Saturday, 22 March 2008

Tibet The Story Of A Tragedy

NewZealanders call for human rights in Tibet, not free trade

A U.N. backed tribunal rejects an appeal for bail for Brother No 2

Anna Chan:

A former Khmer Rouge regime leader will be living in a Cambodian jail ahead of his war crimes trial. According to the BBC, Nuon Chea, also known as Brother Number 2, must remain in custody. He faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the Khmer Rouge regime during the 1970's. He's thought by many to have been the ideological driving force behind the regime. He denies committing any crime, that he isn't a risk to the public and that he wont attempt to influence potential witnesses. The trial is expected to happen later this year.

Sacravatoons : " Why are we so poor? "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon :

Sacravatooons : " Beggars st "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon :

Sacravatons : " Why Bird can't fly ? "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon :

Norodom Ranariddh Party Accused (Authority) of Threats

21st March 2008
By Mayarith
Radio Free Asia

Translated from Khmer by Khmerization

The Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP) in Banteay Meanchey province alleged that there are threats against its local officials.The allegations followed a report which claimed that five NRP party signs were destroyed by four agents of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) on the night of 19th March at Teuk Cho commune in Preah Net Preah district and another incident which happened yesterday when the agents of the Military Police stopped two trucks carrying officials of the NRP who had returned from a meeting in Preah Net Preah district.

The party’s statement released today stated that seven heavily armed military policemen had stopped the trucks carrying the NRP officials on the spot in Preah Net Preah for 30 minutes to search for illegal weapons.The statement further stated that the authority’s actions constituted threats because the search was carried out only on the trucks carrying the NRP officials and other vehicles were allowed to go freely and were not stopped or searched.

The NRP’s statement has appealed to human rights groups and the Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights in Cambodia to take actions to protect the civil rights and political rights of all Khmer citizens.

Hun Sen: Transform A War Zone Into Peace

21st March 2008
By Sophorn
Radio Free Asia

Translated from Khmer by Khmerization

The prime minister has declared that he will move the Army Command Headquarter outside of the capital to make way for a construction of a hospital: that is to transform a war zone into peace.

Speaking in an inauguration ceremony of Royal Rattanak Hospital in Phnom Penh on the 20th March, Prime Minister Hun Sen (pictured) said that the transformation of an Army Command Headquarter into a hospital is to make the city a safe place, a tourism site, a cultural site and a comfort site.

The PM said: “This land is very huge and very beautiful. The Army Command Headquarter was located there since the French colonial period. And I want to transform a war zone, a killing zone into a fine hospital. So, please help me to check out the place, if we can put the hospital there it would be nice. It is a junction, the ground is very nice and that land, if we offer the buyer for $30 million they will buy it without hesitation. Not only $30 million, even $50 million they will buy it. But we will not sell it because it is an historic site where we will transform it from war into peace.”

The PM reiterated that: “The issue of school lands and hospital lands must be preserved because, perhaps in the future, we have the money to build them but we don’t have the lands in which to build them on.”

This declaration was made following the launching of the construction phase of a 42-story Gold Tower, which will be the tallest building in Phnom Penh, and which is located at the site of the old Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Hospital.

In relation to the prime minister’s speech, an opposition MP from the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Son Chhay, has criticised the PM’s word as good for listening in order to canvass votes. In reality, many of the state land sites had already been sold.

Mr Son Chhay said: “There is a possibility that he might be voted out of office in the near future, so he has to say something good to persuade the people to change their mind and their stance.”
The president of the Cambodian Economic Association, Mr. Chan Sophal, spoke in support of Prime Minister’s declaration by explaining that, at present, state properties are getting less and less, so it is best that there is a measure to prevent the sales.

Forced Evictions in Cambodia: time to end impunity

Two international human rights organizations and two Cambodian NGOs called today upon Cambodian authorities to take effective measures to combat the practice of forced evictions which constitutes a flagrant violation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other international human rights instruments that the Kingdom of Cambodia has ratified.

The call was made by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders - a joint programme of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) – along with the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO).

The Observatory is issuing a new report entitled “Defending Economic and Social Rights in Cambodia: A High Risk Activity”, which highlights land-grabbing and forced evictions and the persecution of community activists and others who try to resist them. The report illustrates cases of grave human rights violations resulting from forced evictions including the April 2007 eviction of a community Sihanoukville’s Mittapheap district and the June 2006 eviction of Sambok Chab in Phnom Penh. The report notes that communities affected by evictions are neither consulted nor informed well in advance. Compensation is largely insufficient, the resettlement areas are precarious and the humanitarian conditions of the affected populations are far from being human. Villagers opposing forced evictions are routinely targeted for unfounded criminal charges, while NGOs and journalists reporting on them are threatened. The deaths of some villagers are not properly investigated such as the death of a community activist from Stung Treng in July 2007 and the execution of the two Prey Vihear villagers who resisted an eviction in November 2007.

evictions, the report notes that other human rights defenders also face an unacceptably high degree of risk in their work. For example, two community activists from Preah Vihear were killed in 2007. “It’s time for the Cambodian authorities for make a radical shift in their approach to land disputes,” said LICADHO director Naly Pilorge. “Failure to open honest dialogue with the people, and to find fair solutions for them which respect the law and their land rights, will only worsen the situation and lead to broader civil unrest.”

Thun Saray, President of ADHOC, added: “The authorities’ lack of transparency over ownership of land, and their willingness to conduct violent evictions rather than use peaceful negotiation to try to resolve disputes, are creating a climate of fear, violence and confusion.” “Donors and the international community must do all they can to avoid Cambodia’s land crisis from deteriorating further,” said Ms. Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH. “The growing landlessness will create huge economic, social and political problems for the country.

“The international community must insist that the Cambodian Government respect the country’s laws and the international human rights treaties it has ratified,” continued Ms. Belhassen. “The widespread impunity enjoyed by the authorities and by the rich and powerful must be brought to an end.”

Based on the report’s findings, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, ADHOC and LICADHO make the following key recommendations:

Establish an immediate moratorium on all involuntary evictions until the adoption and the proper and vigorous implementation of a strict legislative framework on evictions and resettlement as well on land and housing rights.

End judicial proceedings based on groundless and arbitrary charges against community activists and other human rights defenders advocating for the right to land, to adequate housing and against illegal exploitation of natural resources.

Ensure that all populations who have been forcibly relocated to date receive land titles for alternative land. The conditions of existing relocation sites should be immediately improved: communities should have access to medical treatment and health services, education. They should also receive adequate compensation.

Former Summit residents inspire students

After adopting their son from Cambodia, the Grossmans started a school there

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
March 21, 2008

FARMER’S KORNER — Every day Kari Grady Grossman sees a sweet face of Cambodia starring back at her. She and her husband, George, adopted their son from the country, and it was the fateful trip to get him that led them to their calling of empowering a community for a brighter future.

Grossman is the author of “Bones That Float,” a memoir about adopting her son and then a village in Cambodia, intertwined with the story of survival from a native Cambodian woman. And this week, she spoke to a couple classes at Summit High School, sharing her personal story along with a short documentary and discussion.

In addition to raising awareness about Cambodia, Grossman’s presentation was one of the ways the students — sophomores in the Middle Years International Baccalaureate Programme — were exposed to community service and how a grassroots effort can be an effective catalyst for change.

A school is born

The Grossmans adopted Grady, who is now 7, in 2001. Completely taken by the country where he was born, they decided to create a school in his name by the highest mountain. However, what they realized is, simply building a school is not enough because without continued support it could become just a building.

Today, the school that started with 50 students educates 500 up through sixth grade.

In this rural area in the village of Chrauk Tiek, teachers had to travel from far away and therefore didn’t show up consistently or ended up sleeping on the school’s concrete floors. So the Grossmans started a non-profit organization, built housing for the teachers and provided a stipend to help them. Also, they hired three additional teachers, an English and computer teacher, a music teacher and a librarian, whom they pay instead of receiving the about $30 a month from the government. And now they are “giving in a way that’s empowering,” by trying to invent a model for the community to self-support the school, Grossman said.

“You’ve got to think of education and economic development hand in hand,” she added.

Kari and George Grossman, who met while living in Summit County in the early 90s, lived in Wyoming for a number of years and recently moved to Fort Collins with their son, Grady, and daughter, Shanti, 3, whom they adopted from India.

In 2002, the U.S. closed adoptions to Cambodia, Grossman explained to the Summit High students when asked if she was going to adopt more children from the country.

Teaching a community

Where the Grady Grossman School exists, illegal logging is a serious problem, Grossman explained. Wood is commonly used for cooking over open fires, but by cutting down the forest, the country’s water source is impacted because trees with large roots hold in water during the monsoon season and then release it.

So, combing this issue with trying to empower people, they are teaching the locals how to create alternative cooking fuel — a biomass briquette that can be made from the mounds of sawdust left from the illegal logging or from rice husk, dead leaves or coconut peel, Grossman said. It burns almost as hot as charcoal, she added, before passing around the briquette that was a bit larger than palm-sized with a hole in the middle.

The briquettes would be a way families could earn money, trees could be saved and children could stay in school, Grossman said.

Working kids

When Cambodian children are about 15 or 16, they are needed to contribute to the family income, she explained. Also, about 80 percent of the children do not finish primary school (through sixth grade) because at age 10 they often do agricultural work.

Still, a hurdle the Grossmans are working to jump is the distrust people have for each other. After the torturous, devastating reign of Khmer Rouge and multiple decades of war, survival mode is what they know.

In this country where people generally make less than $1 a day, oppression and fear is part of daily life, she said. However, they share a desire for a better future for themselves and their children, said Grossman. Also, they value education and have a tight family structure.

“You can do more with a little bit of money and a lot of relationship,” Grossman said during the Wednesday afternoon presentation at the high school.

The book

While in Summit County this week, Grossman also did a book signing at Next Page Bookstore in Frisco followed by a book discussion. Anyone interested in buying the book or finding out more, can visit Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from “Bones That Float” go to help fund the Grady Grossman School.

“When we started it, I had no idea this would become kind of our life’s work,” Grossman said.

Ex-general made new U.S. life

OBITUARY: Former Cambodian chief of staff Chhong Ea went to trade school, put six kids through college.

By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer

Chhong Ea went from being a brigadier general and the chief of staff for the Khmer Air Force during the Cambodian civil war to running a grocery store and later attending trade school in the United States to be an electrical technician. But the Cambodian emigrant never complained about his plight.

Ea died March 12 several months after suffering a stroke. He was 78.

Despite his high ranking in the deposed Khmer Republic, Ea lived a quiet and modest life in the United States.

"When we left we didn't have anything but our clothes," said Saraboth Ea, the youngest son of Chhong Ea. "Even his wedding pictures were left behind."

According to Saraboth Ea and his mother, Theng Van, after evacuating his family to safety, Chhong Ea stayed in Cambodia until the last possible moment on April 17, 1975, the day Cambodia fell, before leaving the country.

Although Chhong Ea had been encouraged to flee sooner, according to Saraboth Ea, "my dad told my mom the administration would be in chaos. There would be no one left to help the people."
Once he left Cambodia, however, the family said Chhong Ea never looked back.

"In my experience of my dad, it seemed like he lived a normal life," Saraboth Ea said.

After running the family grocery store, Chhong Ea enrolled in trade school and landed a job with NCR Corp., with which he worked for 20 years until his retirement.

"It was amazing, he raised six kids and put us through college," Saraboth Ea said.
After his fighting days, Chhong Ea neither talked about the war nor did he seem to harbor bitterness.
He also avoided postwar politics and even turned down an invitation to return to Cambodia when the government was being rebuilt.

Chhong Ea began his career as an aviator in 1954 and after being trained by France rose to the rank of captain by 1964.

With the formation of the Khmer Republic in 1970, following the removal of Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Chhong Ea rose quickly to the rank of brigadier general and would later be recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross by U.S. military peers. The medal can be awarded to members of friendly foreign countries during times of war.

Saraboth Ea said his father was appreciated by those who served under him because of his honesty and incorruptibility.

"He was never involved in corruption," Saraboth Ea said. "They all saw that and that's what they respected about him."

Chhong Ea is survived by his wife; six children, Ken, Peter, Saraboth, Sadeth, Sarina and Sariny; and 10 grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held today at 3 p.m. at the Memorial Chapel at Rose Hills Memorial Park, 3888 S. Workman Mill Road, Whittier.

Cambodian emigres share pain

FORUM: Testimonials from the Long Beach gathering may be offered to war crimes tribunal.

By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer

LONG BEACH - The pain is never far below the surface for Cambodian refugees. Their shared history informs much of what they do and how they see society.

While the recollection and sharing of survivor stories is nothing new, especially in Long Beach, it remains relevant and vital to recovery for individuals and the community.

The memories of the atrocities of the Killing Fields genocide of the late 1970s still run deep and few in Long Beach's Cambodian community escaped without being profoundly affected.

On March 29 at Cal State Long Beach, survivors and those interested in Cambodian social issues will be convening in a daylong event called "Shared Suffering, Shared Resilience: A Critical Dialogue Forum and Film Screening."

The event will have an added layer of relevance as testimonials and discussion may be relayed to the international tribunal in Cambodia that is currently prosecuting alleged perpetrators of the Killing Fields atrocities.

"Many Cambodian refugees say they feel helpless and victimized and unheard by the international community; now here's your chance (to be heard,)" said Leakhena Nou, an assistant professor of sociology at Cal State Long Beach and organizer of the event.

The Open Society Justice Initiative, which has a watchdog group monitoring the international tribunal being conducted by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, will have a representative at the forum and will receive and review transcripts from the day.

A representative from the State Department's Office of War Crimes Issues may also attend.

Tracey Gurd, an associate legal officer with Open Society, says the event provides a rare opportunity for refugees in the U.S. to be heard in Cambodia, which really hasn't reached out to emigrants during the tribunal process.

Gurd said that by sharing experiences and giving feedback, Long Beach Cambodians can be engaged in the trial.

Nou, who is also the founder of the nonprofit Association for Social Research Institute of Cambodia which is sponsoring the forum, said this could be the first in a series of similar events both in the United States and overseas.

Nou and her nonprofit have been talking to Cambodian groups in Lowell, Mass.; Oregon; Virginia; and Washington, D.C., about presenting similar programs and seeing what patterns emerge in the Cambodian refugee experience.

The Cambodian-American professor, whose family was able to emigrate before the Khmer Rouge rose to power, stresses that her event is not at all political.

"This is an academic and public event," she said. "It has nothing to do with putting down the current regime."

Rather she says, it is a chance for Cambodians to begin redefining their history and their identity and moving past the suffering to solutions and reconciliation.

The all-day CSULB event will feature discussion panels with both younger and older Cambodians, cultural presentations by Cambodian artists and performers and a screening of the documentary film "Bombhunters" by Skye Fitzgerald.

"The experiences (of Cambodian refugees) have defined their current existence and their future, both positively and negatively," Nou said.

What matters, she says, is "how they use it as a basis to move forward."

Motorcycle Journey from Siem Reap to Preah Vihear

Friday, March 21, 2008

Carl Parkes -- FriskoDude

Almost all visitors to the famed Cambodian temple on the Thai/Cambodian border arrive from Sisaket on the Thai side, but some folks think it's good fun to spend several days on the back of a rented motorcycle, dodging horrible roads, and certainly hurting like hell to make the arduous journey from Siem Reap to Preah Vihear. I mentioned a Bangkok Post letter last month that described such a journey, and today I found another brave soul who describes the ordeal over at Matador Trips.

Whoever coined the term ‘dancing roads’ to describe Cambodia’s unmaintained thoroughfares was a master euphemist. Backpackers have supposedly made it to Preah Vihear via moped, but ruts a foot deep or more swallow tires to their axles and destroy shock absorbers. There’s a fine line between adventurous and crazy: don’t attempt this trip on anything less than a dirtbike (or a 4×4 if you have a bigger group).

Long days of riding will exhaust you, and it just takes one bad move to send you flying over the handlebars. With the nearest medical facilities hundreds of kilometers away in Siem Reap or Phnom Penh, this is best avoided.

Unless you’re an experienced rider, hire a driver who knows what he’s doing. Whatever you do, don’t attempt this trip in the rainy season. Depending on your budget, you have a few options for finding a driver and bike in Siem Reap. Hidden Cambodia is a western run outfit, and will set you up with safety gear, guides, and bikes…all at premium prices. Rates range from USD 155 to USD 185 per person/per day depending on the number of travelers.

On a tighter budget, consider Chaioffroadtrip. Chai is a safe driver, and you won’t meet a more friendly or honest Cambodian. Chai quotes USD 80 per person per day on his website. All of the above prices include bike, driver, gas, food, accommodation, and admission fees. Another option is to watch for locals riding around Siem Reap or Anlong Veng on dirtbikes. Most are amenable to negotiating impromptu trips for the right price.

Sacravatoons : " So dumb "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon :

Sacravatoons : " The Tyranny Club "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon :

Life of a Landmine victim in Cambodia

Soeun Touen, 53, a landmine victim and former Cambodia royal arm force officer baths at a rice field in Kampong Chhang, 70 km (43 miles) south of Phnom Penh March 21, 2008 .REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Soeun Touen, 53, a landmine victim and former Cambodia royal arm force officer gets water from a well at Kampong Chhang 70 km (43 miles) south of Phnom Penh March 21, 2008 .REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Soeun Touen, 53, a landmine victim and former Cambodia royal arm force gets water from a well in Kampong Chhang 70 km (43 miles) south of Phnom Penh March 21, 2008 .REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Landmine victim and former Royal Cambodian Armed Forces officer Soeun Touen, 53, gets water from a well at Kampong Chhang, 70 km (40 miles) south of Phnom Penh, March 21, 2008.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe visiting Cambodia

Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe offers gifts to a Buddhist monk at Kampong Tralach district, 70km (40 miles) south of Phnom Penh, March 21, 2008. Abe is in Cambodia to attend attend the opening of a school funded by the voluntary association of Japanese parliamentarians and the Japan Team of Young Human Power (JHP).REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe plants a tree with Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Sok An (R) at Kampong Tralach district, 70km (40 miles) south of Phnom Penh, March 21, 2008. Abe is in Cambodia to attend attend the opening of a school funded by the voluntary association of Japanese parliamentarians and the Japan Team of Young Human Power (JHP).REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe shakes hands with Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Sok An (R) after receiving an honorary medal at Kampong Tralach district, 70km (40 miles) south of Phnom Penh, March 21, 2008. Abe is in Cambodia to attend attend the opening of a school funded by the voluntary association of Japanese parliamentarians and the Japan Team of Young Human Power (JHP).REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Ex-Japnanese PM Opened A School in Cambodia

Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe speaks to Cambodian schoolchildren at Kampong Tralach district, 70km (40 miles) south of Phnom Penh, March 21, 2008. Abe is in Cambodia to attend the opening of a school funded by the voluntary association of Japanese parliamentarians and the Japan Team of Young Human Power (JHP).RREUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODOIA)

Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe waves upon his arrival at Kampong Tralach district, 70km (40 miles) south of Phnom Penh, to attend the opening of a school funded by the voluntary association of Japanese parliamentarians and the Japan Team of Young Human Power (JHP) March 21, 2008.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe poses for a photo with Cambodian school children at Kampong Tralach district, 70km (40 miles) south of Phnom Penh, March 21, 2008. Abe is in Cambodia to attend attend the opening of a school funded by the voluntary association of Japanese parliamentarians and the Japan Team of Young Human Power (JHP).REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Mr. Joseph Mussomeli Criticized that Over 25% of Accused Persons Are Tortured or Forced to Confess

His Excellency Joseph A. Mussomeli United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Posted on 22 March 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 552

“Corruption in the judicial system of Cambodia is being strongly criticized by donors and local human rights organizations, as well as by civil society. In contrast, groups of high-ranking officials who committed serious crimes, are free from punishment, but poor citizens always suffer from unjust and corrupt courts.

“During the report presentation of the Court Watch Project for the year 2007, a program of the Center for Social Development [CSD], held on 20 March 2008, the US Ambassador Mr. Joseph Mussomeli said, ‘Last year I admired the Cambodian judicial system. Obviously, the public and the citizens must be allowed to hear a trial freely. This is a crucial step toward transparency and the building of a culture of the rule of law. It is a priority to do so. Nothing is more important than to educate citizens to be aware of the rule of law. In human society, there are only two systems; one is dictatorship, where the most powerful and the richest are those who are in control; the other system is the rule of law, which accords equality and justice to all people. Therefore also those who are considered to be suspects are not different [they have also be treated with equality and justice], also if they are unjustly abused by the rich. Last week, I shared with law students a statement by Mr. Anarcharsis, a [sixth century before Christ] Greek scholar, who said, ”Laws are like spider webs; they will catch, it is true, the weak and poor, but would be torn in pieces by the rich and powerful.” But it is our job to prove that the statement of Mr. Anarcharsis is not true. It means that there must be a mechanism to evaluate and measure the work of the court system, in order to make sure that it is not like a spider web catching only the poor and the weak. If the rule of law is in progress, it will be transparent that it is implementing the work of the courts, and the work of the Center for Social Development will be more transparent keeping a close watch on the courts. This is a most praiseworthy and important service for Khmer society.’

“The annual report of the CSD clearly shows what is happening in the courtrooms. It indicates the lack of proper ‘judicial procedures’ defined by a democratic society. For instance, according to observations of the CSD, in more than half of the criminal cases, the accused persons did not have their defense lawyers in court. Therefore, the current judicial system in Cambodia should be improved and upgraded.

“The CSD reported that more than 25 percent of the accused persons said that they were tortured or forced to confess something. Mr. Joseph added, ‘I remember that this percentage is similar to the previous year, which indicates that there is not much difference, as the accused persons are still pressured during interrogation. I realize that it is difficult for the Court Watch Project to confirm that such accusations are real. Some suspects may tell a lie, but the number of such accusations can confirm that there are many mistakes in the court system. I notice that, according to the report, juvenile suspects are often detained for an indefinite period of time to be sentenced. Such cases seem to happen mostly in the juvenile courts. This is injustice.

“He continued, ‘News about the courts are not always bad. Cambodian courts are moving forward and improving. The CSD reported that more victims and witnesses appeared in court to respond to charges in 2007 than in 2006. This indicates that the judicial system is improving and providing opportunities to accused persons, so that they can defend themselves against what they are charged. Moreover, officials who serve as court watchers praised the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for not sending a 14-year-old boy to prison, but just sending him to a correction center instead.’ There are many more efforts that the judicial system needs to make so that they can win the trust of people. Even while some parts of the problem are due to failures of the government, some other parts are due to failures of the people. Everyone wants to have a judicial system governed by fairness and transparency, but some people start to make exceptions in case something happens to themselves, their family, or their friends. Many people who normally ask for transparency, will then want to have special attention. It is natural that everyone wants attention, but it is not good to ask for exceptions. This is also something where many organizations and the CSD can help.’

“The US ambassador praised the CSD for its efforts this year, and he also appreciated the struggle of government officials and their willingness to cooperate with the CSD and its Court Watch Project. ‘The US government has the honor to assist in this task.’”

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #69, 21.3.2008

Cambodia still obtaining criminal confessions through torture: rights group

Friday, March 21, 2008
Brett Murphy

[JURIST] A quarter of criminal defendants in Cambodian courts are tortured or coerced into giving confessions, a statistic that has not changed since last year, according to an annual report [PDF text] released Thursday by Center for Social Development (CSD) [advocacy website]. The report found that:

Although duress is prohibited in Cambodia, CSD found a significant number of cases where defendants alleged of being victim of this inhuman practice to extract confession. At the six courts monitored by CSD, including the Appeals Court and the Supreme Court, 25.3% of defendants whose cases were monitored claimed having been coerced by judicial police officers...

Judges rarely followed up on these allegations. Adequate follow-up would include conducting further inquiry into the allegation or to prosecute perpetrator. At Phnom Penh Court, for example, with only five defendants out of a total of 292 defendants alleging coercion did the trial judges request the prosecution to prove that the confession was given freely and voluntarily.

Speaking at a Thursday meeting to mark the report's release, US Ambassador to Cambodia Joseph Mussomeli criticized [speech text] Cambodian courts for not meeting procedural justice standards, saying that "there remains a good deal to be done before the people of the judicial system will earn the trust of the people of Cambodia."

The judicial review annual report is part of the CSD Court Watch Project [CSD backgrounder], which monitors courts to assure compliance with Cambodian and International standards of fair trial.

Around Annapolis: Yoga workshop inspires woman to help Cambodian kids

Diane M. Rey - For The Capital
Annapolis Cove's Suzanne Cary sits on her yoga mat, surrounded by letters and contributions she has received for her project to help Cambodian children.

Published March 21, 2008

Suzanne Cary values her yoga practice for the calmness it brings to her mind.

But lately, all she can think about are images of Cambodian children dressed in rags, picking through mountains of garbage for bits of metal that bring in a few cents a day, maybe enough for a bowl of rice.

Those mental images have propelled the stay-at-home mother of three into action.

The family's large, comfortable home in Annapolis Cove seems worlds away from the squalor and desperation faced every day by the children she's trying to help.

According to the Cambodian Children's Fund Web site,, Cambodian children are among the most deprived and abused in the world. There, child prostitution and domestic violence are commonplace.

Education is not a reality for many, and the country's high poverty level has forced many children into labor at a tender age.

"The more you read about it, you can't believe that it's actually happening," Suzanne said.

Suzanne first learned about the plight of impoverished Cambodian children in January at a yoga workshop in Pennsylvania run by Seane Corn, a nationally known yoga teacher and activist who started an organization called "Off the Mat, Into the World." It's part of the Engage Network, a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization that focuses on social change in the areas of the environment, education, health and children's issues.

Seane discussed an initiative called "Journey to Cambodia, A Seva Challenge," affiliated with the Cambodian Children's Fund, where volunteers will spend two weeks in Cambodia's capital of Phnom Penh next February, working with five local orphanages to rescue as many children as possible and building a well to bring in clean water.

"I know that one person can make a difference in the lives of others,"

Suzanne said. "Something about this story touched me and I know I have to go."

First, however, she has to raise $20,000 by the end of the year to make it happen.

Although Suzanne says she has no fundraising experience, "It's taking me completely outside my box." She's determined to stay upbeat and work steadily toward her goal.

The journey so far has been harder than she thought. A Long Island native and former asset manager with Freddie Mac in McLean, Va., Suzanne, 40, said she first approached large corporations to jump-start her fundraising efforts. But those she approached were reluctant to donate for causes outside the United States.

"I had to regroup," she said.

Since then, she has relied on her own network and word-of-mouth to spread the news. So far, she has been able to raise about $2,500 from individuals and businesses, with contributions ranging from $20 to $500.

Her children's dentist, Dr. Nilda Collins, contributed a check as well as 100 toothbrushes for Suzanne to distribute at the orphanages. She also has received support from Annapolis Painting Services and Bayside Pediatrics. Recently, Lynn Mosby, who received her flier through Heritage Learning Center, where Suzanne's youngest child, Patrick, 3, attends, connected her with the South Arundel Junior Women's Club, which gave a donation.

She figures she needs to raise an average of $500 per week to meet her year-end goal.

"It's a big task," Suzanne said. Unlike higher-profile causes, like cancer research or Special Olympics, the plight of children in Cambodia "might not be on the radar screen" for many people, Suzanne said. "But children are children ... and they truly have nothing."

She plans to pay her own travel expenses, with help from a matching fund program at Bank of America, where her husband, Miles, works, so that 90 percent of the donations she receives will go directly to support the housing, feeding, health care and education of as many needy children as possible.

Fortunately, she said, in Cambodia, a little can go a long way: It takes only $30 to feed one child for one month; $75 covers monthly education costs; $250 buys shoes for 50 children; $500 gives 90 children dental care for one month; and $1,200 covers one child's general expenses at the Cambodian Children's Fund facilities for one year.

Suzanne plans to use the remaining 10 percent of donations to start a scholarship fund to teach yoga to women in low-income areas in Annapolis. Details for that effort still are being worked out, she said.

To reach her goal, Suzanne has planned several fundraising events, starting next month.

She's holding a fundraising breakfast April 10 at her home for parents of kindergarten children at St. Mary's Elementary School, where her children, Austin, 9, and Shannon, 6, attend.

At 9 a.m. April 12, the Lotus Center is holding a special yoga class to benefit Suzanne's project. The center is at 820 Ritchie Highway, Suite 280, in Severna Park. To register, call 410-858-7925.

Suzanne also plans to sell lottery tickets for a $200 grocery gift card outside the Safeway in Edgewater from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 19 and May 4.

As soon as they arrive, the Evolve Yoga studio at Evolutions Body Clinic, 1834 George Ave., Annapolis, will sell tote bags made by Cambodian children out of recycled rice bags. The studio is where Suzanne studies vinyasa flow yoga with Tina Lanzoni. Proceeds from the sales also will help Suzanne close her fundraising gap.

Currently, Suzanne stays busy planning additional fundraising events to take place this summer, including a wine auction and more yoga benefit classes.

She's also looking for a business or restaurant to step forward as a sponsor. All the while, she's keeping the faith that things will come together to enable her to achieve her mission.

"Seane Corn has a quote I like: 'If not me, then who?'" she said. "I have the power to help create a legacy in Cambodia. Why wouldn't I take this challenge? I am so excited about this opportunity," Suzanne said in an e-mail.

For more information about the project, or to donate online, visit Suzanne's Web site at

You also can send a check payable to the Exchange Network, with Suzanne Cary in the memo line, to 3204 Britania Court, Annapolis, MD, 21403. All donations are tax deductible.

Her name was Grace, and she brought the grace of classical ballet to generations of students in a 42-year teaching career, breaking down racial and cultural barriers along the way.

'Annapolis Anthologies' ballet

Annapolis dance legend Grace Clark retired in 1991 at the age of 79 and passed away in 1997, but her legacy lives on in the students she influenced.

Now, the Ballet Theatre of Maryland is trying to locate those students and incorporate their stories and experiences into an original ballet to be held in conjunction with the Annapolis Alive! program that celebrates the 300th anniversary of the city's charter.

"Annapolis Anthologies" will be performed at 7 p.m. April 19 and at 2 p.m. April 20 at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., Annapolis.

Dianna Cuatto, BTM artistic director, described Grace as "a courageous Annapolitan woman who gave women, African Americans and students from all cultural backgrounds the power of dance to break down the barriers to freedom."

Grace's daughter, Victoria Waidner, remembered the many locations throughout the city where her mother taught, beginning in 1949: the Stanton Community Center on West Washington Street; Parole Elementary School during the days of segregation; the old Keeney and Sons music store on West Street; the Annapolis YWCA, as well as in her home on Franklin Street.

Grace was the founder of the Annapolis Civic Ballet Company. She even taught ballet to football players at the Naval Academy to help them with their coordination, Victoria recalled.

"She did so much for the community of Annapolis ... She danced to the very end," said Victoria, a former principal who's now retired after 44 years in local public schools.

To contribute input to the project, call the Ballet Theatre of Maryland at 410-263-8289 or 410-224-5644.

Former Khmer Rouge matron requests delay in appeal hearing

dpa - International News Service in English
Mar 21, 2008

Phnom Penh (dpa) - The only woman to be held in pre-trial detention by the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia has requested her appeal for bail be delayed in the interests of justice and human rights, the joint UN-Cambodian court said in a statement Friday.

Legal advocates for Ieng Thirith, also known by her maiden name of Khieu Thirith and revolutionary names of Phea and Hong, asked for a stay of her scheduled appeal in April until late May.

The defense said Diana Ellis, whom Thirith has selected as her international co-lawyer, would be unable to attend the April 21 hearing because of prior commitments.

The inability for Ellis to attend would "lead to a violation of her [Thirith's] fair trial rights" and breach human rights stipulations, according to a defence statement made public by the court.

As the sister-in-law of the movement's late former leader Pol Pot, the former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister Thirith, who is in her late 70s, is accused of being one of the inner circle of the 1975-79 regime.

Her husband and former former foreign minister Ieng Sary is also one of five former Khmer Rouge leaders who have been arrested and charged by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

Up to 2 million Cambodians perished under the Khmer Rouge's Democratic Kampuchea regime, and the five have been charged with human rights abuses and in some cases war crimes by the court.

Thirith's defence request was dated Friday. The court did not say when a decision might be handed down. Thirith has denied the charges against her and faces a yet-to-be-scheduled trial.

Abe opens Japan-funded school in Cambodia+


KOMPONG CHHNANG, Cambodia, March 21 (Kyodo) - Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday opened a Japan-funded elementary school in the country's central province of Kompong Chhnang.

Abe, who heads a voluntary association of Japanese parliamentarians set up in 1997 to donate schoolhouses to Asian children, participated in an inauguration ceremony in Paches, a village located some 70 kilometers northwest of capital Phnom Penh.

He said the school is the eighth that the association has established in Cambodia so far, and that he hopes through this education project, friendly relations between Japan and Cambodia will be strengthened.

The association has also established schools in Laos and Myanmar.Abe, who stepped down as premier in September last year amid political pressure, arrived in Cambodia on Thursday as head of a 23-member delegation.

Later Friday, he is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen and have an audience with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni.

He will leave Cambodia on Saturday after a sightseeing trip to Siem Reap, hometown of the famed ancient temple of Angkor Wat.

In June last year, during a visit to Japan, Hun Sen invited Abe, then prime minister, to visit Cambodia during the year to mark 50 years since a visit to the country by Abe's grandfather Nobusuke Kishi, who was then prime minister.

But the visit did not materialize until now.

Cambodia's Khmer Rouge Tribunal Threatened By Funding Crisis

Security guard stands at entrance of courtroom with judges of UN-backed genocide tribunal look on in background

By Rory Byrne
Phnom Penh
21 March 2008

Byrne report - Download (MP3)
Byrne report - Listen (MP3)

There are growing concerns that a lack of funds could threaten the future of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal, just months before the first trials are expected to begin. The burgeoning costs of the joint United Nations/Cambodian court have not been met with fresh funds from donor countries, which means that the long-awaited tribunal will run out of money by the end of April. Court officials however, are hopeful that the international community will come up with the millions of dollars needed to keep the court running. Rory Byrne reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

Like a slow burning fuse, the threat to Cambodia's Khmer Rouge Tribunal has been building for months. The projected cost of the court has more than tripled from $56.3 million to about $170 million. At the same time, concerns about alleged mismanagement and corruption at the court have left donor countries slow to donate more money.

Helen Jarvis is a spokeswoman for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, officially known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

"We are really down to a pretty tight situation because on the Cambodian side we expect the funds to run out at the end of April - on the international side some months later," she said. "And indeed, even when the Cambodian funds run out we can't expect that the court would operate only with international staff. After all we are a mixed-court, and in the courts of Cambodia we really need both sides. As our director says: a bird needs two wings to fly, and that certainly applies to us."

The Khmer Rouge Tribunal has struggled to raise donor funds from the beginning mainly because of concerns about political interference in the trials.

Some leading members of the current Cambodian government, including the prime minister Hun Sen, are themselves former Khmer Rouge members. However, Reach Sambath, the press officer for the tribunal, says the Cambodian government deserves credit for supporting the trials.

"In the beginning, they got bullets of accusations saying that [the] Cambodian side had no commitment to let this court move forward because many of them were former Khmer Rouge, but on the contrary, within four months the five suspects were brought to the court, and that is why we have to express our satisfaction with the commitment of the Cambodian side of the court," he said.

The funding shortfall comes at the same time as the projected cost of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has skyrocketed.

According to court officials, the trials are now expected to take about five years - not the three years allocated for in the original budget.

Plus the tribunal belatedly set up a Victims Unit to allow thousands of victims of the Khmer Rouge to take part in the trials as civil parties. The cost of gathering and processing evidence from the large number of potential plaintiffs is expected to run into the millions of dollars.

In addition, the expansion of the role of the pre-trial chamber to include pre-trial appeals, plus the cost of translating thousands of documents into English, French and Khmer have worsened the court's money woes.

Evidence of the tribunal's predicament came last week, when the Cambodian side of the court told its 200-plus staff that they would not be paid beyond April.

To prevent the court from closing, court officials are urgently appealing to donors to pledge more money. Press Officer Reach Sambath.

"I think funds should be provided as urgently as possible because otherwise we don't want - and the Cambodian people - none of them want to see the defendants get free," Sambath said.

"Because they waited for this chance [for] thirty years and now we don't want to see they are suffering more because there would be no budget and the court is going to close."

Almost two million people died under the Khmer Rouge's brutal 1975-1979 rule. Prosecuting those deemed 'most responsible' has taken decades.

For court officials, and for many Cambodians, the thought that the trials could collapse at this stage from a lack of funds is unimaginable. Court spokeswoman Helen Jarvis.

"We really can't imagine that we would close our doors in a month from now - I don't think anyone is really entertaining this possibility," Jarvis said. "I think it has been recognized that we have made substantial achievements, and our work is too important to just let go at this point."

Donor countries, known as the Group of Interested States, are scheduled to meet in New York on March 27. Court officials are hopeful that fresh funds will be pledged at that meeting, or shortly after.

Tribunal Weighs Needs of Defendants, Victims

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
21 March 2008

Khmer audio aired March 21 (980KB) - Listen (MP3)

Decisions by the Khmer Rouge tribunal Thursday on Nuon Chea's detention and the rights of victims to participate in hearings highlight a fine line judges are now walking.

On the one hand, they must respect the rights of the defendants, to fair and speedy trial; on the other, they must fulfill the needs of the country, of national reconciliation in the face of one of the worst atrocities of the 20th Century.

A panel of judges said Thursday that civil parties can join in every hearing of a defendant's process. In doing so, they put a value on national reconciliation for civil parties.

Judge Prak Kimsan said the participation was necessary for investigations and as part of national reconciliation.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, cited the decision as proof of the quality of the tribunal courts.

Civil parties are the victims that can join a hearing after they file a suit with investigating judges, tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said.

The participation of the civil parties can provide psychological compensation and common compensation, he said.

A defense lawyer for Nuon Chea, Son Arun, said he did not disagree with allowing civil parties in certain hearings, but participation should be distinguished where the civil parties can only join hearings in the prime case.

"I do not oppose, but they should not participate and make a protest in the penal case," he said.

In the case of his client, they should have observed only the pre-trial release hearing, and not participated, he said, and should not have been allowed to suggest Nuon Chea not be released.

On the other hand, Youk Chhang said, "It is very interesting that the civil parties can join the hearings, and it explains some quality of the tribunal that depends on the participation of the citizen."

"But this participation must be limited by the co-judges or by representatives" of the parites, he said.

Council Defines Arms Licenses for Civilians

By Win Thida, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
21 March 2008

Khmer audio aired March 21 (703KB) - Listen (MP3)

The Council of Ministers passed a sub-decree Friday allowing for the licensing of very limited arms and munitions by civilians.

Under the new sub-decree, civilians can apply for licenses of arms and munitions for sports, art, fireworks, and engineering.

The licensing follows the passage of the Cambodian Arms Law in April 2005 and the subsequent closure of several weapons reduction programs.

Article 4 of the Arms Law prohibits weapon possession, ownership and transport by civilians.

Two SRP Supporters Charged With Arson

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
21 March 2008

Khmer audio aired March 21 (769KB) - Listen (MP3)

Two Sam Rainsy Party activists have been charged by Battambang provincial court for arson, following a complaint from a Pailin resident, officials said Friday.

Im Lim, a resident of Bras village, O'Tawao commune, Pailin, filed suit in the Battambang provincial court, claiming two men, Tep Nom and Yean Sopheaktra, set fire to her house, according to a local human rights group and a court official who asked not to be named.

The official said the men were sent to Battambang court March 19, were they were charged.

Sam Rainsy Party officials said the arrests were a form of political persecution.

Pa Thea, deputy police chief of Pailin, said the dispute was between common people only and denied that any of the three involved belonged to a political party.

Local Group Backs UN Envoy's Rights Report

By Ker Yann, VOA Khmer
21 March 2008

Khmer audio aired March 20 (5.57MB) - Listen (MP3)

A human rights report delivered by a special UN envoy to the Human Rights Council in Geneva this week was accurate and in line with reports from other agencies, a human rights worker said Thursday.

The Rights Council report, delivered by UN envoy Yash Ghai, outlined widespread human rights abuses, especially in land thefts.

Rural displacement remained a problem, as well as the shooting, wounding and killing of protestors, Kek Galabru, founder of the rights group Licadho said Thursday.

Ghai, who has been denied official meetings on trips to Cambodia in the past, also met with Om Yentieng, head of Cambodia's Human Rights Committee, on the sidelines of meetings this week.

Speaking from Geneva on "Hello VOA," Kek Galabru called the meeting a positive sign that will hopefully lead to more cooperation in the future.

"In the end Mr. Yash Ghai told the conference he was very pleased to have Mr. Om Yentieng meet with him outside the conference to discuss different issues," she said.