Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief


via CAAI

Victims of pirate attack still not repatriated

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 15:00 Cheang Sokha

MORE than 20 Cambodian and Thai fishermen who were attacked by Somali pirates and rescued while adrift in the Gulf of Aden have not yet been returned to their countries of origin. Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday that Cambodian embassy officials in Bangkok have not been informed about any repatriation of the fishermen since a Thai boat owner picked them up from Oman on November 15. The 23 victims – 15 Cambodians, seven Thais and one Yemeni policeman – were attacked about 70 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia earlier this month.

Laotian on drug charges

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 15:00 Sun Narin

STUNG Treng provincial court yesterday charged a Laotian national with trafficking and dealing drugs. Nguong Thang, 52, was arrested on Sunday in Thala Barivat district after being found carrying 3,520 methamphetamine pills in a rice package, according to provincial police chief Long Vicheat. Deputy prosecutor Phat Thai said the suspect was charged with drug trafficking and drug distribution and faces between 10 and 15 years in jail if found guilty.

CPP to host party meet

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 15:00 Vong Sokheng

THE ruling Cambodian People’s Party is set to host the 6th General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties, which will kick off in Phnom Penh on December 1. Ek Tha, the local spokesman of ICAPP, said the four-day event would demonstrate Cambodia’s “key role” in promoting regional economic cooperation. The prime ministers of Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Nepal, as well as representatives of 90 Asian political parties from 37 countries, are expected to attend the conference, according to a statement issued by ICAPP on Sunday.

Price reaction: Rubber high spurs extra planting


via CAAI

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 15:00 RANN REUY/ BLOOMBERG

CAMBODIA’S rubber farmers are looking to expand plantations after the price of rubber hit more than US$4,000 per tonne this month.

Yesterday, April-delivery rubber on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange climbed as much as 2.1 percent to 375.3 yen per kilogram ($4,498 a tonne). The contract has climbed 13 percent this month as heavy rain in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, the top three growers, disrupted tapping and lowered production.

Pouy Bun Eng, of Chamkar Leu district, in Kampong Cham province, said she expanded her 50 hectare plantation by another seven hectares last month.

“I am happy because of the current high price,” she said.

While Kampong Cham province’s Tbong Khmum Family Rubber Association President Thy Sambo said that he expected further increases in the price of resin this month. He warned, however that the crop took a long time to grow.

Ly Phalla, director of the Rubber Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said that high demand was pushing prices and the trend was set to continue.

Cambodia grows rubber on more 16.5000 hectares of land and produce more than 40,000 tonnes each year.

Children shoot with the professionals



Children from Anjali take eagerly to the countryside to shoot photographs alongside professionals during a week-long workshop organised by the Angkor Photo Festival. WILL BAXTER

via CAAI

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 15:00 Will Baxter

MORE than 40 underprivileged children took part in the 3rd annual Anjali Photo Workshops in Siem Reap.

Armed with a range of cameras and guided by seven professional photographers from across Asia, they set about documenting the world around them for a week, focusing on the people, wildlife and scenes in Siem Reap and the Tonle Sap lake area.

“I try to tell about the life of the people I photograph,” said 15-year-old Vong Pech, who is taking part in the workshop for the third time.

Vong Pech shyly admitted he had improved greatly since his first shot.

“Before my photos were really bad, but after [practising], this year it’s better,” he said. “I have learned about lines, the light, framing, reflections, and a lot of other skills, like trying to take photos from different angles.”

“We try to inculcate a sense of story-telling,” said Vidura Jang Bahadur, an instructor and freelance photographer from India. “They have learned a lot over time, but the main purpose is to have fun.”

“It’s a great learning experience for [the teachers] as well; you see the way [the children] shoot and it strips away all of the pretentions,” he said.

Samuel Flint, director of Anjali House, said that photography gives the children a chance to express themselves. “It’s nice for them to be able to do something where they get recognition and praise because they don’t necessarily get that at home.”

Anjali House, an NGO founded in 2006 by the Angkor Photography Festival Association, cares and educates about 80 children in Siem Reap. Ten children will display their work at this year’s Angkor Photo Festival.

Focus on refugees in cities


Subjectivity fascinates Michel Kirch. ©ZALMAI/ANGKOR PHOTO FESTIVAL

via CAAI

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 15:00 Peter Olszewski

TWO award-winning photographers feature in the McDermott Gallery Old Market Exhibition opening tonight as part of the sixth annual Angkor Photo Festival.

Former Afghan refugee Zalmai introduces his gritty Invisible in the City series which highlights the plight of urban refugees in Colombia, South Africa and Malaysia.

At the other end of the spectrum, the exhibition also features German-born Paris-based Michel Kirch’s Baltic Memories, described by the gallery as “ a serene body of work of absolute grace and beauty capturing perfect moments in northernmost Europe, where Kirch found himself astonished with his realisation that ‘white held the answer’.”

Subjectivity fascinates Michel Kirch. ©MICHEL KIRCH/ESTHER WOEDERHOFF GALLERY PARIS

Both photographers are heavy hitters in the trade and senior snappers. Zalmai, 46, left Kabul shortly after the 1980 Soviet invasion, travelled to Lausanne, Switzerland, and became a Swiss citizen.

He won the coveted Visa d’Or from the Visa Pour l’Image International Photojournalism Festival at Perpignan this year. His work has appeared in numerous international publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Time, Le Temps and Newsweek. He was commissioned by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to highlight the plight of refugees, and the work on show in Siem Reap is the result of that commission.

He said that while most people think of refugees as people living in tents in border towns, he concentrated on the plight of refugees living in big cities.

He said the photos were hard to take because such refugees have few rights and little status and are wary of having their photos taken.

He had to work hard to win their trust and he said he chose to work in black and white because these people are “living in the dark, not in the night lights of the big cities”.

Michel Kirch started his career as a doctor but alternated his medical practice with travel, taking lengthy sojourns – such as a year in the Sahara, four months with the Bedouins in Sinai, a summer on a trawler in Santander and three years in Lower Galilee.

He developed his photography while travelling, and has many international exhibitions to his credit, five books published and representation in seven galleries.

Kirch is fascinated with subjectivity and his own sensitivity, focusing on outer reality and his interior, personal planet. He said: “The inner landscape of my photos is a geography of the soul, woven into the fabric of reality. For reality is what makes photography so magical … and superior, in my mind, to any other visual art.”

The shows at McDermott Gallery will run simultaneously from November 23 to December 15 as part of the Angkor Photo Festival.

Up closer and personal with violence


Unrest in Bangkok earlier this year, seen by Patrick de Noirmont. ©PATRIC DE NOIRMONT/NEWSPICTURES.COM

via CAAI

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 15:00 Craig Miles

PATRICK de Noirmont is a photographer who saw the unrest in Bangkok this year up close and personal. He was amazed at the freedom of access journalists had to document the violence.

To the rest of the world, it was front page news. Siem Reap will play host to a slideshow from photographers who were in Bangkok at the Angkor Photo Festival tonight, six months after the horrific incidents.

Curated by Francoise Callier at FCC Angkor Hotel, tonight’s slideshow at 8pm about the Bangkok unrest will feature de Noirmont’s work among other photographers. He says the freedom the press had during those two months have resulted in pictures being “violent and spectacular” and this will be evident in the slideshow.

The Bangkok unrest, as it is commonly known, happened this year in April and May, with Red Shirt protest leaders surrendering on May 19. Last Friday, Red Shirt protesters rallied in Bangkok to mark six months since the army cracked down on their demonstrations, which turned violent.

“The freedom of access we had for two months was incredible,” de Noirment said. “We could spend one hour with the Red Shirts, or one hour with the army. It was easy, but fun to do.”

De Noirmont was living in Bangkok and shocked by what he saw. “It was all friendly to start with, but then it became nasty. There was a big incident on April 12 where 12 to 15 people were killed, including people from Reuters. On April 14, it was unbelievable to see the violence in Thailand. There were snipers shooting people in the street, schools closed and you could cross the city in half an hour.”

Monks farewell the deceased


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Monks and Mourners gather at Diamond Island bridge this afternoon to farewell at least 349 people who died in last night's tragic stampede on the crossing.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 17:26 POST STAFF

About 500 mourners and 400 monks congregated at the base of the Diamond Island bridge in Phnom Penh this afternoon, the site of last night's stampede that killed at least 349 people, to offer blessings to the deceased.

The incident, which Prime Minister Hun Sen described as the "biggest tragedy since the Pol Pot regime" has shaken Cambodian people during the final stages of their annual water festival and overwhlemed emergency services stuggling to cope with the deluge of bodies and injured victims that began pooring into hospitals after panic erupted into a stampede on the overcrowded bridge about 10 o'clock last night.

Monks burned joss sticks during the buddhist mourning ceremony and wished a safe trip into the next life for the souls of those who perished during the tradedy.

The exact cause of the panic that set off the stampede remains inconclusive.

Phnom Penh struggles to cope with tragic stampede


via CAAI

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 12:40 POST STAFF

Cambodian officials today were struggling to cope with the aftermath of last night’s tragic stampede on Koh Pik bridge in Phnom Penh that left more than 300 people dead and several hundreds more injured.

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced early this morning via video conference that 339 were confirmed dead.

Nhim Vanda, deputy director of the Department of Disaster Management put the figure today at 349, while unconfirmed reports from police officials said 375 had been killed.

The Prime Minister also pledged that the families of victims would receive 5 million riels ($US1, 230) in compensation.

City hospitals have begun posting photographs to help identify the dead, while government trucks have been tasked with returning identified victims to their home provinces.

A press conference has been scheduled for later this afternoon, during which officials are expected to announce details of their investigation into the cause of the stampede and ongoing efforts to care for survivors and the families of those who lost relatives in the stampede.

US extends condolences


via CAAI

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 15:02 POST STAFF

The United States has offered its "deep condolences" for the 349 people so far confirmed dead during a stampede that occurred on the final day of Cambodia’s water festival.

"On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I offer our deep condolences for the tragic loss of life and the injuries in Phnom Penh during Cambodia's annual water festival," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

She praised the "strength and resilience" of Cambodian people, traits she observed during her visit to the Kingdom this month.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims and with all the people of the Kingdom of Cambodia," she said.

"I am confident that they will pull together and persevere through this difficult time."

Hundreds die in tragic end to water festival


Photo by: Pha Lina
A mourner weeps amid several covered bodies at Calmette Hospital early this morning following a stampede that killed hundreds on the northen Koh Pich bridge during the water festival.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 02:48 Post Staff

Hundreds died and hundreds more were injured last night in a stampede on Diamond Island’s north bridge, bringing a tragic close to the final day of water festival celebrations in Phnom Penh.

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced via video conference at 2:30am that 339 people had been confirmed dead and 329 injured.

“With this miserable event, I would like to share my condolences with my compatriots and the family members of the victims,” he said.

“This needs to be investigated more.”

A committee would be set up to examine the incident.

“This is the biggest tragedy since the Pol Pot regime,” he said, adding that Cambodia would hold a national day of mourning tomorrow.

The cause of the stampede has not yet been confirmed, but Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said it happened because “one million people”, many of whom were leaving the island, became “scared of something.”

Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth also could not confirm the series of events that led to the disaster.

“People were afraid and began to trample each other and some jumped into the river,” he said at the scene.

Bedlam ensued as the frenzied crowd began to push its way off the bridge, causing a jam that made it nearly impossible to breathe, according to witnesses.

With no other escape route, hundreds of people began jumping off the suspension bridge.

Sirens started to awaken city residents minutes later as ambulances, police cars and emergency vehicles began rushing to the scene, where they had to clear away the crowd before reaching victims.

Boats were called in to pull people out of the water and ferry others across the narrow Bassac River to the shore in front of the Royal Palace, where emergency workers fought through the crowd of frantic onlookers to care for the injured.

The bodies of victims were taken away in ambulances, flat-bed trucks and motor-bikes to area hospitals as police struggled to clear away the crowd by shouting, pushing and beating them back with their belts.

As the scene cleared, many bodies remained on the road, which was littered with shoes, shirts, pants and other objects dropped in the mayhem. Pieces of cardboard were placed over the heads of those obviously dead, while bystanders fanned people thought to be still alive.

Area hospitals confirmed that hundreds were either dead on arrival or died soon after, with witnesses on hand giving various explanations for the initial cause of the stampede and the actual cause of deaths.

A doctor at Calmette hospital, who declined to give his name, said after a preliminary assessment the principal causes of death among the victims he had examined were suffocation and electrocution.

Ouk Sokhhoeun, 21, was at the scene with his sister, 23-year-old Ouk Srey Mom, who was left unconscious and taken to Calmette hospital, said that military police started firing water cannons into the crowd on the bridge after the stampede had already caused scores of people to fall unconscious.

He said the water caused many people on the bridge to receive electric shocks from the cables lighting the bridge, at which point “some police also received electric shocks”.

Preah Vihear: Abhisit still firm on temple site


via CAAI

Monday, 22 November 2010 15:02 Thomas Miller and Bangkok Post

Preah Vihear

THAILAND still opposes Cambodia’s proposal that the Unesco World Heritage Committee manage the area around the ancient Preah Vihear temple, according to remarks by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday. “I’ve told my Cambodian counterpart that Thailand will continue using the watershed mark as the border between both countries”, Abhisit said during his weekly broadcast in Bangkok. “Thailand will abide by the International Court of Justice’s ruling in 1962 and is against Cambodia’s move to submit its management plan for the Preah Vihear to the World Heritage Committee in June next year, as it could lead to more conflicts”, he said. Spokesman for the Council of Ministers Phay Siphan said Abhisit’s statement indicates the two governments remain at odds over the controversial issue. The decision about how to manage the temple is up to Cambodia, he said, because “it is under Cambodian sovereignty, as has been internationally recognised”.

Village pins economic dreams on tourism


Handicraft projects have been helping local women sell their wares. Photo by: Matthew Backhouse via CAAI

Monday, 22 November 2010 17:10 Matthew Backhouse and Soeun Say

DOWN a rutted red-dirt road that threatens to swallow up vehicles when it rains lies Sambor Prei Kuk, a small community that has pinned its hopes for economic growth on locally-driven tourism.

The cluster of seven villages in Kampong Thom province is a bumpy 40-minute drive from the provincial capital, roughly halfway between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Its residents are mostly farmers who eke out a living on the land with no access to mains water, power, or sewage systems

Locals hope conditions will improve over time thanks to the Isanborei community tourism project, which was established last year as a public-private partnership between German development organisation GTZ and the Khiri Reach Foundation, the non-profit arm of regional agency Khiri Travel.

A boy fishes from a stream in rural Sambor Prei Kuk. Photo by: Matthew Backhouse

The project aims to attract more visitors to the area by promoting Sambor Prei Kuk’s historically significant archaeological ruins and offering tourists a chance to experience traditional village life.

Tong Khy, who runs a homestay in the area, said the project had given him employment and the opportunity to improve his family’s lives.

“I hope that in the near future I will get more and more income to support my family, especially to send my three children to university,” he said.

His homestay charges with US$6 a night for each of its four rooms, with $1 going back into the community.

Expansion is on the horizon. Tong Khy said he hoped more tourists would come to the area in the future, and planned to grow his business to meet demand.

Sambor Prei Kuk’s main attraction is the three temple complexes of the ancient city of Isanapura, which served as the capital of the Chenla kingdom from the seventh century until the rise of Angkor.

Some of the ruins are now in a sorry state, having been bombed during the Vietnam war, swallowed up by the jungle and plundered for relics, but many are still definitive examples of Chenla architecture and sculpture. As a result, Sambor Prei Kuk is likely to be listed as a UNESCO world heritage site next year.

Yet despite the area’s historical significance, tourism to date has been a relative trickle.

About 600 to 700 tourists visit every month in the high season, but as few as 100 visit each month in the low season, according to Sem Norm, chief of Sambor Prei Kuk Conservation and Development Community.

He hopes the Isanborei community tourism project can change that.

“If tourists come here our local people will get income. So we want people living in this area to keep up conservation and develop eco-tourism projects – to take care of the environment, forestry and culture.”

The concept of community tourism in Sambor Prei Kuk was first introduced in 2005, when GTZ teamed up with private-sector partners to develop a range of tourist services including community guides, bicycle hiring, handicrafts, catering, traditional Khmer dance performances and ox-cart rides.

Prom Visal, GTZ’s local economic development coordinator, said the recent partnership with Khiri Reach focused on improving the quality of services, such as training local caterers to improve food and hygiene standards. They have also set up a website to promote the area and established homestays, which Prom Visal said would encourage tourists to stay in the area for longer.


Fact box

  • Location Sambor Prei Kuk consists of seven villages scattered around the ancient temple city of Isanapura.
  • History The city was the capital of the Chenla kingdom from the seventh century until the rise of Angkor, and could be listed as a UNESCO world heritage site next year.
  • Travel Visitors can get a ride to the temples from the Tourist Transport Association of Kampong Thom.
  • Provincial draw Provincial tourism figures show 200,328 domestic tourists and 10,191 international tourists visited Kampong Thom province in the first nine months of this year.
  • Visitors An average of 600 to 700 tourists visit Sambor Prei Kuk every month in the high season.

An ancient temple is enveloped by a tree. Photo by: Matthew Backhouse

I hope that in the near future I will get more income to support my family... to send my three children to university.

“Sometimes they just come and see the temples and go, so there are no other benefits to the community. That’s why we try to build the capacity for them,” he said.

Infrastructural improvements are set to follow. Kampong Thom deputy governor Uth Sam An said at the official launch of Sambor Prei Kuk’s tourism services last week that the government would begin construction of a sealed road between Kampong Thom and Sambor Prei Kuk next year.

He said community tourism in the area would encourage more visitors to see a new side of Cambodia that was different to existing destinations such as Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.

“Eco-tourism has much potential to create more jobs for local people and improve their living conditions,” he said.

But some domestic tourism operators have cautioned against pinning too much hope on sustainable tourism initiatives.

Speaking at the launch of the Responsible Travel Cambodia project in September, some operators said sustainable tourism products ranked low in most travellers priorities.

The success of community-driven projects was also dependent on offering adequate support to the locals who operated them.

Stephanie Deubler, junior advisor for the GTZ’s private sector promotion project, said that was why her organisation had chosen to partner up with the private sector.

“Like that, you can guarantee the ongoing sustainability of the project.

“If the private sector is already interested, chances are they will continue even when you are not here anymore,” she said.

Khiri Reach representative Oum Linda said they were committed to helping out the residents of Sambor Prei Kuk.

“We have extended the project to promote tourism activities with the overall goal of reducing poverty in the commune,” she said.

“We want to protect this community and the site, and to sell tourism-related services to tourists in order to generate income in rural areas.”

For more information on Sambor Prei Kuk and the Isanborei community tourism project, visit

Norodom Ranariddh back, in name at least


via CAAI

Monday, 22 November 2010 18:32 Meas Sokchea

THE Nationalist Party is set to change its name back to the Norodom Ranariddh Party, less than a year after it abandoned the title in favour of its current moniker.

NP spokesman Pen Sangha said the change, to be formalised at a party congress next month, was a result of “thousands” of appeals from party members, who are calling for former party head Prince Norodom Ranariddh to return from retirement to head the party.

“For this issue, Samdech Krompreah Norodom Ranariddh has agreed to have the Nationalist Party’s name changed to the Norodom Ranariddh Party,” Pen Sangha said.

The move marks the latest in a series of recent developments that have marked the embattled royalist parties, which are seeking to reverse a steady electoral slide since Funcinpec, led by Ranariddh, romped to victory in the UN-backed 1993 election.

In 2006, Ranariddh was removed as the party’s president over allegations he embezzled party funds, and broke away to start the NRP. His name was removed from the party’s title following his retirement from active politics in October 2008. He is currently serving as an adviser to King Norodom Sihamoni.

The two parties, which won just four of the National Assembly’s 123 seats at the 2008 elections, recently announced an alliance some hope will firm into a full merger ahead of the 2012 commune elections.

As the merger plan gathers steam, hopes have arisen that Ranariddh will return to head the NP, and perhaps a new, reunited royalist party.

Pen Sangha said that despite authorising the change of name, the Prince had not yet indicated whether he will reassume an active role in politics.

Chea Chanboribo, a spokesman for Ranariddh, declined to comment in detail, but confirmed the Prince had not made a decision about a possible comeback.

Funcinpec President Keo Puth Reaksmey said the rebranding would not affect the two parties’ alliance, as long as the substance of the party’s platform remained the same.

Sad News: Victims from Koh Pich



Stampede in Cambodia Thailand Phnom Penh moon water festival video Bridge over 300 dead

Cambodia stampede leaves hundreds dead

Cambodian Military Police move the bodies of the stampede victims to a truck in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 23, 2010. At least 339 people were killed in a stampede on Monday night as millions of Cambodians celebrated the annual water festival in the capital Phnom Penh, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on state TV early Tuesday. The accident took place on a bridge that connects the city with the Diamond Island which has became the center of celebrations. (Xinhua/Phearum)

A body is carried from an ambulance to a hospital in Phnom Penh November 23, 2010. REUTERS/ Chor Sokunthea  

A stampede victim is carried to safety in Phnom Penh November 23, 2010. A stampede on a bridge in Cambodia's capital killed at least 339 people lateon Monday and wounded nearly as many after thousands panicked on the last day of a water festival, authorities and state media said.« Read less REUTERS/ Stringer 

A stampede victim is carried to safety in Phnom Penh November 23, 2010. A stampede on a bridge in Cambodia's capital killed at least 339 people lateon Monday and wounded nearly as many after thousands panicked on the last day of a water festival, authorities and state media said.« Read less REUTERS/ Chor Sokunthea 

Cambodian military police carry a body near a bridge in Phnom Penh. A stampede in the Cambodian capital has left more than 340 people dead and hundredsinjured after panic erupted at a water festival that had attracted millions of revellers.« Read less (AFP/File/Tang Chhin Sothy)  

Cambodian police officials examine the bridge where at least 330 people died in a stampede in Phnom Penh. A stampede in the Cambodian capital has leftmore than 340 people dead and hundreds injured after panic erupted at a water festival that had attracted millions of revellers.« Read less (AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)  

Cambodian victims lay on the ground with help from their relatives next to the suspended bridge in Phnom Penh. A stampede in the Cambodian capital hasleft more than 340 people dead and hundreds injured after panic erupted at a water festival that had attracted millions of revellers.« Read less (AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

Victims of a stampede receive medical treatment at a hospital in Phnom Penh November 23, 2010. At least 180 people were killed in a stampede on a bridgeduring a water festival in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh, the country's prime minister said on television on Tuesday. REUTERS/ Chor Sokunthea 

Military police examine a bridge where a stampede took place in Phnom Penh November 23, 2010. At least 180 people were killed in the stampede on the bridgeduring a water festival in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh, the country's prime minister said on television on Tuesday. REUTERS/ Chor Sokunthea 

Military police look at a bridge where a stampede took place in Phnom Penh November 23, 2010. At least 180 people were killed in the stampede on the bridgeduring a water festival in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh, the country's prime minister said on television on Tuesday. REUTERS/ Chor Sokunthea  

An injured man is helped after a stampede in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Thousands of Cambodians celebrating a water festival by theriver in the Cambodian capital stampeded Monday night, killing more than a dozen and leaving the area littered with hundreds of injured. The panic was exacerbated as the crowd rushed to cross a bridge, and some fell into the water. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)  

An injured visitor is carried by Cambodian police and another visitor after a stampede onto a bridge at an accident site during the last day of celebrationsof the water festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Thousands of people celebrating a water festival on a small island in a Cambodian river stampeded Monday evening, killing many people, a hospital official said. Hundreds more were hurt as the crowd panicked and pushed over the bridge to the mainland. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)  

An injured Cambodian is carried by police officers and another visitor after a stampede in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Thousands ofCambodians celebrating a water festival by the river in the Cambodian capital stampeded Monday night, killing more than a dozen and leaving the area littered with hundreds of injured. The panic was exacerbated as the crowd rushed to cross a bridge, and some fell into the water. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

An injured visitor is carried by Cambodian police and another visitor after a stampede onto a bridge at an accident site during the last day of celebrationsof the water festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Thousands of people celebrating a water festival on a small island in a Cambodian river stampeded Monday evening, killing many people, a hospital official said. Hundreds more were hurt as the crowd panicked and pushed over the bridge to the mainland. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)  

Injured visitors seek help after a stampede onto a bridge at an accident site during the last day of celebrations of the water festival in Phnom Penh,Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Thousands of people celebrating a water festival on a small island in a Cambodian river stampeded Monday evening, killing many people, a hospital official said. Hundreds more were hurt as the crowd panicked and pushed over the bridge to the mainland. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)  

Police officers and a fellow visitor assist an injured Cambodian after a stampede onto a bridge at an accident site during the last day of celebrationsof the water festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Thousands of people celebrating a water festival on a small island in a Cambodian river stampeded Monday evening, killing many people, a hospital official said. Hundreds more were hurt as the crowd panicked and pushed over the bridge to the mainland. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)  

Injured Cambodian visitors are helped after a stampede onto a bridge at an accident site during the last day of celebrations of the water festival in PhnomPenh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Thousands of people celebrating a water festival on a small island in a Cambodian river stampeded Monday evening, killing many people, a hospital official said. Hundreds more were hurt as the crowd panicked and pushed over the bridge to the mainland. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
 
A Cambodian police officer helps injured Cambodians after a stampede onto a bridge at an accident site during the last day of celebrations of the waterfestival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Thousands of people celebrating a water festival on a small island in a Cambodian river stampeded Monday evening, killing many people, a hospital official said. Hundreds more were hurt as the crowd panicked and pushed over the bridge to the mainland. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)  

An injured Cambodian is carried by visitors after a stampede onto a bridge at an accident site during the last day of celebrations of the water festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Thousands of people celebrating a water festival on a small island in a Cambodian river stampeded Monday evening, killing many people, a hospital official said. Hundreds more were hurt as the crowd panicked and pushed over the bridge to the mainland. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Security & Sanitation During Water Festival

Over 300 killed in a stampede at Water Festival

Kong Sothanarith and Heng Reaksmey
Phnom Penh Monday, 22 November 2010
 
via CAAI
 
Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS
An injured Cambodian is carried by police officers and another visitor after a stampede in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Thousands of Cambodians celebrating a water festival by the river in the Cambodian capital stampeded Monday night, killing more than a dozen and leaving the area littered with hundreds of injured. The panic was exacerbated as the crowd rushed to cross a bridge, and some fell into the water. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

“They stepped on top of each other. Some jumped off the bridge and broke their legs and arms. The bridge exits were totally blocked. People could not move. If they didn’t jump, they would have been killed.”

Cambodian annual Water Festival ended Monday with over 300 revelers killed in a stampede, officials said.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the incident took place after the festival goers got caught in a traffic jam on a newly-built bridge at Phnom Penh Koh Pich development area. Some later fell down of suffocation and died causing a general panic.

Ambulances and police cars raced back and forth between the river where the stampede took place and hospitals.

“Please call a doctor for me,” cried out a girl, kneeling at the scene. “There are four or five more missing. Please come to help over here.”

At Calmette, one of the hospitals, the wounded were carried out of the ambulances into emergency rooms, but due to limited capacity of the facility some were put at several places including walkway.

Some died on arrival at the hospitals.

“They stepped on top of each other,” a witnesses told VOA Khmer. “Some jumped off the bridge and broke their legs and arms. The bridge exits were totally blocked. People could not move. If they didn’t jump, they would have been killed.”

Old and young people alike lay dead on the bridge, witnesses said.

“Take a long and deep breath,” a doctor told the patients lying on the beds. “Don’t worry. There is nothing to worry now.”

“My legs are hurting,” cried out a girl nearby.

Tens of thousands people were attending the Water Festival when the stampede occurred.

Philly Flies Cambodian Flag in Recognition Ceremony

Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Monday, 22 November 2010

via CAAI

Photo: by Men Kimseng
Cambodia's Ambassador to Washington DC, Hem Heng, far left, joins in to celebrate the flag ceremony in Philadelphia.

“Therefore, let us celebrate our flag here today. Long live the Khmers. Long live Buddhism. Long live the Khmers in Philadelphia.”

The city of Philadelphia, Penn., has flown the Cambodian flag over its streets for the first time Friday, along with those from other countries as a way to recognize the colorful members of its community.

Some 20,000 Cambodian-Americans live in Philadelphia, along with Bangladeshis, Indonesians, Nepalis and other groups.

On Friday, the city honored 19 different immigrant nations with a flag ceremony and the naturalization of 20 people.

“Please recognize all these great countries,” the town's mayor, Michael Nutter, told a gathered crowd, as flags were flown along Benjamin Franklin Parkway. “This is what America is all about. We believe in freedom. We want everyone to feel welcome here and today is part of our outreach and expression that everyone should feel welcome.”

After the ceremony, a group of Cambodians gathered the flag in a religious ceremony.

“Today's success comes from all of you, due to your solidarity,” venerable monk Rath Mony, who is the head of Wat Preah Puth Raingsey, said. “Therefore, let us celebrate our flag here today. Long live the Khmers. Long live Buddhism. Long live the Khmers in Philadelphia.”

Cambodians who came for the festival said they were excited.

“We are very happy to see that our community has successfully requested our flag to be flown in Philadelphia,” onlooker Tray Hol told VOA Khmer. “This has never happened in the last 30 years.”

“This is an official recognition of our people in Philadelphia,” said another participant, Leang Kim Chhay.

Friday's ceremony marked the first time the Cambodian flag was flown in Philadelphia, Cambodian Ambassador Hem Heng said. “Whether you are in Cambodia or overseas, this is our pride. I would like to express my appreciation to the community here for working so hard over the last 30 years to get our flag flown here today. We have only one flag. Therefore, we should all be united."

Groups Not Yet Allowed Input on NGO Law

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Monday, 22 November 2010

via CAAI

Photo: by Taing Sarada
The Ministry of Interior is preparing a draft law on non-governmental organizations, but development officials say they have not been able to see it yet.

“If the government still wants to make this law to control local and foreign NGOs, we want the government to spend more time to discuss the draft law with local and foreign NGOs.”

Local and international development organizations say they want to contribute to a new law to govern them but say they have not yet been given a chance to do so.

The Ministry of Interior is preparing a draft law on non-governmental organizations, but development officials say they have not been able to see it yet.

In a joint statement by 66 NGOs last week, groups said they wanted to contribute meaningful input to the draft law. Meanwhile, the agencies are worred they will not be given enough time to make recommendations before the law is passed to the Council of Ministers for review.

“NGOs encourage regulations which help reduce unethical, illegal, and irresponsible activities,” the groups said. “We welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the government in a constructive consultation concerning the law, to insure that comments and concerns from civil society are taken into account by the government when considering the effects of any new NGO regulations.”

Chhith Sam Ath, director of NGO Forum, a consortium of organizations, said the groups want to share ideas and concerns with the government before the law is fully drafted.

“NGOs must have an opportunity for recommendation to the draft law to ensure that the law is good for implementation and that NGOs’ recommendations and concerns are accepted by government,” he said.

The NGOs say they need at least one month to look at the draft law “to provide a coherent and comprehensive response to the law. This will also enable us to look at the full implications of the law and its effects on all sectors in society.”

Pung Chhiv Kek, president of the rights group Licadho, said Cambodia already has enough laws to govern NGOs.

“If the government still wants to make this law to control local and foreign NGOs, we want the government to spend more time to discuss the draft law with local and foreign NGOs,” she said.

Officials for the Ministry of Interior could not be reached for comment Monday, but the ministry said last month it wanted the support of NGOs and other organizations. No draft has yet been sent, and it is unclear when the draft will be finished.

Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said the concerns of the NGOs are appreciated, but they must follow the rule of law. He said he expected to see the law early next year.

“This draft law is to provide a good service to the civil society to be a partner in the social construction and development,” he said. “Civil society should provide its recommendation and purpose to the Ministry of Interior before the draft law arrives at the Council of Ministers.”

Raw Video: Hundreds Dead in Cambodia Stampede



Video Shows Aftermath of Deadly Stampede in Cambodia


via CAAI

By ROBERT MACKEY


Video posted on YouTube by Australia’s ABC shows victims and survivors of a stampede at a festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, being evacuated from the scene on Monday night.

More than 300 people were killed and hundreds more injured in a stampede at a festival in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, on Monday.

Many of the victims were crushed and some fell from a bridge into a river and drowned, after panic tore through the crowd when “several people were electrocuted while celebrating the end of an annual water festival,” Reuters reports.

Speaking to CNN, Steve Finch of the English-language Phnom Penh Post said that there were reports that some of the dead were electrocuted after Cambodian police had fired water cannons at the crowd.

In the latest of three live updates on the catastrophe broadcast on Cambodian television, the country’s prime minister, Hun Sen, said that 339 people had been killed and 329 injured in what he called the “biggest tragedy” to hit Cambodia since the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s, according to The Associated Press.

Graphic raw video posted online by The A.P. shows anguished scenes at a hospital in Phnom Penh, where the injured were rushed for treatment on Monday night, and the bodies of some victims the rescuers were unable to save:



This video from Cambodia’s Bayon Television, slowed down and posted on YouTube, shows the bridge where the stampede took place:

Stampede in Cambodia kills hundreds, government says


Cambodian military police examine bodies in Phnom Penh.

By the CNN Wire Staff

November 22, 2010

via CAAI

(CNN) -- A stampede that occurred during a festival near Cambodia's royal palace in Phnom Penh has killed 339 people, Cambodia's minister of information, Khieu Kanharith, said Monday.

More than 4 million people were attending the Water Festival when the stampede occurred, said Visalsok Nou, a Cambodian Embassy official in Washington.

The incident began around 10 p.m. (10 a.m. ET), when police began firing water cannon onto a bridge to an island in the center of a river, said Steve Finch, a journalist with the Phnom Penh Post.

The bridge was packed with people and police fired the water cannon in an effort to get them to move, he said.

"That just caused complete and utter panic," he told CNN in a telephone interview. He said a number of people lost consciousness and fell into the water; some may have been electrocuted, he said. Finch cited witnesses as saying that the bridge was festooned with electric lights, which may have played a role in the electrocutions.

The government denied anyone was electrocuted.

But a doctor who declined to be identified publicly said the main cause of death was suffocation and electrocution. Police were among the dead, he said.

Officers with Prime Minister Hun Sen's security unit stood outside a hospital trying to help those arriving with injured people and to control the scene of chaos.

In one case at a hospital, relatives of a woman who had been confirmed dead discovered she still had a pulse and she was taken into the emergency room. It was not clear whether she survived, Finch said.

Hundreds of shoes, clothing and personal items littered the streets, the bridge and the underlying water near where the festival took place.

Ambulances dropped off the injured at area hospitals and then sped away, video on Bayon Television showed.

Outside one hospital, doctors stood trying to direct traffic so that ambulances and vehicles carrying injured were able to get through.

Video shot outside hospitals showed dozens of people laying on what appeared to be the waiting-room floor of a hospital. They were attached to intravenous lines connected to bags strung along wires.

The three-day festival, which began Saturday, is held each November near the palace to honor a victory by Cambodian naval forces during the 12th century reign of King Jayvarman VII, according to the country's tourism website.

During the festival, which includes boat races, participants pray for a good rice harvest, enough rain and to celebrate the full moon, the site says.

A perfect day during adventure travel to Cambodia

 via CAAI

http://www.i-to-i.com/

Posted 22 Nov 2010

There are a number of ways to add the perfect day to an itinerary for adventure travel in Cambodia, reports Time.

In an article about the Cambodian destination of Siem Reap, Gemma Price warns against seeing the community simply as a starting point from which to explore the surrounding area.

Located in the south of a province with which it shares its name, Siem Reap is named after the 17th century defeat of the Siamese by the Khmer Empire.

The province is home to the Angkor temples – but the Time columnist suggests people enjoying adventure travel in Cambodia might want to explore Siem Reap itself.

Different ways to do so include hiring a bicycle and heading out for a picnic breakfast, driving to nearby waterfalls for some hiking, or jogging a circular route through the city and out to the temples at Angkor Wat.

"Once you've spent a day or three clambering over the 12th century temple complex, it's worth getting to know more of Siem Reap," Ms Price asserts.