Sunday, 11 July 2010

Philippines to exchange technology with rice

via Khmer NZ

MANILA, July 10 (Commodity Online): World's largest rice importer, Philippines said it will provide post harvest technology along with other agricultural produce to Cambodia in exchange for rice.

Philippines Agriculture ministry said the country wants to forge a counter trade deal with Cambodia for 300,000 metric tonnes of rice during the first Philippines-Cambodia Investment and Trade Mission this week.

In a statement, it said Cambodia has a lot of exportable rice surplus. Part of our mission is to get them to agree to a counter trade agreement wherein the Philippines will source 200 to 300,000 metric tonnes Cambodia rice in exchange for Philippine agricultural produce and post harvest technology.

"The problem with Cambodia is that they are not exporting their rice. It shares common border with Vietnam and Thailand, so that Thailand siphons majority of their rice. Technically speaking, what we buy from Thailand is Cambodia rice," the statement said.

Beyond the Killing Fields? Not as Long as Brutal Wars Remain a Growth Industry

via Khmer NZ

Walter Shapiro
Senior Correspondent

Five Politics Daily staffers -- Carl Cannon, Melinda Henneberger, Walter Shapiro, David Wood and James Grady -- are joining in an online discussion with Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg about politics and the press as seen through the prism of his new book, "Beyond The Killing Fields."

In today's essay, Walter Shapiro notes that more than three decades after the genocide in Cambodia, all of us are still grappling to find a larger meaning embedded in the horrors of the Killing Fields.

Decades from now when, alas, The New York Times is a distant memory and long-form reporting and writing have become synonymous with Tweets, I hope that the lonely keepers of the journalistic flame will still revere the remarkable Telex that Sydney Schanberg sent from a dying Phnom Penh on April 14, 1975.


As a young political reporter in Washington -- whose idea of journalistic bravery was coping after missing a press bus in Iowa -- I was awed that the Times had a reporter who had decided to remain in Phnom Penh. Rereading Schanberg's final dispatches from Cambodia, now collected in "Beyond the Killing Fields," I still respect and admire his decision to remain behind to await the Khmer Rouge. But considering his words now, with the passions of the Indo-China wars behind us, I also detect parallels with another doomed city.

What stays with me are not the war scenes themselves, but the glimpses of civilians stubbornly clinging to the remnants of normal life as the apocalypse approaches. With a novelistic eye, Schanberg noticed the driver for hire, who "leaned on the fender of his Land Rover, a mirror in one hand and tweezers in the other, pulling stray hairs from his chin." And he reported, "An elderly French woman, a teacher who is a legendary figure at the Hotel Le Phnom, sat in her regular chair at poolside this morning, wearing a white dress as always, with a white shawl over her shoulders."

What I kept thinking about was "Suite Française," Irène Némirovsky's tragically unfinished novel about the fall of Paris and the Nazi takeover of France. The difference, of course, is that the Parisians (from would-be collaborators to assimilated, but imperiled, Jews like Némirovsky) should have possessed a blunt understanding of what awaited them with the arrival of Nazi jackboots.

In contrast, the crazed genocidal fury of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge was unfathomable. Typical was the reassuring rumor, passed on to Schanberg by a Cambodian journalist, that the Khmer Rouge had been saying on their way to Phnom Penh, "Don't worry. We will not harm Cambodians. We have come to kill all the Americans." Just days later, the Khmer Rouge forced everyone (including the sick and dying in hospitals) to march out of Phnom Penh for supposed purification in the countryside. "A once throbbing city became an echo chamber of silent streets lined with abandoned cars and gaping, empty shops," Schanberg wrote in his final dispatch from Cambodia. "Street lights burned eerily for a population that wasn't there."

Thirty-five years later, all of us are still grappling to find a larger meaning embedded in the horrors of the Killing Fields. You can begin with Schanberg's own simple but dead-on justification for the retelling: "We Americans are notoriously difficult about taking lessons from our own history. So perhaps this book will remind people what war is really like."

Despite the crazed hawkishness that led to the invasion of Iraq and the jingoistic rituals of our day like the incessant playing of "God Bless America" at baseball games, Americans, for the most part, are not war lovers. Rather we are a well-intentioned -- but heedless and easily distracted -- people who treat small countries like Cambodia as playthings and then move on. Henry Kissinger's destabilization of Prince Sihanouk's neutral Cambodia was, in geopolitical terms, the equivalent of taking a single pawn in a lengthy chess game. But it led to the slaughter of roughly 2 million people, a quarter of an entire nation.

We fight wars for a while and then move on, as the Afghan people learned in 1989. These days who thinks about Granada, Panama, Somalia or even Iraq? Drone missiles are the perfect 21st century American weapon -- deadly, technologically advanced and not requiring any real-world connection with the civilian population. Sometimes it seems, American foreign policy begins and ends on the Potomac River -- designed totally for domestic consumption but with tragic global consequences.

As Schanberg reminds us in a 1997 Vanity Fair article included in this collection, the United States added to its shame all through the 1980s by supporting the Khmer Rouge's dubious (both practically and morally) claim to Cambodia's UN seat because the alternative would have empowered Vietnam. Reading that passage, I wanted to shout, "What part of genocide do you not understand?"

My colleague David Wood, in a prior installment in this bookish chain letter, mourned the passing of the era when the media marketplace unhesitatingly paid for battlefield reporting: "Great newspapers that once maintained foreign bureaus and sent forth aggressive journalists...are going or gone. Where are the Sydney Schanbergs of the future?" The sad-eyed future is almost certain to bring new and depraved versions of genocide and the Killing Fields. Brutal wars remain a growth industry even if war reporting itself is in bitter retreat.

Faced with a future Pol Pot -- a megalomaniac willing to slaughter his own people -- the civilized world is likely to do...well...a little public hand-wringing. The notion of the kind of humanitarian military intervention that belatedly forced a negotiated settlement in Bosnia and ended ethnic cleansing in Kosovo is so 1990s. After Iraq and Afghanistan, the American people are unlikely to support any military action that is not narrowly grounded in immediate U.S. self-interest. And after the worldwide economic collapse, the Europeans are too tight-fisted to send new troops or pay their bills.

The lamentable truth is that as long as the governments of the major powers are feckless -- even if reporters like Sydney Schanberg are brave --we will never truly move beyond the Killing Fields.

Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia develop triangle area

via Khmer NZ


Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have pledged to develop the border triangle area.

In a joint communiqué issued on July 9 after the four-day second conference of the External Relations Committees of three National Assemblies in Kratie, Cambodia.

The Development Triangle Area (DTA) includes Dak Lak, Dac Nong, Gia Lai and Kon Tum provinces of Vietnam, Attapeu, Saravan and Sekong provinces of Laos, and Mondulkiri, Rattanakiri and Stung Treng of Cambodia.

Under the joint communiqué, the three countries will set up a joint checkpoint in their border area, organise conferences of relevant provinces and build a joint website in English and their languages.

This was the first time Cambodia had hosted such conference. The first one was held in Vietnam in 2009.

In 2002, leaders of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia reached an agreement on the DTA which aims to boost economic benefits, tourism and cultural exchange, security and social order cooperation, and poverty reduction in the three nations.

On July 9, Cambodia’s “Rasmei Kampuchea” daily said that the Japanese government proposed an aid of US$20 million for strengthening economic development cooperation between DTA provinces. Of which, Laos and Cambodia will receive US$7.5 million each while Vietnam will be given US$3.5 million. The rest will be used for infrastructure projects in the area.

Cambodia to host large scale military exercise next week

via Khmer NZ

July 11, 2010

As planned, Cambodia will conduct first ever large scale military exercise next week, a part of the United Nations Peacekeeping framework for strengthening peace and security.

Chhum Socheat, spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense said Saturday that the military exercise will be conducted on July 17 through July 30 with participations of 26 countries and more than 1,000 forces.

Of those forces, the largest number will be coming from Cambodia as a host country and from the United States, the co- organizer of the exercise.

The other participating countries, the majority of which are the members of the United Nations include France, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, India, Italy, Germany, Japan, Mongolia and the United Kingdom among others.

According to the plan, Chhum Socheat said the military exercise which is part of the Global Peace Operations Initiatives (GPOI), a UN-US peacekeeping-training program will be conducted in two separate forms with one to be organized in Kompong Speu province, about 50 kilometers from Phnom Penh, and that will be a field exercise.

The second of its kind will be conducted in Phnom Penh as part of the far command from headquarters.

The military exercise in Cambodia will be called as "Angkor Sentinel 2010".


Human Rights Watch Criticizes Cambodian Military, but Cambodia Dismisses the Criticism – Saturday, 10.7.2010

via Khmer NZ

Posted on 11 July 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 672

“Phnom Penh: Human Rights Watch [“Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world. We stand with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice”] criticized the Cambodian military for being involved in forced evictions.

“This criticism is made as Cambodian military forces cooperate with the US army to organize a big military exercise starting on Sunday next week.

“According to a report from New York issued on 9 July 2010, Human Rights Watch said that the joint military exercise, which the United States of America decided to organize in Cambodia, will affect the US commitment to promote human rights in Cambodia.

“Human Rights Watch said that Cambodian military forces are used to protect the interest of private companies [see Phnom Penh Post of 2 June 2010] and to evict Cambodian people by force in order to grab their land. In addition, Cambodian armed forces beat and sometimes shot at Cambodian innocent people over land disputes.

“Human Rights Watch asked the United States of America to suspend its military aid to Cambodia, where it granted about US$1.8 million in 2010 for the construction of a military training center.

“Anyway, high ranking officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia dismissed this criticism, adding that the cooperation between Cambodia and the United States of America continues.

“The spokesperson and Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of Defense, Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat, said that what was mentioned by the Human Rights Watch was without clear basis and thus it is unreliable. Cambodian troops have never committed anything as criticized [see Phnom Penh Post of 10 May 2010].

The Asian Human Right Commission (AHRC) has learned that on November 14, 2006, three villagers were allegedly assaulted in relation to a land dispute by members of the military from the ACO command headquarters (tank headquarters)

“The spokesperson of the government, Minister of Information Mr. Khieu Kanharith, said that the Cambodian armed forces are used to protect and to maintain security and social order, and every country uses armed forces, also the United States of America. But the government has never ordered troops to grab people’s land.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong, said that the criticism of Human Rights Watch is unnecessary and useless.

“He added that the relations of Cambodia and the United States of America are smooth in all sectors, both in such fields as diplomacy and military. These ties will continue without change.

“It should be noted that the criticism of Human Rights Watch was made a week before Cambodian forces start to cooperate with the US Pacific Command to jointly organize a big multi-national military exercise and training from 17 to 30 July 2010. Twenty six countries will join in this exercise which is named Angkor Sentinel 2010.

“The multi-national exercise is organized with the aim to strengthen the capacity of military forces for peacekeeping missions in the region and in the world.

“Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat said that twenty six countries will participate in the military exercise which is divided into two parts: a ‘command post’ exercise in Phnom Penh in the Intercontinental Hotel, and field training exercise at the area of the ACO ['allied command operations'?] Tank Command Post in Kompong Speu, along National Road 4.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5246, 10.7.2010
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 10 July 2010

Dinner with Pol Pot / Middag med Pol Pot


In 1978 a Swedish delegation traveled to Democratic Kampuchea, present-day Cambodia. They visited hospitals, work collectives and emptied cities. They even had dinner with Pol Pot. Why didn't they see the mass murder that was going on?

Victim to warrior

via Khmer NZ

Tithiya Sharma, Hindustan Times
July 10, 2010

Around the world in 54 weeks destination 4: Cambodia I’ve been travelling for a couple of weeks in South East Asia now. I’ve had quite the adventure navigating through the hands-on tourism here. I’ve been tugged into shops, duped by sweet old ladies and even roughed up by a Tuk-Tuk driver. Every shop,home and average Joe on the street has a ‘side business’; booking tickets, finding a room or just giving ‘generous’ advice. It’s all about luring customers. Rules are flexible and tolerance high. Much to the delight of some very satisfied tourists; all tanned and stuffed from indulgences they can’t afford back home.

But the gloss barely camouflages the gory details. I cringed at the sight of flabby retirees with teenage ‘girlfriends’. Regardless of the time or location, their faces are painted with gaudy make-up and cheery smiles. They dote on the men like lovers and the men are only too happy to be fooled by the farce.

Sadly, the situation gets less shocking as you spend more time here, eventually choosing to look away and fake the modicum of normalcy required to share the same spaces as them. But the truth is hard to ignore for long. Many of the girls are enslaved by the brothels who bought them from family members and friends who accompanied them to the cities. The story was familiar: girls, some as young as six, being lured under the pretext of getting a good job, while they end up being drugged, raped repeatedly and tortured into submission.

While in Pnom Penh, I went to meet a young girl who was the victim of similar circumstances. Sina Vann was born in Vietnam and sold into prostitution in Cambodia when she was barely 13. She spent three drug addled years as a sex slave in a brothel before being rescued in a police raid. The raid was organised by The Somaly Mam foundation, an anti-slavery organisation headed by Somaly Mam, a former victim of trafficking.

Sina told me she had felt hopeless during those years. “Between the drugs, torture and forced sex, your spirit breaks. You stop dreaming and lose the ability to trust anyone. The men who come to these brothels see the beautiful faces and not the pain in the girl’s eyes”. Sina chokes, recounting her first few days. She didn’t speak any Khmer or English and begged the white man who had bought her virginity to help her. He didn’t. If she protested or disobeyed she was starved and locked in a dungeon beneath the brothel.

Sina says wants to spend her life helping other victims because she understands the hell they’re living in. She explains it’s easier for her to communicate with girls and for them to trust her because of her past. Now at 25, Sina is leading the ‘Voices for Change’ programme at the Somaly Mam Foundation. The programme encourages trafficking survivors to share their stories and rehabilitates rescued girls with language, computers and vocational skills.

Sina said, “People need to know the truth about girls living as sex slaves. This is not the life they dreamed of, I wanted to be a lawyer but that Sina died at the brothel. Working to rescue other girls is my life till I die”.

Sina gave me a warm hug as I bid her goodbye. I lingered in her embrace, feeling empowered by this remarkable woman. This time around, I choked.

Tithiya Sharma is on a year-long journey across the globe to find 100 everyday heroes — and hopefully herself — along the way.

U.S. Chooses Abusive Cambodian Military Units to Host Joint Exercises

General Hun Sen at celebration honoring Brigade 70 (photo: DAP)

via Khmer NZ

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Despite its own reports documenting abusive behavior by Cambodian military units, the U.S. State Department agreed with the Department of Defense to allow Cambodia to host a military exercise for international peacekeepers.

The “Angkor Sentinel” exercise, part of the 2010 Global Peace Operations Initiative, will host 1,000 military personnel from 23 Asia-Pacific countries. It also will feature a two-week field training exercise hosted by Cambodia’s ACO Tank Command Headquarters in Kompong Speu province.

The problem with this, says Human Rights Watch (HRW), is that the ACO Tank Unit has been involved in illegal land seizures, which have been noted by the State Department and by Cambodian and international human rights organizations. In 2007, soldiers from the unit destroyed villagers’ fences and crops and confiscated land.

HRW officials point out that the Angkor Sentinel exercise is likely to include elite Cambodian military units, such as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s personal bodyguards and Brigade 70, “both of which have been linked to a deadly March 1997 grenade attack on the political opposition, and Airborne Brigade 911, which has been involved in arbitrary detentions, political violence, torture, and summary executions.”

“For the Pentagon and State Department to permit abusive Cambodian military units to host a high-profile regional peacekeeping exercise is outrageous,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The U.S. undermines its protests against the Cambodian government for rampant rights abuses like forced evictions when it showers international attention and funds on military units involved in grabbing land and other human rights violations.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff