Friday, 18 April 2008

Govt shrugs off Thai border complaints over Preah Vihear

Employees of local NGO Heritage Watch document the ancient temple in Preah Vihear near the Thai-Cambodian border, in this undated file photo.

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post at
Written by Cat Barton and Vong Sokheng
Friday, 18 April 2008

The government on April 11 denied Thai allegations it was overstepping its boundaries at the long-disputed Preah Vihear temple that straddles the Thai-Cambodian border, in the latest bout of political jostling that has for years has prevented Cambodia from listing the ancient Hindu temple as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Although the International Court of Justice at The Hague ruled in 1962 that the temple belongs to Cambodia, the actual boundary line in the district remains unclear and the 4.6-square-kilometer area surrounding the temple is claimed by both countries.

Thailand sparked off the latest series of exchanges on April 11 when it summoned the Cambodian Ambassador to Thailand, Ung Sean, and claimed Cambodia had dispatched troops to the contested area over a month ago. This would violate a memorandum of understanding signed in 2000 by both parties which bars them from making any changes in the area before the border can be demarcated.

Ouch Borith, Secretary of State at the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters the only armed forces deployed in the area were there to maintain the temple and provide security for visiting tourists.

“There is no confusion about the border and no overlapping area with Thailand’s territory in Preah Vihear,” Borith said. “The border was clearly mapped out in the Hague’s decision which was recognized by the international community.”

Thailand has lodged complaints before; in 2004 over the building of a road, in 2005 over the setting up of official outposts and a community, and in 2007 over the issuing of a decree to claim the area so it can be registered as a World Heritage Site.

This time, they requested Phnom Penh withdraw its armed forces and leave the area vacant until the completion of demarcation – expected in about 10 years.

Cambodia is trying to demarcate the border area itself, which requires finding 73 old markers that once signaled the border line. Since 2006, they have found 20.

Careless drivers blamed for high holiday road toll

TANG CHHIN SOTHY/ AFP People crowd onto a pick-up truck as they leave Phnom Penh on April 12 to celebrate the New Year festival. Roads leading out of the capital were clogged with traffic as tens of thousands left the city to celebrate the New Year’s holiday in their home provinces.

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post at
Written by Khouth Sophak Chakrya
Friday, 18 April 2008

Eight killed, 21 injured in Phnom Penh

Substantially more people were killed on Phnom Penh roads this New Year than during the 2007 holiday break despite the efforts of road safety organizations and the Cambodian government, who campaigned hard to lower the holiday road toll.

Eight people were killed and 21 injured in the capital over the April 12-15 holiday period, said the deputy chief of Phnom Penh’s traffic police, Pen Khun, who blamed poor driving for most crashes.

Last Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh, only one person was killed and 20 injured during the five days from April 12-16, he said.

“Ninety-seven percent of all accidents are caused by human error, primarily drunk driving and speeding,” Khun said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Road Transportation said the number of accidents nationwide from January to March 2008 had more than doubled from the same period last year.

In Siem Reap province this New Year, there were nine traffic accidents that injured 16 people, although no fatalities were reported, Siem Reap police chief Sot Nady told the Post on April 16.

“We had eight fewer accidents this year than in 2007 because many people didn’t drive their cars during the festivities as we had bad storms at the time,” he said.

Keo Savin, director of the Department of Road Transportation, said roads were becoming more crowded and this was contributing to a higher rate of crashes in general.

From January until the end of March, 421 people were killed on Cambodian roads and a further 3,003 injured, compared with 206 fatalities and 2,122 injured in the first three months of 2007, according to the department’s figures.

“The sheer volume of vehicles causes accidents now,” Savin said.

From January 1 to March 31, “in the whole of Cambodia, 11,414 people received driving licenses but the number of registered vehicles went up even faster – 34,810 vehicles were registered, of which 29,049 were motorbikes,” he said.

Several NGOs and government departments issued warnings and held high-profile public ceremonies in the build-up to the Khmer New Year break in the hope of saving lives on the Kingdom’s notoriously chaotic roads.

The National Road Safety Committee on April 7 warned people to drive carefully as there is often a spike in the number of traffic accident during national festivals, particularly during Khmer New Year when thousands of families flood out of the cities in overloaded vehicles to celebrate the holiday in their home provinces.

Still, festivities got off to a bad start in Phnom Penh with five people killed in three crashes on April 13.

Pop star Sok Pisey was injured on April 14 when the car she was driving blew a tire and ran off a road in Koh Kong province, killing four passengers, including her 10-year-old sister, and injuring five others.

The 19-year-old, who had been traveling from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville for a concert, was taken to Calmette hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

According to the Road Traffic Accident Victim Information System (RTRAVIS), from April 12-18 last year there were 1,340 minor casualties, 74 fatalities, and 341 severe injuries nationwide.

While an accurate national tally of crashes is yet to be compiled for the holiday this year, the deputy head of the department of judicial police, Him Yan, said on 16 April he was optimistic that “traffic accidents during the Khmer New Year period for this year will be fewer than last year.”

Gloomy year ahead, predicts royal astrologer

HENG CHIVOAN Thungsakdevi, a female angel, rides a rat over Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh, to mark the start of the Year of the Rat on April 13.

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post at
Written by Vong Sokheng
Friday, 18 April 2008

Cambodia’s official predictions for the New Year have been made and things are not looking good. From flooding to rising food prices to jealous wives, it looks set to be a tricky Year of the Rat – if the predictions are to be believed, that is.

Once a year, royal astrologer Im Borin publishes his predictions for the year ahead. His predictions appear in a small but widely distributed paperback book adorned with Technicolor pictures of the Buddha.

On 13 April – the day when the year of the pig was symbolically ended by Thungsakdevi, a female angel, riding a rat into Cambodia – Borin made his first predictions.

The Kingdom will be seriously threatened by flooding, rainfall will be unreliable and the yield of the average paddy field will drop, said Boran, who also runs the Committee for the Research of Astrology, Khmer Culture and Custom (CRAKCC) at the Royal Palace.

Worse yet, inflation will not be easing anytime soon, according to Borin.

He said the price of basic goods will continue to rise, fruit and vegetable harvests will be poor and Cambodians’ quality of life will deteriorate.

There will be more violence in the Kingdom than there was last year, predicted Borin.

On the second of three days of predictions, Borin added to the grim picture he had already painted by saying the price of salt would increase.

That will be of minor concern to some, though, as Borin also said wives of high-ranking government officials would be in a foul mood over the coming year, being easily frustrated and angered.

There would also be more malaise in small communities, he added.

The third day of predictions focused on governance. Borin predicted that even if government officials emerged victorious from arguments with “their enemies” while maintaining the peaceful relations with them, there would still be chaos in the country.

“Every prediction I make, I make according to traditional rules, but use of these traditional rules has declined,” Borin wrote in his book.

“I made predictions from the few remaining rules as I want the younger generation to know about this part of Cambodia’s history.”

While Cambodia’s urban centers are rapidly modernizing, Borin’s predictions still carry a lot of weight throughout the country.

One farmer from Angseong commune, Bati district, Takeo province, who declined to be named, told the Post by phone on that he and other farmers in the area were worried about the predictions regarding rainfall.

“I believe about 50 percent of the Khmer New Year predictions because it is our local tradition,” he said.
Los Angeles Newspaper group
By Greg Mellen, Staff writer

LONG BEACH - Emmy Award-winning producer Peter Chhun will be in the media spotlight in a big way today.

In the morning, his efforts to bring 9-year-old Cambodian Davik Teng to the United States for open-heart surgery will be featured on "Today." Later, he will be featured as a "Difference Maker" on the "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams." And at 7 p.m. at Cal State Long Beach, Chhun is premiering a documentary film he shot and produced.

The "Today" segment, titled "Davik's Heart," is scheduled to air in the half- hour segment between 8:30 and 9 a.m.

That segment, much of which Chhun shot, follows the journey of Davik from a tiny village in Cambodia to Long Beach and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, where she received surgery for a hole in her heart called a ventricular septal defect.

On the "Nightly News," Chhun will be spotlighted for his humanitarian efforts, including bringing Davik to the United States and other projects he has undertaken with Hearts Without Boundaries, a nonprofit he founded. The "Nightly News" airs from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and the "Difference Maker" segments run late in the show.

Chhun said both segments could be withheld or postponed if more pressing news breaks.
The documentary is on more solid footing.

"Life Under Red Light, which Chhun filmed over three weeks in March of 2007, documents the harrowing effects of HIV/AIDs in Cambodia.

Throughout the hour-long documentary, Chhun lets sufferers tell the stories in their own words. The film is subtitled in English. A newsman for NBC, Chhun used vacation and personal time to film the project.

Shot in a stark question- and-answer format, the film features subjects including young factory girls who engage in unprotected sex and prostitution to make ends meet and haggard women in the final stages of the disease.

The project arose out of conversations Chhun had with the Long Beach Health Department about local Cambodian-American families living with the disease.

Chhun was unsuccessful in attempts to get Long Beach families to discuss their plight, so he went to Phnom Penh.

"By doing it this way, Cambodian people here can connect with their brothers and sisters living with the disease," Chhun said.

Diana Chea, president of the Cambodian Students Society, arranged with Chhun to have the film debut at the Long Beach Campus.

"As a student organization, we want to represent our culture to the campus and the community - the good, the bad and the ugly," Chea said.

Chhun is hoping to show his film at USC and UCLA, as well.

The event today is from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Beach Auditorium inside the Student Union Center. The film will be followed by a question-and- answer period.

Cambodian heartthrob dismisses namesake as bull

Asia-Pacific News
Apr 18, 2008

Phnom Penh - Cambodia's leading pop heartthrob has backed down on threats of legal action against a farmer who named a stud bull after him, the singer said Friday.

The nation's most popular singer-actor, Preap Sovath, 36, had threatened legal action against the owner of a 10,000-dollar Brahman breeding bull he named after the sex symbol.

Sovath was quoted in a range of local media to be taking action to protect his wife, who had reportedly become distressed after seeing advertisements offering the services of the bovine Preap Sovath for 100 dollars per mating, with satisfaction guaranteed.

But Friday the Cambodian equivalent of Ronan Keating said he would not be taking any action.
'No, no, no. I don't care anymore and I am too busy,' Sovath said by telephone.

Theories for the change of heart abound, including a rumour it was partly due to the unsuitability of alternative names offered by the farmer.

A moniker such as 'Little Preap' was unlikely to enhance the careers of either the bovine or bopping version of the star, fans admitted.

Rite for killing fields

L.B.: Despite pain, survivors at 33rd anniversary vigil say remembrance is vital.

Los Angeles Newspaper group
By Greg Mellen, Staff writer

LONG BEACH - It never goes away.

"It is in my eyes. It is in my head," Nuon Kanno says of his memories of life under the Khmer Rouge. "If I talk about Pol Pot, I cannot stop the tears."

For all the pain it dredges up, Nuon says events like Thursday's candlelight vigil at Wat Vipassanaram to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the Khmer Rouge ascendancy in Cambodia are vital.

Nuon says elders like he, who witnessed unspeakable horrors, owe it to their children and grandchildren to recall and retell the horrors and never forget.

For the fourth straight year, Cambodians in Long Beach held a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the genocide between 1975 and 1979 inflicted by the Khmer Rouge.

During the reign of the bloody Communist government, it is estimated that anywhere from 1.2 million to well over 2 million were slaughtered in the genocide that became known as the "Killing Fields." The most commonly cited number is 1.7 million estimated by Yale University in a U.S. State Department-sponsored study. Recent studies say it could be much higher.

With candles flickering in the cool night air outside the temple near Long Beach City College, about 120 survivors and their families gathered to honor the dead and rededicate themselves to the memories of lost families.

After prayers and sermons, survivors recalled their stories. Some wrote poems. Singer Plong Rithy, a well -known artist in Cambodia, sang a song she wrote and read a remembrance penned by Chantara Nop.

Paline Soth, an organizer of the event, also remembered and commemorated Dith Pran, a New York Times photographer who, before he died March 30, had become the face of the Cambodian genocide for many as the central figure in the 1984 Academy Award-winning film "The Killing Fields."

Earlier in the day, more than 200 templegoers attended prayers conducted by more than 20 monks from nearby temples and about 100 or stayed for lunch.

Like those who showed up in the evening, those who attended early said remembrance is vital.
"To the Cambodians who want to forget and say, 'The past is in the past,' I don't think we should ever forget," said Song Chhang, the former Minister of Information in Cambodia.

Chhang added that the current tribunals in Cambodia prosecuting former Khmer Rouge leaders are an important step in reconciling the past, although he says "the search for justice should not be stopped" with the end of the trials.

In the evening session, Chantara Hak, president of the nonprofit Killing Fields Memorial Center, talked about recent disputes that have divided the Cambodian community in Long Beach and urged Cambodians to come together.

No matter how their politics and social values may differ, there is one thing that binds all Cambodians, and it is April 17.

Cambodian mine legacy lives on after Pol Pot

Almost 30 years after the fall of the Pol Pot regime, Cambodians continue to be killed and injured by landmines. (Reuters: Chor Sokunthea)

Landmines continue to injure and kill Cambodians every day, more than 30 years after the end of the Khmer Rouge regime. [Reuters]

Radio Australia

Cambodians have been marking the tenth anniversary this week of the death of former Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot.

He died of a reported heart attack on 15 April 1998 in the remote northern Cambodian outpost of Anlong Veng, the Khmer Rouge's final stronghold.

Up to two million people died of overwork and starvation or were executed under the Khmer Rouge regime, which abolished religion, property rights, currency and schools.

The regime ended in January 1979, when the invading Vietnamese army took control of Phnom Penh.

As a joint Cambodia-UN tribunal set up to try surviving Khmer Rouge leaders continues to suffer delays and funding problems, a senior Australian official says the dictatorship's legacy lives on in the form of millions of landmines scattered across Cambodia.

Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for International Assistance, Bob McMullen told Radio Australia's Cambodian service that landmines continue to kill and injure ordinary people "every day".

"It is a terrible tragedy to see what's happening in Cambodia today, when people are trying so hard to recreate wealth and opportunity in the country," he said.

Mr McMullen says Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's government is tackling the problem on two fronts in collaboration with Phnom Penh and international donors.

"One is to remove as many landmines as possible - and the task is enormous, but we have to keep at it - and also to continue to provide assistance," he said.

Mr McMullen says Australia is involved in a series of international processes aimed at regulating the use of mines, cluster munitions and small arms."

All of these weapons cause unnecessary grief and hardship to ordinary civilians," he said.

"It's terrible that wars happen, but if they do go on, they are between combatants and there's a different body of international law that deals with that.

But we are concerned with the impact on civilians, innocent people, particularly children who get caught up in this.

"When I was in Cambodia, I visited some of the projects making prosthetic limbs, and some of them were so small, made for small children, and it showed how serious the problem is, of the effect of landmines on young children playing, in the way that children around the world love to do."

Mr McMullen says Australia supports an international campaign to end the use of landmines "in a manner that will affect civilians".

"People have been very indiscriminate, putting landmines in places that aren't about an ongoing miltary struggle, but designed to impede the lives of ordinary people going about their business," he said.

"So Australia's very much an active player in the international campaign against landmines, and we will stay that way."

Two Sohka Resorts in Cambodia join WORLDHOTELS

The Sokha Beach resort Sihaknouk Ville

The Sokha Angkor Resort Siemreap

Asia Travel Tips
Friday, 18 April 2008

The Sokha Angkor Resort and Sokha Beach Resort have joined WORLDHOTELS' collection of hotels in Cambodia. The Sokha Angkor Resort has joined WORLDHOTELS as a member of the Deluxe Collection while the Sokha Beach Resort has joined as a member of the First Class Collection.

The 5-star Sokha Angkor Resort is located in the heart of Siem Reap, an area rich in attractions of cultural and historical interest. The resort is within walking distance of the Old Market Place and the recently opened Angkor National Museum, housing eight chronologically ordered galleries of Angkorian-era artifacts and multi-media presentations of Angkorian history and culture. It is just 15 minutes from the world famous heritage site, Angkor Wat.

The 276 room luxury resort is architecturally inspired by the ancient Angkor Wat Temples combined with colonial French style and hints of modern Khmer design. The self-contained resort offers guests a variety of room types from Deluxe City View rooms to the 320sqm Royal Sokha Suite featuring a living, dining, kitchenette and a private therapy room.

Recreation facilities available to guests include a salt water swimming pool, fitness centre, sauna, steam room, a meditation room, a beauty salon and a spa. The signature Jasmine Spa offers treatments that combine the tradition of Khmer beauty treatments using native spices, herbs, flowers and oils with traditional therapies to relax and refresh the body and soul.

The Sokha Angkor Resort hosts 5 F&B outlets and in-room dining including The Lotus, a fusion restaurant of East meets West utilizing the finest Cambodian ingredients and an open-kitchen, Le Chanthou, the signature fine dining restaurant serving the very best in western and Khmer cuisine, Takezono, an intimate Japanese restaurant, Champa Lounge, an ideal location overlooking the swimming pool and gardens to enjoy a light snack and the Irish Pub, offering nightly live music and specialty cocktails.

Extensive MICE facilities over five function rooms can accommodate up to 600 people.
The Sokha Beach Resort in Southern Cambodia is set in 23.5 hectares of gloriously manicured gardens along 1.5 kilometers of pristine white sandy beach in Sihanouk Ville, making the resort a perfect location to enjoy sun, sea and seclusion.

The hotel is easily accessible for international visitors, just a short 5 minute drive from Sihanouk Ville, 25 minutes flight from Siem Reap and 3 hours by car from Phnom Penh International Airport.

The Khmer inspired architecture of both traditional and modern influence houses 166 guest rooms and suites and 10 stylish beachfront villas. All rooms feature a private balcony or terrace with beach or gardens views.

Recreation facilities at the Sokha Beach Resort focus on the great outdoors including beach front access to a pristine sandy beach, water sports such as Jet-skis, speedboat, banana boat, parasailing, kayaking and aqua cycles, swimming pool, tennis court and bicycle rental. The resort also features a children’s playground, beauty salon, indoor fitness centre and signature Jasmine Spa.

The Sokha Beach Resort offers guests the choice of 6 F&B outlets including The Lotus, the signature restaurant offering daily international buffet and a la carte menu of South East Asia’s best cuisine, Lemongrass, a beachfront al-fresco restaurant serving a delicious mix of seafood, Chinese and Khmer cuisine and the four lounge and bar areas, Champa Lounge, Sokha Wine Bar, Pool Bar and Beach Bar for relaxing and enjoying the live music, refreshing cocktails and light snacks.

Five function areas including the Sokha Grand Ballroom and Sea Side Garden offer MICE facilities for a maximum of 250 people.

Noppadon calls for more help

Minister: Preah Vihear issue is complicated


The Foreign Ministry has called on other state agencies to help tackle the dispute with Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple, saying it was a complicated issue. The call was made by Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama yesterday during a meeting of security agencies at Government House.

Mr Noppadon said he raised the issue at the meeting as he did not want the Foreign Ministry to handle the issue alone.

''The issue should be handled jointly by different agencies,'' he said, adding that the army could, for example, help clear landmines while the Culture Ministry could look at improving the physical surroundings of the area in dispute. The Prime Minister's Office will help promote understanding among local people.

Last Thursday the government submitted an aide-memoire to Cambodian Ambassador Ung Sean to protest against Cambodian troop deployment at the ancient temple, which is on the border near Si Sa Ket province.

The government said the deployment of troops by Cambodia violates Thailand's territorial sovereignty in the overlapping areas along the border and was also against the spirit of a Memorandum of Understanding made in 2000 between the two countries concerning the area around the Preah Vihear temple.

Phnom Penh summoned Thai ambassador Viraphand Vacharathit to deny all the allegations the day after Thailand summoned the Cambodian ambassador. It was the fourth time Thailand has protested to Cambodia over the issue. Previous protests were in 2004, 2005 and 2007, and involved the construction of a road, a community and permanent buildings in the north and western part of the temple.

Cambodia has also conducted de-mining activities in the western part of the temple.
''I will wait to negotiate this issue with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An,'' said Mr Noppadon, adding however that Mr Sok An's official visit has yet to be scheduled.

Cambodia's deputy prime minister postponed his last trip to Bangkok, scheduled at the end of February.

Mr Noppadon said he had asked China to help negotiate with a Chinese construction firm hired to build a road near the disputed area, asking that its work be stopped. The company has complied with the request, which was made during Mr Noppadon's visit to Beijing during Songkran, he said.

There was a dispute between the two countries in 2001 when Cambodia asked the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation to put the ancient Khmer temple ruins, called Khao Phra Viharn in Thai, on the World Heritage List.

Thailand, however, wanted to have a role in the proposal as the border between the two countries has yet to be clearly marked.

The World Heritage Committee agreed to postpone its decision. Cambodia decided to re-submit its proposal without Thailand this year

KRouge survivors demand swift trials in Cambodia

Cambodia's opposition party leader Sam Rainsy (L) and Buddhist monks look at a memorial stupa displayed with more than 8,000 skulls of victims of the Khmer Rouge at Choeung Ek, a "Killing Fields" site located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 17, 2008. Hundreds of Cambodians, including 99 monks, gathered at the site to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the Khmer Rouge reign, which plunged the nation into a radical communist group genocide regime from 1975-1979.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Media Corp News
17 April 2008

CHOEUNG EK, Cambodia - Hundreds of survivors of the Khmer Rouge gathered Thursday at Cambodia's killing fields to demand speedy trials of the regime's leaders on the anniversary of the capital's fall to the ultra-Maoists.

About 70 Buddhist monks blessed victims' skulls on display at the Choeung Ek killing fields outside Phnom Penh, where Khmer Rouge soldiers bludgeoned to death thousands of people during the regime's 1975-1979 reign.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy and about 700 people assembled at the sombre memorial to mark 33 years since Phnom Penh fell to the communist guerrillas, who are believed to be behind the deaths of up to two million people.

"I plead to the United Nations and the international community to push for the trials of Khmer Rouge leaders soon. Otherwise, the Khmer Rouge leaders ... will die without any convictions," Sam Rainsy said.

"We demand the UN-backed court quickly try the Khmer Rouge leaders and render justice to the victims," he said.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged the courts to deliver "long-overdue" justice for the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge.

Frustration has been building as a funding crisis has caused delays in the tribunal, leaving many Cambodians fearful that convictions might come too late.

"I have been waiting for justice for years," said villager Sou Phan, who lost more than 10 relatives under the regime.

"I pray for the souls of the skulls to help make the court try the Khmer Rouge leaders before they die."

Up to two million people died of overwork and starvation or were executed under the Khmer Rouge, which abolished religion, property rights, currency and schools.

Millions more were driven from the cities onto vast collective farms as the ultra-Maoist regime sought to create an agrarian utopia.

A joint Cambodia-UN tribunal convened in 2006 after nearly a decade of haggling.

Public trials of the regime's five top surviving leaders, who were recently detained by the court on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, are expected to begin later this year.

New Zealand: Rotorua man recalls killing fields of Cambodia

IN STORE: Dara Mao at his dairy The Hub in Ngongotaha.
Phil Campbell - Rotorua Review Friday, 18 April 2008

The recent death of the face of the killing fields in Cambodia evoked sad memories for a Ngongotaha businessman. Dith Pram, the most famous face of the Cambodian civil war, was an award-winning photographer with the New York Times about whom the movie The Killing Fields was made. He died aged 65.

Cambodian Vanndara Mao, a Ngongotaha dairy shop owner, lost three brothers to the murderous Pol Pot Khmer Rouge regime in 1977 amid one of history's worst mass genocide. He was nine when the killings began in 1970.

Three million people were killed, and 85 percent of families of a population of 10 million were affected. Among them were the Mao brothers Va, Vanny and Vanthy - three of eight children.

With a cousin, their father had shares in a sawmill. Mr Mao senior, now 80 who returned to Cambodia 10 years ago, avoided execution by travelling to districts (known by numbers) other than that to which he had been ordered, keeping ahead of Pol Pot's soldiers.

Periodically, he would discreetly return home to visit his family. Dara Mao, who has enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of New Zealand for more than 20 years, the last eight in Rotorua, refused to yield to the regime's brainwashing and listened to his father's advice.

That advice was to not even whisper in silence to fuel Pol Pot informers, as to comment adversely meant death. They infiltrated Cambodian villages but Dara's village bonded to an impenetrable code of silence  a muted resistance.

"They closed the world from us," Dara says. "There was no other world when the communists came in." Pol Pot's henchmen arrived from Vietnam, raping and pillaging. The elderly, academics, intellectuals, artists, and successful businessmen and women perished. Like Hitler's Germany?

"Yes," says Dara. "But the Germans killed other races; here we were being killed by our own people."

The inhabitants of 51 houses in the village where Dara lived formed a pact to resist the temptation to criticise the Khmer Rouge. Informers listed comments and reported them to the regime, after which slayings were carried out.

Dara's older brother was a teacher, another was killed in the bush, and the third, had been brainwashed by the regime but killed despite an ostensible allegiance.

"All of the brainwashed were treated like brothers, but in the Pol Pot (regime), because of the brainwashing, brothers could kill brothers."

Families noted that if their loved ones were taken from them and not returned within a few months, they had been killed in the disintegration of Cambodian society. The Maos lived by the Mekong River, close to the Vietnamese border, itself recovering from the ravages of the Vietnam War.

Neighbouring Vietnam, pushed into Cambodia in the late 1970s to restore some order. "We were so lucky. Had we been there another month we would have died."We didn't go anywhere; we were lucky Vietnam came in to push the Khmer Rouge out."

His memory of privation remains vivid, the opinion of Cambodia scarcely less cynical than it became during the 1970s.

"Cambodia is very, very poor, but corruption there is not helping. "If they live like that then the country will be run down  it is nothing."

Country profile: Cambodia

Boats race past the Royal Palace during the annual water festival
Thursday, 17 April
BBC News

The fate of Cambodia shocked the world when the radical communist Khmer Rouge under their leader Pol Pot seized power in 1975 after years of guerrilla warfare.

An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died during the next three years, many from exhaustion or starvation. Others were tortured and executed.

Today, Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world and relies heavily on aid. Foreign donors have urged the government to clamp down on pervasive corruption.


Cambodia is burdened with the legacy of decades of conflict; unexploded munitions - thought to number in the millions - continue to kill and maim civilians, despite an ongoing de-mining drive.

Only now is the country beginning to put the mechanism in place to bring those responsible for the "killing fields" to justice. Cambodia and the UN have agreed to set up a tribunal to try the surviving leaders of the genocide years.

The tribunal held its first public hearing - a bail request by one of the defendants - in November 2007.

Trials are expected to start in 2008 and last for three years.

In pursuit of a rural utopia, the Khmer Rouge abolished money and private property and ordered city dwellers into the countryside to cultivate the fields.

The effects can still be seen today, with around 70% of Cambodia's workforce employed in subsistence farming.

The Mekong River provides fertile, irrigated fields for rice production.

Exports of clothing generate most of Cambodia's foreign exchange and tourism is also important.
The imposing temple complex at Angkor, built between the ninth and 13th centuries by Khmer kings, is a UN heritage site and a big draw for visitors.

Well over half of Cambodia is forested, but illegal logging is robbing the country of millions of dollars of badly-needed revenue.

International watchdog Global Witness claims top officials are involved in the trade. The environment is also suffering, with topsoil erosion and flooding becoming prevalent.

The spread of HIV/Aids is another threat; however, public health campaigns have reduced the rate of infection.

Jurors convict Chhun of plots

Los Angeles Newspaper group

COURTS: The Long Beach accountant could go to prison for life for the attacks on Cambodia.

By Greg Risling, The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - An accountant was convicted Wednesday of orchestrating a failed attempt to overthrow the Cambodian government with a handful of rebel fighters who attacked government buildings in the country's capital in 2000.

Jurors deliberated for about two days before returning their verdict against Yasith Chhun, 52, of Long Beach.

Chhun, a U.S. citizen of Cambodian descent, was convicted of 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 faces a maximum sentence of life in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 8.

An e-mail message left with Chhun's attorney, Richard Callahan, was not immediately returned.
The Cambodian government welcomed the ruling.

"This is what we have longed to see. This also sends a message that if somebody wants a regime change, they must do so through ballots, not through arms," said government spokesman Khieu Kanharith.

Chhun headed a group known as the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, which was opposed to the ruling party in the Southeast Asian country. The group accused Prime Minister Hun Sen of being a dictator and helping rig elections so he could stay in power.

Prosecutors said Chhun planned for two years to topple the Cambodian government. He traveled to the region to assemble a rebel force and held fundraisers at the Queen Mary in May 2000 to raise money for the operation.

Interviewed by the Press-Telegram in June 2001, Chhun spoke freely and fearlessly about what he termed "Operation Volcano," the name given to the attack.

He detailed, matter of factly, his mission to bring American-style "freedom, justice and democracy" to his former country. He bragged about the publicity he had received, and he chatted about his ambitious rebellion as if it were a board game.

"It's like playing chess," he said, laughing. "Put (the pieces) where the horse is and where the king is."

The "king" Chhun referred to was Hun Sen, a former communist who staged his own bloody coup in 1997 and then called an election a year later under pressure from international leaders.

Hun Sen won the election, but many continue to believe he is a corrupt, dictatorial leader masquerading as a liberator. He has been accused of doing little to save the country's 17 million people from poverty, disease, crime and oppression.

Prosecutors also believe Chhun was behind a February 1999 bombing of a bar in Cambodia that injured several people.

"Operation Volcano" was launched on Thanksgiving 2000 at the direction of Chhun, who was across the border in Thailand. Only about 200 rebel troops showed up to fight, and they were quickly subdued after attacking various government buildings in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Phen.

Three of Chhun's troops died, and several police and military officers were injured.

Some Cambodian-Americans who live in Long Beach, home to the country's largest Cambodian community, said they weren't surprised by the verdict.

"People are very ambivalent about this. I don't think they support him," said Chhang Song, an adviser to the Cambodian government. "They support him only in that he was caught in a tragic situation. Nobody believed that he would be able to overthrow the government."

Chhun is among a group 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.

In opening statements, Callahan argued that his client was trying only to bring democracy to Cambodia.

Hun Sen had been part of the communist-backed Khmer Rouge, which ruled from 1975-79 and is accused of atrocities that resulted in the deaths of some 1.7million people in the notorious "killing fields."

Refugees at vigil to recall `Killing Fields'

Los Angeles Newspaper group
By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer

LONG BEACH - Chantara Nop remembers it all - the torture, the hunger, the atrocities, the five brothers he lost. And he never wants to forget, nor does he want anyone else to forget or doubt the bloody legacy of the Khmer Rouge reign in Cambodia.

Today, as he does every year, Nop will take a day off from work to reflect on what he and his country endured.

Nop will be joined by about 100 to 150 fellow Cambodian refugees at Wat Vipassanaram to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the date the Khmer Rouge rolled unopposed into Phnom Penh. Four years and about 1.7million dead later, Pol Pot was driven from power, but the scars he and the Khmer Rouge left remain.

For the second year, members of the Cambodian community will meet at the temple at 1239 E. 20th St. to pray and reflect.

This year's event will have added significance as it is the first since the death of Dith Pran, the photographer who became for many the symbol of the Cambodian genocide as the central character in the 1984 film "The Killing Fields." Dr. Haing Ngor won a best supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of Dith.

Dith, who later moved to the U.S. and became a New York Times photographer, died March 30 from pancreatic cancer.

Paline Soth, one of the event organizers, said there would be a special dedication for Dith.

Also this year for the first time, 20 monks from four local temples will attend to commemorate the date and offer prayers and blessings.

Prayers will begin at 9a.m., with a lunch at noon.

Beginning at 6 p.m., testimonials, speakers and a candlelight vigil will be staged. Several monks are also expected to deliver sermons.

Soth says each year the April 17 memorial evolves.

"We have grown from a small commemoration night to a bigger and bigger event," Soth said.
The first April 17 memorial was in 2005 at MacArthur Park. In 2007, the event was moved to the temple.

Last year, participants recounted their tales of life in the "Killing Fields," discussed the history of the Khmer Rouge regime, or recited poetry.

As important as testimony and remembering is for those who suffered at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, it is equally important, organizers say, to pass their personal histories to successive generations.

"Everybody now wants to forget, even people who lived through it," Nop says of the genocide. "I saw it, I feel it, I smelled it. Why would you want to forget that?

"It's important to let people know and never forget."

The naked truth!

Carla Bruni. (Reuters Photo)

The times of India
18 Apr 2008

charity organisation has refused to accept money raised from the sale of a nude photograph of Carla Bruni, French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife — slamming the auction as ‘inappropriate’.

The image sold for $91,000 at New York auction house Christie’s earlier this month and the proceeds were donated to Swiss medic Dr Beat Richner — who runs a group of children’s hospitals in Cambodia.

But Richner has rejected the money, insisting that Cambodians disapprove of ‘exploiting female flesh for money’.

He said, “My decision was taken out of respect for our patients and their mothers. In Cambodia, the use of nudity is not understood in the way it is in the West.”

The black and white print, taken in 1993 by Swiss photographer Michael Comte, shows France’s First Lady completely naked with nothing, but her cupped hands protecting her modesty

Opposition Renews Call for Speedy Tribunal

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
17 April 2008

Khmer audio aired April 17 (688KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired April 17 (688KB) - Listen (MP3)

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy pushed for quicker trials of jailed Khmer Rouge leaders under a hybrid tribunal, as he marked the 33rd anniversary of the fall of Phnom Penh Thursday.

“We must realize the trial of former Khmer Rouge as soon as possible,” Sam Rainsy said at a Buddhist ceremony to mark the day at Choeung Ek, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. “We must not hang around.”

To commemorate the day when the Khmer Rouge marched into Phnom Penh and began emptying Cambodia’s cities, monks chanted before a stupa of skulls, the remains of only some of the nearly 2 million who died under the disastrous policies of the regime.

Sam Rainsy said he was concerned that the five leaders now in custody—Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea and Kaing Kek Iev—might die of “natural causes” before they see trial.

“There is no reason there has been no trial until now,” Sam Rainsy said. “I would like to call, on the behalf of 14 million Cambodians, on the international community not to drag on” the trial.

“The former Khmer Rouge leaders must be judged as soon as possible for the sake of justice for the victims,” he said.

Nearly 1,000 people joined Thursday’s ceremony, most of them victims somehow of the Khmer Rouge who said they feel impatient waiting for justice.

“Seven members of my family were killed,” said Men Thol, a former prisoner of Khmer Rouge cadre in Kandal province. “I was imprisoned for a year with my feet cuffed. I came here for the first time [today] to demand a speedy trial.”

After a bumpy start, the tribunal enacted the arrests of the five leaders in late 2007, and officials say they expect initial hearings in the first half of this year, nearly 30 years after the ousting of the Khmer Rouge by Vietnamese forces.

You Bunleng, Cambodia’s investigating judge, said the tribunal wants to act quickly, “faster than Sam Rainsy has urged.”

However, she said, “the court has a full process to ensure complete justice and to ensure an international standard.”

Cambodia Hosts Religion Conference

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
17 April 2008

More than 200 participants from seven different religions joined a conference in Phnom Penh earlier this month, in an effort to better understand each other.

Leaders from the Anglican, Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, Lutheran and Muslim faiths gathered to discuss interfaith understanding and conflict resolution.

Cambodia is predominantly Buddhist, but it is home to people of many other faiths.

“We have to have tolerance among all religions and help build morality in society,” Min Khin, secretary of state for the Ministry of Religion, told VOA Khmer, quoting a speech by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Though Cambodian Buddhists are generally tolerant of other faiths, Min Khin said, it remains unlawful for groups to use propaganda and improper coercion to convert others.

“It is prohibited to use money, food, and other materials to convince people to convert to another religion,” he said.

Christopher Lapel, a pastor for a Cambodian congregation of the Golden West Christian Church in Los Angeles, Calif., said participants of the April 3 conference adopted an action plan to promote interfaith understanding and conflict resolution.

“Cambodia gives freedom to its people to participate in other religions,” he said.

Keo Vimuth, an Abhidhamma teacher at Wat Damnak, in Siem Reap, said Christians visit people’s homes, knocking and saying, “The Lord has arrived.”

This was not always effective, he said.

“It’s not easy to convert Cambodian Buddhists who have had a deep belief in Buddha for many generations to another religion,” he said.

About 95 percent of Cambodians are Buddhist, 3 percent are Muslim, 1 percent are Christians, and another 1 percent comprise other faiths, he said.

“The rebirth of Khmer culture and society depends to a great extent on the renewal of Buddhist Sangha,” he said. “The Western concept of ‘church’ is meaningless in Cambodia.”

Meanwhile, new freedoms, the introduction of drugs and the sex industry, and much material assistance by the international donor community have brought great changes to Cambodia and, in the view of some, have seemed to help foster a growing climate of greed, corruption and moral and intellectual paralysis.

Police Unlawfully Kill Man: Group

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
17 April 2008

Khmer audio aired April 17 (606KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired April 17 (606KB) - Listen (MP3)

One of three policemen in Preah Vihear province shot a man dead over Khmer New Year, two rights workers for Adhoc said Thursday.

Din Bros was killed while driving with another man in Or Kleng Poar village, Tbeng Meanchey district, said Hor Neath, an Adhoc coordinator for Preah Vihear.

The rights group was investigating allegations police had done the killing, he said. The victim’s family members could be reached for comment, but Chan Saveth, a second investigator for Adhoc, confirmed the report. “The shooting is a serious violation of human rights and contradicts our constitution,” Chan Saveth said.

Preah Vihear police could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

Preah Vihear Deputy Governor Sar Sam Ol said he had just returned from Khmer New Year and had not yet heard about the case.

Girl Dies in Lashing Monsoon Storm

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
17 April 2008

Khmer audio aired April 17 (737KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired April 17 (737KB) - Listen (MP3)

A 12-year-old girl was killed and hundreds made homeless in a monsoon storm in Poipet, victims said Thursday.

The storm, which tore through the former Khmer Rouge stronghold late Wednesday, destroyed 85 homes, leaving many impoverished families facing greater hardships.

“Eighty-five houses were destroyed by a cruel monsoon storm last night,” Yang Saruoth, 37, whose house was destroyed, told VOA Khmer by phone Thursday. “We are facing great suffering for losing our homes and property and need the assistance from NGOs and the government, because ours are the lives of poor construction and porter workers.”

The storm killed a 12-years old girl, “chickens and ducks,” he said.

Officials were busy Thursday cataloguing the damage, said Kong Koun, a communal police chief in Poipet.

Commune council member Khun Chanti said “all the victims” were facing difficulties after the storm.

“The local authorities are yet not taking care of the victims,” Khun Chanti said.

Nhim Vanda, vice president of the National Authority of Disaster Management, said Thursday his office had not yet received information on the storm.

Last year, a similar storm in Poipet destroyed 100 homes.

Brevard College students travel to Cambodia

Pisgah Mountain News
April 17, 2008

BREVARD – Brevard College students will share what they learned on a recent trip to Cambodia during a presentation at 7 p.m. April 21 in the Porter Center for the Performing Arts on the college campus.

As part of the Brevard College Religion Studies course, “Global Experiences in Service,” Brevard College chaplain, the Rev. Shelly Webb, took six students to Cambodia to work, share, serve and learn.

The group, comprised of Webb, students and college staffer Kelley Eyster, left for the 14-day trip in March.

Webb said that the group traveled as a “Volunteers in Mission team” through the Western North Carolina Conference, and worked with missionaries from the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church.

Projects during the trip included building a concrete patio and painting a fence for the Methodist Bible School and working at an orphanage in Phnom Penh.

During the April 23 event, members of the group will share what they learned while in Cambodia about the culture, their project, the people they encountered and their own service-learning.
There will be stories, artifacts, a slideshow and sharing about the trip.