Saturday, 7 August 2010

Thai royalist "Yellow Shirts" rallied in Bangkok on Saturday as the influential movement seeks to pressure the government over a territorialrow with Cambodia

Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, center, surrounded by bodyguards, addresses the crowd calling themselves 'Thailand Patriot Network' duringa demonstration against government policy over a land dispute with Cambodia at the Thai-Japan Youth Sport stadium in Bangkok Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010. About 1,500 members of a right-wing group ignored an emergency decree by demonstrating in the Thai capital Saturday, but heeded a government warning not to rally outside the prime minister's office, police said. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, center, addresses the crowd calling themselves 'Thailand Patriot Network' during a demonstration against governmentpolicy over a land dispute with Cambodia at the Thai-Japan Youth Sport stadium in Bangkok Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010. About 1,500 members of a right-wing group ignored an emergency decree by demonstrating in the Thai capital Saturday, but heeded a government warning not to rally outside the prime minister's office, police said. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

A woman member of 'Thailand Patriot Network' cheers during a demonstration against government policy over a land dispute with Cambodia at the Thai-Japan Youth Sport stadium in Bangkok Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010. About 1,500 members of a right-wing group ignored an emergency decree by demonstrating in the Thai capital Saturday, but heeded a government warning not to rally outside the prime minister's office, police said. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

Demonstrators calling themselves 'Thailand Patriot Network' react to a speech of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva during a demonstration against governmentpolicy over a land dispute with Cambodia at the Thai-Japan Youth Sport stadium in Bangkok Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010. About 1,500 members of a right-wing group ignored an emergency decree by demonstrating in the Thai capital Saturday, but heeded a government warning not to rally outside the prime minister's office, police said. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

A Thai nationalist associated with the "yellow shirts" holds a picture of revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej during a gathering in Bangkok August7, 2010. The group gathered to ask for clarification on the disputed territory with Cambodia and whether the recent UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Brazil compromised Thailand's claim to a piece of land surrounding the ancient temple, which was awarded to Cambodia in a 1962 World Court ruling. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Khmer duo offer heartfelt thanks to LB supporters

via Khmer NZ

By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer


Posted: 08/06/2010
 
Phin Ken, and his daughter, Socheat Nha during the the Cambodian New Year Parade in Long Beach, Calif. on April 4, 2010.. (Jeff Gritchen / Press-Telegram)

LONG BEACH - Socheat Nha and Davik Teng, two Cambodian girls given second chances at normal lives, will be saying their "arkun charans," or "thank you" to residents tonight at Sophy's Restaurant.

Residents will get a chance to see the two girls who underwent successful heart surgeries at one last fundraising dinner.

Although the girls don't depart for Cambodia until Oct.18, this is the last time they will attend public functions.

Socheat, the 3-year-old daughter of a Cambodian farmer, was brought to the U.S. by Long Beach nonprofit Hearts Without Boundaries for surgery not available in her home country.

Las Vegas Childrens Hospital, which had agreed to perform the procedure, backed out when it appeared too risky. However, Hearts Without Boundaries was able to broker a deal with the International Children's Heart Foundation, which performed the surgery in the Dominican Republic.

Dr. Rodrigo Soto performed a tricky four-hour procedure to close a hole in Socheat's heart. The defect, called a ventricular septal defect, was repaired along with part of an artery.

Davik was the first child saved by Hearts Without Boundaries. Dr. Vaughn Starnes at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles repaired a quarter-sized hole in her heart two years ago.

Davik returned to Cambodia but is back in the U.S. for a visit supported by Hearts Without Boundaries.

A fourth patient, Bunlak Song, is scheduled to come to Long Beach later this year.
greg.mellen@presstelegram.com, 562-499-1291

WANT TO GO?
What: Fundraising dinner

Where: Sophy's Restaurant, 3240 Pacific Coast Highway

When: Today, 6-10 p.m.

Cost: $30 for adults, $20 for students and $10 for children.

Information: 562-544-9627

Vietnam, Cambodia share similar growth issues

via Khmer NZ

August 7, 2010

Chairwoman of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Council Pham Phuong Thao at the reception

Vietnam and Cambodia in general, Ho Chi Minh City and Cambodian cities in particular have to face the same difficulties regarding infrastructure, traffic systems, environmental pollution and water resources during the economic development phase.

So said Pham Phuong Thao, chairwoman of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Council on August 6 while meeting with Try Chheang Hout, head of the Cambodian National Assembly’s Commission of Planning, Investment, Agriculture, Rural Development, Environment and Water Resources (Commission 3), who is visiting Ho Chi Minh City from August 6-8.

With the similarities the two sides have shared during the process of national construction and development, Vietnam and Cambodia need to bolster co-operation and the exchange of experiences, she said.

For his part, the Cambodian leader praised Ho Chi Minh City’s rapid development and its potential to be exploited in the future. He said Cambodia wishes to exchange with and learn from Vietnam’s experience in terms of economic development, especially in the agricultural sector and settling environmental issues.

The Cambodian officials are scheduled to have talks with several departments and agencies in Ho Chi Minh City and visit a number of economic models in the city and Binh Duong province. (VNA)

'Yellow Shirt' protesters cheer Thai PM

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva spoke to placate demonstrators' concerns over a territorial row with Cambodia


via Khmer NZ

BANGKOK — Thailand's Prime Minister addressed "Yellow Shirt" protesters Saturday at a rally held in defiance of emergency rules banning political gatherings.

Police said around 2,500 demonstrators -- many wearing yellow and waving national flags -- gathered at a sports stadium in Bangkok, after protesters agreed a change in venue to avoid confrontation with the authorities.

Crowds cheered Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who spoke to placate demonstrators' concerns over a territorial row with Cambodia.

Political meetings of more than five people are prohibited under a state of emergency imposed in Bangkok in April during mass anti-government protests.

But a last-minute deal to relocate the rally, organised by the Thai Patriotic Network, from outside Government House appears to have appeased authorities, which had warned the protest would not be allowed to go ahead.

Around 300 demonstrators did turn up at the government compound, but they were persuaded to move to another area.

The Yellows, known as the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), have previously allied themselves with the current Thai political leadership but the protest is the latest sign that the group is flexing its political muscle.

The PAD has criticised the governing Democrat party for signing up to a deal with Thailand's neighbour in 2000 that the Yellows believe paved the way for recognition of a Cambodian land claim.

The group has demanded that Thailand tear up the memorandum of understanding, eject Cambodian citizens from the disputed 4.6 square kilometre (1.8 square mile) area, and try to regain control of the ancient Preah Vihear temple.

Abhisit demurred when pressed on plans for military action over the land row, but insisted Thailand would stand its ground on the issue.

"We will not accept actions which violate our territory," he added.

The Yellow Shirts, who are backed by the Bangkok-based elite and pledge their allegiance to the monarchy, are a force to be reckoned with in Thailand's colour-coded political landscape.

Their 2006 rallies helped trigger a coup that unseated fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, hero of the mostly poor, working class "Red Shirts", whose protests in Bangkok this year culminated in deadly clashes with troops.

Red Shirts have complained of double standards in the way authorities treat their movement.

Many Red leaders are in prison after their rally -- during which about 90 people died and nearly 1,900 were injured -- but there has been little action against Yellows over a 2008 airport siege that left thousands stranded.

Protest by Thai right-wing group

via Khmer NZ

07/08/2010

About 1,500 members of a right-wing group ignored an emergency decree by demonstrating in the Thai capital, but heeded a government warning not to rally outside the prime minister's office, police said.

The number of demonstrators at the Thai-Japanese Sports Stadium was expected to swell to 3,000, but no violence was expected, said police Major General Piya Uthayo.

The Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation said that the Thailand Patriot Network's plan to protest government policy over a land dispute with neighbouring Cambodia was not allowed under a state of emergency governing Bangkok. It broadcast a specific ban on the action in a statement read over Thai television on Friday night.

The state of emergency was declared in April after anti-government protesters broke into the Parliament building to press their demands for early elections. About 90 people died and more than 1,400 were injured during two months of protests, which the army quashed by force on May 19.

The Thailand Patriot Network claims that the government is failing to aggressively pursue Thai claims to disputed land along the border with Cambodia.

Thailand and Cambodia both claim land around the Preah Vihear temple, named a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2008 after Cambodia applied for the status. There have been small and sometimes deadly armed clashes in the area during the past few years.

Last week, Cambodia submitted a management plan for the temple, reviving the issue. The Thailand Patriot Network and other right-wing groups charge that the government should work harder to block the management plan.

In Cambodia on Friday, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters that Thai attempts to claim Preah Vihear were pointless. One Thai suggestion is that that the two countries list Preah Vihear as a joint landmark with UNESCO.

"It is too late now to oppose the Preah Vihear temple being listed as a World Heritage site and also too late to ask for a joint listing of the temple," he said. "All of these demands are just dreaming, please, prime minister of Thailand, stop dreaming like this."

Cambodia says Thai demands for joint listing of temple is "out of date"

via Khmer NZ

August 07, 2010

Cambodian government said Friday that Thailand's demand for joint listing of Preah Vihear Temple is "out of date".

Hor Namhong, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, told reporters at a news conference on Friday that a demand suggested by Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on a joint listing of Preah Vihear Temple as World Heritage Site was "out of date" and that was only "Abhisit's dream".

Hor Namhong's remarks were in response to media report that quoted Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as saying a joint World Heritage listing of Preah Vihear and its adjacent compound - claimed by both Thailand and Cambodia - was the "best and smoothest path to take" to end conflict over Cambodia's controversial management plan for the ancient Khmer temple.

Hor Namhong said Thailand had "no real intention" to end the conflict at which during the past meetings, Thailand still even claimed a simple name of the temple as Preah Viharn, instead of original name as Preah Vihear that was built by Cambodians in 11th century, the name that was officially spelled out in convention 1904 and treaty in 1907 and the name that was called at the international court's ruling in 1962.

However, Hor reiterated that Cambodia hopes to solve the issue peacefully with Thailand through negotiation and dialogue.

The border conflict came just one week after Cambodia's Preah Vihear Temple was registered as World Heritage Site in July 2008.

And over the past days, Cambodia and Thailand have exchanged war of words concerning who won at the recent UNESCO's meeting in Brazil on the conservation and management plan submitted by Cambodian side over the world cultural heritage site.

Cambodia was due to present its progress report on the conservation and management plan of the Preah Vihear Temple to UNESCO's committee for World Heritage, but that was opposed by the Thai side, saying that to be done only after the border issues between the two nations have been finalized.

However, UNESCO accepted the report but suggested it to be examined next year in Bahrain.

Source: Xinhua

News in Pic

Motorcyclists ride past the Canadia bank building in Phnom Penh August 5, 2010. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

A Canadia bank staff member counts U.S. currency in Phnom Penh August 5, 2010. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian garment workers ride the Remork on the way back home after work in Phnom Penh August 5, 2010. Cambodian garment exports rose 12 percent in the first half of 2010 compared with the same period last year, hitting $1.25 billion, thanks to a recovery in the U.S. market, an independent think tank said on Thursday. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Employees work at the W & D Cambodia Co. Limited garment factory in Phnom Penh August 6, 2010. Cambodian garment exports rose 12 percent in the first half of 2010 compared with the same period last year, hitting $1.25 billion thanks to a recovery in the U.S. market, an independent think tank said on Thursday. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Chorn Phala works at the W & D Cambodia Co.Limited garment factory in Phnom Penh August 6, 2010. Cambodian garment exports rose 12 percent in the first half of 2010 compared with the same period last year, hitting $1.25 billion thanks to a recovery in the U.S. market, an independent think tank said on Thursday. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Thai "red shirt" protest leader and opposition parliamentarian Jatuporn Prompan addresses supporters in the compound of a townhall in Si Sa Ket province, 600 km (370 miles) northeast of Bangkok, August 2, 2010. Emergency rule has helped to restore order in Bangkok and many areas. But in the rice-growing farmlands of Si Sa Ket bordering Cambodia and other provinces where the decree has been lifted, Thailand's political opposition is regrouping. Picture taken August 2, 2010. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

A supporter of the opposition Puea Thai Party holds up a foot-shaped plastic clapper, a symbol of the anti-government "red shirt" movement, while cheering to political speeches delivered onstage at a townhall in Si Sa Ket province, 600 km (370 miles) northeast of Bangkok, August 2, 2010. Emergency rule has helped to restore order in Bangkok and many areas. But in the rice-growing farmlands of Si Sa Ket bordering Cambodia and other provinces where the decree has been lifted, Thailand's political opposition is regrouping. Picture taken August 2, 2010. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

A policeman stands guard in front of a stage where opposition parliamentarians took turns to make political speeches against the government at a townhall in Si Sa Ket province, 600 km (370 miles) northeast of Bangkok, August 2, 2010. Emergency rule has helped to restore order in Bangkok and many areas. But in the rice-growing farmlands of Si Sa Ket bordering Cambodia and other provinces where the decree has been lifted, Thailand's political opposition is regrouping. Picture taken August 2, 2010. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Supporters of opposition Puea Thai Party and the anti-government "red shirt" movement cheer as political speeches are delivered on stage at a townhall in Si Sa Ket province, 600 km (370 miles) northeast of Bangkok, August 2, 2010. Emergency rule has helped to restore order in Bangkok and many areas. But in the rice-growing farmlands of Si Sa Ket bordering Cambodia and other provinces where the decree has been lifted, Thailand's political opposition is regrouping. Picture taken August 2, 2010. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Civil network to gather at Govt House; will ask govt to clarify Preah Vihear dispute

http://www.mcot.net/

via Khmer NZ

BANGKOK, Aug 6 - A network of civil groups will gather outside Government House on Saturday, demanding the government to clarify the Preah Vihear dispute.

People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leader Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang said the movement will not do anything against the law during their Saturday demonstration, saying the government contacted the group for talks but the timing has not yet been fixed.

Bangkok and other nine other provinces remain under a state of emergency, which bans gathering of more than five people.

The PAD leaders will announce their stance Friday at noon after the group meets.

Chaiwat Sinsuwong said the gathering will not represent a resolution of the New Politics Party and party executives will not go on stage to speak as it can then be considered a politically-motivated protest. The New Politics Party was formed by the PAD leadership.

Mr Chaiwat said the protesters would march to Gate 4 of Government House at 8am .

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Thursday that Thailand is now waiting for an 'appropriate time' to hold talks with neighbouring Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple dispute, while urging civil groups to refrain from rallying under a state of emergency.

Activist Veera Somkwamkid who lead the so-called 'Thailand Patriot Network' said earlier that his network comprised of 52 civil groups will rally in Si Sa Ket province bordering Cambodia on Saturday, asserting the move is about the protection of national sovereignty, not politically motivated colour-clad reasoning.

Mr Veera said the government has ignored the problem, as seen from the mistake that the previous government made in signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Cambodia in 2000.

Under the MoU between Thailand and Cambodia on the survey and demarcation of land boundary dated 4 June 2000, both sides agree not to carry out any work resulting in changes of environment of the frontier zone, pending the survey and demarcation of the common land boundary.

Tension between Thailand and Cambodia arose after the Thai government delegation objected to Cambodia's unilateral management plan of the ancient temple as the two neighbours could find no common ground to settle the disputed 4.6 sq km of land adjacent to the temple which was granted world heritage status in 2008.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization -- UNESCO -- through its World Heritage Commission (WHC) consequently last week postponed its discussion of the plan until next year when it meets in Bahrain.

The deputy premier said the Cabinet has already appointed Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Suwit Khunkitti to form a committee to prepare information to argue against Cambodia’s attempt to propose a temple management plan.

Mr Suthep urged the activists to hear the correct information on the dispute, while warning those who plan demonstrations at Government House that the State of Emergency is still in force in the capital and that the gathering is considered as violating the law.

He urged the activists to send their representatives to submit their complaint letter to him or to the premier and asked them to bear in mind the law and order of the country.

In August 2008, PAD seized Government House to pressure the then coalition government of Samak Sundaravej to resign. They staged protests in late 2008 that led to a nine-day blockade of Bangkok's airports in an attempt to oust the then prime minister Somchai Wongsawat. PAD opposed deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra claimed both prime ministers were proxies of Mr Thaksin. (MCOT online news)

Searching For Answers to Crimes Committed Against Children

via Khmer NZ

By BRIDGET SIMS LEWIS
Fri, Aug 6, 2010

In recent weeks, the words “shocking,” “stunning,” and “heartbreaking” have been used to describe the murders and extreme neglect of North Texas children at the hands of their mothers.

Just recently, the mayor of Coppell shot and killed her 19-year-old daughter, a recent high school graduate, before turning the gun on herself. In Irving, a mother strangled her 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter then called a 911 operator to report the crime. And, a young Waco mother is accused of trying to suffocate her 4-month-old son at a Fort Worth hospital “because she wanted to make her life easier,” police said.

Over and over again, we hear these tragic stories and, for a moment, they stop us in our tracks. We shake our heads and wonder, “How could a mother do these horrible things to her own child? Where there missed or ignored warning signs that the mother needed help? Did family members or friends know something was wrong but remain silent? What is happening to our world?” In the search for answers, for many, the journey becomes a call to action.

Around the globe, women and young girls are abused physically and mentally shattered every single day. I got to witness that terrible truth during a recent study abroad trip with students from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Our travel included stops in Cambodia — a country that is full of desperately poor people.

In Phnom Penh, the capital and largest city of Cambodia, teenage girls and young women work as prostitutes in the streets or at brothels servicing seven or more men a night. Some mothers desperate to care for their other family members, even sell their daughters. Our group met with an anti-human trafficking advocate who described how a 5-year-old girl was sold to an Australian tourist wanting to have sex with her. The man paid just $500 for the child.

Despite the torture, abuse and extreme violence, I couldn’t help but notice how friendly and warm the kids were. They seem to value education when they are fortunate enough to receive it. Those who tirelessly walk the streets selling handmade scarves, bracelets or other brilliant handcrafts displayed a work ethic unlike any I’ve seen in some adults. The children always greeted us and other foreigners with a smile. As the mother of a 4-year-old, I couldn’t help but pray that the children will see a brighter future filled with opportunities I want for my own child.

While despicable crimes are committed against boys, in many societies, they are still valued more highly and treated better than girls. As a news producer who often covers stories about offenses committed against girls and women (and issues of gender inequality), I am often outraged, sometimes confused, but always concerned about what I can do to help bring about positive change.

In June, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the U.S. State Department’s 10th Annual Trafficking in Persons Report. The 300-plus page document outlined the challenges in fighting human trafficking and sex slavery. And, in addition to rating countries around the world, for the first time, the U.S. rated itself, too. Activists say by admitting it faces this issue, the U.S. has a powerful diplomatic tool to encourage others to help fight human trafficking.

Fighting child abuse and neglect on the local level also takes admitting there’s a problem – whether we are involved in the situation or a witness to it. Long before Coppell’s mayor allegedly killed her daughter then herself, The Dallas Morning News reports questions began to surface about her actions. According to the paper, the mayor was having financial problems and was being investigated for personal charges to her city credit card. Again, the question silently reverberates, “Where there missed or ignored warning signs that the mother needed help?” In 911 calls released by the Irving Police Department, the woman accused of strangling her two young children told an emergency operator that her son and daughter were autistic and that she wanted “normal kids.” The woman and her family were also the subject of Child Protective Services investigation last year. But an agency spokeswoman said there were no signs of neglect or abuse. The question silently echoes, “Did family members or friends know something was wrong but remain silent?”

No one has all the answers. Licensed clinical social workers say awareness is key. They encourage people to learn the signs of a neglected or abused child or an overwhelmed parent. Sometimes medical intervention is needed but that is not always the case. Discussing a concern with a family member, friend or counselor can help alleviate mental stress. Psychologists say effective prevention can avert emotional damage to children and potentially save lives.

Bridget Lewis is a news producer for NBC5. View more of her photos from Cambodia at http://www.texastoasia.blogspot.com/ . To learn more about human trafficking, visit www.state.gov. Read about the study abroad programs at the University of Nebraska at http://www.unl.edu/ .

British man wanted over murder arrested in Thailand

via Khmer NZ

A British man wanted in the UK over the 2008 murder of his south London landlord has been arrested in Thailand, police said.

Stuart Scott Crawford, 44, was picked up on Tuesday after an extradition warrant for the fugitive was issued.

Thai authorities also announced the arrest of a second Briton, David Fletcher, on charges of sexually assaulting children in Cambodia.

Crawford is wanted in connection with the murder of Michael Ryan at the pair's home in Sutton, Surrey.

The 67-year-old's body was found at the address on September 10, 2008, but it is thought he had been dead for a number of days. The corpse had been rolled in carpet and pinned under a bookcase to conceal it.

A post-mortem examination found that Mr Ryan died as the result of a heavy blow to the head from a blunt instrument.

Crawford, who lived with the victim, fled the UK after the murder. Before leaving, it is alleged that he withdrew £6,500 from Mr Ryan's bank account.

Police in Thailand said the suspect had been living in the country for almost two years. He was arrested at an apartment in the resort of Pattaya. Crawford is now set to be extradited. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: "Proceedings continue to return him to the UK."

Meanwhile, Fletcher could be extradited to Cambodia, where he is wanted over child sex offences. He had been awaiting deportation from Thailand after being arrested on June 27 on immigration charges. The sex offender had failed to inform the Thai authorities of a conviction in the UK for raping a 16-year-old girl, a crime he served 18 months in prison for.

Whilst awaiting deportation, Interpol in Cambodia notified the Thai authorities that he was wanted in connection to child sex offences.

Planned Rally Venue For Tuesday Changed To Stadium

via Khmer NZ

BANGKOK, Aug 6 (Bernama) -- The Thailand Patriot Network finally agreed to change its rally venue from the Government House to a stadium, here Saturday, following negotiation with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Friday.

Abhisit said he had asked the group to conduct its rally at the Thai-Japanese Stadium in Din Daeng.

The consensus was reached after Abhisit met with the network's leader Samdin Lersbuth at Government House, here, where the prime minister's office is located.

"The two sides have the same goal of protecting Thailand's sovereignty for the country's benefit but they have different approaches," Abhisit said.

Earlier, the group insisted on holding its rally at Government House to demand that a border memorandum of understanding with Cambodia in 2000 be revoked although the government had asked them to cancel the protest.

The government's position is that the memo is a framework for the two countries to find ways to demarcate the border and will not put Thailand at a disadvantage during the demarcation process.

The network claimed that the MOU signed by the two countries when the Democrat Party was in power would cause Thailand to lose 4.6 square kilometres of disputed territory near the Preah Vihear temple.

They claimed the MOU was the source of the problem as it gave Cambodians a chance to trespass and settle in the disputed area.

Thailand and Cambodia have strained relations after Unesco listed the 11th century Hindu temple as a world heritage site in 2008.

The temple is situated in Cambodia's territory, according to the International Court of Justice ruling in 1962, but both countries claimed an area of 4.6 square kilometres adjacent to the temple.

The Unesco World Heritage Committee meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, last week postponed its decision on the management plan for the temple submitted by Cambodia to next year, following protest from Thailand as the plan includes part of the disputed territory.

The Thailand Patriot Network is led by the same leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), popularly known as the yellow shirts who seized the Government House on Aug 26, 2008 and took over two airports - Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Muang Airport on Nov 24, 2008.

However, the network leaders distanced Saturday's rally from any links with the yellow shirts.

Abhisit said he would go to the stadium Saturday to present the government's point of view over the issue.

There will be a live telecast debate between the group and government on Sunday and Abhisit will lead the government's team.

The Abhisit administration held a live telecast debate with the red shirts leaders last March before the peaceful street protest turned into violent clashes between the protesters and troops that left 91 people dead and 1,800 others injured when the protest ended on May 19.

Bangkok is still under a state of Emergency and the government declared Government House and its surrounding area a "restricted zone" from Friday night.

Samdin said he agreed to the change of the venue, adding that the government had agreed to help transport protesters who gather at the Government House to the stadium Saturday.

Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of security matters Suthep Thaugsuban issued a stern warning that protesters would face arrest if they hold a rally at the Government House Saturday.

Thai right-wing group warned against demonstrating

via Khmer NZ

By KINAN SUCHAOVANICH
Associated Press
2010-08-07

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong makes a point during a press conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Aug. 6, 2010. Namhong on Friday, criticized Thai authorities for continuing to challenge Cambodia's rights to administer a landmark temple on their border. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Thai authorities said that a planned demonstration outside the prime minister's office by a right-wing organization on Saturday would break the law, raising the possibility of new political unrest in Bangkok.

The Center for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation said the Thailand Patriot Network's plan to protest government policy over a land dispute with neighboring Cambodia was not allowed under a state of emergency governing Bangkok. It broadcast a specific ban on the action in a statement read over Thai television Friday night.

It was not immediately clear if the ban would be obeyed. Protest leaders could not be immediately contacted.

The state of emergency was declared in April after anti-government protesters broke into the Parliament building to press their demands for early elections. About 90 people died and more than 1,400 were injured during two months of protests, which the army quashed by force on May 19.

The Thailand Patriot Network claims that the government is failing to aggressively pursue Thai claims to disputed land along the border with Cambodia.

Thailand and Cambodia both claim land around the Preah Vihear temple, named a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2008 after Cambodia applied for the status. There have been small and sometimes deadly armed clashes in the area during the past few years.

Last week, Cambodia submitted a management plan for the temple, reviving the issue. The Thailand Patriot Network and other right-wing groups charge that the government should work harder to block the management plan.

In Cambodia Friday, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters that Thai attempts to claim Preah Vihear were pointless. One Thai suggestion is that that the two countries list Preah Vihear as a joint landmark with UNESCO.

"It is too late now to oppose the Preah Vihear temple being listed as a World Heritage site and also too late to ask for a joint listing of the temple," he said. "All of these demands are just dreaming, please, prime minister of Thailand, stop dreaming like this."

Cambodia to Restore 'Killing Fields' Skull-Filled Memorial

Cambodia plans to renovate the skull-filled memorial. AP Photo/Heng Sinith.

PHNOM PENH (AP).- Cambodia plans to renovate the skull-filled memorial on the site of the Khmer Rouge's former "killing fields" for the first time since it was built two decades ago.

Now a grim tourist attraction, Choeung Ek outside the capital Phnom Penh was where most of the prisoners who were tortured at the regime's main prison, S-21, were taken to be killed.

The remains of some 8,900 human skulls and bones are displayed in glass cases inside a Buddhist stupa-style structure, a religious monument, that was built in 1988 and has never been renovated, said Chour Sokty, the site's director.

He said experts will begin cleaning the stupa's roof, repainting the structure's white facade, cleaning an accumulation of cobwebs and repaving the area outside the building.

"We will be painting and cleaning its roof and the grounds. We will not move any of the skulls and bones inside the stupa," Chour Sokty said. "We want to beautify the stupa so it stays strong forever."

The Khmer Rouge were responsible for killing an estimated 1.7 million people during their 1975-79 rule.

A U.N.-backed tribunal last month convicted the regime's chief jailer, Kaing Guek Eav — also known as Duch — of war crimes and crimes against humanity, in the first verdict against a major Khmer Rouge figure 30 years after the regime's downfall.

Duch was ordered to serve 19 years in prison, a sentence that has been criticized in Cambodia as insufficient given the magnitude of his crimes.

Four other former senior leaders of the regime are in custody awaiting trial.

Frank Yetter: At crossroads, Cambodia faces its history


Courtesy Photo.
Journalist Thet Sambath, whose family was wiped out in the killing fields of Cambodia, created a Sundance Film Festival-winning documentary about his quest to undercover the truth about his family’s deaths.

By Frank Yetter / Sitting In
North Shore Sunday
Posted Aug 06, 2010

via Khmer NZ

The guide stops at bottom of the steps leading to the second floor of the Toul Sleng Prison Museum. She turns her eyes away as she tells us there’s a movie on the second floor about the prison and its role in the four-year genocide in Cambodia during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. She will not come with us; the movie is too painful for her to watch.

A crudely-fashioned documentary about Toul Sleng and the killing fields outside of Phnom Penh, the movie is a deeply painful reminder of personal losses all too common among Cambodians. Our guide’s father, brothers and uncle died at the hands of countrymen bent on purifying Cambodia through genocide ordered by Pol Pot.

Her relationship to the truths of what happened in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 is typical among Cambodians, who face reconciliation with the country’s horrible past as an international tribunal completes the trial of the first of Pol Pot’s chief lieutenants. Just last week Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, was sentenced to 35 years in prison after being convicted of crimes against humanity. The former mathematics teacher served as Pol Pot’s chief at Toul Sleng — also known as S21 (Security Office 21).

The guide had escaped death after Pol Pot and his government seized power in Cambodia, crossing the border into Vietnam and hiding in a village, a child alone, until the United Front for the National Salvation of Kampuchea liberated Cambodia and gave the country back to its people.

For the past 17 years, she has served as a tour guide at Toul Sleng, providing visitors with heartbreaking details about the systematic torture and murder of her family, friends and neighbors. She asks that her name not be used in print for fear of retribution, deferring to a lifetime mistrusting her government.

Cambodians by nature seem to accept their circumstances, whether present or past. There’s a local saying that embodies the overriding sentiment about the Khmer Rouge’s role in Cambodia’s history: “Transform the river of blood into a river of reconciliation.” A brochure for tourists at Toul Sleng supports this notion in describing the museum’s raison d’etre: “…making the crimes of the inhuman regime of Khmer Rouge public plays (a) crucial role in preventing (a) new Pol Pot from emerging in the lands of Angkor or anywhere on Earth.”

But as an eager nation awaited word on Duch’s long-awaited verdict, there has been anything but consensus on what most feel is appropriate punishment for the man convicted of directing the deaths of as many as 16,000 fellow Cambodians. Public opinion also varies widely on the best way to help Cambodia recover its lost generation and create opportunity for its people through infrastructure improvements, economic development and educational initiatives.

What is universally embraced, though, is the idea that for Cambodia to move forward the nation first needs to heal. And the Duch verdict is regarded as a crucial tonic for a nation still very much in recovery.

Stark reminders

Cambodia is often an afterthought in Southeast Asia. A poorer and smaller neighbor to Vietnam dwarfed as well by other neighboring countries, it is distinctly rural, agrarian and poor. Its population of nearly 15 million has a per capital GDP of $800 (2009), $300 less than Vietnam and a quarter of neighboring Thailand. The average daily wage for a rural Cambodian is $2.

Recent preliminary discoveries of oil, gas and coal reserves offer hope for the nation’s economy, but as multinational companies begin exploration and extraction, even that potential windfall poses a complex series of challenges in a country where little seems to go smoothly.

Cambodians are accustomed to hardship, so Toul Sleng’s presence in the middle of bustling Phnom Penh is treated as a fact of life. So is the killing field at Cheung Ek, which is promoted in the majority of tuk tuks and taxis that swarm the city’s streets, and which remains one of Cambodia’s top tourist destinations.

As one sits in the courtyard at Toul Sleng, it is easy to imagine the terrors of the 16,000 people who either died here or spent between two and seven months here before being transferred to the killing fields for extermination.

Inside the barbed-wire walled compound, four three-storey buildings with mottled concrete exteriors remain. Each has its own story.

Building A was where politically-connected prisoners were tortured, and the rooms are preserved in their original state as stark reminders of what humans are capable of doing to one another when an extremist leader is left unchecked.

A single rough cot rests on the tiled floor in the middle of the room. Atop the cot rest an empty steel ammunition case which was used as a toilet by prisoners, and a broken garden hoe which was used a torture implement, grim reminders of the horrors and hardships the room’s inhabitants were forced to endure. On the wall of each room is a photo of what Vietnamese soldiers found when they swarmed the compound in 1979: rotting corpses, mutilated and tortured, twisted in agony in their final moments of life.

In Buildings B and C there are row after row of 4-by-7 photographs of the tormented, which Pol Pot’s staff meticulously documented as part of the routine of Toul Sleng prisoner intake. Their faces stare solemnly ahead as visitors walk past, and most have the haunting, hopeless eyes of the condemned and forgotten. They are of all ages, representing both genders. No one was spared persecution by the Khmer Rouge, whose priority was to purge Cambodian society of the educated, influential and wealthy, many of whom were charged with being CIA spies.

In another room there are gruesome photographs of the victims — haunting reminders of the unspeakable atrocities that occurred here.

Much of these two buildings were also converted into tiny cells for prisoners barely two feet wide by six feet long. Six-foot holes were punched into walls separating what were once classrooms for Phnom Penh’s students so guards could easily access one row of holding pens from another. The walls still bear crudely scrawled numbers of the individual cells.

Building D was hastily converted into a mass holding area, and thick rows of barbed wire were installed across the fa├žade of the open-air corridor running along the front of the building to keep prisoners from committing suicide by leaping to their deaths.

No detail was overlooked when Pol Pot’s charges created Toul Sleng, and the hopelessness leaves most visitors sallow-faced and speechless, rendering needless the graphic signs that remind visitors not to smile while touring the facility.

Outside in the courtyard, trash and litter blows about here and there, but it feels irrelevant to a passerby who makes note of the mess. It seems impossible to further sully this tainted ground where pain and suffering were the order of the days and mercy never granted.

Sacrifice for the truth

Throughout his trial Duch was at once apologetic and contrite, then defiant and unremorseful. And in a bizarre twist after the trial concluded, he abruptly announced that he was changing his lawyers.

He begged for mercy in his final statement to the International Tribunal and sought lenience for his actions, referring to his stature as a weakened old man who bears little resemblance to how he appeared in his days as one of Pol Pot’s chief lieutenants.

“I ask for your forgiveness — I know that you cannot forgive me, but I ask you to leave me the hope that you might,” he said in a statement before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the tribunal established to conduct the trial.

Unlike Westerners, Cambodians do not typically react with anger when they face confrontation or difficulty. Some say their affability is the numbing effect of generations of hardship; others point to the presence of Buddhism as a guiding force of peacefulness and acceptance (the country is 94 percent Buddhist.)

But Duch’s trial has reopened wounds that are as yet unhealed more than 30 years after the horrors ended.

It is impossible to contemplate Duch’s guilt without considering in great detail the enormity of the horrors he is convicted of creating for his fellow countrymen. As the international tribunal completed its work on the Duch trial, many people here are already focusing on the next — and, in most opinions, far more complicated — trials of four more senior Khmer Rouge officials, which is expected to start next year.

And while most Cambodians are preoccupied with the challenges of daily life here, many surviving family members of those killed by the Khmer Rouge look to the trials as an important step toward reconciliation and closure.

One such man — Thet Sambath, one of Cambodia’s best investigative journalists whose family was wiped out in the killing fields — created a Sundance Film Festival-winning documentary about his quest to undercover the truths about his family’s deaths. “Enemies of the People,” in which Sambath over three years coerced Nuan Chea — “Brother Number Two” in the Pol Pot regime — to confess for the first time to his role in the genocide, had its Asian premiere at the Meta House German Cambodian Cultural Center last week, opening to a packed house for three nights.

Sambath and co-director Rob Lemkin were on hand for the openings and fielded questions about their work and the response it has generated in the international community.

The opening, which was not sanctioned by the Cambodian government, was timed to coincide with the Duch verdict. Another film, “The Duch Verdict, We Want (U) To Know,” was shown the night before the verdict was announced.

Back at Toul Sleng, the guide explains what motivated her to seek employment at the facility that was the source of such horror for her family, friends and countrymen.

“It was important to me,” she said. “For the first year I would cry all day, it was so hard to think about it all. But now the pain is not so much.”

She turns to make her way back to the guardhouse that now serves as a ticket booth for the museum, her rounded shoulders stooped from a life of hardship, sadness and loss. She must prepare for the next tour group that stands ready for their own walk into Cambodia’s tragic history.

Sambath says that for Cambodia to move forward it first must face its grim past.

“Some may say no good can come from talking to killers and dwelling on past horror, but I say these people have sacrificed a lot to tell the truth,” he says on his website. “In daring to confess they have done good, perhaps the only good thing left.

“They and all the killers like them must be part of the process of reconciliation if my country is to move forward.”

Frank Yetter is a former North Shore newspaper editor and publisher who is living and volunteering in Cambodia with his wife.

Cambodia Issues More Warnings to Thais Over Temple

Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer | Phnom Penh
Friday, 06 August 2010

via Khmer NZ

Photo: AP
Thailand and Cambodia are at odds over a 4.6-kilometer stretch of land that each side claims for itself.

Cambodian officials responsed to strong rhetoric in the Thai media on Friday, claiming that increased political pressure over the border near Preah Vihear temple could mean an end to a bilateral solution to the problem.

Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong told reporters Friday Cambodia would consider filing a grievance with the UN Secretary General over the border issue if Thai officials did not stop making public claims to a stretch of land along the border.

Thailand and Cambodia are at odds over a 4.6-kilometer stretch of land that each side claims for itself. Cambodian officials maintain that the land, west of Preah Vihear temple, does not belong to Thailand.

Both sides have had troops amassed on the border since July 2008, when Preah Vihear temple was listed as a World Heritage Site under Cambodia.

Cambodia issued a management plan to Unesco's World Heritage committee last week, but Thailand says the plan would eat into Thai soil. Cambodian officials have denied the the claim.

Hor Namhong said Friday he was responding to recent Thai media reports that quoted Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva saying border problems only started after the Unesco World Heritage listing.

Cambodia Preps for Oil Agreement With Iran

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer | Phnom Penh
Friday, 06 August 2010

via Khmer NZ

Photo: AP
A Muslim woman carries her child at dusk in the holy city of Qom, Iran
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“We want Iranian companies to invest in Cambodia, boosting economic growth and development for poverty reduction.”

Cambodia is preparing a high-level delegation to visit Iran next week, where they expect to sign an agreement on petroleum cooperation, among others.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told VOA Khmer Friday the petroleum agreement would allow Iranian oil experts to provide technical assitance to Cambodia.

The delegation will be led by Foreign Minisgter Hor Namhong and will include Ho Vichit, vice chairman of the National Petroleum Authority, a ministry statement said.

Cambodia expects to see oil flowing from offshore blocs in 2012, Koy Kuong said, and Iran is one of the largest producers of oil in the world.

The visit will improve diplomatic relations between the two countries, as well as promoting trade, tourism and investment, he said.

The trip, scheduled for Aug. 11 and Aug. 12, could also mean positive developments for Cambodia's Muslim community, said Sman Teath, a Muslim and deputy director of the National Assembly's finance committee.

Cambodia has a population of nearly half a million Muslims, many of whom remain in poverty after devastating treatment at the hands of the Khmer Rouge.

Sos Mos Sin, head of the Cambodian-Muslim Student Association, said the community needs trade and investment opportunities as well as humanitarian assistance from Iran.

“We want Iranian companies to invest in Cambodia, boosting economic growth and development for poverty reduction,” he said.

There are so far no plans for Iranian businesses to come here, Koy Kuong said.

Cambodia has had diplomatic relations with Iran since 1992, but it communicates with the country through its embassy in Hanoi.

Mohsen Kohkan, head of the Iran-Cambodia Parliamentary Friendship Group, who visited Cambodia in June, asked Cambodia to establish an Embassy in Iran. The Iranian Assembly has been encouraging its government to appoint an ambassador to Cambodia.

Government Can Help in Tribunal Reconciliation: Monitor

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer | Washington, DC
Friday, 06 August 2010

via Khmer NZ

Photo: by Heng Reaksmey
From left to right: Mr. Sum Rithy, civil party complainant for case #002, and Mr. Lat Ky, tribunal monitor chief of ADHOC, on 'Hello VOA".

“Because the state has an obligation to take responsibility for all kinds of people's suffering.”

Compensation for victims of the Khmer Rouge is in part a responsibility of the government, a tribunal monitor said Thursday.

“Because the state has an obligation to take responsibility for all kinds of people's suffering,” said Lat Ky, a court monitor for the rights group Adhoc, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

Many victims were disappointed with the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal's sentencing of prison chief Duch last week. He received a commuted sentence of 19 years for supervising the torture and execution of more than 12,000 people.

Victims who lost family in the infamous prison say they want a stupa erected with the names of the dead. Lat Ky said a stupa would help.

“Even if the verdict is a [court] order, how do we make the victims mentally reconcile, fix their suffering, and find justice for them?” he said. “That's more important than the complexities that the judges are thinking.”

Sum Rithy, a 57-year-old who has filed grievances in both the Duch case and the upcoming Case No. 002, said he was disappointed he saw no compensation in the Duch verdict.

“Reconciliation for me is easy,” he said. “I want all the leaders to answer for the deeds they committed.”

Thai police nab three foreign fugitives

http://news.asiaone.com/

via Khmer NZ

Fri, Aug 06, 2010
AFP

BANGKOK (AFP) - Two Britons and a Japanese man wanted on charges including murder, fraud and sex offences have been arrested in Thailand, immigration police said on Friday.

The fugitives include Stuart Scott Crawford, 44, thought to be on Britain's most wanted list as the prime suspect in the September 2008 murder of his friend Michael Ryan in his home country.

Thai police also detained John David Fletcher, 66, sought by Cambodia on child sex charges, and Ichiro Ogushi, 35, wanted by Japan for allegedly faking his own death in a 500 million yen (almost six million dollar) insurance scam.

The arrests continue a crackdown on foreign criminal suspects in Thailand as the prime holiday destination seeks to shed its image as something of a haven for those seeking to evade the law.

British police suspect Crawford of beating Ryan to death and using his credit card to withdraw 6,500 pounds (10,300 dollars) before fleeing to Thailand.

Crawford, who has lived in Thailand for two years with his Thai wife, was arrested in the seaside resort of Pattaya on Tuesday after the British embassy requested cooperation in the matter.

Thai police said Fletcher was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting children in Cambodia. He has previously served an 18-month prison sentence in Britain for raping a 16-year-old girl.

Police said he set up a charity called the Rubbish Dump Project, which claimed to provide a way for tourists to donate money for needy children in the impoverished Southeast Asian country.

Ogushi is thought to have travelled to Thailand to file a forged death registration in order to make an insurance claim after his export business in Japan failed.

He was found out when the Japanese embassy in Bangkok realised the certificate was fake, while forensic tests on the substance purporting to be his ashes, could not confirm his identity although they were human remains.

Both Britons are set to be extradited and Thai police said they were in discussions with the Japanese embassy over the Ogushi case.

Cambodia to sign cooperation deal with Iran on oil

Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong speaks during a news conference in Phnom Penh August 6, 2010. Hor, who is also the country's foreign minister, announced that Cambodia will sign cooperation deals on oil with Iranian officials during his visit to Iran next week. Credit: Reuters/Chor Sokunthea

via Khmer NZ

(Reuters) - Officials from Cambodia are to travel to Iran next week and the two countries will sign agreements covering cooperation in the oil sector, the foreign minister of the Southeast Asian state said on Friday.

Hor Namhong, who will meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during the delegation's visit on Aug. 10-11, declined to give details on the agreements but he told a news conference Cambodia could benefit from Iranian know-how.

Oil companies are operating off Cambodia but the country is not expected to produce its first oil until 2012.

Koy Kuong, undersecretary of state at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, told Reuters the agreements would involve the exchange of experience and knowledge, and Iran would also provide technical support for the Cambodian oil industry.

Asked why Cambodia had chosen Iran for such agreements, he said: "We are a non-partisan country. We are friends with everyone in the world."

The United States, European Union and others have imposed sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear programme, targeting in particular investment in its oil and gas industries.

Chevron Corp(CVX.N) is operating Block A in the Gulf of Thailand and Total(TOTF.PA) also has exploration rights in the area.

Three Japanese firms -- Inpex, Marubeni Oil and Gas, which is a subsidiary of Marubeni Corp, and Mitsui Oil Exploration Co, a unit of trading house Mitsui & Co Ltd -- have also shown interest in exploring.

Thai 'Yellow Shirts' plan Bangkok protest

The Yellows mounted a siege of Bangkok's two main airports in 2008 that stranded hundreds of thousands of tourists
BANGKOK — Thailand's royalist "Yellow Shirts" said Friday they would join a weekend rally in Bangkok to accuse the government of ceding territory to Cambodia, in a show of strength for the nationalistic movement.

At least 2,000 people are expected to attend the protest outside Government House on Saturday in defiance of an emergency decree in the capital, organisers said.

Thai authorities warned the protesters to stay away and said they would deploy the police and military to manage the situation if necessary.

"We will not allow any protest in the area under the emergency decree," said Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd, spokesman for the government unit overseeing security in the capital.

"We also have officers to take care of the situation," he said, adding that the Yellows' view would be taken into account and they "don't have to come in large numbers".

The Yellows, formally called the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), have previously allied themselves with the current Thai political leadership but the spat is the latest sign that relations have soured.

Key PAD figure Sondhi Limthongkul on Friday accused Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of "lying to the entire Thai nation" about the territorial issue.

The PAD has criticised the governing Democrat party of signing up to a deal with Thailand's neighbour in 2000 that the Yellows believe paved the way for recognition of a Cambodian land claim.

The group has demanded that Thailand tear up the memorandum of understanding, eject Cambodian citizens from the disputed 4.6 square kilometre (1.8 square mile) area and try to regain control of the Preah Vihear temple.

Relations between the neighbouring countries, which have previously been strained because of Cambodia's refusal to deport fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, have been further tested by the dispute.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Friday dismissed a Thai compromise proposal for the temple as "a dream".

The Yellow Shirts, who are backed by the Bangkok-based elite, are a force to be reckoned with in Thailand's colour-coded political landscape.

The group's rallies in 2006 helped trigger the coup that unseated Thaksin, the hero of the mostly poor and working class "Red Shirts", who were behind violent protests in Bangkok in April and May.

The Yellows also mounted a siege of Bangkok's two main airports in 2008 that stranded hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists and helped to topple a government allied to Thaksin.

Many Red Shirt leaders are in jail for their roles in the Bangkok protests and the movement has complained that the lack of charges filed against the Yellows showed a double standard of justice.

This week prosecutors again postponed a decision over whether to indict individual Yellow Shirts over the airport siege.

Under a state of emergency imposed in Bangkok in April in response to the Red Shirt protest, political gatherings of more than five people are currently banned in the capital.

Red supporters plan a small demonstration of their own in Bangkok on Sunday to protest at the May crackdown on their rally, during which about 90 people died and nearly 1,900 were injured in clashes between troops and protesters.

Enemies of the People: The Khmer Rouge, Close-Up

via Khmer NZ

By Brendan Brady / Phnom Penh
Friday, Aug. 06, 2010

Nuon Chea, Pol Pot's right-hand man from the Khmer Rouge, sits in the dock during his second public appearance at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, Feb. 7, 2008. Chor Sokunthea / Reuters

After three years of paying social visits, Cambodian journalist Thet Sambath finally gets what he wants from his secretive companion: a sign that the old man will discuss his past as second-in-command of the Khmer Rouge. "Finally, he told me one day, 'Sambath, I believe you, I trust you,'" Thet tells the camera. The candid conversations that follow between Thet and Nuon Chea, now 84, form the core of Enemies of the People, an award-winning documentary about the ultra-Maoist revolution that left nearly a quarter of Cambodia's population dead. Having earned Nuon Chea's trust, Thet coaxes out a first-of-its-kind public admission: top-level Khmer Rouge leaders ordered purges. It was "the correct solution," says the regime's former Brother No. 2, to have traitors "killed and destroyed."

Nuon Chea is unlikely to speak so openly to the war-crimes court that now is holding him. Created to address Khmer Rouge crimes, the court concluded its first trial last month, convicting a former prison warden known as Duch to 19 more years in prison. In that instance, prosecutors benefited from a cooperative defendant and a lengthy paper trail incriminating him. Nuon Chea's trial, scheduled to begin next year, will prove more difficult. He and three others are expected to remain mum about their real roles in the regime. Anticipating their silence, investigating judges fought for an advance copy of Enemies. Thet and fellow producer Rob Lemkin, of Britain, rejected the subpoena, citing agreements with the interviewees. It is still unclear whether the footage will be used in court.

Whatever the precise legal ramifications of the film, the content is certain to stir audiences. Enemies offers a chilling on-the-ground account of how orders to kill were passed down from the top, to district level leaders, then to cadres who did the dirty work. The emotional turmoil experienced by two such executioners, Soun and Khoun, figures prominently in the film. Soun, a Buddhist, later asks how many reincarnations he will have to spend in hell before he can be reborn as a human living under the sun. Now, he simply wants his former bosses to admit that they ordered people like him to carry out executions, the methods of which he demonstrates in the film: "You hold them like this," he says, grabbing an observer by the neck, "so they cannot scream."

Khoun estimates that on many days, he killed 10 to 20 people — and hundreds over the course of the regime's rule from 1975 to 1979. This astonishing number is still just a fraction of the 1.7 million people executed or forced onto collective farms where they died from starvation, exhaustion and medical neglect.

This level of suffering isn't betrayed in Nuon Chea's cold and largely unapologetic account in the documentary. "Ours was a clean regime. A clear-sighted regime. A peaceful regime," he said. The revolution failed only "because the enemies' spies attacked and sabotaged us from the start." Using euphemistic Maoist language, he says the purges were necessary to "resolve" — exterminate — insidious elements planted by Western countries and neighboring Vietnam scheming to occupy Cambodia. This account clashes with the view of most historians, who say such fears were a product of the leadership's paranoia and were used as a pretense to maintain power by cultivating a climate of fear through the arbitrary murder of hundreds of thousands.

Thet — who lost his parents, a brother and dozens of other relatives to the regime — believes Nuon Chea's account is more credible than historians believe. "I read many books [about the Khmer Rouge], especially books by foreigners, and they are good but not the whole truth," he tells me in his house in Phnom Penh. (We were once colleagues at the English-language Phnom Penh Post, where he still works as a reporter). His contact with ex-cadres has led him to believe that the Khmer Rouge leadership faced real danger from would-be traitors and occupiers. He is quick to add, though, that such threats didn't justify the purges. In the film's most climactic moment, Thet reveals to Nuon Chea how his family suffered under the Khmer Rouge. The former ideologue appears moved but is unable, of course, to recant his belief in the revolution because of one man's loss.

Thet's relentless legwork over a decade has left him desiring a more tranquil existence. It's been a long road for the investigative journalist, from the muddy rice fields of Cambodia's northwest to the international film circuit, which has handed Enemies of the People 16 awards, including a Sundance Jury Prize. Now he wants to give research a rest and farm the land he recently purchased in Pailin, home to former cadres whose trust as an honest broker he earned.