen has been in the kingdom four years, and in early March she will end her posting, a local source said on Thursday.

Jinfen was lauded for her contribution to Cambodia by to Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Keat Chhon on January 28.

A spokesperson for the Finance Ministry said that the two discussed the close ties between the two nations.

Since 1992-2009, Cambodia has received over US$1.5 billion from China in both aid and loans as well as a free trade agreement.

Thailand Plans to Establish Business Centers at Borders

Saturday, 30 January 2010 02:38 DAP-NEWS

Thailand plans to establish four business centers in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia, according to a press release from the Thai Department for International Commerce on Wednesday.

“This center will give a chance to reach any knowledge, introduce at the border as usual with territory in regions, and join to solve all issues at the border’s sites,” said Wichak Wisetnoi, director of Thai Department of Inter-national Commerce.

Thai Commerce Minister Pomtiva Nakasai said that Thai policy is to urge investors to examine the potential of neighboring countries, especially with the Asian Free Trade resolution which adopted on January 01, 2010.”

A new sugar factory opened in Koh Kong province with both Cambodian and Thai investors, as well as backers from other countries.

The Thai Commerce Minister said that closer business ties would boost the region’s economic prospects.

Cambodia's Grand Lion Group Enters Hotel Business

via CAAI News Media

PRESS RELEASE -- Hotels, 1/29/2010

Cambodia-based Grand Lion Group, has entered into a management agreement and related agreements with Marriott International to operate the 218-room Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap. The agreement is the first of its kind for the Grand Lion Group whose primary business is real estate and agriculture.

The Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap will be located on a 1.2-hectar site, approximately 15 minutes away from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Angkor Archaeological Park, one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. Stretching over some 400 sq km, including forested area, the Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of Khmer Empire, from the ninth to the 15th century. They include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat at Angkor Thom and the Bayon Temple with countless sculptural decorations. Angkor became listed as a World Heritage site in 1992 when UNESCO set up programs to safeguard the site and its surroundings. Towards the end of the 1990s, political stability in Cambodia was much more apparent and the popularity of Angkor started attracting more mainstream tourism to Siem Reap.

Scheduled for completion in 2011, the Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap will feature 218 stylishly-designed guestrooms with four-fixture bathrooms. In-room amenities will include Marriott's famous plush bed and bath linen and amenities, high-definition flat-screen television, high-speed internet access, mini-bar and safe. For dining and entertainment, there will be a casual, all-day dining restaurant, a Pool Bar & Grill, and a lobby lounge. Recreational facilities will include an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and a full-service spa including a relaxation lounge and a foot reflexology area. The property will also feature approximately 600 sq m of function space.

Plans are also underway to open a resort hotel in the premier coastal holiday town of Sihanoukville and a business hotel in the capital city of Phnom Penh. Expecting to breaking ground in the third quarter of 2010, the Grand Palm Resort will comprise three branded International Hotels, a marina, 18- hole championship golf course and luxury villas and condominiums situated on a 200 hectare beachfront in the premier coastal holiday town of Sihanoukville. The Grand Palms Beach Resort is nestled between a tropical rain forest and the Gulf of Thailand providing an idyllic retreat for those seeking seclusion. Sited four hours by road from Phnom Penh, the Resort is on target to be ready by 2013.

The planned 200-room hotel in the capital city of Phnom Penh is expected to appeal to business and leisure travellers when it opens in 2013. A city of more than 2 million people, Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia and the country's commercial, economic and political hub.

President and CEO of the Grand Lion Group, Mr Lundy Nath explains, "After careful research and a thorough review of well-known hotel brands for two years, we selected Marriott International to be our key hotel partner in our hospitality division. The brand is world famous and internationally recognised fitting in with our marketing strategy, while meeting expectations for customers who are used to the level of comfort and standards associated with Marriott hotels around the world. It will appeal to our guests exploring the Indo-China region where Marriott International has already established a presence. With a large global distribution network, we expect to attract more visitors from Asia, Europe and USA."

The Grand Lion Group will invest a total of US$300 million in its ongoing hotel ventures around Cambodia. The Grand Lion Group hospitality division is expected to create over 500 job opportunities in the country, and the group expects future development plans in Laos, Mongolia and Vietnam.

Khmer cuisine in the Cambodian countryside

travel

via CAAI News Media
29th January 2010

Further enhancing its burgeoning reputation for championing authentic Khmer cuisine, local ingredients and traditional flavours, Hôtel de la Paix has created a unique and beautiful gazebo in the spectacular countryside outside Siem Reap, where guests can enjoy a romantic, torch-lit modern take on the traditional Khmer barbecue.

Surrounded by rolling rice fields, cocooned by the scents of lemongrass and frangipani, a private chef serves a fresh menu of mouth-watering barbecued dishes, from prawn with crushed fresh kampot peppercorn to quail with star anis and wild honey.

Bursting with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and traditional Khmer influences, this gourmet menu was created by Hôtel de la Paix’s executive chef Joannes Riviere - founder of the Siem Reap Chef Association and author of the first French language Khmer cookbook ever published. French-born Riviere is fluent in the Khmer language and has made their cuisine his specialism. Having first relocated to Cambodia for voluntary work in 2003, his intimate knowledge of, and passion for the Cambodian people and their culture infuses his innovative menu designs.

This absorbing new culinary experience begins in authentic style with a short 15 minute journey from the hotel by traditional Tuk Tuk, passing through the buzzing streets of Siem Reap and out into the quietude of the real, rural Cambodia - a picturesque countryside punctuated by rice paddies, clusters of stilted houses, pagodas and water buffalo. On arrival at the beautifully decorated gazebo, guests are greeted by their own personal team of chefs and waiters, before settling down to embark on a remarkable journey through Khmer cuisine.

The romantic gazebo packages start from US$300 for two, including:

- Tuk Tuk transfer to the gazebo (return by private car)
- Private Khmer barbecue dinner
- Champagne on arrival
- A bottle of wine from Hôtel de la Paix’s world class wine list

For further information visit hoteldelapaixangkor.com.

Located in the heart of Siem Reap, close to the cultural and historic heart of Cambodia, Hôtel de la Paix is a luxury boutique hotel within easy reach of colourful markets and vibrant nightlife; and just a few kilometres from the breathtaking temple complexes of Angkor Wat, often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world and recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Khmer culture is celebrated in every aspect of style and service at Hôtel de la Paix, from the Meric Restaurant, with its seasonally inspired local cuisine to the Arts Lounge, which pays tribute to Cambodian artists; and Spa Indochine, which offers signature traditional treatments. Each of Hôtel de la Paix’s 107 spacious, beautifully appointed en suite rooms features chic interiors and contemporary furnishings complimented by intricate wall mountings and handcrafted lamps, creating a balance between modern design and traditional detailing.

Hôtel de la Paix is operated by Ativa Hospitality, an experienced, Asian-based management company specialising in the development and management of independent deluxe boutique hotels. Ativa Hospitality currently manages properties in Thailand and Cambodia with project developments in Vietnam, Laos and India.

Enemies Of The People



via CAAI News Media

29 January, 2010
By David D'Arcy

Dirs. Rob Lemkin, Thet Sambath. Cambodia/UK, 2009, 93 minutes

Enemies Of The People revisits the genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, as journalist Thet Sambath, who lost his family in the killing fields, meets men who ordered and carried out the mass murders. This heart-wrenching documentary presents shocking unprecedented testimony straight from the mouths of killers, and begins to answer how such a tragedy could have happened.

Theatrical potential may be limited, but Enemies Of The People is a compelling film which should play well on television in North America and throughout Europe. There is also a broad educational market for such a documentary on the actual workings of genocide.

“I think only the killers can tell us the truth,” Thet Sambath says in his poignant English-language narration, “[of] why they killed the people and who ordered them to kill.”

The film’s revelations emerge slowly, as the gentle Sambath listens patiently, even smiling on occasion. Peasants recall killing under orders, but are never made aware that their interviewer’s own family died. A former low-level Khmer Rouge killer grins uneasily as he demonstrates how he slit hundreds of throats. Sambath’s investigative style is persistence rather than attack, and it pays off.

The Khmer Rouge’s ideological leader, Nuon Chea, known as Brother Number Two (after Pol Pot), acknowledges, after initially claiming ignorance, that mass murder was a policy in the countryside. When finally told of Sambath’s family’s fate, he says he is sorry. Nuon Chea, now aged 83, is currently awaiting trial on charges of genocide.

Production values are bare-boned but more than adequate. With ordinary lighting and without drama, the camera lingers on the faces of men who speak of murdering people with their own hands. Cutaway shots to the empty killing fields are mute meditations on the extent of the loss.

It Is Time to Stop; Military Officials Who Do Illegal Activities Are Not Fit to Work in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces – Friday, 29.1.2010

http://cambodiamirror.wordpress.com/
via CAAI News Media

Posted on 30 January 2010. Filed under: Week 649 |


The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 649

“Phnom Penh: The top Five-Star General, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, announced that from now on, military officials who are involved in illegal activities are not fit to work in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, because they destroy the reputation of the armed forces, the reputation of the soldiers.

“He announced this in the evening of 28 January 2010 when he presided over a workshop at the Ministry of Defense to reflect on the reform of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces during the last five years (2005-2009) and to set the direction for the activities for the next five years (2010-2014).

“Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen went on to say that the Royal Government is reforming in all sectors, including reforms in the armed forces. The armed forces must serve as a strong basis for the authorities, to support the authorities to crack down on illegal activities, trafficking of products, illegal logging, illegal land grabbing… He said that now, in order to have the ability to support this, first, the military should not commit wrongdoings, and second, it should not support wrongdoers. ‘It is time to end that some work in the military in order to use this as a shield to run their own businesses. If you wear ranking stars and cut trees, fellow soldiers will point at your face.’

“He continued to say, ‘If you wear ranking stars and you yourself grab hundreds of hectares of land, can you prohibit others? No! Therefore, all involved in the military must distance themselves from all illegal activities. The authorities need to suppress illegalities, including with the armed forces, soldiers, police, and military police… if armed forces do illegal activities, who can suppress illegalities?’

“He emphasized that some perpetrators are not real soldiers, but some are real soldiers and do illegal logging or violate forest land. Some generals really do illicit activities. It is time to find land for veterans who cannot perform military duties any longer, and for families of soldiers who sacrificed their lives. It is the time to find land for those people, not to find land for high level military persons.

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen warned, ‘Do not be commanders that are only good at wood trading, illegal logging, land grabbing, and illegal fishery. But we must support the authorities who go to arrest the perpetrators. We [the military] cannot arrest ourselves [military cannot arrest the military perpetrators], only the military police has the right to act as police in such cases to establish justice, but sometimes, forestry administration officials, custom officials, and tax officials need immediate intervention involving soldiers.’

“He added, ‘Reforms are essential for the government. Why can’t we suppress illegal logging while we can suppress drug smuggling? Why?’ Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen stressed, ‘If anyone uses the name of the Hun family to influence others, both their children and their children-in-law must be the first persons to be arrested, as it happened previously, when there were persons who run sand dredging operations and were illegally using the name of the Hun family to protect themselves. They must be dealt with seriously. Anyone who uses my influence and my wife’s influence, serious action must be taken against them. Previously, there were also many cases where my cabinet’s letterhead paper was faked. The military personnel that do illicit activities are about 1% or 2% of the whole military, others are honorable persons. All military commanders, please remember that you have no authority to order soldiers to guard your mangroves. I tell you this for the future, because previously this happened.’

“The role of the military is to fulfill obligations for the nation, not to guard your mangroves, please check this again! Please do not use soldiers and the military’s machinery to serve individual interests. If it still continues, do not say that I have not told you; how many stars showing your military rank you wear, though I wear only five stars, I will dismiss you even if you are wearing the big moon as the sign of your rank, I will dismiss you!’”

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6870, 29.1.2010
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 29 January 2010

Cambodia's Gramd Lion Group Enters Hotel Business

http://www.hotelsmag.com/
via CAAI News Media

Jeff Weinstein -- Hotels, 1/29/2010

Cambodian-based company, the Grand Lion Group, has entered into a management agreement and related agreements with US-based hotel operator Marriott International to operate the 218-room Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap. The agreement is the first of its kind for the Grand Lion Group whose primary business is real estate and agriculture.

The Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap will be located on a 1.2-hectar site, approximately 15 minutes away from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Angkor Archaeological Park, one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. Stretching over some 400 sq km, including forested area, the Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of Khmer Empire, from the ninth to the 15th century. They include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat at Angkor Thom and the Bayon Temple with countless sculptural decorations. Angkor became listed as a World Heritage site in 1992 when UNESCO set up programs to safeguard the site and its surroundings. Towards the end of the 1990s, political stability in Cambodia was much more apparent and the popularity of Angkor started attracting more mainstream tourism to Siem Reap.

Scheduled for completion in 2011, the Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap will feature 218 stylishly-designed guestrooms with four-fixture bathrooms. In-room amenities will include Marriott's famous plush bed and bath linen and amenities, high-definition flat-screen television, high-speed internet access, mini-bar and safe. For dining and entertainment, there will be a casual, all-day dining restaurant, a Pool Bar & Grill, and a lobby lounge. Recreational facilities will include an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and a full-service spa including a relaxation lounge and a foot reflexology area. The property will also feature approximately 600 sq m of function space.

Plans are also underway to open a resort hotel in the premier coastal holiday town of Sihanoukville and a business hotel in the capital city of Phnom Penh. Expecting to breaking ground in the third quarter of 2010, the Grand Palm Resort will comprise three branded International Hotels, a marina, 18- hole championship golf course and luxury villas and condominiums situated on a 200 hectare beachfront in the premier coastal holiday town of Sihanoukville. The Grand Palms Beach Resort is nestled between a tropical rain forest and the Gulf of Thailand providing an idyllic retreat for those seeking seclusion. Sited four hours by road from Phnom Penh, the Resort is on target to be ready by 2013.

The planned 200-room hotel in the capital city of Phnom Penh is expected to appeal to business and leisure travellers when it opens in 2013. A city of more than 2 million people, Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia and the country's commercial, economic and political hub.

President and CEO of the Grand Lion Group, Mr Lundy Nath explains, "After careful research and a thorough review of well-known hotel brands for two years, we selected Marriott International to be our key hotel partner in our hospitality division. The brand is world famous and internationally recognised fitting in with our marketing strategy, while meeting expectations for customers who are used to the level of comfort and standards associated with Marriott hotels around the world. It will appeal to our guests exploring the Indo-China region where Marriott International has already established a presence. With a large global distribution network, we expect to attract more visitors from Asia, Europe and USA."

The Grand Lion Group will invest a total of US$ 300 million in its ongoing hotel ventures around Cambodia. The Grand Lion Group hospitality division is expected to create over 500 job opportunities in the country, and the group expects future development plans in Laos, Mongolia and Vietnam.

U-M Flint nursing students pledge to help Cambodian orphans receive essential health care

via CAAI News Media

By Beata Mostafavi
Flint Journal
January 29, 2010

Hollyn Johnson | The Flint JournalUM-Flint nursing student Doni Warner will lead 10 students on a trip to Cambodia in mid-May to administer basic medical care.

FLINT — Doni Warner knew the name of the surgeon leading the open heart surgery on his five-month-old son — but he really got to know the nurses.

They were the ones who offered him and wife Jody blankets on nights they slept in waiting rooms, brought them water and were “translators” when doctor lingo was a little too much.

It’s part of what inspired the former construction business owner to pursue a nursing degree at the University of Michigan-Flint — and why he is joining a trip to Cambodia that will involve medical care for orphans.

“There are numerous diseases that you can get treated for in the United States,” said Warner, 41, who is raising money to pay for the $3,000-plus venture in May. “Kids are dying from things over there that we can get everyday care for here.”

Warner is among a group of about 10 UM-Flint students who are leaving for the 14-day trip. Some students such as Warner also plan to stay longer on their own to continue work in orphanages.

Overseas, they will give children physicals and follow up with those who need medical attention. They will help with IVs and monitor vital signs for malaria patients.

They will help village children who have puncture wounds on their feet from collecting reusable items from a nearby dump barefoot.

Some will also spent time teaching children English and help teach them basic care for themselves — such as washing their face and brushing their teeth.

“It just goes back to wanting to help somebody in the world ... and the people in Cambodia have a desperate need for health care,” said Warner, a father of four.

“It seems a little better calling than building houses,” he added of future plans to work in the health care field, possibly on a global level.

Fellow nursing student Kevin Fitzpatrick will help with the relief effort.

For UM-Flint nursing student Kevin Fitzpatrick, the Cambodia trip adds to a list of service work — including volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, boarding up abandoned homes and traveling to Iowa with his church to help with relief efforts after the massive floods in 2008.

“Just the little bit we can do in the short time we’re there I hope helps brighten their day,” said the Swartz Creek father of two, 35. “We aren’t there to save the world but to make a difference.

We take so much for granted here. Hopefully we will impact them as much as they will impact us.”

The trip is coordinated through UM-Flint’s international nursing program, which earns students three credits.

Students will spend long hours working with people in need but will also get some free time and a chance to visit well known spots such as 7th World Wonder Angkor Wat.

But university officials say this kind of trip draws a special group of students.

“These are for students who don’t mind sleeping on a wooden plank or riding in a rickety bus. It’s not Europe,” said Maureen Tippen, clinical assistant professor who has organized similar trips for nearly 14 years.

“For most of the students, it’s a life-changing experience.”

Uighurs returned to China 'disappear' says rights group


The Uighurs left Xinjiang after deadly fighting in July

via CAAI News Media
Friday, 29 January 2010

China must account for the whereabouts of ethnic Uighurs forcibly repatriated from Cambodia, a US-based rights group has said.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said such groups had "disappeared into a black hole" on their return to China.

The Uighurs fled to Cambodia after mass ethnic riots in China in July. Beijing has referred to them as criminals.

In December, a group of 20 Uighurs were put on a plane to China despite opposition from the UN and US.

They said the group were likely to face persecution in China.

"Uighur asylum seekers sent back to China by Cambodia have disappeared into a black hole," said Sophie Richardson of HRW.

"There is no information about their whereabouts, no notification of any legal charges against them, and there are no guarantees they are safe from torture and ill-treatment."

HRW said a number of the group had given detailed accounts of past torture and persecution in China and that threats had been made against their families.

The organisation said China has a history of executing or imposing harsh sentences of Uighurs sent back from abroad and that there were unconfirmed reports some members of a group previously returned had been sentenced to death in western Xinjiang province.

'Fair trials'

Ms Richardson said the Chinese government must say where the group are being held and under what status as well as allowing the UN and family members to see them.

"Family members have the right to know what has happened to their loved ones," she said

"The Chinese government must treat all returnees humanely, ensure fair trials, and not persecute individuals for activities and speech that are protected under international law."

There has been no immediate comment from the Chinese foreign ministry.

The Uighurs fled Xinjiang after July's violent ethnic clashes in the provincial capital Urumqi which left at least 97 people dead.

Most of those killed in the unrest were majority Han Chinese, according to officials, and Urumqi's Han population had demanded swift justice.

At least 25 people have been sentenced to death after the riots.

Tensions between the mainly-Muslim Uighurs of Xinjiang and Han have been growing in recent years. Millions of Han have moved to the region in recent decades.

Many Uighurs want more autonomy and rights for their culture and religion than is allowed by Beijing's strict rule.

Brookline High launching Brookline Cambodia Partnership


via CAAI News Media
Posted Jan 29, 2010

Brookline — Dan Green, a social studies teacher at Brookline High School, invites the community to a fundraising event that is the official launching of the Brookline Cambodia Partnership, a local effort to build a Brookline High sister school in a rural Cambodian village.

The event takes place at the Elephant Walk, 900 Beacon St., Boston, on Saturday, Jan. 30, from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. The organization hopes to raise $24,000, $13,000 of which will be matched by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

The funds will pay for the building of a six- to eight-room secondary school with computers, Internet connectivity, desks and chairs, books and an English teacher. Following the building of the school, the group (pending School Committee approval) hopes to send BHS students on service learning trips to Cambodia, where students will not only have an opportunity to experience the rich culture of Cambodia, but also visit (and possibly teach in) the BHS sister school. Before and in between visits, BHS and Cambodian students will have the opportunity to build relationships via the Internet.

Green and his colleague, Kate Boynton, presented the program to the School Committee in June and received much encouragement from the members. Up to this point, they have raised more than $6,200 for the construction of the school.

Elephant Walk owners will provide a multi-course meal for more than 100 Brookline community members who will pay $25, of which $20 will benefit the project. A number of community and education leaders, including local politicians, Superintendent Bill Lupini, BHS Headmaster Bob Weintraub, members of the Brookline School Committee and others will be attending the event.

For more information, visit http://www.brookcamb.org/.

Laos and Cambodia visa

http://www.prlog.org/

via CAAI News Media

All visitors to Laos require valid Passports and need to obtain the Laos visa. Despite being a strongly regulated country, Laos has relaxed some of its rules about getting the entry visa.

PR Log (Press Release) – Jan 28, 2010 – Recently, Laos authority has intended to boost tourism by allowing travelers to obtain visa stamp at their International Airport - Vientiane or at the overland border crossing points of Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge near Nongkai.

Holds return/onward ticket and all documents required for next destination,

Holds Certificate of Bank Statement (min. USD 400.-) or life insurance policy

Holds confirmed hotel reservation in Laos.

Pay visa stamp fees of USD 30 to the Immigration.

Visitors who enter Laos through Huayxai -Chiangkong Border (Northern Thailand); through Dien Bien Phu, Cau Treo, Nam Can, Lao Bao border (Vietnam) need to get the Laos visa stamp from the Laos Embassy before entry (called visa code).

Cambodia visa

All foreign visitors are now able to obtain the Cambodia visa upon arrival at the airport. It is no longer necessary to get the visa stamp at the Cambodian Embassy before traveling as before. You are just required to prepare the following documents:

A passport photocopy
1 photos (3 x 4 cm)
US$ 20 Cash for tourist visa fee (Paid directly to the Immigration)

The Cambodia Visa is issued officially at the following ports of entry:

By Air
Pochentong Airport in Phnompenh
Siemreap Airport (Angkor Wat Region)

By Land
Travelers can travel to/from Cambodia by land through Aranyapathet-Poipet Border and Trat-Koh Kong Border of Thailand and Moc Bai - Bavet Border of Vietnam.