Friday, 8 February 2008

UN-backed tribunal processing over 500 Khmer Rouge victims’ complaints

7 February 2008 – The United Nations-backed tribunal trying Khmer Rouge leaders accused of mass killings and other crimes is currently processing and responding to more than 500 complaints submitted by Cambodians on crimes which took place three decades ago.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), which has been operational since July 2006, received most of these complaints since last October.

Most of them come from people who have been aware of their right to take part in the Court’s process through the efforts of civil society organizations.

“Information received from victims is crucial to our success,” said Robert Petit, one of the ECCC’s co-prosecutors. “The Court is lucky that so many people have come forward and submitted complaints, because it gives us a lot of information to work with.”

The complaints have all been scanned, processed and analyzed, and will be sent to the Co-Investigating Judges for use in their current investigations.

Co-Prosecutors will determine whether the complaints warrant new investigations.

Where information is missing in the complaints, the Court will contact those who submitted them to fill in the gaps. Currently, one-fifth of the more than 500 complaints are lacking some key information.

“The ECCC is the first court in the history of international criminal law to offer victims full participation in the proceedings, and everyone at the Court is working hard to ensure that this participation is meaningful for them,” said Gabriela Gonzalez Rivas, the Deputy Head of the Victims Unit.

She added that it is crucial that the ECCC give each complaint the “careful, individual attention it deserves.”

Under an agreement signed by the UN and Cambodia, the ECCC was set up as an independent court using a mixture of Cambodian staff and judges and foreign personnel. It is designated to try those deemed most responsible for crimes and serious violations of Cambodian and international law between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979.

Walking Away from the Killing Fields: How a Hopeless Boy Became a Professor

book cover

This book tells a story about Nophea Sasaki's determination to overcome his childhood's fear and pursue and accomplish his dreams. This book will teach the reader with real life experiences and examples how to bring their dream to realization

Nophea SasakiFeb

(PRLog.Org) – Feb 07, 2008 – Dr. Nophea Sasaki is announcing the launching of his book Walking Away From the Killing Field – How a Hopeless Boy Became a University Professor in Japan. It is a motivational book that will teach the reader step by step how to become a university professor, and more important than that, how to pursue his/her life's dreams.

Nophea and his family were forced to migrate when the Khmer Rouge regime took power in 1975. He was submitted to witness his father's execution in 1977 and his sister's death as a result of starvation later in 1977. Left with nothing but hope, courage and the determination to change the outcome of his life, Nophea managed to get himself educated becoming a respectable professor at the University of Hyogo in Japan.

Throughout the book, Nophea talks about hardship and success, about the determination to achieve dreams no matter how high one might aim, about becoming a respected university professor in spite of all the obstacles, but most important about how to never give up. By sharing his personal experience, Nophea is sharing with the world the power of determination and it teaches how to achieve success. How one should be determined to better themselves and be willing to fight for realization of their dreams. Setting his life's experiences as an example he guides the reader through his/her journey on becoming a university professor by offering him/her with real life situations and experiences that one can relate to and easily put into practice.

About the Author

Nophea Sasaki (Kim Phat ) was born in 1973 in Kampot, a southwest town in Cambodia. As the Khmer Rouge regime took power in 1975, Nophea and his family were forced to migrate in the jungles. His father was executed in 1977 because of the regime's desire to abolish former ways of educated thinking and establish new leadership rules. Later, his sister died of starvation in 1977. He spent a year in an asylum center with his brother and two remaining sisters, and other children whose parents were executed or deceased.

Despite of the unfortunate circumstances of his childhood, Nophea graduated with his Bachelor's degree in 1994, his Master's degree in 1999 and his Ph.D. in 2002. He spent two years as a post-doctoral research fellow in Germany. In 2004 he returned to Japan where he became an Associate Professor at the University of Hyogo. In 2006 he was awarded Japanese citizenship for all his accomplishments and the positive impact on the Japanese society.

EU delegation doubts land concession policy of Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- A European Union (EU) delegation here on Friday expressed doubt about the land concession policy ofthe Cambodian government and also provided ways to address its negative effect.

Some companies with land concessions from the government have been exploiting the soil and the people originally living there, said Harmurt Nassauer, chairman of the delegation of the European Parliament, the executive body of EU, for relations with the countries of the Association of the Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN).

Their exploitation has led to confrontation and deprived the country of chances for sustainable development, he said at a press conference held upon the delegation's conclusion of its five-day visit to the kingdom.

"Field trips to some provinces told us that the land concession policy has become nightmare for the forestry-dependent communities," he said.

However, he added, the tension can be removed if both sides have good will and the companies do more good things to benefit the local communities.

Meanwhile, vice chairwoman Giovanna Corda told the press conference that some companies with land concessions have been exploiting the land through logging, which is negative for Cambodia.

The government must not allow them to ruin the country and proper management should be in place to protect these precious assets for all of us, she said.

The companies should help the local communities, like building schools and health care centers, but not destroy the nature and the people's living environment without thinking about the future, she added.

During its visit, the delegation respectively met Prime Minister Hun Sen, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh and other government and parliamentary leaders.

It also traveled to Kampong Chhnang and Pursat provinces and visited some EU-funded forestry projects, according to the release.

Cambodia has more than 200 kinds of trees, but the tree coverage rate has decrease from 70 percent to the current 35 percent due to lack of protection and over logging.

Major developer can have hundreds of hectares of land for development if the government approves his plan. Concession period used to reach 99 years for such developers.

Editor: Mo Hong'e

Khmer Rouge victims address court

Many have been waiting to see Khmer Rouge leaders in court

BBC News
8 February 2008

Survivors of Cambodia's brutal Khmer Rouge regime have addressed a UN-backed genocide court for the first time.

The survivors spoke at a bail hearing for top Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea, who has been charged with crimes against humanity.

Victims had been waiting 30 years for justice, one woman said, urging the court not to grant bail to Pol Pot's former deputy.

Nuon Chea is one of five senior Khmer Rouge officials awaiting trial.

More than one million people are thought to have died during the regime's 1975-1979 rule.

Tens of thousands of people were executed while others starved to death or died of overwork as the Maoist regime sought to create an agrarian utopia.

'No rights'

Theary Seng was one of four survivors named as "civil parties" in the case.

She lost her parents under the Khmer Rouge and described to the court how she was jailed at the age of seven, along with her younger brother.

"We were not informed of our rights. There was no due process and we were arrested arbitrarily," she said.

"They treated us inhumanely - for us, the graveyard was our playground."

She urged against bail for Nuon Chea, the regime's ideological driving force who is now in his eighties.

"There is a risk that the accused will fail to appear in court and without his presence we will suffer a great loss," she said.

The court is expected to rule on bail in the next few days. A similar request by Duch, head of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison where thousands died, has been turned down.

Nuon Chea had objected to the presence of the civil parties.

But, says the BBC's Guy Delauney in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, their numbers are likely to increase as the victims unit at the Khmer Rouge tribunal processes more applications.

The challenge will be keeping numbers to a manageable level - while making sure victims are properly represented, our correspondent says.

New generation revives ‘lost culture’ of reading

Phnom Penh Post, Issue 17 / 02, January 24 - February 7, 2008

Behind closed doors, Cambodia’s bookworms are hard at work. There may be few people reading on the street, but analysts say reading is on the rise as the once-popular Khmer pastime re-emerges from a turbulent era that rendered books an unnecessary part of life.

After the Khmer Rouge lost their grip on power in 1979, immediate efforts to rebuild Cambodia fell far from reviving the book industry – something a new generation of readers hopes to change.

“After the war, people only thought about finding a way to survive. We didn’t think about knowledge,” said Hun Sarin, director of the Department of Books and Reading under the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

As literacy rates and standards of living rise, more people are settling down with a good book and rediscovering stories of the past, said Thonavet Poav, director of The Federation for Development of the Book Sector in Cambodia, a non profit organization made up of book sellers, authors, publishers, distributors, librarians and representatives of government and non governmental organizations who wish to alleviate problems affecting the development of books and reading in Cambodia.

“People aren’t aware of how good Khmer literature is and it is only a matter of time before it is rediscovered,” said Poav.

Ros Sarou, deputy director of the Department of Books and Reading who recently left her position as a librarian at the National Library after 20 years of service, said the number of students using the library rose during 2007. The library now gets “about 3,000 visitors a month,” she said.

UN figures suggest there will be more Cambodian readers in years to come, with UNESCO putting the Kingdom’s youth literacy rate at 83 percent in 2004, compared with 74 percent for adults.

Theary Theng, financial director of Phnom Penh retailer Monument Books, said a more open society means Cambodians can learn about a broader variety of subjects.

“Before, many topics were forbidden. Now, we can learn anything we want,” she said.

But getting books into readers’ hands remains a challenge, with analysts indicating that access to reading material and publishing practices need to improve.

“Even for those in the big cities there are an insufficient number of libraries, most under-stocked with no regular government initiative to promote reading,” Helen Jarvis, author of Publishing in Cambodia, says in the 2006 revised edition of her book.

Writers, publishers and printers are confronted by an industry still in its early stages of development and, without the presence of official publishing houses, responsibility falls on authors to produce their own books.

“One in three writers handle the whole process of publishing and marketing their works themselves by photocopying and selling their copies to friends at market stalls,” Jarvis wrote.

Unable to afford books in Phnom Penh’s selection of upmarket bookstores most readers take advantage of the over 150 roadside kiosks and the concentration of bookstalls at the Psar O'Russey, Olympic and Thmey markets.

Part-time bookseller Keo Saravuth, 28, said business was improving at his mother’s bookstand at Psar O'Russey market. In the ten years since his mother set up shop, he has seen a sharp rise in book sales, particularly of Khmer fiction books costing $1.50 to $3.

“We are starting to read more and more,” said Saravuth. “Before there were not many books to read, now people can find whatever they want.”

To help those in the countryside also find what they want, the Department of Books and Reading plans to start a mobile library that will travel nationwide in the next few years.

Help from abroad is on its way, too. Last month, a delegation from the US-based International Freedom to Publish Committee visited Cambodia on a fact-finding mission at the invitation of the Center for Khmer Studies.

Committee chairman Hal Fessenden told the Post there were many NGOs doing important work to build a literary culture in Cambodia but his organization – made up of members of the Association of American Publishers – could enhance their efforts by identifying concrete steps to rebuild “a lost culture.”

KR memoir writer says leaders should be executed

Phnom Penh Post, Issue 17 / 02, January 24 - February 7, 2008

Sophal Leng Stagg believes she is among the luckiest of Khmer Rouge survivors. Despite her father being a former police investigator for the Lon Nol regime, her parents and her seven brothers and sisters all survived the Killing Fields. To her this is a miracle since she has never met another family that “managed to stay intact.” The family immigrated to the US in 1980 and in 1985, Stagg, pregnant with her first child, began to write her book Hear Me Now, a platform she uses to lecture in schools throughout the United States. The popularity of the book led to the funding of the Southeast Asian Children’s Mercy Fund, which she established with her American husband William Stagg. The foundation provides assistance and training to poor families in the region and includes an “adopt a family project” that has inspired many Americans to help. On a visit to Cambodia this month, Stagg spoke to the Post’s Tracey Shelton about her childhood under the KR, her teaching and her desire for the Khmer Rouge tribunal to get on with trials and find the defendants guilty. She says: "They should be executed right away."

What made you decide to write the book?

My children. Once it was published it became a tool to educate other American kids and to raise money to help the people of Cambodia – I’m very proud of that. You are very passionate about the need for Khmer Rouge history to be incorporated into Cambodian school curriculum.

Why is this so important to you?

Writing the book and talking in the schools became a form of healing for me. I want to pass that on to Khmer people. There has been no education on the genocide in Cambodian schools for 15 years – these kids don’t even believe their grandmothers’ stories anymore. I work very hard in the US to educate American kids so the people that suffered are not forgotten. It makes me upset that Khmer kids have forgotten. Education will open up dialogue between the generations. Teach the children in school and the whole country can get therapy.

What do you remember about the KR period?

I was nine years old on April 17, 1975 when the KR took over. I remember the soldiers riding on tanks and marching through the streets, but my mother would not let me watch. A bullhorn announcement on every street corner announced that we had to leave by nightfall because the Americans were going to bomb the city. We were told to bring just enough clothes for three days as once the city was cleared up we could return to our homes. I remember my mother trying to go to the market for food supplies but the city was in chaos. By 4pm the announcements began to show intense force and anger. “You must leave now or we will consider you the resistance and you will be shot.” There was only one road to leave by. We were wedged in the crowd and everyone was pushing. Soldiers lined the roadsides shooting into the air telling us to move faster but it was impossible. There was a frightening sad fear in everyone. I looked back to see the city on fire. By that time I had the sense that I would never return home.

How did your family manage to survive?

My brother and father were military. As we walked my mother whispered to us not to tell anyone what they did. She told me to say my father was a taxi driver and to speak in lower class terms so no one would know I was educated. She said if I did not adapt, if did not change, they were going to kill my father. I understood enough to change my way faster than other people. I don’t know how she got that information but this saved my family.

We walked to Kampong Cham. There were pro-Khmer Rouge signs on every house. The old people despised us! Even the children. They believed the new people had exploited them. They blamed us for everything – their hard lives, their fathers having to fight in the jungle – literally everything from A-Z. Now they had privileges and power over the educated. It was so hard to hold my tongue. The KR soldiers had taken all our valuables so they were wearing our watches but they didn’t know how to read the time. So many times I wanted to scream at them, “You’re a bunch of morons! I’m better than you.” Last week you went to the Khmer Rouge courts.

Do you think the trials will bring some justice and satisfaction to the victims?

I think the trials should be short. I’m all for the trials but the most important thing is educating the kids. Money and time needs to go into that. Enough money spent on this already. Everyone knows they are guilty. They should be executed right away. If they were executed on national TV, maybe that could provide some satisfaction.

What do you think would happen if one of the defendants was found not guilty?

A riot. And I would be right there among them. The anger is buried deep but it is there – the pain people suffered won’t go away. I thought I was dealing with it just fine. Then I saw the courts – the money they are spending, the way they treat the defendants – if I had fangs they would have come out. It’s ludicrous! Where were international standards in the way they treated us. We were treated like animals. A doctor each, three meals a day, Western toilets at their request – they’re treated like royalty. It sends the wrong message. Normal Cambodians that live outside that gate aren’t living that way.

How much of an impact do you feel the Khmer Rouge reign has had on Cambodian society today?

Every place I look – in the eyes of every person – the KR have left behind a trace. In everything I see the damage. What have they done to their people? Crippled them. Instilled fear and dishonesty. The brave and the educated are dead, and a lot died along with them. During my first trip back in 2000, I asked my mother why did people always lie and cheat like this. I felt like all the good people had died. They taught us to lie and cheat. We were starving constantly. We were forced to become thieves, liars. It seems like many Cambodian people lost themselves back then and they never got their souls back. Like a dog, when you are pushed into a corner you bite back. The KR instilled these things in people and now they are trapped. All this goodness has been lost. Corruption and chaos are the legacy they have left behind.

How do you see the future for Cambodia?

I think the government is trying to do the best they can with what they have to work with.

But how can you cap greed in a human being?And Reconciliation?

The international community has put their money in the wrong place – education is equally if not more important than the trials. Kids should have been educated about what happened to their father. Now they need to be educated about who killed their grandfather. Is it going to be, “they killed my great grandfather” before you start educating these kids! By then it will be too late. It will just be history for them.

A world away from author's Chicago roots
Kathryn Masterson
February 9, 2008

Rachel Louise Snyder didn't plan to cover Cambodia's garment industry when she moved from Chicago to Phnom Penh in 2003.

A freelance journalist, Snyder expected to write about the trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders in the United Nations' war-crimes tribunal. But soon after arriving in Southeast Asia, negotiations for the tribunal stalled and Snyder was in search of a new subject.

That change of plans led to a series of stories about Cambodia's garment industry, which had a unique agreement with the U.S. that tied imports to improved working conditions and was facing competition from bigger, cheaper manufacturing countries such as China. Those stories (including a radio piece for "This American Life" that won an Overseas Press Award) led to "Fugitive Denim," Snyder's book about globalization and the garment trade.

Snyder, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs and graduated from North Central College in Naperville, traveled to factories in China, cotton fields in Azerbaijan, fabric shows in Paris and fashion studios in New York for the book. Along the way, she discovered that designer jeans that sell for hundreds of dollars and are ethically sourced and made from organic materials can be a better buy than jeans that cost a fraction of that but were made in factories that exploit workers or dump chemical-filled wastewater into the environment.

"There's no way to buy a pair of $30 jeans without someone, somewhere down the supply chain paying the price," Snyder said in an interview. "Two-hundred-dollar jeans don't bother me as much as $30 jeans." But consumers need to be cautious: A higher price doesn't guarantee fair, environmentally friendly manufacturing policies, so consumers have to do their research, Snyder said.

Snyder, 39, sees the start of a clothing movement that could one day mirror the way we think about food, with a consumer demand for products that are organic, sustainable, ethically made and least damaging to the environment.

"We have this huge food movement—that didn't happen overnight," Snyder said. "I think we're just at the beginning of that with our clothing."

UBD Professor’s Technique To Help Net Literacy Skills
By Waleed PD Mahdini

Brunei-Muara - Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) Associate Professor Dr David Prescott recently conducted research work with principal lecturers and librarians from the Central TAFE network of campuses in Perth, Western Australia.

The principal lecturers represented a variety of academic and professional background while the librarians were discipline specialists from the various libraries of the Central TAFE network.

The research required the participants to use 'an Internet search method developed by Dr Prescott, which helps develop students' Internet related Information literacy skills and improve their ability to use the information they find effectively and appropriately.

Working with the search method allowed the senior academics to experience a technique that their students can use. Following the `trial' of the method, the participants complete a questionnaire about their perceptions of its usefulness and potential. An open discussion completed the data collection for this research.

In February 2007, Dr Prescott conducted similar work with Cambodian teachers at Cambodia's Royal University of Phnom Penh. The findings from the two sets of participants will be used to modify and strengthen the Internet search method.

He pointed out that this kind work is increasingly important as the amount of information the Internet makes available is frequently problematic - there is so much that students often find it overwhelming rather than instructive. Research conducted at UBD by Dr Prescott and Patricia Prescott has revealed that tertiary students often lack the Information Literacy skills needed to deal with the vast array of material they find when searching the Internet.-- Courtesy of The Brunei Times

Students Work to Build School in Cambodia
Feb 8, 2008 11:38 AM
By Norm Jones

Some students in Northumberland County are on a mission to build a brand new school all the way across the globe. The Milton High School students are asking for your help for Team Cambodia.

They are a group of motivated students trying to make a difference for underprivileged children.
"Just the little children that have gone through so much, and yet they're still pushing through every day. To see how easy we have it here, it's nice to help kids across the world," said Larissa Luu of Team Cambodia. She is president of the fundraiser.

For the past two months, she and her fellow classmates have been raising money to build a new school for Cambodian children, complete with books, desks, computers, even solar panels for electricity.

It was an idea sparked by their teacher, who recently visited the war-torn country.

"Improper diet, some of them suffer from malnutrition, poverty, unsafe water to drink, land mines. What chances do they have? If we can make their lives a little better it seems to me that it's the right thing to do," said teacher Mike Conn.

Out of the $30,000 needed the student have raised $10,000 by selling everything from lollypops and tee-shirts to holding bake sales and spaghetti dinners. "Well we've been going around to all the clubs, Lions Club is donating $500, Kiwanis Club. We've just been giving presentations and we've been getting a lot of positive responses by going out and doing that," said Amy Brown of Team Cambodia.

The students are driven to succeed by the end of this school year. With only a few months left to go they hope people who see the faces of the needy children will open up their hearts and their wallets and give to a good cause.

"Everyone always wants to help out with something and make a contribution to something. This felt like a really good way to do something good for the world," said Sarah Sheaffer of Team Cambodia.

Donations can be made payable to Team Cambodia, Team Cambodia, Milton High School, 700 Mahoning Street, Milton PA, 17847.

U.S. telecommunications firm to expand into Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- U.S. telecoms firm 3P Networks has negotiated with the Cambodian government to buy up the rights to frequencies, enabling it to offer cutting-edge multimedia services for the country, said a press release received here on Friday.

3P Networks Inc is currently in the final stage of negotiations with the Cambodian government to acquire significant frequency spectrum in order to implement unique cost-effective telecommunication solutions in Cambodia and in neighboring countries, it said.

Buying into Cambodia will enable a foothold for expansion into Laos and Vietnam, it said.

"Affordable and reliable telecommunications are critical for developing countries in their efforts to both attract investment capital and stimulate a robust domestic environment," it added.

The firm offers multiple products including TV, fixed and wireless Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and broadband, which are very much in their infancy in Cambodia.

Editor: Mo Hong'e

Tribunal Seeks Tripled Budget as Worry Rises

By Sok Khemara,
VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
07 February 2008

Sok Khemara in Khmer - Listen (MP3)
Mean Veasna in Khmer - Listen (MP3)

Tribunal officials sought to triple the budget of the special courts Thursday, asking donors in New York for an additional $114 million on a day that saw one former Khmer Rouge leader in the dock and two in the hospital.

Former Khmer Rouge military commander Sam Bith joined former foreign minister Ieng Sary in Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital, as jailed ideologue Nuon Chea appeared for a bail hearing Thursday morning.

Sam Bith was in critical condition, hospital officials said Thursday, declining to elaborate.
Sam Bith, who was given a government advisory position after his defection from the Khmer Rouge, has not been charged by the tribunal.

He is serving a life sentence for his role in the murder of three Western backpackers in 1994.
Sam Bith’s hospitalization added to worries that the aging former leaders of the Khmer Rouge will die without seeing atrocity crimes trials.

Tribunal administrators, meanwhile, sought to allay worries that the tribunal will run out of time and money before trials can be conducted, by asking donors to triple the courts’ budget.

The tribunal’s initial $56 million budget was too low, and up to $170 million will be needed before the courts can finish their mandate, to charge senior leaders of the regime with atrocity crimes.

“We are proposing a little bit more time and quite a bit more money, but this is to fill the gap that currently exists,” UN tribunal spokesman Peter Foster said. “What we are asking for is support for the Victim Unit, for translation and interpretation and audio visual and other services that are essential for us to complete our mandate.”

The request would take the tribunal through March 2011, Foster said. As many as 12 former senior leaders of the regime could face tribunal charges, he said.

The budget was proposed at a Jan. 5 meeting with donors, but it remains unclear which countries may be willing to contribute.

US officials say they will not fund a tribunal that does not reach international standards.
The tribunal, meanwhile, continued with trial proceedings of already jailed leaders.

Former ideologue Nuon Chea appeared before tribunal judges Thursday, arguing he should be released ahead of his atrocity crimes trial.

“I have no intention of fleeing my dear mother land,” he told judges. “I have no intention of putting pressure on witnesses and influencing them.”

The full-day hearing—the second to be held by the tribunal so far—was adjourned and will continue Friday, when a decision is expected from Pre-Trial Chamber judges.

(Mean Veasna and Heng Reaksmey in Phnom Penh contributed to this report.)

Workers Accuse Boss of Vehicular Assault

By Heng Reaksmey,
VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
07 February 2008

Ten workers were injured when a factory owner’s car slammed into a group of protestors at the order of a local commune chief, labor representatives said Thursday.

The workers of King Land factory in Phnom Penh have called on the government to intervene in the case, which reportedly injured 10 workers.

The unnamed driver moved the car into a crowd of workers demonstrating over annual bonuses and layoffs, representatives said.

Chak Angre Commune Chief Chea Sokhay ordered the driver to hit the workers, said In Kong Chet, an investigator for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

“We expect the commune chief’s presence to facilitate and seek an appropriate solution to avoid violence,” In Kong Chet said. “Not let the car hit the workers.”

Chea Sokhay denied ordering the car to hit the workers.

“Conflict resolution depends on the court and a referee, and I just tried to facilitate,” he said.
Keo Pisey, a laborer at the factory, said workers were not treated as humans.

“That is why they hit us like we are dogs,” she said.

Residents in Land Dispute Take on Courts

By Chiep Mony,
VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
07 February 2008

Villagers in a remote northwestern province are taking their concerns over an alleged land theft to the highest justice offices in Cambodia.

The villagers have filed a suit against their own provincial courts with the Ministry of Justice and the oversight body for the courts, the Supreme Council of Magistracy.

Thiem Chenda, 30, filed a suit Tuesday against provincial prosecutor So Vath and judge Nov Yaroath.

The rare move comes as Cambodians face increasing pressures from potentially destabilizing land grabs.

Seng Sokkhim, Thiem Chenda’s laywer, said the court officials had canceled a warrant to protect the land.

So Vath said the judge had been “careless,” and the suit should proceed. Nov Yaroath said he had visited a piece of disputed land, but he did not bring security forces with him, as alleged.

Garment Workers Worry Over US Economy

By Sok Khemara,
VOA Khmer Washington
07 February 2008

Audio in Khmer - Listen (MP3)

Exports of Cambodia’s chief commodity, garments, could fall sharply in 2008, leading to widespread concern among workers, a labor leader said Thursday.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of Workers in the Kingdom of Cambodia, was on “Hello VOA” Thursday to discuss the implications and possible causes of the fall.

Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said he was concerned about a potential drop in orders, thanks to a slow down in the US economy.

Cambodia’s growing economy is held up by garment manufacturing and tourism.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Considers Cambodia as a Special Country, a Good Model and a Good Student

8 February 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 546 -
For the Khmer version, the Kanhchok Sangkum, click here.

“Phnom Penh: The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development [UNCTAD] and the Ministry of Commerce [of Cambodia] expressed their enthusiasms about their firm partnership and support, to have more capacity development programs relating to Cambodian trade. A press conference was held on 5 February at the Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh.

“Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, the UNCTAD Secretary-General, and Mr. Cham Prasidh, the Minister of Commerce of the Kingdom of Cambodia, expressed their acknowledgment of the successes of the technical assistance program ‘TrainForTrade’ and underlined the need for more capacity building for Cambodia’s officials, to support the developments and trading affairs. ‘Entering into the World Trade Organization [WTO] has brought many potential benefits, still it is a long and complicated process that will affect most of the developing countries’ capacities as well. This program is especially designed for the least developed countries’ economies, that often lack human resources, administrative abilities, and technical skills to actively manage this process,’ said Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, the UNCTAD Secretary-General during the press conference.

“UNCTAD considers Cambodia ‘as a special country, a good model and a good student.’

“The UNCTAD Secretary-General emphasized three programs that were successfully achieved by Cambodia, including the Automated System for Customs Data – ASYCUDA - that helps to create transparency and availability information, encouraging the government and the private sectors to cooperate on Debt Management Programs – DMFAS - that instruct also about debts and sustainable sea port management. ‘Sea port services can be an important sector for Cambodia, pushing towards diversity, and we see that it is an opportunity to work with the government to establish a training basis that can help the development of sea port management, leading to Cambodia’s ports not only serving Cambodia, but also the region as a whole.’

“Since 2003, UNCTAD has trained 650 Cambodian officials, responding to requests from the Ministry of Commerce, in many technical programs, including improving investments, trading, electronics, trade negotiations, international investment agreements, and competitive laws and policies.

“Mr. Cham Prasidh, the Minister of Commerce, linked the success of these programs to the fact that UNCTAD has granted assistance responding to the basic needs of the partner country.
‘Assistance or capacity building based on the special conditions of each country are very important, because you cannot use only one and the same argumentation in Vietnam and in Cambodia. The two parties [the UNCTAD Secretary-General and the Minister of Commerce] specifically highlighted the need of more capacity development in Cambodia. ‘With bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, we need much capacity development, because we need many skills,’ said Mr. Cham Prasidh. ‘The French government learnt about our needs and helped us, and I encourage other development partners to also consider assistance.’

“This press conference was part of a regional summit that lasted for three days to discuss extending capacity development on regional trade, with the participation of delegations from Cambodia, Bhutan, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, and Vietnam. The purpose of this conference is to help especially Cambodia and Laos that get TrainForTrade programs to achieve the best implementation, including lessons learnt by neighboring countries. This conference was organized by UNCTAD in close cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce, and it was also supported by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6265, 7.2.2008

Strong quake rocks Indonesia's Sulawesi island

ReutersJAKARTA - An earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale shook the northern part of Indonesia's Sulawesi island on Thursday but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage, a meteorology official said.

The undersea quake was centered 118 km northwest of Gorontalo at a depth of 35 km, said Andi Zulfikar of the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency.

The United States Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 6.0.Indonesia suffers frequent earthquakes since it lies on an area of intense seismic activity where a number of tectonic plates collide.

Money woes threaten Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal

Fits and starts: Judges and court officers with the UN-backed tribunal in Phnom Penh seen on Thursday. The court says it needs $170 million to continue.
Heng Sinith/AP

The tribunal trying Cambodia's former leaders says it needs to triple its $56.3 million budget to try up to eight defendants.

By Erika Kinetz
Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
February 8, 2008

Phnom Penh, Cambodia - The top surviving Khmer Rouge leader appeared in court this week for the first time, three decades after the virulent communist regime allegedly oversaw the deaths of some 1.7 million people in Cambodia.

Nuon Chea, thought by many to be the movement's chief ideologue, is facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at a United Nations-backed tribunal that began work in 2006.

His presence in the docket should be a sign of success for the court, which many hope will undercut decades of impunity that have plagued this tiny nation. But the fitful progress of Cambodia's hybrid tribunal has once again bogged down under budget woes, a lingering management scandal, and real worries that the tribunal's five aging defendants could die before judgments come in.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) now plans to spend $170 million to try up to eight defendants, a process it anticipates could take until March 2011, according to a Jan. 30 budget estimate.

That's a big increase from the court's initial three-year budget of $56.3 million – an amount unfathomable to many ordinary people in Cambodia who live on less than $1 a day.

Helen Jarvis, a tribunal spokeswoman, emphasizes that Cambodia's court looks like a bargain compared with tribunals in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, which have cost about $150 million a year. The Cambodian side of the court will start to run out of money in a matter of weeks, but donors have yet to publicly commit any funds.

"We recognize that a certain increase of the budget is justified," said one Phnom Penh diplomat on condition of anonymity. "We, however, are waiting for official clarification of these new figures and for detailed explanation of the considerable increase," he added.

Donor skepticism surged last year after reports revealed severe problems in hiring and management on the Cambodian side of the court. Allegations that Cambodian staff had to give money in exchange for their jobs have yet to be put to rest.

Now donors are looking for reassurance that their money will be well spent. The European Commission, which funds the Cambodian side of the court, has initiated an independent review to determine whether the court has made adequate reforms. Results may come in this month.

The United States, which has funded every major multinational criminal tribunal except the International Criminal Court (ICC), has yet to provide direct funding to the ECCC, despite signs late last year that the State Department was warming to the idea. President Bush's fiscal year 2009 budget request, released this week, doesn't include money for the tribunal, and the US Embassy in Phnom Penh says the issue is still being reviewed.

Some Cambodia watchers in Congress, which barred direct funding pending assurances that the court can meet international standards, remain skeptical.

"Congress remains sober about Cambodia, generally, and the KRT [Khmer Rouge tribunal], specifically," a senior congressional aide said by e-mail. "Those donors who have put funding on the table are griping how dollars were used and abused, and the administrative shortfall/concerns are well known. We will watch closely those international jurists who wrestle with the challenges every day; the greater stink they raise over corruption or political interference, the less chance Congress or other donors will want to pony up."

Meanwhile, the slow drama of justice plays out in a courtroom on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Nuon Chea on Thursday asked to be released from the tribunal's detention center, where he has been held since his Sept. 19 arrest. He rose to address the court with the help of two guards. "I have no intention to flee my beloved country."

Chuon Choeun, a farmer brought to view the hearing by a nonprofit group, was one of about 100 Cambodians in attendance. He had never seen Nuon Chea before and even though he couldn't understand much of the legal rules under discussion, he found his first glimpse of the man he once believed was all powerful both bracing and strange.

He expected Nuon Chea to look more brutish, somehow. "His face looks fine. He's not nasty. His face is finer than mine."

Second hearing on Buddhist temple Monday

By Robert Lowell Reporter-American Journal

BUXTON (Feb 7, 2008): Buxton residents have another opportunity to speak on a proposed Buddhist temple in the community.

The Watt Samaki Cambodian Temple, 128 Back Nippen Road, is asking the Buxton Planning Board for a permit to meet at the property it bought three years ago. Monday at 7 p.m. in Buxton Town Hall, the board will continue its Jan. 21 public hearing on the request.

Two monks live in the home, which has an attached building that once housed a printing business. Several residents last month aired concerns about increased traffic on the rural road and parking.

A conditional use permit for a temple apparently is covered by a Buxton ordinance that would allow a church in the rural zone. But, the board could take more time to deliberate on conditions under which approval could be given.

“I don’t think any decision will be rendered,” Fred Farnham, Buxton code enforcement officer, said Tuesday about the likelihood of approval at Monday’s meeting.

The temple would also need approval from the state fire marshal’s office to hold gatherings in the building.

Ex-Khmer Rouge leader seeks bail

Watch Video Click here

Thu February 7, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) -- A former Khmer Rouge leader said he will not try to flee the country to escape from justice as he pressed Thursday an appeal against his pre-trial detention by Cambodia's U.N.-backed tribunal.

Nuon Chea, the Khmer Rouge's former ideologist who appeared at the hearing, has been held since September 19 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his involvement in the group's brutal 1975-79 rule, which caused the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people.

He is one of five former Khmer Rouge leaders detained by the tribunal, which is expected to begin holding trials trial later this year. He is the second former Khmer Rouge leader to appear before the judges.

Many victims of the Khmer Rouge have long feared that some of the defendants, now aging and infirm, could die before facing trial. The 1975-1979 communist Khmer Rouge regime is widely considered responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people though execution, overwork and starvation.

"We try our best to take care of all the defendants without thinking about the costs ... so that they remain healthy to confront the law," Reach Sambath said earlier this week.

The tribunal earlier said detention of Nuon Chea was necessary to prevent him from pressuring witnesses, destroying evidence or escaping. The judges said the safety of the 81-year-old Nuon Chea could be at risk if he was released.

His Cambodian lawyer, Son Arun, claimed the tribunal's investigating judges did not have sufficient grounds to detain him and asked the court to postpone the hearing so a foreign lawyer could join him. He was given until Wednesday to explain how much time was needed.

In December, the pretrial chamber judges ruled against a similar appeal for release by Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, who headed the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison and torture center.

The tribunal is expected to begin holding trials later this year.

The other defendants are Ieng Sary's wife Ieng Thirith, who was minister for social affairs in the Khmer Rouge government, and Khieu Samphan, the former Khmer Rouge head of state.

Cambodian dance speaks volumes about survival
Feb 07, 2008
Susan Walker

Given that artists and intellectuals are the first to go whenever despots take over a nation, how does a culture survive after the massacre of its people?

This question must have been on Peter Chin's mind when he began the research in Cambodia that fed the creation of his moving and thought-provoking work, Transmission of the Invisible.

A most mature and fully integrated multimedia production, the show begins in darkness and profound silence, suggestive of the silencing of between 1 million and 2 million Cambodians murdered by the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979.

Phon Sopheap and Yim Savann, born in Cambodia in the years after the fall of Pol Pot's brutal regime, begin to dance surrounded by the sounds of a rural village awakening to birdsong. They seem to be telling a story from their pliéed stance, with supple, sweeping arms, delicate hand gestures and fingers pointing as if to say, "Listen."

As, one by one, Andrea Nann, Louis Laberge-Côte and Heidi Strauss enter the scene, Cylla von Tiedemann's video projection is a shimmer of green, like biological forms growing under a microscope. The dancers exchange gestures, springing to life, their movements increasing and spreading from one to the other like signals received and transmitted.

Garnet Willis's sound design creates an enveloping environment: inside a temple, or out on the street, or to some mysterious, sacred place in nature. Chin's music, played on flutes, horns and in an insistent drumming, is almost hypnotic.

A layering of imagery in sound, spoken word and video creates a montage effect. Words are cut off. Inside a ruin, debris falls from the ceiling. But life returns. Beautiful film footage of koi swimming in a stream and a night sky filled with the glow of millions of fireflies are juxtaposed with bustling street scenes. A child's hand cradles the brittle fingers of a dying relative. In such ways the idea of the transference of spirit is conveyed.

Dance is way of showing the imprint of a culture on a body, like a genetic code. As the three Toronto dancers interact with the two Cambodians, they move in strikingly individual ways, and then combine in gorgeous formations.

Chin has travelled far, geographically and metaphysically, to bring back a story of survival and renewal.

QLI sees opportunity in Cambodia

The company plans a seafront resort centered on a casino.

Globes' correspondent
7 Feb 08 12:18

Casino builder and operator Queenco Leisure International Ltd. (QLI) (AIM:QLI) has bought a 22.5-acre lot for $10 million in the Cambodian coastal resort of Sihanoukville for the development of a beachfront casino.

QLI has already bought a 120-acre lot in Sihanoukville, which the Cambodian is developing, including the expansion of local airport to handle international flights. The company plans to develop a full-service resort centered on the casino, which will include hotels, conference centers, and other attractions.

QLI CEO Dror Mizeretz said, "I am delighted that QLI has been able to acquire such an ideal location for developing a new resort and casino complex. Along with the expansion of Sihanoukville's airport, the area is being transformed as a tourist destination, with a growing local economy, as both foreign and domestic investors recognize the future potential of the area."

QLI is traded today at €11 per share, giving a market cap of €396 million. The company floated at €14 per share in July 2007. The company is controlled by Shahar Hamillennium (1991) Ltd. (TASE: SHML) and Queenco Ltd. (TASE: QNCO).

Khmer Rouge trial taps donors for another $127m

ABC News

Cambodia's UN-backed "Killing Fields" court has trebled its initial budget, seeking an extra $127 million from international donors to continue its pursuit of Pol Pot's top surviving henchmen, a spokesman said.

Under the new proposal, the long-awaited tribunal's three-year lifespan would grow by two years, dragging out proceedings until 2011 even though most of the Khmer Rouge's leading cadres are old and in poor health.

Given the problems with finding the court's initial $62 million, the request for such a large sum is unlikely to go down well with donors who already pump $672 million a year into Cambodia's war-scarred but now booming economy.

"We have no choice but to expand," court spokesman Peter Foster said shortly after the start of a bail hearing for "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, charged last year with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"I would not call it a delay, but I would call it a more realistic plan," he said.

An estimated 1.7 million people were executed or died of torture, disease or starvation under Pol Pot's 1975-79 reign of terror as his dream of creating an agrarian peasant utopia descended into the nightmare of the "Killing Fields".

After nearly a decade of delays and drawn-out talks with the United Nations, the trial kicked off in earnest last year with charges against Nuon Chea and four other senior cadres.

However, it has long been clear the court was short of cash.

One Phnom Penh-based diplomat said the request for more money had been in the pipeline, but its size was a surprise.

"The original budget was too low and a lot of key elements had not been costed properly, but this is certainly a pretty hefty rise," the diplomat said.

Mr Foster said he hoped countries such as Japan, which has bankrolled much of the proceedings so far, would dig deep to ensure the court achieved the aim of prosecuting "those most responsible" for the atrocities without compromising standards.

Tokyo hopes the trials will expose the full extent of the links between Pol Pot's murderous regime and China, analysts say.

The expanded budget would be mainly for more court staff, and translation and transcription as well as victim and witness support, Mr Foster said. It also suggests prosecutors might widen their net well beyond the five already in custody.

At his bail hearing, the octogenarian Nuon Chea argued he was not a flight risk and would not try to influence potential witnesses. Fears for his safety were also overblown, he said.

"I have no desire to leave my beloved country," he told a courtroom packed with reporters.
He sat impassively as prosecutor Chea Leang outlined her case, arguing that as de facto prime minister and head of the ultra-Maoist regime's standing committee from 1976, Nuon Chea was responsible for policies of forced labour, torture and execution.

- Reuters

Cambodia's UN-assisted Genocide Tribunal Seeking to Triple Budget

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Thursday, February 07, 2008—Cambodia's UN-assisted genocide tribunal is seeking to triple its budget to US $170 million in order to keep operating through March 2011, a tribunal spokesman said Thursday.

News of the request was announced as one of five former high-ranking Khmer Rouge being held for trial was arguing before the court for his release from pre-trial detention.

Nuon Chea, who was the main ideologist for the now defunct communist group, has been held since September 19 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his involvement in the group's brutal 1975-79 rule, which caused the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people.
The tribunal's request for an increase from the originally budgeted US $56.3 million was made to donor nations on Jan. 30 in New York, tribunal spokesman Peter Foster said.

The tribunal, which opened its offices in early 2006 after years of wrangling between the Cambodian government and the UN, took five leading suspects into custody last year, and hopes to begin their trials later this year.

No date had been previously been fixed for the end of the trial, though some legal experts had suggested it might be possible to wrap things up by 2009.

"I think it's safe to say that this is a much more realistic budget for us to accomplish our mandate, and probably the original budget should have been closer to this in the first place," Foster told The Associated Press.

He said the additional budget was needed to "fill out the gaps" for funding services such as victim support units, translation, interpreting and audiovisual presentations.

"We need the time, we need that money," he said. "Now it's up to the international community, the Cambodian government, the United Nations, to fill those gaps and come up with these funds."

Nuon Chea, speaking to the tribunal at his hearing Thursday, said he would not try to flee Cambodia to escape justice.

"I have no intention to run away from my beloved country…or to exercise any pressure and influence on witnesses," Nuon Chea said as the hearing on his appeal resumed after a two-day postponement, this time with the help of a foreign lawyer who was earlier barred from representing him.

In their detention order last year, the tribunal's investigating judges charged the 81-year-old Nuon Chea with involvement in crimes including "murder, torture, imprisonment, persecution, extermination, deportation, forcible transfer, enslavement and other inhumane acts."

They said detention is necessary to prevent Nuon Chea from pressuring witnesses, destroying evidence and escaping, as well as for his own safety, which could be at risk if he was released.

Nuon Chea has denied any guilt, saying he is not a "cruel" man and calling himself "a patriot and not a coward" trying to run away. He has also argued the judges did not have sufficient grounds to detain him.

Recovery Under Way in Tornado-Hit US Region

By Brian Wagner
07 February 2008

Emergency teams are fanning out across several U.S. states to assist survivors of violent storms that killed at least 55 people. VOA's Brian Wagner has this report.

Federal and state workers spread out across the southeastern United States to clean up debris and help victims of the deadly tornadoes that swept through the area late Tuesday and early Wednesday. The twisters blocked roads, cut power to many residents and triggered an explosion that shut down a gas pipeline in Tennessee.

Powerful winds devastated scores of home, factories and schools, sending debris flying through the air. In some areas, only concrete foundations remained where houses once stood.

Many residents worked to salvage their damaged homes and collect belongings that had been tossed across a wide area by the winds.

Tennessee resident Jasmine Clark said a tornado destroyed her home while her family was inside.

"We heard a big roaring sound and the house was shaking from side to side," she said. "The next thing I know we are all flying up in the air with the house."

President Bush is set to visit Tennessee on Friday to survey the damage and offer his support to those affected.

Although most common in the summer months, weather experts say tornadoes can happen any time of the year when conditions are right.

Khmer Rouge's Brother Number 2 Back in Court in Cambodia

Former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea prepares to sit with help during public court hearing in Phnom Penh, 07 Feb 2008

By Rory Byrne
Phnom Penh
07 February 2008

Byrne report - Listen (MP3)

The Khmer Rouge's former second-in-command, Nuon Chea, has been back in court, facing charges of crimes against humanity and other offenses committed during the communist rule of Cambodia 30 years ago. Nuon Chea has asked to be released on bail because of poor health and legal questions surrounding his arrest. Rory Byrne reports from Phnom Penh.

This was Nuon Chea's second appearance in court in just three days. His first bail hearing was cut short over a dispute concerning the legal status of one of his two foreign defense lawyers.
That problem was quickly resolved and Nuon Chea was in court Thursday accompanied by both his foreign and Cambodian lawyers.

Known as Brother Number Two, Nuon Chea is believed to have been the chief ideologue of the secretive Khmer Rouge and right-hand man to leader Pol Pot, who died in 1998. Almost two million Cambodians died under the Khmer Rouge's rule from starvation, overwork and execution.

Appearing upbeat and alert, the 81 -ear-old listened intently to the proceedings through a set of earphones and conferred regularly with his lawyers.

Peter Foster is the spokesman for the United Nations' tribunal staff. He says the speed with which Nuon Chea's bail hearing was rescheduled shows the determination of court officials to push the tribunal process forward.

"The hearing was recalled the very next day - actually with less than 24 hours notice," Foster said. "I think that shows that the court, and the government of Cambodia, and everybody involved in the process, does not want to see any delay whatsoever and I think it bodes very well for the future of the process."

Nuon Chea's lawyers asked for bail because of his poor health and what they say were technical mistakes made during his arrest. They also argue that he was not fully informed of his rights when he agreed to speak with tribunal authorities after his arrest without his lawyer present.
The prosecutors argue that freeing him could pose a threat to public order.

A decision on the bail application is not expected for about a week and Noun Chea will remain in his prison cell.

He is the second former Khmer Rouge leader to appear in court so far. Cases against at least four other prominent leaders are being prepared.

The creation of the joint United Nations-Cambodian tribunal was delayed for years because of funding and wrangling over legal issues.

As a result, many Khmer Rouge officials have long since died. Some of their victims fear none of the Khmer Rouge will ever be brought to justice for the abuses that occurred when the group tried to impose an extreme form of agrarian society on the country.

Foster, the U.N. spokesman, also said Thursday that the tribunal has asked for new donations of $114 million, on top of the $56 million already donated for the court. The additional money would allow the tribunal to operate until 2011.