Thursday, 3 April 2008

Dith Pran's Funeral

Born in SIEM REAP CAMBODIA on Sep. 23, 1942
Departed on Mar. 30, 2008 and resided in WOODBRIDGE, NJ.



Please click on the links above for locations, times, maps, and directions.
Dith Pran, a photojournalist for The New York Times whose gruesome ordeal in the killing fields of Cambodia was re-created in a 1984 movie that gave him an eminence he tenaciously used to press for his people's rights, died on Sunday at a hospital in New Brunswick, N.J. He was 65 and lived in Woodbridge, N.J.
To read more please click the link below
In lieu of sending flowers, friends and colleagues are invited to make contributions in the name of Dith Pran. The family intends to put that money toward a foundation that will be established in the coming weeks according to Pran's last wishes.
Contributions, as well as any cards or letters of condolence, should be sent to the following address:
The New York Times
4th floor Picture Desk
Att: Melissa Bellinelli
620 Eighth Ave.New York, New York 10018

Cash-Strapped ECCC Showcases Court Transparency

By: Craig Guthrie
The Mekong Times Daily

A delegation from the ECCC yesterday returned from a high profile meeting with donor countries and high-ranking UN officials in New York. As budget fears grow, the delegation reportedly took the opportunity to present a recent glowing review of the trial’s much maligned human resource process.

A delegation from the cash-strapped extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) returned yesterday from a meeting with international donors in New York where a positive report on the court’s hiring and firing procedures was presented.

ECCC Public Affairs Chief Helen Jarvis said the meeting, attended by representatives from some 20 potential donor countries and high-ranking UN staff, was both “productive and fruitful,” but stressed that the even was never supposed to produce immediate concrete conclusions on funding.

She said the main purpose of the meeting was for the ECCC to present the UN with a report of its recent progress and the successful results of a recent review of the trial’s human resources procedures.

The ECCC recently warned its more than 200 Cambodian staff that salary funds will run out by May, while NGOs have cautioned that the court’s lack of transparency, particularly in human resources, may impede its desperate quest for funding.

New York-based legal NGO the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) in Feb 2007 accused Cambodian staff of giving kickbacks to ensure their positions. The UN Development Program (UNDP) released another damning report in June 2007.

“We are still working on the budget and establishing a precise timeline for it,” said Jarvis, adding that the UN has introduced a new special expert to evaluate the court.

The review of the ECCC’s human resources management, the full results of which will be released Apr 4, was carried out by a team of consultants from Cambodia and auditing company Deloitte India, and from said a recent press release.

“[The audit] has been able to show that a robust human resource system has been developed to effectively support the judicial process to minimize the risk of the questionable practices occurring in the future,” said the ECCC statement.

It went on to praise “job-matching,” or finding the right person for the job, saying the court “has taken a pragmatic approach in addressing the inherent constraint of Cambodia’s limited personnel pool.”

Job matching was an area attacked by the June 2007 UNDP human resources which found unqualified staff were being hired, uncovering discrepancies in the selection of candidates, and “weaknesses in the performance evaluation process.”

Long PanhaVuth, OSJI’s Cambodian justice initiative director, said his organization will welcome the findings of the report only of it has been conduced transparently, independently, and objectively.

He said he was unsure if the process was transparent, and warned the court may struggle to find funding if its process is not made more visible to the public and civil society.

The ECCC is currently seeking an additional US$ 114 million, over its initial projected budget of US$ 56.3 million, and a mandate extension from 2008 until 2011.

Extracted from:-The Mekong Times, Vol. 01, #40, Tuesday, April 01, 2008.

Kompong Chhnang Airport Construction Labourers in lines Walked to be Killed

The building that was built in Khmer Rouge regimeKompong Chhang province, Picture by:Sohay

Source : Rasmei Kampuchea
By : Oka

Rolea B’ier-Kompong Chhnang: Although there is no clear claim to show the exact number of workers and the soldiers from the East Zone were killed during the construction of an airport in Krang Leav commune, Rolea B’ier district in 1977, it is known that tens of thousand were brought to be killed at the time.

The airport in Krang Leav commune, Rolea B’ier district is located more than 10 kilometres from the provincial town of Kompong Chhnang and was built in 1977 during the reign of the Khmer Rouge by the workers who were the “base people” and the soldiers claimed to have come from the West Zone, under the supervision of Chinese specialists. The labourers, who were in the lowest class, and tens of thousand soldiers sent from the West Zone broke rocks from Krang Dei Meas Mountain to get granite for the construction of the airport, being built day and night.

A smooth concrete road leads from the junction of the National Road Number 5 to the airport, and from the airport to Krang Dei Meas Mountain, there are also concrete roads intertwined. Around the flank of the mountain, there are many water reservoirs, which is claimed to be have been used to keep water for the use in the airport. A lot of buildings were constructed along the flank of the mountain to the airport.

Thoang Sim, Krang Leav’s commune chief, said that during the Pol Pot’s regime, he lived near the airport construction site. However, he was not appointed to participate in the construction since he was not the base people. “Only the base people and the soldiers sent from the West Zone were appointed to extract the rock for building the airport,” he said. He does not know how many people the Khmer Rouge killed during the airport construction “campaign”, but saw in the evenings militiamen walk lines of airport construction labourers to be executed. “It was said that the Khmer Rouge did not want anyone to know about the confidentiality of their strategies in Krang Dei Meas Mountain, so after the construction they killed [those labourers],” said the commune chief.

The commune chief said that the Kompong Chhnang airport is 3 square kilometers and at the present around 100 families have been residing in the prohibited area. He continued to say that the provincial authority had previously evicted the people living there, but that after the UNTAC came to Cambodia, they returned to live there again. Many villagers said that although many people were killed during the stage of the airport construction, but the number of the dead was unknown.

Thoang Sim said that in late 1978 when the Khmer Rouge knew that they were going to be defeated, they burned the factory, oil, and other remaining materials they could not take along with them before they retreated and fled into the jungle.

Unofficial Translation-Extracted from Rasmei Kampuchea, vol. 16, #4554, Sunday-Monday, March 30-31, 2008

ASEAN and partners look into economic, financial policies

April 3, 2008

Delegates from ASEAN member countries and dialogue partners, namely China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (RoK), on April 2 discussed ways to increase co-operation in working out economic, financial and monetary policies.

At the Informal ASEAN+3 Finance and Central Bank Deputies’ Meeting (AFDM+3) held in central Danang city, the participants also looked into economic development within the region as well as in member countries.

They agreed that pressure posed by price hikes showed signs of waning, but ASEAN+3 member economies will be certainly affected by trade liberalisation and international investment.

The delegates shared a view that inflation within the ASEAN+3 region has been on the rise due to slow growth of the world economy, particularly that of the US economy.

The event was held in preparations for the 12th ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Meeting (AFMM) that will take place in Danang two days later.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (VNA)

Australia pledges new funds to help keep Cambodian genocide tribunal running

The Associated Press
Published: April 3, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Australia pledged $458,000 Thursday for Cambodia's U.N.-backed genocide tribunal, whose operations have been threatened by a shortage of funds as it prepares for trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders.

Bob McMullan, the Australian parliamentary secretary for international development assistance, announced the pledge during a meeting with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.

He said his government made the decision to help pay Cambodia's share of the expenses because "we want to make sure that the resources are available so that this important step in justice is capable of being properly undertaken."

The money is "available now," McMullan said.

Helen Jarvis, the tribunal's chief spokeswoman, said the contribution "takes the pressure off."

The Khmer Rouge is accused of responsibility for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians during its 1975-1979 rule. So far, none of the regime's senior leaders has faced trial.

The U.N.-assisted tribunal opened its offices in early 2006 after years of wrangling between the Cambodian government and the world body. Trials — conducted jointly by international and Cambodian jurists — were originally projected to end by 2009, but are now expected to run through March 2011.

To extend its operation, the tribunal is seeking an additional $114 million. It told donor countries in January it would need $170 million, a sharp increase from the originally budgeted $56 million.

The United Nations was supposed to provide $43 million for its share of the original budget, and Cambodia $13.3 million.

Jarvis said the funds that Cambodia has available are $4.9 million short of its original share. The Cambodian side now has enough money to keep operating until the end of May, rather than April as previously projected, she said.

The pledge announced by McMullan is Australia's first direct contribution to the Cambodian side, which is "very encouraging," Jarvis said.

Australia previously gave about $2.3 million for the U.N.'s share of the budget.

Cambodia says Khmer Rouge court funds "no problem"

Thu Apr 3, 2008

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia is confident about securing an additional $114 million from donors to pay for the ballooning costs of the Khmer Rouge "Killing Fields" tribunal, senior minister Sok An said on Thursday.

"We will have no problem with the financial support," he told a news conference to announce a pledge of an additional A$500,000 ($459,000) from Australia towards the United Nations-backed proceedings against Pol Pot's top surviving henchmen.

The court had an initial budget of $56 million, and was expected to run for three years. However, it was slow in starting, and is now expected to run over until 2011.

Sok An said the court had enough funds to last until the end of this year.

An estimated 1.7 million died under Pol Pot's 1975-79 reign of terror as the dream of creating an agrarian utopia descended into the nightmare of the "Killing Fields".

Many victims were tortured and executed. The rest died of starvation or disease.

Five top Khmer Rouge cadres have been arrested by the court and charged with war crimes or crimes against humanity.

They are "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, former president Khieu Samphan, former foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife, Ieng Thirith, and Duch, head of Phnom Penh's Tuol Sleng, or "S-21" interrogation and torture centre.

Pol Pot himself died in 1998.

Celebrating Cambodian New Year April 5

By Vuth Chhunn and Mary-Ann Em , Asian American Press

April 02, 2008

“Okay, guys, let’s do it just one more time. The ending was a bit messy,” Sarim Pin urged the other dancers. As the lively, instrumental music began to play, 10 dancers took their places to start again. Since December, these dancers have been practicing almost every weekend to perform for their New Year celebration. They are members of a small student organization at the University of Minnesota called the Cambodian Student Association of Minnesota (CSAM).

While New Year’s Day is celebrated for a single evening, this holiday is given much more importance in Cambodia. Every April, children and adults look forward to the most anticipated holiday of the year, in which 3 days are devoted to festivities.

Not surprisingly, Cambodian New Year 2008 is CSAM’s showcase event of the year. “It’s the biggest celebration in Cambodia and we want to bring it here and share it with other cultures,” says Alexander Sok, a public relations officer for CSAM.

One member, Boramy Kim, feels the holiday is an important occasion for Cambodian-American families and individuals to take pride in their heritage. “It’s a meaningful time to come together as a family to celebrate both the blessing of a New Year and traditional culture.”

Through this celebration, CSAM hopes to unite the Cambodian-American community in the Twin Cities, especially in terms of bridging the gap between the older and younger generations. Sarim Pin, the president of the organization, feels strongly about this. “I hope people will see that we, as Cambodian students, are still holding on to our culture and traditions even though most of us here are second-generation Cambodians in the United States.”

Furthermore, CSAM wants to reach out and include the University community and the general public in the celebration. “Through sharing our food, our music, our dancing, our traditional fashion, and our stories, we want to inform and entertain members of the larger community who may not be familiar with Cambodian culture. After all, Asians and Asian-Americans represent a whole spectrum of unique, distinct cultures,” says Mary-Ann Em, vice president of CSAM.

The celebration will take place on Saturday, April 5th, 2008, at the North Star Ballroom on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. Free to the public, the event features authentic Cambodian food, a program of cultural performances, and a Cambodian live band for dancing.
Doors open at 6 pm and will last until midnight.

For more information, please contact the Cambodian Student Association of Minnesota at

Cambodia suspends foreign marriages: Official

Cambodian women dressed in European style wedding dresses are seen walking near the ancient temple of Angkor Wat. Cambodia has suspended marriages between foreigners and Cambodians amid concerns over an explosion in the number of brokered unions involving poor, uneducated women.(AFP/File/Philippe Lopez)

A foreign tourist is seen walking on a beach of the Cambodian seaside town of Sihanouk Ville, some 220 kilometers southwest of Phnom Penh. Cambodia has suspended marriages between foreigners and Cambodians amid concerns over an explosion in the number of brokered unions involving poor, uneducated women.(AFP/File/Tang Chhin Sothy)

3 Apr 2008

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia has suspended marriages between foreigners and Cambodians amid concerns over an explosion in the number of brokered unions involving poor, uneducated women, an official said on Thursday.

The move follows an International Organisation for Migration (IOM) report highlighting the plight of an increasing number of Cambodian brides migrating to South Korea in marriages hastily arranged by brokers who made large profits.

Some 1,759 marriage visas were issued by South Korea in 2007, up from just 72 in 2004, the report said.

While no systematic exploitation was uncovered, several cases of abuse did raise a red flag with the government, said You Ay, secretary of state with the Women's Affairs Ministry.

"Seven women have returned from South Korea because they could not stand what happened to them there," You Ay is said to have revealed.

"The government has temporarily suspended all (paperwork) for Cambodia women to marry foreigners," she said.

You Ay said the ban, which was approved last week, would be lifted after the government developed a legal framework to address mixed marriages.

"This suspension is to prevent human trafficking through marriage," she said, adding that while the brides often receive as little as 1,000 US dollars, agencies can make tens of thousands of dollars on each marriage.

"Cambodia is working to strengthen the laws on marriage," You Ay said.

IOM project coordinator John McGeoghan said that while the report targeted marriages between Cambodians and South Koreans, the potential for problems exists globally and that brokered unions needed to be better regulated.

Three South Korean marriage agencies have been closed down in Cambodia pending the government's decision on marriages to foreigners.

The South Korean embassy in Cambodia earlier this week halted issuing residency visas to Cambodian women wishing to marry Korean men.

Cambodia hosts inter-religion meeting for Asian Pacific countries

April 03, 2008

An inter-religion meeting was launched here on Thursday for religious leaders from 15 countries in Asian Pacific region to talk about cooperation, peace and harmony in the world.

All religious sects have to work together to help this globe to have peace, food security and contribute to poverty reduction, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said while addressing the meeting.

"We have to have tolerance among all religions, and help to build morality in society, share cultures and arts for people to understand deeply," he added.

The meeting, held on April 3-4, talks about security, respect for religious belief, understanding and tolerance, equal opportunity, solidarity, cooperation and conflict resolution, a press release said.

The meeting is sponsored by Australian and Indonesian governments while Cambodia hosts the meeting, it said.

About 95 percent of Cambodians are Buddhist, three percent of them Muslims, one percent for Christians, and one percent for others, according to the statistics from Cambodian Ministry of Cults and Religion.


Rare water birds repopulating in Cambodia's Tonle Sap lake

In this photo released by Wildlife Conservation Society, large water birds are seen congregating on top of a tree at Prek Toal bird sanctuary on the northwestern side of the Tonle Sap lake, northwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Dec. 27, 2007. The populations of seven species of rare water birds have recovered significantly in Cambodia's Tonle Sap lake due to a program that employs former hunters as park rangers, conservationists said Thursday, April 3, 2008.(AP Photo/Wildlife Conservation Society, HO)

In this photo released by Wildlife Conservation Society, large water birds are seen congregating on top of a tree at Prek Toal bird sanctuary on the northwestern side of the Tonle Sap lake, northwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Dec. 27, 2007. The populations of seven species of rare water birds have recovered significantly in Cambodia's Tonle Sap lake due to a program that employs former hunters as park rangers, conservationists said Thursday, April 3, 2008.(AP Photo/Wildlife Conservation Society, HO)

The Associated Press
Published: April 3, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: The populations of seven species of rare water birds have recovered significantly in Cambodia's Tonle Sap lake due to a program that employs former hunters as park rangers, conservationists said Thursday.

A report by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society found the populations have increased by as much as 20 times for some of the species since 2001, when the program started.

The findings mark a "success story" in efforts to protect the bird colonies from poachers, said Noeu Bonheur, the Cambodian Environment Ministry's deputy director of the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve.

"It is definitely exciting news that we should be proud of," he said.

His office and the WCS have worked together for several years on a conservation project at Prek Toal, a flooded region on the northwestern edge of the Tonle Sap.

The lake is Southeast Asia's largest freshwater reservoir, which can expand to 12,000 square kilometers (4,630 square miles) at the peak of the rainy season and recede to about 3,000 square kilometers (1,160 square miles) in the dry season. It is rich in biodiversity and provides a breeding ground for many species of birds and fish.

The WCS report, released earlier this week, said the Prek Toal bird colonies hold the largest — and in some cases the only — breeding populations in Southeast Asia of the seven globally threatened large water bird species.

The species are the spot-billed pelican, milky stork, painted stork, lesser adjutant, greater adjutant, black-headed ibis and the Oriental darter. There were over 20,000 birds in 2007, compared to 5,000 in 2001, the report said.

All seven species are listed as "threatened or near-threatened" by the World Conservation Union, Tom Clements, a WCS technical adviser in Cambodia, said in an e-mail Thursday.

"Prek Toal is the most important large water bird breeding colony in Southeast Asia. In some cases, Prek Toal supports up to 30 percent of the global population," Clements said.

When the colonies there were discovered in the late 1990s, they were threatened with extinction as a result of villagers' rampant harvesting of eggs and chicks, the report said.

But during the past seven years, a colony protection and monitoring program has resulted in a gradual decline in poaching incidents, allowing the birds to stage "remarkable comebacks," it said.

The program employs some 30 park rangers, many of whom are former poachers, who work in shifts around the clock to monitor the bird populations.

"The approach was extremely effective," Clements said.

He said some of the hunters who were not employed did try to collect the birds' eggs and chicks in the early years of the project, "but since 2004 this threat has effectively ceased."

Bob Mcmullanin, Australia's parliamentary secretary for international development assistance, visits Cambodia prison

Bob Mcmullan (R), Australia's parliamentary secretary for international development assistance, looks prosthetics as Cambodia Trust 's stuff explains in Phnom Penh on April 02, 2008 . Bob Mcmullan is in Cambodia for two-day visit.REUTERS/Chor Sokunrhea (CAMBODIA)

Bob Mcmullan (R), Australian parliamentary secretary for international development assistance, looks prosthetic as Cambodia Trust 's stuff explains in Phnom Penh April 2, 2008 . Bob Mcmullan is in Cambodia for two-day visit.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Bob Mcmullan (L), Australia's parliamentary secretary for international development assistance, looks a prisoner using a computer at Kandal prison in Kandal province, outskirt of Phnom Penh, April 2, 2008 . Bob Mcmullan is in Cambodia for two-day visit.REUTERS/Chor Sokunrhea (CAMBODIA)
Prisoners sew clothes as Bob Mcmullanin (not pictured), Australia's parliamentary secretary for international development assistance, visits Kandal prison in Kandal province, outskirt of Phnom Penh, April 2, 2008.REUTERS/Chor Sokunrhea (CAMBODIA)

Remembering Dith Pran

By Murali Balaji

In the summer of 2001, I was on a flight from Minneapolis to San Francisco for the Asian American Journalists Association convention.

Sitting across the aisle from me was a small East Asian man wearing an "AAJA" sweatshirt. Thinking that this older gentleman was perhaps the father of an AAJA member or just a supporter of the organization, I started to converse with him.

At the time, I was a city hall reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and thought that my position warranted a little boasting. The man was gracious enough to praise me and seemed genuinely happy that I was doing so well for myself as a journalist.

Later that evening, AAJA had a reception, in which a speaker noted the Dith Pran award for photojournalism and pointed to none other than the small man who sat with me on the 3.5-hour plane ride.

I was embarrassed for having talked about my exploits as a reporter to Dith, who had done more in his life as a journalist and activist than most of my generation put together. But he did not accept my apologies for being arrogant, telling me instead that I was doing a great job in my field.

On Sunday, Dith Pran died at age 65 following a three-month bout with pancreatic cancer. He was best remembered as the survivor of the genocide in Cambodia that inspired the 1984 movie, "The Killing Fields." Pran had a long career as an award-winning photographer for the New York Times. He was also a tireless human rights advocate whose work was critical in the passage of the 1994 Cambodian Genocide Justice Act.

We had maintained contact, and I always thought of him as a man whose unassuming and quiet nature contradicted the larger-than-life persona that seemed to follow him after "The Killing Fields" was made.

Dith might have often been lost in crowds or, unlike me, felt uncomfortable talking about himself to others, but he never ceased to remind us through his actions that living through the worst in humanity can bring out our best.

Dith was a living reminder of modern genocide, a man who by being alive showed us how we could overcome — but never forget — the most barbaric actions committed against our fellow humans. He was a testament that genocide is real and not merely a political term, and that mass killings in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America and parts of Africa are not merely aberrations, revisionist histories or media-constructed fantasies.

Dith was soft-spoken and maintained a sanguine nature that disguised his fierce inner spirit. He smiled whenever he listened to me gripe about my job, as if he knew my worst days could never come close to the days he had seen.

For the past few years, we had stayed in touch about the possibility of his speaking to college students about his experiences as a genocide survivor and as a successful photojournalist. I never had a chance to thank him for making me understand that life is more than surviving — it is to be lived.

Thank you, Dith.

Murali Balaji is a lecturer and doctoral fellow in the College of Communications, Pennsylvania State University.

146 Canadians charged overseas with child sex crimes

"only one convicted; B.C. professor likens Canadian passport to 'get-out-of-jail free card'

David Wylie, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Thursday, April 03, 2008

A Canadian passport is essentially a "get-out-of-jail free card" for people having sex with children overseas, says a B.C. law professor.

Benjamin Perrin, who teaches at the University of British Columbia, has reviewed information obtained through the Access to Information Act from the Department of Justice on sexual exploitation charges overseas.

He found that 146 Canadians were charged with child sex offences overseas from 1993-2007, based on requests for consular support.

However, only one Canadian has been convicted here under laws against child-sex tourism.
"Canada has one of the worst records in the world on enforcing these laws. This is becoming an international sore spot for Canada." he said.

"Are we going to back up our tough talk on child sexual exploitation with action?"

Mr. Perrin said other countries, such as the U.S. and Australia, have similar laws against citizens travelling overseas and sexually abusing children.

Those countries have a much higher number of prosecutions and convictions, he said. About 50 other countries have similar laws.

Very few RCMP officers are posted in embassies overseas to collect evidence against Canadian child abusers, resulting in a lack of enforcement.

Instead, Canada relies on foreign countries to supply enough evidence to lay charges, said Mr. Perrin.

"The RCMP need to have more resources," he suggested, adding that the Department of Justice needs to lay more charges.

In an e-mail, Darren Eke, a spokesman for federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, said the "prosecuting authority" for Canada's child-sex tourism laws falls under provincial jurisdiction.

"Canada's child-sex tourism law reflects international consensus that those who sexually abuse children must be held accountable," he said. "Where the state in which the transgression is alleged to have occurred does not prosecute an accused Canadian, our child-sex tourism provisions enable Canada to undertake the prosecution."

The sex-tourism law was enacted in 1997.

Donald Bakker, the first Canadian to be charged under the laws, pleaded guilty in 2005, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for cruel and sadistic sexual acts on women and children, including girls between the ages of seven and 12 in Cambodia.

Mr. Perrin said charges against Mr. Bakker were "essentially accidental," after police arrested him in Vancouver on unrelated charges and stumbled on a cache of videotapes showing the overseas assaults.

Three others have since been charged, including Kenneth Robert Klassen of Burnaby, who is accused of exploiting children in Cambodia, Colombia and the Philippines; and two Quebec humanitarian workers, Armand Huard and Denis Rochefort, who are accused of sexually assaulting children in a Haitian orphanage.

In the Quebec case, Mr. Perrin said the accusations had to be brought before the United Nations before they received any attention.

"This is why our record is so poor," he added.

Accused pedophile Christopher Paul Neil, 32, of B.C., was arrested in Thailand last year. It's unclear whether he will be tried in Canada.

The Ousted Thai PM visits northern Thailand

Deposed Thai PM Thaksin pictured here returning home in March. He says he's playing golf this weekend with Cambodia PM Hun Sen because he is unemployed. [AFP]

Radio AAustralia

The ousted Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, is visiting political supporters in northern Thailand in his first trip outside the capital, Bangkok, since he returned to Thailand last month.

Mr Thaksin has made one international trip since returning from self-imposed exile in Britain in late February, but his tour of northern Chiang Rai province is a chance to thank loyalists for their continued support.

The former leader comes from the nearby province of Chiang Mai, and he and his allies have enjoyed consistent support from voters across northern Thailand despite the September 2006 coup and allegations of corruption against him.

Mr Thaksin was due to attend the birthday celebrations for one his closest allies, parliamentary speaker Yongyut Tiyapairat, who has been suspended from his duties pending resolution of a vote fraud case.

Mr Thaksin says he plans to travel to Cambodia on Saturday to play golf with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

"Prime Minister Hun Sen invited me as an acquaintance, because he was afraid that I might be lonely after losing my job," he told reporters.

A NightLight for Bangkok's sex slave women

Julie Ascosi

She was a 12-year-old Cambodian prostitute in Bangkok. While others her age may be selling flowers or shining shoes to make money, she was "going with the men". But she was not alone.

American missionary Annie Dieselberg discovered there were four girls, ages 9-12 who were in the sex trade and eventually there was a bust. The girls were sent back to Cambodia. But within a few months they were back at the bars. All but one. The fourth girl was gang-raped at the border and disappeared. Within a short time, two more girls disappeared and were under the care of a Danish man somewhere in Bangkok.

"Those events gave me a vision to start a children's center," Dieselberg said. Dieselberg hoped to start a ministry that would be a light in the midst of the dark reality of sex tourism in Bangkok.

About 12,000 children per year are trafficked for sexual exploitation in South East Asia, mostly to Thailand according to research by the International Labor Organization (ILO). But children are not the only ones being exploited.

"[I discovered] that there were large numbers of women trafficked from Eastern Europe and Central Asia in this other area of town," Dieselberg said. "Their issues were not being addressed either and I began to pray for opportunities to help them."

Dieselberg and her husband had worked in various ministries in Thailand for years, reaching out to prostitutes, but Dieselberg felt called to something more.

"I was bursting with vision but there was no room for it in the other ministry. That ministry was well established and I finally realized that God did not want me to stay in that setting but to take the vision He had given me and begin a new work," Dieselberg said.

Dieselberg left her ministry and spent a couple months in prayer and fasting.

"At the end of that time, I came together with four other women who were seeking ways to minister with women in prostitution," Dieselberg said. These women had been part-time volunteers with another organization but had left, hoping to start something new and soon embraced Dieselberg's idea to light the way for the prostitutes.

In the West a nightlight gives comfort to children and lights the way to safety. Acting on her vision and playing off of this imagery, Dieselberg established NightLight in 2005 in Bangkok, Thailand. NightLight doubles as a business and ministry. Specifically the ministry reaches out to women and children working in the bar areas of Nana/Sukhumvit. While most organizations for prostitutes focus on vocational training and discipleship, NightLight is unique as a for-profit ministry that reaches both women and children in prostitution and trafficking regardless of their ethnicity or place of origin.

"We believe that the women most urgently need a decent job," Dieselberg said.

As a registered Thai business, NightLight makes a profit by selling the jewelry that the Thai women have been taught to design and make. They sell the jewelry online at and through a network of churches throughout Thailand and the U.S. By providing the women with a job complete with good wages and benefits and providing assistance to children, NightLight helps them stay out of prostitution and move forward.

But NightLight is much more than just a business.

"Deep down, we believe that they have other more significant needs…Our program includes then the other areas which they need healing and restoration such as spiritual, family, wounds, physical, education, training, and financial," Dieselberg said.

There are eight paid staff, six of whom are Thais, and more are being added to their number. In addition to the eight are about twelve more staff who establish trusting relationships with the women and children in the bar areas in order to provide them with alternatives and assistance.

In Thailand, trafficking is a 500 billion baht (U.S. $15.3 billion) annual business, which is 50%- 60% of the government's annual budget and more lucrative than the drug trade according to the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. In addition, a study published by the ILO, says that the sex industry accounts for between 2% and 14% of the countries' gross domestic product. It is no wonder that the authorities are hesitant to get involved in stopping such a lucrative business.

In addition, alleged corruption and apathy among police can be disheartening to those trying to help especially in emergency situations.

"One time, I witnessed a woman being held at knifepoint by a man. She was crying and resisting. As she was across the street, I looked around for assistance. Behind us was a [man] who was watching but not doing a thing. I asked him if he was going to do anything to help her and he said, 'It's just his girl.'" Dieselberg said. "I laid into him but he was nonplussed and just walked away. The woman was dragged into a car and driven off."

Despite attempts at befriending various cops who often attend the bars, situations such as these have taught Dieselberg and her staff to rely on reputable links who know who to best turn to for help.

Part II "But the darkness has not overcome it" will be featured in next week's issue.

CADCOMMS Selects Redknee's Converged Billing Platform

By Arun Satapathy
TMCnet Contributing Editor

Cambodia Advance Communications (CADCOMMS) has selected Redknee's (News - Alert) turnkey converged billing solution for its operations in Cambodia. The multi-million dollar deal increases Redknee's presence in the South East Asia market.

As a new entrant in the emerging Cambodian market, CADCOMMS (News - Alert) is hoping that Redknee’s solution will help it carve a niche. The company is differentiating itself by offering a flexible, personalized billing solution. Redknee's solution makes this possible, enabling the operator more easily integrate new services and accelerate its time-to-market.

The system also has self-care features that help reduce call center costs by allowing subscribers to modify their own account details.

"As we take our first steps into this market, we have a unique opportunity to clearly differentiate ourselves from existing telcos and to deliver transparent pricing models that provide more flexibility for our subscribers," said Don Maclean, chief information officer at CADCOMMS, in a statement.

Mclean added: "After a thorough evaluation, we determined that the Redknee Turnkey Converged Billing platform provides the exceptional flexibility and scalability we require. The simple, open architecture of their solution promises ease of integration, swift deployment and scalability. Additionally, Redknee has established a strong Asian development and support infrastructure, and continuously demonstrates its commitment to working with CADCOMMS as a strategic, long-term partner."

Redknee’s billing solution integrates with available core network elements and offers out-of-the-box support for 3G services. It also allows the operators to meet demands for new service offerings, thus staying ahead of the competitive curve.

"In the fiercely competitive environment of high-growth emerging mobile markets, the realization of subscriber and service revenue growth hinges on the operators' capability to offer highly-personalized services," said Lucas Skoczkowski (News - Alert), chief executive officer of Redknee, in a statement.

Skoczkowski continued: "CADCOMMS has taken a significant step toward establishing itself as a markedly-differentiated leader, uniquely positioned to realize increasing revenues and subscriber retention enabled by Redknee's market leading solutions."

Tribunal Trouble

April 3, 2008

The Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia was one of the 20th century's most horrific crimes. The United Nations-sponsored war crimes tribunal that is seeking justice for the millions of victims has been wracked with allegations of corruption. So we're happy to report that outside scrutiny seems to be having an effect.

Last year, an audit of the tribunal, part of whose funding is supervised by the United Nations Development Program, found significant conflicts of interest in funding oversight, inflated salaries and underqualified staff. After this page exposed the audit's findings in September, the tribunal started to clean up its HR practices by improving hiring procedures and implementing a staff code of conduct.

Now, donor nations are turning up the heat. When the court released its revised budget to donors in January, it asked for an additional $114 million and an extension of the court's life until 2011. The biggest country donors – including Japan, Germany and France – came back with such extensive questions that it took the court two months to prepare its response.

Among the questions: Why did the tribunal triple its original budget projection to $170 million from $56 million? Why did staff costs constitute around 70% of that increase – and what exactly will those staff be doing? And why is the court, now in its second year, taking so long to try the top Khmer Rouge officials, many of whom are now in their 80s?

It's good to see donor nations asking these questions, but it would be better if the public – who ultimately are footing the bill – also had access to information about how their tax dollars are being spent. It's unclear whether the court will ever publicly release the revised budget projection.

Without new funding, the Cambodian side of the court will run out of money by the end of May; the U.N. side of the court can last only a few months longer. It's in no one's interest to see the tribunal fall apart. The Cambodian government and the UNDP can honor the memories of the victims of the Khmer Rouge genocide by running a clean tribunal.

At Trial, Cambodian-American Coup Plotter Portrayed as Reckless

Staff Reporter of the Sun
April 3, 2008

LOS ANGELES — A Cambodian-American tax preparer and selfdescribed freedom fighter, Yasith Chhun, recklessly endangered the lives of civilians and his own followers when he launched a coup attempt in his homeland in 2000, a prosecutor told jurors during opening arguments yesterday at Mr. Chhun's trial in federal court here.

Mr. Chhun's defense replied that he was engaged in a noble, if naïve, attempt to free his countrymen from a despotic regime and that he had no desire to see anyone killed in the process.

"This accountant from the city of Long Beach decided he was going to take over a country," the prosecutor, Lamar Baker, said. "And he was willing to take lives in order to do so."

Mr. Chhun's attorney, Richard Callahan Jr., said the group, which called itself the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, had the laudable goal of removing what he called the "tyrannical regime" of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

"They attempted what they believed was a gallant effort to save Cambodia from the regime of Prime Minister Hun Sen," Mr. Callahan said. "These men put their lives on the line for the cause. ... The effort was misguided and naïve in its execution to be sure, but it was not misguided in its intent."

Mr. Callahan told jurors about the "killing fields" in which an estimated 1.7 million people died in the 1970s during the murderous regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. "Hun Sen had been a brigade commander under Pol Pot and unfortunately many of the same abuses continued under his reign," the defense attorney said. Mr. Callahan noted that in 1998, as the plans for the coup were being crafted, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for Mr. Hun Sen to be indicted under international law for a variety of human rights abuses, including attacks on political rallies and the killing of Cambodian opposition figures.

The defense lawyer said Mr. Chhun's contacts with American political leaders in Washington led him to believe America would back the putsch. "His CFF members also believed the U.S. would be there," Mr. Callahan said.

At the outset of his 35-minute argument, Mr. Baker showed jurors a photograph of a bloodied man sprawled on a sidewalk clutching what appeared to be a weapon. The prosecutor said the man was a private security guard at a gas station who was fired on with an AK-47 during the coup attempt and later had a grenade tossed at him by a member of Mr. Chhun's group.

Mr. Chhun, 52, faces charges of conspiracy to kill overseas, conspiracy to damage or destroy property in a foreign country, and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction outside America. He also is charged with violating the Neutrality Act, a law that dates to 1797 and bars private military expeditions against countries with which America is at peace. Each of the conspiracy counts carries a possible life sentence. Violation of the Neutrality Act carries a possible sentence of 25 years in prison.

In court filings, the prosecution argued that federal law prohibits privately launched military efforts in most circumstances because of the deleterious effects such missions can have on America's relations with other governments. However, Mr. Baker did not make such an argument to jurors yesterday, leaving it to them to speculate about the possible impact of Mr. Chhun's amateur war-making on America.

Mr. Baker did stress that much of the planning for the attack was done on American soil. "It was, as sometimes the labels or the commercials say, 'Made in the U.S.A.,'" he said.

During his 15-minute opening, Mr. Callahan disagreed. "There was actually very little connection to the United States," he told jurors.

Mr. Baker glossed over the manner in which Mr. Hun Sen "came to power." However, the prosecutor acknowledged, albeit briefly, that Cambodia suffers from poverty, corruption, and human rights violations.

"The defendant and his Cambodian Freedom Fighters thought they could solve all of Cambodia's problems if they could just take over the country," Mr. Baker said. The prosecutor also suggested twice that Mr. Chhun was a coward because he stayed behind when the attempted takeover was carried out. "The defendant's encouragement stopped at the Cambodia border.
When it was time for Operation Volcano, he remained in Thailand," Mr. Baker said.

Mr. Callahan said military advisers told Mr. Chhun that he could jeopardize the security of the operation by going along.

Press reports from the scene in Phnom Penh said about six people were killed when the coup attempt was easily put down by Cambodian government forces on the morning of November 24, 2000. However, Mr. Baker told jurors yesterday that only three men died and that all of them were insurgents.

The prosecution's opening contained a contradiction of sorts. While the prosecution is contending that any attempt by an American to overthrow Cambodia's government by force is unlawful, Mr. Baker at times seemed to fault Mr. Chhun for failing to use enough force.

Ultimately, Mr. Chhun's guilt or innocence could hinge not on the coup attempt itself but on the smaller-scale "popcorn" attacks that the insurgent group allegedly carried out in the months leading up to the coup attempt. Mr. Baker said Mr. Chhun was willing to cause "injuries and death to others" in order to get publicity for the group.

While jurors may be reluctant to convict Mr. Chhun for leading an assault on the Cambodian government, they may be less willing to forgive the smaller attacks, which prosecutors said involved throwing grenades into coffee shops and karaoke bars where mostly civilians would be present.

The prosecution's first witness was an FBI agent who suggested that Mr. Chhun, who worked out of a small office in a strip mall, suffered from delusions of grandeur. "He said he would become the interim president of Cambodia until new elections could be held," the agent, Donald Shannon Jr., said. Mr. Shannon said Mr. Chhun made the statement in an interview several months after the November 2000 coup attempt.

While Mr. Chhun's openness at that time would seem to suggest he thought he had done nothing illegal, Mr. Shannon said the accountant sometimes switched words to make the attack sound less violent. The agent said Mr. Chhun talked of "attacks" on government officials in Cambodia, but would then say, "I mean 'arrest.'"

Sacravatoons : " Hun Xen,you're next ! "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon :

Lake Residents Fear Post-Election Evictions

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
02 April 2008

[Editor's note: In the weeks leading into national polls, VOA Khmer will explore a wide number of election issues. The "Election Issues 2008" series will air stories on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a related "Hello VOA" guest on Thursday. This is the second in a two-part series examining the development of Phnom Penh's Boeung Kak lake.]

Residents living on and around Phnom Penh's largest lake are at loggerheads with the city over a proposed a development that is pressuring many to take a low government buy-out.

The residents, who mainly live in tiny wooden shanties on the banks of Boeung Kak lake, or on stilts over the water, are asking for market price for their homes, but city officials say the structures are occupying land that already belongs to the municipality.

For now, all is calm, but residents told VOA Khmer recently they worry they will be forcibly evicted after July's general elections.

"We will stand up in a struggle if the authorities use violent eviction against us," said Be Pharum, a 55-year-old resident, as she scrubbed clothes in front of her small, wooden home over the lake.

"I think that before the national election, the authorities will not evict us. But after the election, the power will be concentrated in the hands of the current government."

After that, she said, "I believe an eviction will really happen."

"I know this because right now the government wants the vote from the people here," she continued. "So the authorities will do nothing wrong to the people, like in other places. All this history makes us very concerned."

About 8.12 million voters are expected to turn out nationwide in Cambodia's fourth general elections, slated for July 27.

Thearn Phos, 36, whose house juts over the river behind an Islamic mosque, said he was praying to god for help preventing a post-election eviction.

"I fret the authorities will evict and dismantle my house when the election is completed," he said. "I ask the government not to dismantle my house."

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong and Lao Meng Khim, director of the Shukaku, Inc., which has leased the lake area in a $79 million deal, say they have no intention to evict the villagers.

But residents are worried by an established government track record of forced evictions, especially in the cities of Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Poipet and the provinces of Mondolkiri and Ratanakkiri.

Protesters in the past have been shot dead or wounded in clashes with security forces. Some have been arrested. Some have fled their homes for fear of arrest.

Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers and rights workers have accused the government of delaying compensation to villagers on threatened land, such as Boeung Kak, until after the election, because, they say, it allows the ruling Cambodian People's Party to apply pressure to voters.

Pa Socheatvong denied accusations as "baseless," saying the delay in compensation is not political but technical.

"I believe that the people [really living in the area] don't have to worry, because they will get the government-regulated [land price]," he said. "The municipality does not cheat people. The ruling party cannot commit political suicide on this problem, because we need the votes from the people."

Developer Lao Meng Khim, who is also a CPP senator, told VOA Khmer that the villagers should not worry about compensation.

"We are making a fair business, and we have to pay compensation to the villagers," Lao Meng Khim said. "We won't get their property without paying."

The development of the lake area will likely start in late 2008, after the election, Pa Socheatvong said.

Pig Imports Shake New, Worrisome Sector

By Ros Sothea, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
02 April 2008

Khmer audio aired April 2 (1.73MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired April 2 (1.73MB) - Listen (MP3)

Cambodian pig farming is increasingly changing from a family-owned business to big agricultural business.

This has led some to worry about the health of eating pork, but now farmers in this emerging sector are facing a new problem: the lifting of a government ban on the import of pigs.

Most farmers say that if they provide food they make themselves, it takes a lot of time to grow a pig, and even then the pig won't be that big, after eight months.

If, however, a pig is raised with food additives in a pig yard, farmers see large, 100-kilogram pigs in just five or six months.

Until the government lifted the import ban last week, these farmers were enjoying a boon in prices, and in pig size, two months sooner than they were used to.

Now, many farmers say they are exasperated and may leave the trade altogether.

Tan Yek Sun, a pig farmer in Kampong Cham province, told VOA Khmer recently she had been raising pigs for the past 10 years, about 400 in total.

Now, she said, pigs won't sell at a high price, thanks to competition from imports from abroad.
"Farmers will die, and they are going to stop raising pigs, because the price of pigs is decreasing," she said.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, 23.8 million pigs were raised by single families in 2007.
Meanwhile, there are about 287 large-scale pig farms, most of which use food additives, worrying experts.

Meng Kimse, an agricultural expert at the Center for Studies and Development of Cambodian Agriculture, said some additives, which consist of antibiotics and hormones, can be carcinogenic.

Despite such worries, Cambodians are unlikely to stop eating pork altogether.

"I am worried about the health effects of additives," said Keo Mom, a Phnom Penh housewife who eats pork daily. "But I have no choice but to buy pork."

Tribunal Seeks to Lower Budget Proposal

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
02 April 2008

Khmer audio aired April 2 (818KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired April 2 (818KB) - Listen (MP3)

Khmer Rouge tribunal officials are seeking to reduce a proposed budget to international donors, as it cuts expenses in an effort to prolong operations.

Tribunal spokeswoman Helen Jarvis said Tuesday the courts were looking at ways to lower a request to donors for $114 million, to extend court proceedings against five jailed Khmer Rouge leaders through 2011.

"Everybody recognizes it's a large increase, and we recognize that we have to justify such a large increase," Jarvis said. "We are currently trying to see if we can reduce that figure. So we are discussing this in much more detail with judicial officers and the administrative staff of the court."

The tribunal is also cutting expenditures in order to continue operations on the Cambodian side of the hybrid courts through May, she said.

The administrative budget for the Cambodian side of the courts was expected to run out in April, including salaries for staff.

The cost-cutting measures follow a trip by tribunal administrators to New York last week to brief more than 20 donor representatives on the progress of the courts.

The tribunal should be careful in reducing its estimates, to ensure the process of the tribunal is not hurt, said Seng Theary, executive director of the Center for Social Development.

Civil society should also be consulted in the reduction of the estimate, she said.

Workers, Factories Agree to Salary Increase

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
02 April 2008

Khmer audio aired April 2 (793KB) - Download

Union workers and garment factory managers agreed in principle Monday to a wage increase, averting a proposed strike at scores of factories.

Unions had threatened to strike if salaries were not increased $5, to $55 per month, in the face of rising prices, but officials said Wednesday they had agreed to a $6 per month raise.

The "allowance" would not a raise in the minimum wage, but was an extraordinary measure given the current costs of living, officials said.

Workers and management are expected to meet Friday to officially agree to the deal.

"The salary increase to $60 per month from the government to the workers makes me very happy, although it is a small increase compared to the high prices in Cambodia," said Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union. "But the increase in salary will reduce the impact of the cost of living."

At least one worker, however, said the increase would to little in the face of Cambodia's rising prices.

"I think that it's not enough to increase to salary to $6 per month, because right now we receive $50, and if we increase $6 more, this is a small amount," said Man Channa, a garment worker at the PCCS factory. "We cannot compare this with the high prices in Cambodia, and our living conditions still have problems, with water, house fees and food."

48 Houses of Citizens in Samaki Village Fell into the River, and Two People Are Missing

Posted on 2 April 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 554

“Over a distance of 70 meters dozens of houses fell into the Tonle Sap River on 1 April 2008. Five people were injured and had to be rescued. One child was missing due to the collapse.

“The authorities were evacuating people who reside along the bank of Tonle Sap River in Samaki village opposite of the Psar Touch milk-production factory, in order to avoid any danger of continuous landslides.

“48 houses of 58 families, who live in Group 20, Samaki Village, Russey Keo, Phnom Penh, located along National Road No. 5, opposite the Samaki Market, fell into the Tonle Sap River at 3 p.m.

“The authorities said that 48 houses of 58 families collapsed into the Tonle Sap River, so that five people had to be rescued from the water when their houses collapsed. The rescued people were one child and four old people.

“Kop Sleh, the deputy governor of the above district, said that the collapsed houses were built in a disorderly manner along the river bank.

“He added that the authorities were evacuating the residents along the river bank for fear that the collapse might continue.

“He considered the collapse to be a natural disaster, giving as the reason that now we are in the dry season when the current of the river is weak. A collapse might happen more probably during the rainy season, when the current is much stronger. As for the people who were victimized by the disaster, the authorities are looking for a location for them to live for the time being, in order to wait for permanent solutions later.

“He denied that the collapse was caused by sand dredging operations, even though local people claimed that there were ships dredging sand along the Tonle Sap River at night. According to information from the scene, two children disappeared while their parents were out doing their business.

“This is the second incident after the collapse of the Koh Norea river bank, located in Nirouth, Meanchey, Phnom Penh. That disaster caused the loss of many houses and assets.

“The collapse of the river bank caused citizens’ houses to fall into the river in the afternoon of 1 April 2008 at Samaki village, Russey Keo district. The collapsed land is more than 70 meters long and 30 meters deep. The authorities are seeking for any more missing people.

“Victims said that if the collapse had happened at night, many people would have died, as they return to their houses after their work or business.

“Citizens blamed private companies for causing the collapse of the river bank due to sand dredging operations at night, even though Prime Minister Hun Sen had ordered the relevant ministries to ban private companies from dredging sand in the river.”

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #76, 2.4.2008

Cambodian attempted 'Made in USA' coup, court hears

A California-based Cambodian rebel leader attempted to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, seen here in January 2008, in his homeland after hatching a "Made in the USA" coup plot, a court heard Wednesday. (AFP/File)


A California-based Cambodian rebel leader attempted to overthrow the government in his homeland after hatching a "Made in the USA" coup plot, a court heard Wednesday.

Chhun Yasith, 52, listened intently as a federal prosecutors told jurors he had been the driving force behind the bloody but failed coup attempt against Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh in November 2000.

Chhun Yasith, an accountavnt who arrived in the US in the 1980s after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge's "Killing Fields" regime, drew up plans for the overthrow from his modest office in Long Beach, southwest of Los Angeles.

"The planning and fundraising happened right here in the United States," prosecutor Lamar Baker told jurors at the US District Court of Los Angeles. "It was like the labels say, 'Made in the USA.'"

Chhun Yasith was arrested at his home in California in June 2005.

He faces four charges including conspiracy to kill in a foreign country and engaging in a military expedition against a nation with whom the United States is at peace. He could be jailed for life without parole if convicted.

Baker said Chhun Yasith had founded a group known as the Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CFF) in 1998 and was elected president after travelling to Thailand to enlist the support former Cambodian military personnel.

The CFF planned a twin-pronged strategy to bring about revolution, Baker said. The group was ordered to carry out "popcorn" attacks on soft targets such as karaoke bars, nightclubs and coffee houses before launching an all-out assault to overthrow the government.

"The defendant saw the smaller attacks as a way of using injuries and deaths to get name recognition for his group, to get people ready for revolution," Baker said. "The attacks would also divert attention away from the larger plan to overthrow the government."

After one of the so-called "popcorn" attacks -- the July 2000 bombing of a nightclub in Cambodia that left two people dead and many injured -- Chhun Yasith sent a fax to members "bragging about hospitals filling up with victims," Baker said.

Chhun Yasith selected a total of 291 targets for their ill-fated coup, codenamed "Operation Volcano."

However despite being warned by senior CFF advisors that the rebel forces were not big enough to challenge the Cambodian army and police, Chhun Yasith -- based in Thailand -- pressed ahead with the coup attempt, which took place on November 24, 2000.

Dozens of armed men stormed into Phnom Penh firing AK-47 rifles and rockets at government buildings, leaving at least four people dead, before the rebellion was quelled.

Chhun Yasith was later tried in absentia in Phnom Penh in June 2001 and convicted of conspiracy, terrorism and membership of an illegal armed group.

Opening for the defense, Chhun Yasith's attorney, Richard Callahan, argued that his client's "only goal was to bring democracy to his homeland."

"It was misguided and naive in its execution but it was not misguided and naive in its intent," Callahan said, saying his client had launched a "noble effort to save Cambodia" from the "tyrannical regime of Hun Sen."

Callahan said his client had founded the CFF after deciding that "speeches and diplomacy were not going to be enough" to unseat Hun Sen.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.

Chhun Yasith and his wife, Sras Pech, are also facing separate charges alleging they ran a fraudulent tax-preparation business. Trial in that case is scheduled to begin on July 1.


DJ CBOT Rice Review: Surges Limit Up On World Price Increase
Wednesday, April 02, 2008

CHICAGO, Apr 02, 2008 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex)

Nearby Chicago Board of Trade rice futures closed limit up Wednesday in reaction to a solid increase in global prices, floor traders said.

May rice finished limit up, or 50 cents higher, at $19.79 per hundredweight and was synthetically bid 5 to 10 cents higher, a trader said. November rice ended 30 cents higher at $18.14.

Indicative rice prices in Asia were mostly higher Wednesday from Friday on surging domestic prices in most origins amid concern that supplies are dwindling, exporters said. Thai 100% grade B was indicated Wednesday at $780-$800/ton, free-on-board Bangkok, 5% broken at $770-$780/ton, FOB, and parboiled at $800/ton, FOB. The prices were about $80/ton higher than price indications given Friday.

"We had a bump in world prices," a CBOT floor trader said.

Worries about tightening world supplies and solid demand are underpinning global rice prices, analysts said. On Monday, India banned the export of non-basmati rice and raised the price of basmati rice that can be exported, to $1,200/ton.

That followed India's decision last week to raise the minimum export price of non-basmati rice for the second time in a month to $1,000 a metric ton, on a free-on-board basis, from $650/ton earlier. The move was aimed at ensuring local supply.

The governments of Cambodia and Egypt have also banned the export of rice to calm domestic markets and ensure sufficient supply.

Vietnam, meanwhile, reduced its rice export quota last week by 1 million tons to 3.5 million tons for the first 10 months of the year in a bid to ensure supplies through government-sanctioned contracts.

Short covering in the CBOT rice pit also pushed prices higher Wednesday, a floor trader said. There was interest in buying May calls, and commercials were offering puts, he said.

Trial begins in alleged Cambodian government conspiracy

By Greg Risling
Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES - A native of Cambodia unleashed an attack to overthrow the government of that country, but the plot failed when only 200 supporters showed up to fight in the capitol city of Phnom Phen, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday.

In his opening trial statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lamar Baker said defendant Yasith Chhun was willing to risk other people's lives as part of the effort in 2000 dubbed Operation Volcano.

Baker portrayed Chhun as callous, cowardly and incompetent and promised he would take jurors inside the conspiracy.

"Operation Volcano was a failure, it didn't succeed," he said.

Defense attorney Richard Callahan said his client, a U.S. citizen, was trying to save the country where he was born and raised.

"There was no intent for Mr. Chhun to murder anyone or injure anyone," Callahan said.

Chhun, 51, an accountant from Long Beach, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, conspiracy to damage or destroy property in a foreign country, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States, and engaging in a military expedition against a nation with which the United States is at peace.

He could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

The scheme crumbled in November 2000 when a late-night attack on government buildings led to the deaths of three of his troops and injuries to several police and military officers.

In newly released court documents, federal prosecutors portray Chhun as a fervent adversary of Cambodia's government who had misguided political aspirations.

His trial was expected to last about three weeks.

Chhun is among a handful of so-called freedom fighters who have been arrested and charged in recent years with plotting to overthrow governments in Southeast Asia.

Last year, 11 men were arrested and accused of attempting to oust leaders of the communist government in Laos. One of the men was Vang Pao, a former general in the Royal Army of Laos who led thousands of Hmong mercenaries in a CIA-backed secret army during the Vietnam War.

Chhun's group, known as the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, accused Prime Minister Hun Sen of being a dictator and helping rig the elections so he could stay in power.

Hun Sen at one time was part of the communist-backed Khmer Rouge, which has been accused of atrocities that resulted in the deaths of some 1.7 million people in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.

Starting in 1998, prosecutors said Chhun traveled to Southeast Asia to assemble opposition forces to take over Cambodia. He promised he would raise money for the operation and even held two fundraisers at the Queen Mary, which is permanently docked in Long Beach, according to court documents.

Yorn Soksan, a former member of Chhun's group, said in a deposition that he left the group about six months before the November 2000 attack. He estimated there were as many as 20,000 soldiers who were willing to fight with Chhun.

But many of those soldiers were part of Cambodia's military and ultimately kept their allegiance with the government, he said.

Prosecutors said rebel operatives launched small-scale "popcorn" attacks in Cambodia, including one in February 1999 when a grenade exploded in a bar that injured several people.

The attacks were necessary so "the government would believe that CFF was only capable of carrying out these small-scale attacks, and thus, would be unprepared for the scope of Operation Volcano," prosecutors said in court documents.

About 200 fighters wearing red headbands and armed with AK-47 rifles, grenades and rockets struck various government buildings in November 2000.

For more than two hours, government and rebel forces were involved in a gun battle near the Ministry of Defense and Council of Ministers as well as a military base.

Rebel soldiers retreated after government tanks arrived

Digital cameras being sought for Cambodia entrepreneurs

The Public Relations Council of Alabama Montgomery Chapter is collecting old digital cameras, which will be sent to Cambodia to enable poor entrepreneurs to start or expand their businesses.

“Microfinance institutions that give small loans of less than $1,200 to poor entrepreneurs in Cambodia need digital cameras to take pictures of clients to post on a Website ( used to raise loan funds,” said Lori Quilller, president of PRCA-Montgomery.

Cameras may be dropped off at the River Region United Way, 532 S. Perry St. until April 15.

For more information on the project, contact Julie Debardelaben at 462-5305

QSR mulls counter-measures to offset rising costs

KUALA LUMPUR: Fast-food restaurant operator, QSR Brands Bhd, is mulling over possible counter-measures to offset rising costs towards sustaining growth via operational efficiencies and additional outlets.

QSR managing director Jamaludin Md Ali said: “With the price of commodities rising, we definitely have to re-look our position. But if we were to increase the price of our products, we will try not to burden the customers. The most important thing is to continue to introduce value products, which are affordable for our customers.”

He said the company would introduce new products every quarter this year and targeted to open at least 18 Pizza Hut outlets by year-end. Pizza Hut currently has 171 outlets after adding 18 outlets last year.

QSR also hoped to add three outlets in Cambodia this year. He added its KFC outlet in Cambodia, launched last year, was enjoying brisk sales.

Jamaludin said its two measures of adding outlets and products to its menus were the company’s drivers of growth, of which it hoped to achieve in the double-digits for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2008.

He was speaking to reporters here yesterday after launching a tie-up with Malayan Banking Bhd to offer an online payment facility for Pizza Hut’s online ordering service.

The service accepts payment from Maybank savings or current accounts, Maybankard credit cards, Visa and MasterCard payment cards issued by Malaysian financial institutions.

Jamaludin said online orders made up 10% of Pizza Hut’s customer base and of this, QSR targeted double-digit growth with the introduction of the online payment service.

Maybank executive vice president and head, cards and payments, Ashraf Ali Abdul Kadir said it was reasonable to target between 5% and 10% growth in online transactions over the next twelve months.

“Maybank2u has the largest customer base of 4.02 million, and is the most accessed for various online transactions such as online bill payments,” he said.

Thaksin to hit the fairways with Cambodia PM

The Bangkok Post

Thaksin Shinawatra's spokesman Pongthep Thepkanjana said on Tuesday he remains confident that his boss will be able to prevail over charges of corruption, including the latest case, which alleges Mr Thaksin's involvement in reportedly corrupt loans to Burma worth 4 billion baht while he was prime minister.

For the moment, however, Mr Thaksin seems to want to take it easy. He's reportedly planning to play golf with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh on Saurday and Sunday.

He plans to hold talks next week with business investors from Brunei and a European country upon his return, to solicit investment in Thailand..

Qatar prime minister leaves Cambodia for Vietnam

The Earth Times
Wed, 02 Apr 2008 11:57:02 GMT
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - Qatar Prime Qatar Prime Minister Hamed bin Jasim bin Jabor al-Thani left Cambodia Wednesday after a two-day official visit during which he had a personal tour conducted by Cambodian Tourism Minister Thong Khon, a government spokesman said. The Qatar politician spent some hours inspected the ancient Angkor Wat temple complex in norther Siem Reap province, 300 kilometres from the capital, before bording a flight, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith told journalists.

Qatar inked a tentative deal for direct flights between Cambodia and the oil-rich Arabian nation during the visit and held significant official discussions on oil and gas issues, the government said.
Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the Qatar prime minister, who also serves as the country's foreign minister, was also destined for a visit to China this tour.

Cambodia is expected to tap potentially rich offshore oil and gas reserves within three years.

It has enlisted the assistance of a number of more experienced petroleum producing and exporting countries such as Brunei and Qatar for advice in an effort to avoid what has become known as the "oil curse" of poorly planned petroleum wealth distribution in other countries such as Nigeria.

On the road – from Germany to Cambodia – in a communist jalopy

Trek Trabant: In Azerbaijan, Trabanteers stop for a team photo, with their rides (from left to right) Ziggy, Dante, and Fez. Mastermind of the fundraising trek is John Lovejoy.Courtesy of Trabant Trek

In Romania, a Trabant's 26 hp. engine gets a three-kid-power push outside Dracula's castle.Courtesy of Trabant Trek

Towed by camels and laughed at by pedestrians, the lowly Trabant is a modern-day Marco Polo for a good cause.

By Tibor Krausz
Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the April 3, 2008

Bangkok, Thailand - Move over, Herbie; here come the new stars of overachieving motorized underdogs. Hear them roar! OK, cough, wheeze, and sputter.

Meet Ziggy, Fez, and Dante – intrepid globetrotters, all three. Well, strictly speaking, only two remain: Dante gave up the ghost in Laos.

The decrepit champs are Trabants – "the worst car of all time" as autophiles label the infamous Soviet-era rattletrap; or "a piece of junk," as disgruntled owners used to put it across the former Soviet bloc, where the vehicle was once ubiquitous.

Yet a half century after its unveiling and two decades after its production ceased, the much-maligned car has finally proved its mettle.

Ziggy and Fez, with Dante an honorary also-ran, just completed a punishing, six-month transcontinental journey, from Germany to Cambodia, in a feat rivaling the adventures of Marco Polo. (Well ... in distance covered.)

The lowly auto owes its new prestige to Trabant Trek – an expedition meant to raise money for street kids in Cambodia. The worthy humanitarian cause also came with an automotive benefit – helping the derided little car prove that it could.

The team of four Americans and four Europeans (from England, Spain, and Hungary) drove their long-suffering jalopies across Central Europe to Turkey, then across Central Asia, on through Siberia, Mongolia, and China before limping wearily, via Laos and Thailand, into Cambodia in February.

It took them 173 days, 16,000 miles ,and countless breakdowns.

"The stress of driving in this car," admits John Drury, a linchpin of the expedition, made him constantly want to quit. "My knees are up here touching the steering wheel," explains the 6-foot, 3-inch bartender, from Bethesda, Md., as he squeezes into the tubby little driver's seat behind a plastic toy-like wheel. He faces a jittery odometer and three plastic switches.

Then again, he adds, you can just knock your seat back and drop into an exhausted sleep – in the Gobi Desert, say.

Mr. Drury and Tony Perez, a teammate from Virginia, were recently in Bangkok for a visit before driving back to Cambodia, where a local artist wants to convert the Trabants into exhibits.

Inviting a reporter along for a joyride, Drury exclaims, "Let's roll!" only to discover that the gas has evaporated from the unsealed tanks. Wearily the Americans leg it to a gas station.

On the road, the Trabants, bearing spare tires like panniers, are instant celebrities. Motorists flash thumbs up signs. Pedestrians tap the cars with bemused curiosity. Tourists snap pictures of the weird contraptions.

Fez's right door is pulled shut with a bungee cord tied to a seatbelt buckle. Windshield wipers on both cars expired in Siberia; you lean out and wipe manually. In blue Fez (named after a "That '70s Show" character), the foot brake no longer works. To slow down, Mr. Perez, an auto mechanic, yanks on the handbrake. (Fortunately, a Trabant can't get past 50 m.p.h.)

Chauffeuring silver-gold Ziggy (named after Ziggy Stardust), Drury tries a shortcut with an illegal U-turn. He creates a massive jam. Thai drivers in Toyotas and Chevrolets react ... delightedly. Even traffic cops find it hilarious.

"See what I mean?" Drury laments. "No one is taking us seriously."

The only time they got a ticket, he says, was in Mongolia – for not wearing seatbelts. That's because they'd cut them off for use as towropes.

• • •

Launched in 1957 as communist East Germany's answer to the Volkswagen Beetle, the Trabant a bare essentials-only design, was left unimproved until production stopped (after 3 million cars) in 1991, with the end of communism. Boasting a body built from cotton waste-reinforced plastic (Duroplast) and a two-stroke, 26 hp. engine, the Trabant rattles and shudders like a Soviet washing machine.

"I get kind of giddy whenever I see one," says John Lovejoy, the American who masterminded Trabant Trek after volunteering with street kids in Cambodia. He first saw a Trabant in 1989, just as the Berlin Wall was coming down – literally. Taken by his father, a US Army officer stationed in West Germany, to witness the dismantling of the iconic barrier, Lovejoy, then 10, peered through holes in the wall and was captivated.

"Everything was gray [on the other side] – the houses, the streets, people's clothes," he recalls. "But I saw these spots of color."

Trabants, yes: They came in off-white, smoky-gray and faded blue.

Mr. Lovejoy became a "Trabi" aficionado. In 2006, after his attempt to import a Trabant to the US foundered, he recruited Drury, a high school friend, for a road trip across Europe. They bought an old specimen for $60 in Hungary and covered the 450 miles from Budapest to Munich in about a week. (That Trabant later expired in Paris.)

Last year, on the Trabant's 50th anniversary, they hatched the transcontinental expedition-cum-fundraiser. Joined by six others they'd met on backpacking trips in Southeast Asia, Trabant Trek set out last July 15 from Zwickau, Germany, where the vehicle was manufactured.

"This trip," they promised well-wishers, "is going to blow your mind!"

But a carburetor blew a gasket first, near Dracula's Castle in Romania.

Trabant Trek hit the road well prepared. Drury forgot the road maps, but there were full engines and complete gear boxes in the trunks. They'd need them – as well as spare parts scavenged and improvised from junk en route.

On the 13,000 foot passes of Central Asia's Pamir Mountains, they lugged their backpacks, to unburden their vehicles for the uphill crawl.

"In Tajikistan, we broke down every 36 kilometers," Perez says.

At an unmarked border crossing between warring Armenia and Azerbaijan, they stumbled into a noman's land guarded by Armenian soldiers. Amused by their smoke-belching relics, the guards invited the trespassers to tea. Georgian border guards, meanwhile, wanted to turn them back for attempted smuggling – of the 20 gallons of motor oil they carried to mix with the gas in fill ups. In Batumi, on the Black Sea, Lovejoy, and three other Trabanteers went looking for an ATM. "Instead," he recalls, "[we] found a minister's son, his bodyguard, and [the country's] number-one ballroom dancer."

On the steppe, a horse began racing the cars. "It was running alongside a good while, looking at us," Perez says. "That was weird."

In the frozen Gobi Desert, they followed the sun and railroad lines for direction, looking "feral, to say the least," after weeks without showering. Their breath froze on the windshield, and exhaust fumes were pumped into the car by the primitive heater. "When our eyes started burning, we knew it was time to stop," Perez recalls.

When Ziggy came to land nose-first in a sand dune, with leaf springs split over wheels, it was towed to the nearest hamlet by camels.

The group spent Christmas in Laos installing new cylinders flown in from Budapest.
On Feb. 8, Trabant Trek reached Cambodia – three months behind schedule. Though their odd-looking cars were attacked by incensed cows outside Sihanoukville, Team Trabant received a hero's welcome from kids at the M'Lop Tapang day center there and the Mith Samlanh outreach in Phnom Penh.
• • •
Epilogue: The trek has raised $30,000 from Internet donations for the children's centers. But, on the return trip from Bangkok to Sihanoukville, Fez joined Dante in Trabant heaven, expiring just across the Thai border. Drury and Perez left the car on the roadside, driving off in Ziggy.
"I saw a farmer eyeing up [Fez] as we were leaving," Drury says. "Maybe he'll convert it into a plow or tractor."

Minnesota's Cambodian immigrants remember genocide and wait for justice

The most senior surviving leader of the Khmer Rouge, "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, is assisted by police officers last month at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia.

MinnPost photo by Liz Rolfsmeier, Pengsan Ou
By Liz Rolfsmeier
Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Two of Pengsan Ou's children were victims of genocide in Cambodia when an estimated 1.7 million people succumbed to starvation and executions at the hands of the Khmer Rouge some 30 years ago.

But Ou of Hampton, Minn., has little hope those responsible for the deaths of his children and others will ever come to justice, despite a tribunal that has been established in Cambodia for that purpose.

The Cambodian government has issued a plea to the international community for an additional $114 million to continue the trials. Cambodian officials, who traveled to the United Nations in New York last week to seek the additional funds, say they will run out of money later this year.

There is a race against time" and "we are on a cliff edge," Helen Jarvis, chief of public affairs at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, told The Independent of London.

Ou and other Cambodian immigrants in Minnesota who are watching the proceedings in their homeland are skeptical. (About 6,000 people who were born in Cambodia live in the Twin Cities metro area.)"If they put too large amount of money on the table, and nothing's given, they must stop," said Ou, second vice president of the Minnesota Cambodian Buddhist Society.

"It's a clever trick."They will say: 'If you want this tribunal, you pay for it. If you can't afford to pay for it, we cannot have it.' Their argument has always been reconciliation. If the world community won't give the money, we can't continue the process."

After years of arguing between the Cambodian government and the United Nations, the tribunal was set up in 2006 to bring to trial those responsible for the brutality of the Khmer Rouge, led by despot Pol Pot from 1975 to 1979.

Pol Pot's regime imposed radical social engineering on the nation, attempting to remake the county by killing the educated and those with political views.

Pol Pot, who died 10 years ago in Thailand, was never tried by an international court, but the plight of those who suffered under his rule gained worldwide attention in 1984 with the release of the movie "The Killing Fields."

(The movie portrayed the horrors of life in Cambodia, focusing on Dith Pran, a photographer and interpreter who died Sunday.)'Experts in stalling'In its recent report on the tribunal, The Open Society Justice Initiative says the tribunal has been plagued by a lack of transparency, failure to provide documents and no contingency plan to deal with budget shortfalls.

The long-delayed trials were scheduled to end next year, but now are expected to run into 2011.

So far, none of the Khmer Rouge's senior figures has been tried. "The Khmer government officials are experts in stalling," said Vanna Chan, a daughter of Cambodian genocide survivors who worked in Cambodia last year on child trafficking issues.

"They may stall so much that all the remaining key Khmer Rouge officials will die off of old age."Former foreign minister Ieng Sary, 82, one of the five former top Khmer Rouge officials indicted and facing trial, was recently released from a hospital.

Other officials set to be tried include Nuon Chea, or "Brother Number Two," the closest deputy of Pol Pot; Kaing Guek Eav (Duch), head of the "S-21" prison; Khieu Samphan, former foreign minister, and Ieng Sary's wife, Ieng Thirith.

"It's so frustrating for Cambodians. Most people think, 'What's the point of sending them to jail now?'" Chan said. "

Cambodians in Cambodia seem to have no confidence on this tribunal. My family and co-workers think it's a joke.

They've had to deal with the corrupted Cambodian government for so long that they know not to have high hopes on what this tribunal will actually achieve. Half of the judges are Cambodian. They will do anything the government wants them to do."

She pointed to the current Cambodian prime minister, Hun Sen, who was at one time associated with the Khmer Rouge.

"I got that sense that nothing would really come out of that tribunal, said Chan, who lives in Shakopee but is working in Paris on a master's in international affairs. "I remember reading a BBC article that talked about how progress was stalling because of cafeteria food. The Western judges wanted western food and the Cambodian judges only wanted Khmer food. ..."

Lidin Su, a Khmer translator and an associate system engineer for Target, said: "They are trying to delay the trial as long as it can until maybe some of those leaders that responsible for the orchestration of the [genocide] pass away one by one. ... They could do better than the way they are handling the case right now in term of speed.

"[The] judicial process in Cambodia has always been crippled by the long bureaucracy. The goal of the trial is to try to bring reconciliation to the nation. ... I doubt we may not be able to find out the truth until this generation are gone." She said deadlines should be required before donors contribute funds.

Need for healing

Human Rights Watch has put pressure on donors to consider corruption and other issues before issuing funds. Sara Colm, a senior researcher on Cambodia for Human Rights Watch, wrote in the Bankok Press (PDF): "While the five charged so far are key figures, large numbers of other alleged perpetrators, including former Khmer Rouge government officials, senior military officials and regional authorities continue to live freely. Donors must ensure that the ECCC [Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia] has the financial support and independence necessary to bring additional accused to justice."

Chan also said that only high-ranking officials are being tried and none of the lower officials. "People are still living next door to people who killed their families," she said.

Former Minnesotan Sotheara Chhim agrees. Chhim works with an organization that provides counseling to witnesses and victims during the trials.

"The tribunal can achieve justice, which is very important for the healing of genocide wound," he said. But "the tribunal prosecutes only a few top leaders. ... Many Cambodians, my clients, feel more painful with the real and direct perpetrators who are actually killed their love ones. These direct perpetrators are living in the community, where they see and meet every day."

Ou says the process was flawed from the start. "The bottom line is, the government consists of Khmer Rouge that were overthrown already and charged," he said. "It's just a show trial. From the beginning, we didn't trust that kind of tribunal. It was created with the power that also killed us. Yesterday, they killed us. Tomorrow they are good guys."

Anne Dysktra, who worked as an educator and human rights worker for 25 years on the Thai-Cambodia border and now lives in Golden Valley, finds the tribunal confusing. "I'm not sure whose agenda is in there," she said. "I just don't see how it addresses so many of the issues."

What Cambodians want, Ou said, is for those who committed the crimes "to be brought to justice. A justice that meets the standards of the international system.

"We're not looking for revenge. My father died and so I kill you. It's not like that," Ou said. "If you ask Buddhist people, we will say we don't want to do harm to anybody as Buddhists, but we do want crime to be stopped so that peace lasts across the board. We see tragedy in Rwanda, Darfur, Sudan, Kenya. We want it to be stopped. We don't want it to happen a second time or a third time."

Vuth lost three siblings, a grandmother and an uncle during the genocide. He hopes international donors will step up. The major donors are Japan, France, Germany, Britain and Australia.

"It's just a few million from each donor," said Vuth, who declined to use his full name for fear of retaliation by the Cambodian government. "It will set a good example to the next generation."

Vuth, who lives in Minnesota, added: "When the Khmer Rouge was in power, everyone just stood and watched.

"These leaders should be brought to justice. We want to let it be known to the world and to Cambodian people that this should not happen again. We want to bring justice to everyone. To me."

Liz Rolfsmeier is a freelance writer who has written on politics, immigration, and arts and culture for various Midwestern newspapers and magazines.