Sunday, 29 March 2009

Testimony begins Monday at Cambodia's U.N.-backed genocide tribunal 30 years after the ouster of the Khmer Rouge. Cambodians expected to watch on TV

A Cambodian Buddhist monk touches the human skulls in the stupa at Udonmg, about 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, March 27, 2009. Testimony begins Monday at Cambodia's U.N.-backed genocide tribunal 30 years after the ouster of the Khmer Rouge, and millions of Cambodians, including survivors and relatives of victims, are expected to watch on TV.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

ADVANCE FOR MARCH 29:map shows Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge country; two sizes

A boy looks at a painting at a "Killing Fields" memorial in Batey district in Kampong Cham province, 125 km (78 miles) east of Phnom Penh, March 28, 2009. Former Khmer Rouge torturer Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, will face his second trial for crimes against humanity on Monday. At least 40 witnesses are expected to testify against the former chief of Phnom Penh's S-21 prison, where an estimated 14,000 people were tortured and killed.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA CONFLICT SOCIETY POLITICS)

A painting is seen at a "Killing Fields" memorial in Batey district in Kampong Cham province, 125 km (78 miles) east of Phnom Penh, March 28, 2009. Former Khmer Rouge torturer Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, will face his second trial for crimes against humanity on Monday. At least 40 witnesses are expected to testify against the former chief of Phnom Penh's S-21 prison, where an estimated 14,000 people were tortured and killed.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA CONFLICT SOCIETY POLITICS)

A resident prays in front of skulls at a "Killing Fields" memorial in Batey district in Kampong Cham province, 125 km (78 miles) east of Phnom Penh, March 28, 2009. Former Khmer Rouge torturer Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, will face his second trial for crimes against humanity on Monday. At least 40 witnesses are expected to testify against the former chief of Phnom Penh's S-21 prison, where an estimated 14,000 people were tortured and killed.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA CONFLICT SOCIETY)

Skulls are stacked on top of each other at a "Killing Fields" memorial in Batey district in Kampong Cham province, 125 km (78 miles) east of Phnom Penh, March 28, 2009. Former Khmer Rouge torturer Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, will face his second trial for crimes against humanity on Monday. At least 40 witnesses are expected to testify against the former chief of Phnom Penh's S-21 prison, where an estimated 14,000 people were tortured and killed. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA CONFLICT SOCIETY POLITICS IMAGE OF THE DAY TOP PICTURE)

A Cambodian man locks the door of human skulls at Udonmg, about 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, March 27, 2009. Testimony begins Monday at Cambodia's U.N.-backed genocide tribunal 30 years after the ouster of the Khmer Rouge, and millions of Cambodians, including survivors and relatives of victims, are expected to watch on TV.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian Buddhist monk touches the human skulls in the stupa at Udonmg, about 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, March 27, 2009. Testimony begins Monday at Cambodia's U.N.-backed genocide tribunal 30 years after the ouster of the Khmer Rouge, and millions of Cambodians, including survivors and relatives of victims, are expected to watch on TV.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

In Pictures : Ex-Khmer Rouge still dominate regions of Cambodia

AP Photo - Former Khmer Rouge officer Pery Saroen, 55, looks on during an interview in Anlong Veng, Cambodia, Wednesday, March 4, 2009. Thirty years after the fall of the Maoist regime, former Khmer Rouge officials still run extensive enclaves across northwestern and northern Cambodia.

AP Photo - A Cambodian Buddhist monk pauses outside the tomb of former Khmer Rouge leader Ta Mok in Anlong Veng, Cambodia, Wednesday, March 4, 2009. Ta Mok, who was the last leader of the Khmer Rouge was captured near Anlong Veng in 1999 and died in prison in 2006 while waiting for trial for crimes against humanity. Ta Mok, also know as the "Butcher" is remembered fondly by the local residents.

AP Photo - Cambodian men and women, their bicycles loaded with fire wood, make their way along an ancient highway Thursday, March 5, 2009, near Siem Reap, Cambodia. Thirty years after the fall of the Maoist regime, former Khmer Rouge officials still run extensive enclaves across northwestern and northern Cambodia.

AP Photo - Cambodian children play near Anlong Veng, Cambodia, Thursday, March 5, 2009. Thirty years after the fall of the Maoist regime, former Khmer Rouge officials still run extensive enclaves across northwestern and northern Cambodia.

AP Photo - A young man plays with his baby brother in Anlong Veng, Cambodia, Wednesday, March 4, 2009. Thirty years after the fall of the Maoist regime, former Khmer Rouge officials still run extensive enclaves across northwestern and northern Cambodia.

AP Photo - An older Cambodian woman chants prayers during a wedding in former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng, Cambodia, Tuesday, March 3, 2009. Thirty years after the fall of the Maoist regime, former Khmer Rouge officials still run extensive enclaves across northwestern and northern Cambodia

AP Photo - A young Cambodian child displays homemade trinkets for sale to tourist near Siem Reap, Cambodia, Thursday, March 5, 2009. Thirty years after the fall of the Maoist regime, former Khmer Rouge officials still run extensive enclaves across northwestern and northern Cambodia.

AP Photo - Former Khmer Rouge photographer Nhen En holds photographs of himself as a young cadre in Anlong Veng, Cambodia, Wednesday, March 4, 2009. En, who at one time was head photographer for the infamous torture prison Toul Sleng, is today a deputy district chief in what was once Pol Pot's last stronghold of Anlong Veng, Cambodia. He is planning to build a museum dedicated to the Khmer Rouge on the land he is pictured standing on.

AP Photo - Former Khmer Rouge officer Pery Saroen, 55, gestures during an interview in Anlong Veng, Cambodia, Wednesday, March 4, 2009. Thirty years after the fall of the Maoist regime, former Khmer Rouge officials still run extensive enclaves across northwestern and northern Cambodia.

AP Photo - A young Cambodian school boy, a relative of former Khmer Rouge fighters stands near his school in Anlong Veng, Cambodia, Wednesday, March 4, 2009. Thirty years after the fall of the Maoist regime, former Khmer Rouge officials still run extensive enclaves across northwestern and northern Cambodia.

AP Photo - Former Khmer Rouge cadre Chat Chay, 51, pauses while working near his home in Anlong Veng, Cambodia, Wednesday, March 4, 2009. Chay joined the Khmer Rouge when he was 14 years old and was wounded and disabled in 1979. Today he breaks rocks for about $1 a day with one hand for use in road construction.

AP Photo - Cambodian school children make their way past the tomb of former Khmer Rouge leader Ta Mok in Anlong Veng, Cambodia, Wednesday, March 4, 2009. Ta Mok, who was the last leader of the Khmer Rouge was captured near Anlong Veng in 1999 and died in prison in 2006 while waiting for trial for crimes against humanity. Ta Mok, also know as the "Butcher" is remembered fondly by the local residents.

AP Photo - A motorcyclist passes a sign for a beauty shop in Anlong Veng, Cambodia, Wednesday, March 4, 2009. Such things as beauty shops and entertainment were outlawed under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime but have made a comeback in the former stronghold. Thirty years after the fall of the Maoist regime, former Khmer Rouge officials still run extensive enclaves across northwestern and northern Cambodia.

AP Photo - A young Cambodian school girl pushes her bicycle down a dirt path in former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng, Cambodia, Wednesday, March 4, 2009. Thirty years after the fall of the Maoist regime, former Khmer Rouge officials still run extensive enclaves across northwestern and northern Cambodia.

Across space and time



Centuries of cultural and commercial interaction between South Indian kingdoms and Cambodia led to a fascinating mutual enrichment that can be seen in the motifs and architectural styles of temples that flowed freely across the ocean.

When Kulottunga I, the Chola king, was constructing or enlarging the famous Shiva Temple at Chidambaram (Tamil Nadu), Suryavarman II, the king of Cambodia and the builder of Angkor Wat, offered to send, all the way from Cambodia, a block of stone as a gift for the new construction.

Photos: Prema Kasturi and S. Suresh
Cultural crossovers: The Angkor Wat shares many features with Pallava and Chola temples.

The very name “Cambodia”, brings forth visions of the magnificent temple of Angkor Wat with its huge pavilions, towering spires and larger-than-life sculptures. Angkor Wat and the scores of other spectacular temples surrounding it were bu ilt by the local Cambodian or Khmer kings between the ninth and the 14th centuries A.D. The UNESCO has now included these monuments in its “World Heritage” list. Each day, thousands of visitors enjoy these monuments, many of which are in picturesque ruins. Most of the visitors are, however, simply unaware that Cambodian art and culture have a lot of Indian, particularly South Indian, elements.

The remote origin of the intimate links between India and Cambodia forms the subject of innumerable legends. Many legends mention a young and handsome South Indian prince travelling to Cambodia, marrying a beautiful Cambodian princess and eventually becoming the ruler of that land. According to one popular legend, around the time of Christ or slightly earlier, Kaundinya, a Brahmin from India, sailed to the kingdom of Funan in Cambodia that was then ruled by a princess named Soma of the Naga dynasty. Using a divine weapon, Kaundinya defeated her in war, married her and became the king of Funan. Towards the beginning of the fifth century, another Brahmin, bearing the same name, inspired by a supernatural power, came to Cambodia where the local people welcomed him and elected him as the king of Funan. He and his successors introduced many Indian customs and laws in Cambodia. In the year 802, a powerful ruler named Jayavarman II founded the Khmer kingdom that had its capital in or around Angkor in Central Cambodia. The capture of Angkor by Thailand (Siam) in 1431 forced the Khmer rulers to shift their capital further south in the vicinity of Phnom Penh.

The cultural and commercial interaction between South India and Cambodia, in fact, dates back to a few centuries before Christ. South Indian merchants and artists regularly came to Cambodia through diverse land and sea routes. Located on the great maritime highway between India and China, Cambodia, from early times, emerged as a major commercial hub in the long distance trade network that linked China, South East Asia, Sri Lanka, India, Africa and Rome. Spices and gemstones from South East Asia reached the ports on the east coast of India (Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu), from where they were shipped to the Red Sea ports of Africa and from there sent to Rome through the North African port of Alexandria. Not surprisingly, archaeologists have discovered ancient Roman objects including intaglios, coins, ceramics and lamps in the Thailand-Cambodia region. These Roman materials should doubtless have reached South East Asia through Mahabalipuram, Arikamedu, Kaveripattinam or any of the other ancient ports of Southeastern India. Interestingly, similar Roman objects have been recurrently discovered in many of these port sites.

Significant influence

Both Hinduism and Buddhism reached parts of South East Asia from India during the early centuries of the Christian era. The South Indian influence on Cambodian art and culture was, however, most vigorous and prolific during the rule of the Pallavas (third to ninth centuries) and Cholas (ninth to 13th centuries) in South India. It is well known that the use of the honorific title Varman — very common amongst the Pallava kings — was borrowed by the kings of Cambodia. The first Cambodian king to have this suffix appended to his name was Bhadravarman who lived in the fourth century and thus, was a contemporary of one of the early Pallava rulers of Kanchipuram. Significantly, Bhadravarman was a renowned scholar, well-versed in all the four Vedas and the author of several inscriptions in Sanskrit. He invited learned Brahmins from India to settle in his kingdom.

While Sanskrit language and literature spread to Cambodia from different parts of India including South India, the ornate Grantha (also called Pallava Grantha) script travelled to Cambodia exclusively from the Pallava kingdom. According to scholars, some of the birudas (titles) of the Pallava kings including Mahendravarman I appear to be in the Khmer language — the language of Cambodia. Further, Nandivarman Pallavamalla, one of the later Pallava rulers, is believed to have lived in Cambodia for some years before he travelled to Kanchi to ascend the Pallava throne. The most enduring contribution of the Pallavas to Cambodia is the cult of Ashtabhuja Vishnu (eight-armed Vishnu). In India, this form of Vishnu first originated around the Mathura region in North India, and slowly spread to Nagarjunakonda (Andhra) and from there, permeated further south to Kanchipuram. Many of the Pallava temples in and around Kanchi house sculptures of this form of Vishnu, with one temple (Ashtabhuja Perumal Temple) having the deity enshrined within the main sanctum. Initially, the Angkor Wat was a Hindu shrine dedicated to this form of Vishnu installed within the sanctum in the uppermost tier of the temple. This huge majestic monolithic image, recently restored and now kept at the entrance of Angkor Wat, is almost identical, in stylistic features, to the image within the sanctum of the Ashtabhuja Perumal Temple of Kanchi.

The Pallavas of Kanchi were contemporaries and rivals of the Chalukyas of Badami (Vatapi) in present-day Karnataka. But political differences and rivalries did not stand in the way of the exchange of art styles and ideas between these two kingdoms. Thus, we can observe Chalukyan influence in the art of Kanchi and Pallava imprints in the art of Badami and Pattadakkal in Karnataka. Again, not surprisingly, there are unmistakable parallels between the art of Pattadakkal and Angkor Wat. The most important and famous bas-relief sculpture in Angkor Wat is the one portraying the scene of the Churning of the Cosmic Ocean by the Gods and demons (samudramanthan). Miniature representations of the same scene occur on the pillars within the Angkor Wat. Sculptures exhibiting this theme occur in many other Angkor temples including the Bayon. Although the story has always been very popular in India, its representation in art has been very rare in this country. The Virupaksha Temple of Pattadakkal, however, features this scene on the face of a column. Stylistically, this sculpture is remarkably similar to the representation of the same scene in the pillars in Angkor Wat.

Again, in Angkor Wat, the bas-relief showing the Mahabharata war prominently features Bishma lying on the bed of arrows. Such a representation of Bishma is uncommon in South Indian art. A few late medieval temple wall paintings in Kerala, however, feature this theme.

Free exchange of ideas

Architecturally, the Angkor Wat shares many common features with both Pallava and Chola temples. Like the Vaikunta Perumal Temple (Kanchi) and the Sundara Varada Perumal Temple (Uttaramerur) of the Pallavas, the Angkor Wat consists of three levels or tiers, each of the upper tiers slightly smaller than the one below it, giving the structure the look of a pyramid. Again, like the Chola Brhadisvara Temple of Thanjavur, Angkor Wat too was conceived to represent the sacred mount Meru in the Himalayas. Damodara Pandita, a Brahmin scholar from Madhyadesa (Karnataka-Orissa region) in India was the chief priest of Suryavarman II, the builder of the Angkor Wat. It is believed that the king built this temple as per the guidelines provided by the Indian priest.

The friendly relation between the Chola kings and Cambodia is attested by a significant but little-known incident. When Kulottunga I, the Chola king, was constructing or enlarging the famous Shiva Temple at Chidambaram (Tamil Nadu), Suryavarman II, the king of Cambodia and the builder of Angkor Wat, offered to send, all the way from Cambodia, a block of stone as a gift for the new construction. Kulottunga gratefully accepted the unusual gift, installed it in the temple and engraved an inscription informing that the stone was from Cambodia.

The beautiful temple of Banteay Srei, around 30km from Angkor Wat, has many intricately carved Hindu sculptures betraying South Indian influence. Here, one can see the dancing Shiva (Nataraja) above the main doorway leading to the central sanctum. Close to him, there is a small, frail female figure that has been identified as Karaikal Ammaiar, the well-known Tamil saint.

The inscriptions on the walls of the temples in Cambodia frequently refer to Indian scholars and priests settling in Cambodia, often on invitation from the king. Some of these scholars were the direct disciples of Adi Sankara in South India.

Any serious visitor to the monuments in Angkor will indeed be astounded by the sweep of the South Indian elements that have engulfed Cambodian culture during different periods of history. To the students of South Indian history and art, Cambodia is a revelation, an eye-opener to the spread of our unique culture to distant lands.

(Dr. Suresh’s field research in Cambodia has been sponsored by Ramu Endowments, Chennai)

Evidences of interaction

There have been several little-known finds of authentic South Indian objects in the Thailand-Cambodia region. Archaeological digs at Khuan Luk Pat on the west coast of Southern Thailand have revealed a Sangam Chola coin with the figure of the tiger — the Chola dynastic emblem — on it (first century B.C.). The region has also yielded a very rare bronze figure betraying features of the Amaravati school of art (first-second centuries A.D.).

No probe powers for ASEAN rights body yet


MANILA, Philippines—The controversial ASEAN Human Rights Body to be launched this October after the terms of reference for its creation is finished by July will not have investigative powers yet, Ambassador Rosario Manalo, head of the high-level panel preparing the document, told reporters.

As any TOR, the one enabling the creation of the body contains its purposes, principles, mandates, and functions, defining it as consultative and integral to ASEAN and specifying that each member-state send a representative.

But, Manalo said, the body is “evolving” and would not have investigative powers, “not for the moment.”

The diplomat said the TOR has already been presented to the foreign ministers of the ASEAN member-countries and is being revised following their proposals. The creation of the body has been controversial due to the sorry situation of human rights in some ASEAN member-states, particularly Myanmar.

Eventually, she said, the ASEAN Human Rights Body may develop into one investigating possible violations of human rights.

“It is not just there is no political will, there is no capacity to create a court presently. We are still getting acquainted with the idea of human rights. We are beginning to confront human rights issues and internalizing them in our own societies. The TOR is allowing for more evolutionary space,” she said.

Manalo said members of the panel are also preparing the programs of the body for the next five years, focusing on both promotion and protection of human rights.

She said they are also meeting next week in Cambodia to finalize funding of the body to support its operations and activities.

Initially, she said, the member-states will be required to give equivalent annual compulsory contributions, but those who can give more—within and outside ASEAN—will be more than welcome.

In the next five years, this TOR that would create the body will be reviewed.

Manalo said the body would not be retroactive, but “prospective.”

Earlier, Ambassador Alistair MacDonald of the European Commission said he is happy with the developments in the creation of the regional body. He said these developments, culminating with the creation of a body, represent big steps from the original idea of simply creating a human rights mechanism within ASEAN.

ASEAN groups together Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The Trade of Asia’s Girls

New America Media
News analysis, Dori Cahn

A baby girl, somewhere in Asia. Her family has little money. Without prenatal care or medical help, she barely survives childbirth. Illness and hunger punctuate her childhood; she works for her family, maybe gets a little bit of school. What’s next for her?

Girls and women throughout Asia find education is elusive and jobs are scarce, relegating many to find work in the sex industry, as overseas domestics, or in sweatshops.

It is not uncommon for girls in poor families to be sold, both for the money and to lessen the household burden.

In her book about forced prostitution in Cambodia, Somaly Mam recounts how her grandfather sold her to a brothel, and her subsequent efforts to help others in the situation she ultimately escaped from. The organization she founded in Phnom Penh 13 years ago, AFESIP, has opened offices in Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand to combat the regional trade in girls.

“In Thailand’s brothels,” writes Nicholas Kristof, columnist for The New York Times, “Thai girls usually work voluntarily, while Burmese and Cambodian girls are regularly imprisoned.” In Cambodia’s worst brothels, he says, “Pimps use violence, humiliation and narcotics to shatter girls’ self-esteem and terrorize them into unquestioning, instantaneous obedience.”

Somaly Mam finds girls as young as 5 and 6 sold to brothels, explaining, “Since we started AFESIP, the brothels have grown larger and more violent. We find women chained to sewers. Girls come to us half beaten to death … these girls suffer a more brutal sort of torture.”

The U.S. State Department pursues international trafficking of women for sex by investigating U.S. citizens involved in trafficking, and monitoring countries with a history of sex trade. But investigators have a hard time distinguishing between illegal migration and forced trafficking, and between trafficking for sexual purposes and forced labor.

In fact, many advocates argue that labor trafficking is a far worse problem than forced sex work.

Throughout Asia, women are recruited for jobs in foreign countries. Once signed up, they have no control over where they go, how much they work, or the type of work they do. The bait may be child care in San Francisco, housekeeping in Malaysia, or factory work in Hong Kong; the reality is often much more arduous, and much less lucrative.

The Immigrant Women and Children Project of the Bar Association of New York City says the majority of their clients were trafficked into domestic work, including immigrants brought to work for UN and consular officials.

The typical employee “gets paid $50 a month or not at all…. working seventeen, eighteen hours a day, catering parties, washing laundry by hand even though there’s a washing machine. They’ve had their documents withheld and their phone calls monitored.”

Most of the publicity and prosecutions of forced labor have been for prostitution. Writing in The Nation magazine, Debbie Nathan criticizes this focus as a “morbid fascination with forced prostitution, even though more people may be forced to pick broccoli than to rent out their genitals.”

In some Asian countries, sweatshops offer an alternative, with rare stable jobs for women, who often leave behind their homes and families.

Kristof concludes that jobs in Cambodia’s garment sweatshops are among the best in that country: “In the hierarchy of jobs in poor countries, sweltering at a sewing machine isn’t the bottom.”

His critics argue, however, that the problem isn’t factory work itself, but the factories with deplorable conditions, where “recruiters” lure children into illegal factory work, as in a case that erupted in China last summer.

Some women instead turn to international matchmaking to escape poverty, assuming that marriage to a man who can afford the cost of “consuming” a mail-order bride, which can range from $4,000 to $15,000, is better than toiling in the rice fields, garment factories, or sex shops of Asia.

The unregulated “wife-import” business draws women mostly from poor countries like Vietnam and the Philippines. Some companies even advertise minors to their clients, says the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association.

But many brides find themselves in servitude to their husbands. In the U.S., a woman can only get permanent residency after two years of marriage, tying her to her husband and making her vulnerable to abuse.

In 1994, in a stunning act of violence against his imported bride, Timothy Blackwell shot his abused Filipina wife Susanna to death outside the Seattle courtroom where her divorce petition was being heard.

What are the alternatives?

Educating vulnerable girls is the best hope for ending poverty and abuse, says the Girl Effect, an organization working to improve opportunities for girls throughout the Third World.

Girls and young women ages 10 to 24 comprise over one-quarter of the population in Asia. And when girls and women earn an income, they reinvest more of it into their families than men, says The Girl Effect; every additional year of secondary school increases their income by 15-25 percent.

NGO’s and governments are finding when women invest in their communities, rates of malnutrition, hunger, disease, infant mortality and HIV/AIDS can be reduced, and economic growth improved. Microlenders report an exceptional rate of repayment among women’s businesses, and measure the return on their investments in improvements to the community.

Maybe that baby girl can grow up with more choices.

Learning, the old fashioned way

A young student at Cambodia Tomorrow English School reads a storybook from a fourth grader at Onondaga Road as a tool for learning English. Submitted photo.
CNYLink from Eagle Newspapers

By Ami Olson

Students in Camillus and Cambodia exchange lessons without wires, the Internet or the World Wide Web.

In today’s world, children of all ages are able to connect with their peers around the globe through the Internet and modern technology. But sometimes, it takes good old-fashioned, hands-on experiences to offer kids a meaningful, tactile interaction with other cultures and ways of life.

That’s the kind of cross-cultural exchange Facebook doesn’t offer, and that students at Onondaga Road Elementary School were able to be a part of last month, thanks to one local couple.

An unlikely beginning

After Camillus couple Kathleen Hart-Zavoli and Vladimiro Zavoli adopted their two children from Cambodia, they knew their own family was complete.

We didn’t want more kids, but we did want to give back in some way, Hart-Zavoli explained.

They soon discovered they weren’t alone, and a few years later a small but dedicated group of parents from across the country, all of whom had adopted Cambodian children from the same orphanage, created Cambodia Tomorrow. Their mission, initially, was helping supply children at a Cambodian orphanage with essentials - rice, bedding - and sponsoring their education by funding their attendence at an English school in a neighboring town.

After about four years, Hart-Zavoli said one of the representatives from the orphanage told the parents that the children weren’t getting what they needed out of the school, and asked if the group would consider starting a separate school for the kids.

Less than one year ago, Cambodia Tomorrow hired two teachers and started a pilot program; just a few months later, construction began on a school building.

That school, Cambodia Tomorrow English School at Kompong Speu Orphan Center, opened in December.

Tomorrow, today

Currently, 67 young students attend the school, but the facility can carry a maximum capacity of 180 students, Hart-Zavoli said. They will come closer to reaching full capacity soon, when about 30 children from poor local families begin attending school.

One of the biggest accomplishments the school made before it even opened was hiring the two full-time teachers, Hart-Zavoli said.

In Cambodia, where teachers’ salaries are so low educators often hold two or three jobs to make ends meet, the quality of the education suffers, she pointed out. But Cambodia Tomorrow English School was able to hire two teachers and pay them well enough that working on the side is not necessary, ensuring their full attention is on the students.

The organization recently began helping another orphanage: Cambodia Tomorrow donated $1,000 in relief to help the facility supply kids with basics like new beds and toothbrushes, Hart-Zavoli said.

“Basically what our program started off as, was a group of parents that just wanted to give back,” she remembered. On the other side of the world, they are doing just that.

Full circle

The outreach effort came full circle last month when Hart-Zavolli helped create a connection between local students and their peers half a world away.

In February, classes at Onondaga Road Elementary School were able to put their own writing skills to use while helping students at Cambodia Tomorrow.

Jessica Goodnough’s fourth grade class created more than 20 original stories and Virginia Madden’s second grade class wrote 17 letters to students at the Cambodian school, where the letters and stories helped students there learn English.

The stories were the work of Goodnough’s fourth-graders, whose tales included a “pencil boy” who wanted to be an eraser and moving from the Earth to the moon. Many stories were developed into books and included illustrations and narratives about the author, including one book dedicated to the children of Cambodia.

Madden’s students wrote letters telling about life in Central New York and details about Onondaga Road School.

The stories and letters were hand-delivered by Hart-Zavoli at the end of February when she made her second trip to Cambodia.

“It was awesome … I sat in my [hotel] room reading them one night and some of the kids made story books … one child even dedicated her book to children of Cambodia … it was really beautiful,” Hart-Zavoli said.

Upon her return, Hart-Zavoli gave presentations to the two classes at Onondaga Road to share with them her experiences.

Her two children, a son, now 10, and daughter, now 7, are in the classes who participated in the cross-cultural lesson. Their big question?

“‘So when do we get to go?’” Hart-Zavoli laughed.

For more information about Cambodia Tomorrow, visit the organization’s Web site at

Mending a broken life

London Free Press

Sat, March 28, 2009



By Kim Echlin

"T hings do not suddenly happen to us. Things happen step by step." These are the thoughts of Kim Echlin's protagonist, Anne Greves, as she nears the end of a dangerous pilgrimage in the Toronto writer's new novel, The Disappeared. They are words echoed on every page of Echlin's remarkable novel.

When the book opens, Anne is a young, Montreal girl interested in blues music. While at a jazz club with friends, she meets a young Cambodian man, 21-year-old Serey, five years her senior, who is in exile in the West. The year is 1979, Cambodia is controlled by the odious Pol Pot regime and Serey, a musician, is unable to contact his family. The borders, and all communication, have been closed.

Anne and Serey fall deeply in love, much to the dismay of Anne's father, a widower, who has raised her in an emotionally remote manner, with the help of a French housekeeper. Anne's affair with Serey, although reckless, is rich and rewarding. Looking back, Anne muses, "I never felt any forbiddenness of race or language or law. Everything was animal sensation and music. You were my crucifixion, my torture and rebirth. I loved your eyes, the tender querying of your voice in song." She remembers, too, that what she learned from her mother is "that those we love can disappear suddenly, inexplicably. And then there is nothing."

When the Vietnamese invade Cambodia and the Pol Pot government is overthrown, Serey does, indeed, disappear. He tells Anne he must return to find his parents and younger brother, to know if they have survived. He made no promise to return. Anne is frantic. "I wanted the borders to close again, so I could have you back. I wanted you to die so I would not have to think of you without me. I wanted money. I wanted to be older. I wanted you to find your whole family alive so I could be with you. I wanted you to find your family dead so you would be mine."

Echlin's novel shifts, then, from radiant love story to desperate search. After waiting 11 years for Serey, Anne, consumed by erotic longing, sets out to find him. She arrives in Phnom Penh during the turmoil of national elections. Corruption is rampant. Violence trumps reason and chaos prevails. "They talked about observing elections but no one saw the village meetings after dark when people were told how to vote and people who asked questions were beaten, killed. Foreigners said, Keep the eyes of the world here, but the people knew that borders and banks close and foreigners leave and wires are cut and bodies disappear and the thirst for power spreads like the odour of rotting, terrifying everyone into obedience. No one can force compassion. But it can be extinguished."

With the help of Mau, a taxi driver, and a fellow Canadian dispatched to Cambodia to record the genocide that had happened there, Anne finds her lover, changed, as is she, by the traumatic events of the decade they had spent apart. But their love remains strong, struggling to flourish despite the fate of Serey's family, despite the guilt he carries, despite the underground political work with which he is now engaged. Serey had found Cambodia a fraud, a country with the false trappings of a new democracy, but without the reality. The round-the-clock killing had continued. The country was "like a shattered slate. Before they could think of drawing lines on it, they had to find the pieces and fit them together again."

Looking back, years later, Anne remembers she and her lover had pledged themselves to each other, despite what they knew might happen. Even unto death. "There is no one to witness to us and so we were witnessed only by the nameless missing and by the generations to come. And this was the night our baby was conceived, a soul leaving the dry sky of the ancestors to live anew in bones and flesh."

In a brief 228 pages, Echlin manages to juxtapose the horrific depravity of the Pol Pot era, and its brutal successor, against the power and resilience of individual human courage. In the book's closing section, Ang Tasom, Anne, at her own insistence, is forced to confront he bones and skulls not only of a broken country, but of her own broken life. What her journey has given her, and what she retains when she returns, as witness, gives meaning to her experience and helps to hold the past intact.

As were her earlier novels, Elephant Winter and Dagmar's Daughter, The Disappeared is written with singular elegance, a polished, poetic, deeply affecting novel from a writer in impressive control of her craft.

For The Silent Founders Fight Child Exploitation

DEVOTED: Kenny Rigsby, 27, a Tyler native and his wife, Julie, started For The Silent two years ago, quitting their jobs to devote themselves full time to the rescue of sexually abused children. In this January photo, the Rigsbys distribute information at a showing of the film “Call+Response,” the slave abolitionist rockumentary show at Tyler’s Times Square Cinema.(Staff Photo By Herb Nygren Jr.)

Tyler Morning Telegraph

Religion Editor

When it comes to sexually exploited children in Cambodia, Kenny Rigsby of Tyler said it was the young boys on the streets who didn't have much of a chance to make it. Rigsby, 27, and his wife Julie started the nonprofit organization For The Silent to help in-the-shadow victims such as those young boys and give them a fighting opportunity for a normal life.

"It's a massive problem, very huge," said Rigsby. "We're talking about tens of thousands of boys, some as young as 5-years-old, being exploited. It's such an underground activity that it doesn't get much attention and there is little being done to help these children so they can live a normal life."

There is a lack of resources to arm social workers with the tools they need, he said.

"There is no training in any existing agencies (in Cambodia) to meet the needs of male survivors of exploitation," Rigsby said. "There is no specific knowledge, skill set or support mechanism that social workers are given that would give them the confidence to reach out to exploited boys. The result is that victims - at any age level - are simply being ignored."

Most of the focused help for children exploited in the Cambodian sex industry is for girls, Rigsby said.

"Unlike girls, boys are not centrally located in brothels and that makes them harder to find," he said. "The boys live out on the street, and instead of being sold to a brothel and imprisoned, their sexual activity is essentially a survival tactic. This is an in-the-shadows activity much harder to address."

There is also a cultural barrier in Cambodia that boys have less to protect than girls, he said.

"There is a misleading and widespread belief is that boys are not "virgins" and therefore have nothing to 'lose,' Rigsby said. "That mindset is changing through local training programs we're helping to fund."

Kenny and Julie Rigsby are seeking to fund training curriculums through For The Silent, which they started two years ago. They've recently raised some significant awareness to their existence and purpose.

Internationally-known musician Paul Balouche of Lindale will perform at a benefit concert April 5 at Rose Heights Church to benefit For The Silent. All of the concert's proceeds will go to Cambodian-run Christian ministries in Cambodia.

"In the long term, a range of innovative, creative and flexible responses are urgently needed," Rigsby said. "Problems include serious physical injury, fear of disclosure, feeling of significant shame, isolation suicide and confusion about sex and sexuality. There is drug abuse associated with masking pain, anger and despair."

Rigsby, a UT Tyler graduate in education, said extensive networking must begin now.

"The responses to the Cambodian problem must be supported by the development of specialist training and skilled clinical supervision, and families needing support," he said. "For The Silent is helping fund The Boy's Project, a year-long, in-depth training program designed to train professional counselors on how to respond to the needs of male survivors of sexual exploitation. Our partner organization in Cambodia, Chab Dai, will train caregivers, counselors and staff from 12 different 'practice organizations' on how to give specific care to boys."

It's the first project of its kind in Cambodia, said Rigsby.

"We hope this work in Cambodia will become a template for other countries to use as they respond to the needs of hidden and sexually-exploited children."

Visit the Web at for information.

Ex-Khmer Rouge still dominate regions of Cambodia

Cambodian children play near Anlong Veng, Cambodia, Thursday, March 5, 2009. Thirty years after the fall of the Maoist regime, former Khmer Rouge officials still run extensive enclaves across northwestern and northern Cambodia. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)

Boston Globe

By Denis D. Gray
Associated Press Writer / March 28, 2009

ANLONG VENG, Cambodia—Just as the chief Khmer Rouge torturer takes the stand before a United Nations-backed genocide tribunal, a mausoleum fit for a king will be unveiled for another murderous leader from the same regime.

The entombed Ta Mok, known to his victims as "The Butcher," remains a revered figure in Anlong Veng because practically everyone here -- from the district chief to the tourism promoter, from the wealthiest businessmen to dirt-poor farmers -- was once Khmer Rouge.

This remote, rough-and-ready town is no aberration. Thirty years after the fall of their Maoist regime, former Khmer Rouge officials still run extensive enclaves across northwestern and northern Cambodia. After Anlong Veng, their last holdout, fell in 1998, Khmer Rouge officials abandoned their savage policies and took posts in the new power structure.

They appear unlikely to face justice for alleged crimes during a brutal 1975-1979 reign of terror under which some 2 million died.

"We were the former Khmer Rouge commanders so we knew the area and the people, so after we surrendered we were confident we would get similar positions -- in the government, police, the military," explains Pery Saroen, 55, Anlong Veng's deputy district chief, whose superior is also a one-star army general. "When we handed over ourselves, our territory, we became part of the government. We had an agreement with the government and we knew they would forgive us."

An equivalent scenario would have been known Nazi officials and military commanders, some with blood on their hands, serving in 1975 as West Germany's mayors and ministers amid war crimes trials for their leaders.

Only five are expected to face trial. The first, Kaing Guek Eav -- better known as Comrade Duch -- headed Phnom Penh's notorious S-21 torture center. He is scheduled to testify at the end of the month before a joint international and Cambodian tribunal.

"It's clear that not every Khmer Rouge cadre who carried out killings and crimes is going to come before the tribunal. We don't believe it should stop at the top five most notorious figures. We could do more to bring justice to Cambodians," says Sara Colm of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, echoing criticism of many Cambodians and foreign prosecutors.

Nhem Sarath, with the non-governmental Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, says villagers outside Khmer Rouge areas often ask why the court doesn't try the many Khmer Rouge suspected of atrocities.

"They also ask us why the powerful leaders now running the country are also not arrested," he says.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly Chairman Heng Samrin were all Khmer Rouge commanders or officials, and now are unchallenged in their power. Other top positions are filled by their one-time comrades, including Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong and deputy prime ministers Men Sam On and Keat Chhun, who also holds the finance and economy portfolio.

Although no evidence has come to light implicating Hun Sen, a division commander, in Khmer Rouge crimes, he has sought to narrowly restrict those brought to justice because a number in his government and party are hiding skeletons in their closets.

Among the most notorious is Meah Mut, an ex-Khmer Rouge military official, who is on a prosecution "hit list" of at least five others they want to try. A brigadier general and adviser to the Defense Ministry, he lives in a lovely house amid a fruit orchard in Samlot, about 125 miles from Anlong Veng, in the northwest.

It was to this region that the Khmer Rouge leaders and thousands of followers fled when a Vietnamese invasion force toppled their regime in 1979. While Khmer Rouge in other areas of the country sought to quietly merge back into society, those in the northwest melted into the jungles and mountains to wage guerrilla war until the guns fell silent through an amnesty in 1998, the year Anlong Veng fell, and their leader, Pol Pot, died. All ex-Khmer Rouge in the region express loyalty to Hun Sen and his Cambodian People's Party.

David Chandler, a leading Cambodia historian due to appear as an expert witness at the tribunal, says the deal has proved a "standoff, a trade-off that suits both sides."

"They are not going into dissidence or to secede. They have to behave to a certain extent but Hun Sen is not going to mess with them too much," he says. "I don't think these are dedicated left-wing thinkers or performers. I think they abandoned that and got into the money and the patronage situation and are perfectly happy."

Many of the former Khmer Rouge claim to support the trial of their one-time leaders.

"To be honest, when ex-Khmer Rouge heard that the top five leaders would be tried, they said, 'We don't mind. Let's do it,'" said Nhem En, another district deputy head who was S-21's chief photographer and, like most former Khmer Rouge, points a finger at the leaders while denying any wrongdoing himself.

Ta Mok, who died a prisoner in 2006, is still much admired in Anlong Veng. His mausoleum, copied from ancient Angkorian temples by his rich grandson, will be completed almost to the day that Duch testifies.

"We regarded Ta Mok like a father who takes care of his children. He imposed restrictions and discipline but he gave us food, clothing, places to live," recalls Chat Chay, a poor laborer and former Khmer Rouge soldier. He noted how Ta Mok, whose cruelty was legendary, built roads, a hospital, a bridge and a high school building.

The town's 3,000 schoolchildren are taught nothing about their country's Khmer Rouge past, and only a few posters about the trial have been put around school grounds, says elementary school Vice Principal Reak Smey. He is one of a sizable influx of non-Khmer Rouge from other parts of the country, drawn by the possibility of acquiring land in the sparsely populated area and earning income from a lucrative cross-border trade with nearby Thailand.

"When I first arrived I was worried about having to adapt to life with former Khmer Rouge, but after a few months I discovered their honesty and kindness. The more I lived with them, the better I felt," he says, recalling that the revolutionaries had tried to instill rigid morality, albeit at the point of a gun, during their years in power. Now, he says, their virtues are being eroded by the influence of the newcomers.

Khieu Dum is a wealthy 36-year-old who owns a gas station and money exchange business. He is also the son of Khieu Samphan, who faces charges of crimes against humanity during his time as the Khmer Rouge president. An expensive Lexus sports utility vehicle sits in the son's garage at the dusty crossroads of this district of about 20,000, where the new settlers have had to be friendly because they are the powerless outsiders.

"This is a small and simple place. People just go about their business. The old (Khmer Rouge) people and the newcomers live together amiably. I have never had trouble because of my father," says Khieu Dum.

The Khmer Rouge leaders were off to a head start when the amnesty came, having amassed mini-fortunes during their days as guerrillas through smuggling of timber, gems and antiques to Thailand. Now, the upper echelons own some of the poshest houses and cars in the provinces of Pailin, Preah Vihear, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meancheay -- Cambodia's Khmer Rouge country.

Some have sunk into gross corruption and engage in activities, like gambling, which would have earned them summary execution in the old days. And they have certainly ditched their ideal of a classless society.

In Anlong Veng, a two-class system appears to have emerged: the rich businessmen and government officials living in town and former low-ranking soldiers who barely survive on arid land they don't own in the surrounding countryside. Thus the town witnessed both the final military defeat of the Khmer Rouge and the death of its ideals.

Chat Chay says he joined the movement as a 14-year-old after the Khmer Rouge persuaded him they would liberate the country and create a utopia of neither rich nor poor. Now, he breaks up stones at construction sites, able to use only his right hand since a head wound paralyzed his left side. He earns less than one dollar a day for his family of seven.

"The Khmer Rouge didn't do what they promised. They changed their policies," says the 51-year-old man. "I was wounded but the Khmer Rouge gave me nothing and I have also received nothing from this government."


Associated Press writer Sopheng Cheang contributed to this report.

Focus on Cambodia's Human Trafficking is Misleading

Hawaii Reporter

By Alan Perry, 3/27/2009

Rory Byrne's March 23rd article "Human Trafficking On the Rise in Cambodia" from VOA News is misleading and uninformed. The first glaring error is of course the misspelling of the Capitol City of Phnom Penh in the article. Let us hope that this is a simple editorial mistake and not an indication of how well he understood his subject matter. Unfortunately I think it may be the latter.

The real problem with the article is that it lacks perspective or any other viewpoint on the Human Trafficking issue. There is no dissenting voice or opinions reported. Cambodia has become for lack of a better word the worlds favorite sex "obsession". With daily breathless reportage on Human trafficking and child sex convictions one is left with the mistaken impression that Cambodia is a place where one can simply walk down the street and pick out your favorite 13 year-old girl or boy for an hours pleasure. This is simply not the case.

I first came to Cambodia 15 years ago and now have lived here for 2 years and own a business. In all that time I have never witnessed any such activity nor could I direct anyone to any place which deals in such a thing. I have traveled widely here and employ a number of Cambodians and in conversation with them I cannot find a single person that knows about the "sex slave" trade. I do however know that it is often the families of these girls and boys who send them away or sell them into "jobs" in prostitution. Many boys are sold into the military so their family can get the stipend the government gives out for that and many escape. Most of the girls, if the truth be known, are sent into this trade by their families, not lured there by strangers. Most are free to come and go as they please because having been sent there by the parents they often will stay out of respect and fear of the parents. The parents receive a payment, the girl is expected to work for a period of time.

This is not slavery, at worst it is indentured servitude. There is a very important difference. Of course no one wants to see children sent into the sex trade by anyone, let alone their parents, but I believe the notion that there are thousands of girls chained in basements being used as sex slaves defies logic. Most of Cambodia is a crowded and busy place especially the cities. Keeping something like this from the police would be very difficult here, to say nothing of the fact that I have never seen or heard of a house here with a basement. While many of the police are corrupt not all of them are by any means and there are many levels of police in a given area. This makes it especially difficult to keep slaves locked in your "basement" without your neighbors and the police finding out and reporting on you.

The article does not at any time cite one single credible study of this problem and for good reason...none exists. Some organizations such as World Vision raise millions of dollars in the U. S., Britain and Australia beating the child sex and human trafficking drum. Only a trickle of those funds are ever spent here in Cambodia actually doing anything about the problem. A problem that I would argue is no worse than in London, Honolulu or Des Moines.

The article goes on to cite how there were girls rescued from this business by the organization named in the article, one I have never heard of previously. It is written in such a way as to leave the impression that all these girls were "sex slaves". I would defy the writer or the organization cited to bring forth one credible person with that story. It seems clear to me that what is most likely is that there was financial incentive for these girls to leave or that they felt they had no other place to go if they left on their own. Many families wont take a girl back who has shamed them by working in this industry and many continue in the business for the very good financial rewards. Consider that the average wage of most Cambodians is often cited at less than one US dollar a day. A girl or boy working in the sex trade can make 10, 20 or 100 times this in a single day. With this they buy cell phones, motorcycles, nice clothes and send money home to the family. This scenario is the real story of the sex trade in Cambodia.

Many do it as a sideline, some go to school, and others do work in brothels. some come to escape the poverty and closeness of village life. Some of the young people that turn to this trade do it because they have lost a good job in a factory due to layoffs. Consider this the next time some well meaning organization asks you to help stamp out child labor in Cambodia, Thailand or where ever: If these young people lose their jobs often the next stop is to turn to prostitution to make sure they eat everyday. This is the real story of the sex trade.

People often fall into this trap when writing or reporting on Cambodia. With little or no knowledge of the country and it's people they rely instead on those with an axe to grind, an issue to promote or in the case of some organizations, money to be raised by keeping this issue on the front burner and sounding as horrible as possible. It would be nice to have a reporter ask some hard probing questions, explore the logic and interview others with a different viewpoint. Unfortunately Mr Byrne seemingly did none of that.

Alan Perry is a resident of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, and is with DevaRaja Villa and Bungalows, Intimate Stylish Personal Attentive. Reach him at

Global downturn threatens Cambodian garment success

Cambodian garment workers sew at a factory in Phnom Penh February 26, 2009. Many garment factories in Cambodia are closing as shoppers in the United States, Europe and elsewhere cut back on clothing purchases due to the global financial crisis.(Reuters)
Manila Bulletin

March 29, 2009

Phnom Penh, March 28 (Reuters) - Mon Moeun, one of thousands of Cambodians pulled out of poverty by a job in the garment trade since foreign investors arrived in the 1990s, may be back rearing pigs soon after a collapse in demand from Western countries.

Many garment factories in Cambodia are closing as shoppers in the United States, Europe and elsewhere cut back on clothing purchases due to the global financial crisis.

Garments are Cambodia’s biggest export earner and its economy may shrink this year due to the drop in demand.

Moeun and his wife have suffered a double blow. They used to earn $80 a month each as garment workers, sending half of it back to support their 8-year-old son living with Moeun’s parents in the southern province of Takeo.

Then, three months ago, their factories shut without notice.

"We see hard times ahead when we get back to the countryside, raising pigs and planting vegetables to make a living," said Moeun, 39, chatting with friends under a tree near a shuttered factory on the outskirts of the capital, Phnom Penh.

More than 1,000 workers were owed pay when South Korean-owned Da Joo (Cambodia) Ltd. closed. It has become an all too familiar story.

At its peak, Cambodia’s garment sector boasted almost 300 factories employing 340,000 workers, many of them women from the countryside.

Foreign companies started to move into the impoverished Southeast Asian country after UN-sponsored elections in 1993, fuelling an economic revival after 30 years of civil war and the horrors of the Khmer Rouge ‘’killing fields’’ in the 1970s.

The monitoring of work conditions by the International Labour Organisation helped lure brands such as Adidas, Nike and Gap, keen to avoid bad publicity from sweatshops. Cambodia’s membership of the World Trade Organisation from 2004 provided another boost.

Factories sprang up where once there were green rice fields around the capital and garments became Cambodia’s biggest export earner. They brought in $2.78 billion in 2008, but that may drop about 30 percent this year, said Kaing Monika, spokesman of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).

Exports of garments to the US market dropped nearly 40 percent in January compared with a year earlier. Some 70 percent of the clothes go to the United States, 25 percent to Europe and the rest mainly to South Korea and Japan.

Children in Prisons Are Suffering from Malnutrition - Friday, 27.3.2009

Posted on 28 March 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 605

“Phnom Penh: The condition of children and of women in prisons is being considered by the government and by human rights organizations in relation to their health, even though they are in prison.

“Children under the age of six are brought with their prisoner parents to live with them in prison. Therefore, do these children receive enough nutritious food?

“According to a report by the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO - in January 2009, there are 40 children living with their parents in prisons. Children living in prison face malnutrition, lack other necessities, and lack education which is crucial for their growing up.

“A prison research official of LICADHO, Mr. Khieu Kolay, said that children are not required to live with their parents in prison, but parents themselves want their children to live with them because no one else can take care of them besides them. Thus, nobody can hinder them.

“Regarding monetary allowances for prisoners, the Prison Department of the Ministry of Interior is asking the Ministry of Economy and Finance to increase it from Riel 1,500 [approx US$0.37] to Riel 2,800 [approx. US$0.69] per day, so that they can eat enough food and also so that it is in line with the high inflation at the markets.

“According to Prison Regulation Number 34, children under the age of six are allowed to live with their parents in prison, since this provides benefits to children. Because the period of the first five-years of children is important for the growing of their bodies, their social living, and their mental development, the Regulation Number 34 requires prison authorities to provide children with their basic needs.

“However, in reality, these necessities are neglected. Women who are mothers, and pregnant women are not offered additional food and material for taking care of their children.

“It should be remembered that children living with their parents in prison are not prisoners, and they must not receive any punishment.

“Based on ADHOC’s report [maybe this should say 'LICADHO'?], in January 2009 there were 40 children living with their parents in prisons, where 22 are male and 18 are female. There are 17 children in the Rehabilitation Center II, 2 in the prison in Takhmao, 2 in the prison in Battambang, 3 in Banteay Meanchey, 4 in Siem Reap, 8 in Sihanoukville, 1 in Koh Kong, 1 in Kompong Chhnang, and 2 in Kompong Cham.”

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #150, 27.3.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 27 March 2009

Brunei Overpower Cambodia

Bandar Seri Begawan - Brunei's 21-10 win over Cambodia will provide some solace, however there is now no possibility of them topping this regional HSBC Asian Five-Nation rugby series in Laos, according to a press release from Brunei Rugby Football Union yesterday.

Cambodia will also need to improve dramatically from Thursday's performance and register at least a 16-point margin of victory over hosts Laos to prevent them coming out on top.
The Brunei-Cambodia game at the Savannakhet National Stadium in Laos was a real slow starter and the most noteworthy occurrence in the first half hour was the issuance of four yellow cards by Thai referee Thawatchai Samwang.

For one four-minute period the twelve men of Cambodia faced 14 from Brunei. Despite all the extra space both side was able to put together a passage of play capable of breaching the opposition defence and the game crawled towards

half-time locked at 0-0.
That's not to say that good honest endeavour was lacking; it was not, however both sides will rue the amount of ball lost at the tackle, ruck and maul and the ball that was recycled was painfully slow.

Just on the stroke of half-time with both sides back at full strength the deadlock was broken. Laboured passing in the Cambodian backline was pounced upon by Brunei fullback Petrus Tuan on his own 22-metre line and he raced the full length of the field to score under the posts.

This was duly converted by livewire, diminutive scrum-half Richard Chu and Brunei took a 7-0 lead into the break.

Only three minutes into the second period, Cambodia responded when debutant cap Rotha Nheb, displaying a terrific turn of pace sprinted down the left wing to score out wide.

The conversion was unsuccessful and the score stood at 7-5 in favour of Brunei. Brunei's heavier pack now began to exert its dominance especially at the scrums.

However quick ball from the nicks was still in short supply which limited the scoring opportunities. Prop, Johannes Hickey was particularly to the fore in driving the Brunei eight up the middle with several strong carries into the heart of the Cambodia defence.

Again the game seemed to have reached a scoring stalemate when with 12 minutes to go. Brunei was awarded a penalty 25 metres out.

Hickey and replacement prop Rosmi Janadie took the ball up and although again the recycle was slow, the resulting ball fed to captain Faez Anuar coming from open to blind was well timed and he forced his way through to score.

Tuan converted and Brunei now lead 14-5. The Brunei pack were now totally in control at the scrums and the effort required by the Cambodian pack to not be completely overrun was clearly taking its toll.

Second row pairing Robert Baker and Ralph McMillan were tireless in the loose and ran themselves almost to a standstill. However lack of bulk in the rest of their forwards was definitely a deciding factor in the outcome of this game.

Cambodia though were not yet willing to surrender and weak defence by Brunei under the high ball led to a transgression 10 metres out. The resulting quick tap penalty allowed the ball to be spun out to the left wing where Samedi Chan touched down to bring Cambodia within reach again at 14-10.

A problem for the Cambodian coaching staff that will have to be corrected prior to Saturday's game with Laos was the lack of snap in the passing of the backline.

Time and again centre Francois Bleriot had to deal with all manner of ball which put him under constant pressure and as a unit their inability to get the ball away from the contact area quickly proved to be their undoing.

This was typified by a plenitude of lob passes throughout the three quarters which resulted in several intercepts by Brunei.

Twice in the last five minutes such intercepts occurred, firstly the Brunei No 8 galloped away only for one of the support players to knock-on and then as Cambodia attempted to keep the ball alive at the death Shafiee Matali swooped on a poor pass to charge under the posts.

The resulting conversion being successful and the final whistle blown, the score stood at 21-10. Brunei will return home knowing three things: One, they arc now in the correct level of company at this stage of their nation's rugby development.

They have recovered from last year's heavy defeats by Guam and the Philippines and are now able to move forward. Two, they have some great individual talent.

Scrum-half Richard Chu could certainly benefit from a weight gain programme but he has many of the attributes of a quality scrum-half. Captain Faez Anuar is an all-action flanker and leads from the front and the entire front row are willing battlers if not fit enough to play higher grade rugby at this stage.

Thirdly, they need to play more rugby at a competitive level. The match between Brunei and home team, Laos was abandoned due to the floodlight problem at the 461' minute. The score at that time was 28-8 favouring the home side. -- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Cambodia: Torture Suspect Recalled As Kind Teacher


PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA: Meticulous. Conscientious. Control oriented. Attentive to detail. Seeks recognition from his superiors.

That's how a psychiatrist for Cambodia's genocide tribunal described 66-year-old Kaing Guek Eav, who goes on trial Monday (30 March). Positive traits for the teacher he once was, they also doomed thousands of his fellow citizens in the late 1970s.

As head of the communist Khmer Rouge's main prison, he efficiently oversaw the torture and execution of upward of 12,000 men, women and children, according to an indictment charging him with crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and homicide. His lawyer says Duch has conceded the facts of the indictment.

The U.N.-assisted tribunal is seeking to establish responsibility for the brutal 1975-79 rule of the Khmer Rouge, when an estimated 1.7 million died of starvation, medical neglect, slave-like working conditions and execution.

Kaing Guek Eav _ better known by his nom de guerre, Duch _ holds the distinction of being not only the first Khmer Rouge leader to face trial, but also the only one to express remorse for his action.

His life story seems almost as paradoxical as the madness into which the Khmer Rouge plunged Cambodia when it seized power in 1975, depopulating the cities, banning religion, abolishing currency and sealing off the country from the outside world.

Unlike most of the top Khmer Rouge leaders, who came from privileged backgrounds, Duch was born to a peasant family in Chayok village in the central province of Kampong Thom, about 140 miles (225 kilometers) north of the capital Phnom Penh.

A childhood neighbor remembers Duch as a hardworking boy who preferred staying home to study instead of going out to play.

"I used to call him the big head boy because it looked big on his skinny frame," Ma Roun said. "But he never showed any anger."

But the boy's political consciousness was fired up by teachers who railed against corruption and social injustice.

A model math student, Duch moved to Phnom Penh to attend a teacher training school. Leam Sarun shared his quarters in a dormitory at a Buddhist pagoda.

"He said he was not a communist and was only a patriot who loathed corruption and oppression of the poor by the rich," Leam Sarun, now in his seventies, said in an interview last year at his home in Kampong Thom province. "But I came to know about communist doctrine because he preached about it to me."

Duch was a man with a "caring heart" who would take the lead in collecting money for poor friends to pay for medical expenses or teach others to improve their skills in tackling complex math puzzles, he said.

In 1965, Duch took up a job teaching mathematics at a junior high school in the town of Skoun, in the eastern province of Kampong Cham.

One student recalled that Duch sometimes came to class with a copy of Mao Zedong's little red book, and distributed communist leaflets after school with students who shared his views.

The student, Channary Bill, who now lives in Cupertino, California, said that though history will regard Duch as a monster, she remembers him as "very gentle and kind, with all the good you could wish for in a person."

In 1967, Duch went into hiding with the Khmer Rouge after three of his students were arrested in a government crackdown. He was caught in Jan 1968 and sentenced to 20 years in prison for his political activities.

Freed in 1970 when a coup toppled the government and political prisoners were granted amnesty, he headed to the jungle to rejoin the Khmer Rouge, which took advantage of the political chaos to launch a guerrilla war and then take power in 1975.

Duch was put in charge of a Khmer Rouge jail in Kompong Speu province, where, according to witnesses cited in the indictment, he would personally torture prisoners by burning them, beating them with bamboo and submerging them in water.

When the Khmer Rouge took power, Duch was assigned to its main prison in Phnom Penh, and the following year made its chief.

"Every prisoner who arrived ... was destined for execution," says Duch's indictment. But Duch's main duty "was to extract confessions from prisoners in order to uncover further networks of possible traitors."

Duch has denied personally torturing or killing prisoners, but, in the indictment's words, "has consistently recognized his responsibility for the crimes committed ... under his command."

According to documents, one mass execution followed his "kill them all" order for a group of prisoners. Of 29 other prisoners, he told his henchmen to "interrogate four persons, kill the rest."

Duch methodically recorded the treatment of each prisoner in thousands of documents that were found in the compound after the fall of the Khmer Rouge in Jan 1979.

Duch himself disappeared. His fate remained a mystery until 1999, when British journalist Nic Dunlop discovered him in a backwater of Cambodia's northwest, which had became a haven for Khmer Rouge veterans.

His life had taken a surprising turn: He had become an evangelical Christian and was working with international aid organizations that were unaware of his background.

"He told me, 'Lord, forgive for what I did to the people,'" said Christopher LaPel, a Christian missionary from Los Angeles who converted Duch.

LaPel, a Cambodian-American who lost his parents, a brother and sister to the Khmer Rouge, said Duch remains steadfast in his Christianity.

"He's very strong in his faith and he's ready to testify," LaPel said in February after visiting Duch behind bars to give him communion. "He's looking forward (to it). He wants to reveal what he did to his people." (By GRANT PECK/ AP)

MySinchew 2009.03.28

Historic Day for Cambodian Victims As "Notorious" Khmer Rouge Commander Stands Trial, Says Amnesty International

Amnesty International Press Release
Friday, March 27, 2009
Historic Day for Cambodian Victims As "Notorious" Khmer Rouge Commander Stands Trial, Says Amnesty International
Contact: AIUSA media office, 202-544-0200 x302,

(London) -- As Cambodia’s most notorious suspected killer finally prepares to face trial on Monday for crimes committed while he was a Khmer Rouge commander 30 years ago, Amnesty International urged the Court conducting the trial to increase its caseload.

Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, takes the stand on Monday, charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as murder and torture. It will be the first trial by the “Extraordinary Chambers” set up to try those most responsible for the mass killings and other atrocities that took place in Cambodia in the 1970s under Khmer Rouge rule.

“Amnesty International welcomes the opening of the first trial in the Extraordinary Chambers. The Cambodian people will finally see one of the most notorious Khmer Rouge leaders face trial. But many more need to face the court to really deliver justice to the millions of victims of these horrific crimes,” said Brittis Edman, Amnesty International’s Cambodia researcher, speaking from Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.

Only four other detained suspects--all leading members of the Khmer Rouge government--are set for trial by the Extraordinary Chambers. However, the scope of the charges against them does not address the majority of the crimes under the jurisdiction of the Extraordinary Chambers.

Amnesty International said that the Cambodian justice system needs significant reform before it can effectively prosecute Khmer Rouge crimes, so the Extraordinary Chambers are the only hope that many of these victims have for justice.

“The Extraordinary Chambers must urgently expand its prosecution strategy to investigate and prosecute more cases before it is too late,” said Edman. “These cases should represent the wide range of crimes committed and communities and groups affected.”

The Khmer Rouge’s notorious leader, Saloth Sar--more commonly known as Pol Pot--died in 1998 without facing trial.

Amnesty International also called on the United Nations and the Cambodian government to address the serious corruption allegations that have been leveled at the Extraordinary Chambers.

It has been alleged that Cambodian staff have been required to pay “kickbacks” to government officials following their appointment to the Extraordinary Chambers--casting serious doubts on the Chambers’ competence, independence and impartiality.

“Any corruption allegations must be investigated promptly and thoroughly,” said Edman. “A failure to do so risks undermining the credibility of the whole institution and what it is trying to accomplish.”

Notes to editors:

Duch was the Khmer Rouge commander of Security Office S-21 (better known as Tuol Sleng) and S-24. At least 14,000 people are believed to have been tortured and then killed at S-21 between April 1975 and January 1979.

The trial of Duch is scheduled to continue until July 2009.

Up to two million Cambodians out of a population of some seven to eight million died under Khmer Rouge rule. Khmer Rouge cadre executed hundreds of thousands of people to eliminate perceived opposition. They purged educated groups such as doctors, engineers, teachers, and students, and executed leaders of religious and ethnic communities. Torture was conducted on a grand scale.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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To see a full copy of the Amnesty International briefing paper, Cambodia: After 30 years, Khmer Rouge crimes on trial, please visit the following link:

Amnesty International’s researcher in Cambodia, Brittis Edman, is available to speak to the media on mobile: +855 (0) 121 706 340.

For more information, please visit:

Cambodia genocide court must up caseload: Amnesty

The Extraodinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) in Phnom Penh. Amnesty International has welcomed the opening of Cambodia's first genocide trial, but said the court must increase its caseload and address allegations of corruption.(AFP/ECCC/File)

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Amnesty International on Saturday welcomed the opening of Cambodia's first genocide trial, but said the court must increase its caseload and address allegations of corruption.

Amnesty said the court should "urgently expand its prosecution strategy" following the start of the long-awaited trial of Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, better known by the alias Duch.

His trial began last month. One of five former Khmer Rouge leaders scheduled to be tried by the court, Duch is due to finally take the stand on Monday.

"Many more need to face the court to really deliver justice to the millions of victims of these horrific crimes," said researcher Brittis Edman, adding that many suspects were now elderly and could die before facing justice.

The Cambodian government has been accused of trying to scupper further trials amid fears that it could target former Khmer Rouge members currently in top posts in Prime Minister Hun Sen's administration.

The Cambodian side of the international court has also been hit by claims of political interference and a scandal in which local staff were allegedly forced to pay kickbacks for their jobs.

The London-based group said the claims must be quickly addressed.

"Any corruption allegations must be investigated promptly and thoroughly," Edman said.

Up to two million people died of starvation and overwork, or were executed, as the 1975-1979 regime emptied Cambodia's cities in its drive to create a communist utopia.

Once-Feared Rebel Says She Won’t Testify

Im Chaem, a once-feared rebel and district chief, says she will protest if indicted by the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Cambodia

A well-known former Khmer Rouge district chief says she’ll take legal action if she’s indicted by a broader list of suspects by tribunal prosecutors and won’t testify in the courts.

Yeay Chaem, known during the revolution as Im Chaem, told VOA Khmer in a rare interview that she had nothing to do with the killings that came to characterize the regime, despite numerous testimonies from the villagers in the area who said they learned to fear her name.

“I can tell you frankly that I did not commit anything linked to [the loss of] human life,” the 65-year-old Yeay Chaem said, speaking from her home in the former Khmer Rouge sanctuary of Anlong Veng, located in a remote part of northwestern Cambodia. “I will not answer, and I will not accept, if my name is brought for indictment. I will protest, because [the tribunal] should find truth and solutions according to just means.”

Her words echo the sentiments of many form regime members, as the Khmer Rouge tribunal prepares to try five of its former leaders, including prison chief Duch, whose trial begins Monday. Prosecutors at the special court are at odds over whether to indict more regime cadre and are awaiting a decision by pre-trial judges.

Some observers, like Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, say an increase in indictments will not cause instability, one of the reasons given for limiting the number of leaders arrested. Those who could be brought to trial are many, he said. After all, there were 198 prison chiefs like Duch, who is facing atrocity crimes charges for his role in the alleged torture and execution of more than 12,000 Cambodians.

Like many former leaders of the regime, Yeay Chaem does not see herself among those who should be indicted. Now a deputy commune chief in Anglong Veng, she speaks with authority, and in a recent interview she was confident and smiling.

She said as a Khmer Rouge district chief, her role was to help people cultivate rice, and her position as a female leader in the government of Democratic Kampuchea was highlighted in a film that was shown nationwide. People have sometimes apologized to her for wrongly accusing her of killings, she said.

Villagers in the district of Preah Net Preah, Banteay Meanchey province, where Yeay Chaem was once in charge, tell a different story. Many said they were much afraid of her in the 1970s, when farmers in her area went missing for infractions against the revolution.

“Even though she’s a woman, she ordered killings, that’s why there was death,” said one man in Phnom Leap village. (No villager was willing to be named, fearing reprisal.)

The man described being nearly killed himself by Yeay Chaem’s bodyguards, after he suggested farmers in the area be given more food. He was able to untie his bonds before he was killed, he said, and fled to Thailand.

Another villager said he was nearly killed too, for farming rice improperly.

“The one who supervised me to pull rice [seedlings] was killed with his family members in a nearby area, as she was angered at him pulling in an improper way,” the man said, referring to Yeay Chaem. “Whether they were killed or not, I didn’t see with my own eyes, but that family went missing forever.”

Villagers say they learned to fear the name of Im Chaem, but the former cadre now says that’s only because she was rumored to have magic that could stop bullets. That wasn’t true, she said.

People did die, she said, but not by her orders. “Some died on the battlefield, some died because there was no food, as we were a country at war.” She regretted there had not been enough food or shelter for people. “I’m not afraid, because I did nothing wrong.”

Even though she could be a suspect, Yeay Chaem said she supports the current tribunal efforts to try leaders of the regime.

“I’m very grateful for the discovery of justice for our brothers and sisters of that era,” she said. “But if they indict me, I don’t agree, and for myself, if they bring me to testify, they must contact me with clear proof. If not, it’s not my business; I will not go.”

Some villagers think Yeay Chaem should be prosecuted, even if they never directly saw her do any killing. Many people went missing in the area she controlled, they said.

“In Phnom Leap, here, there were a lot of graves,” said one. “One grave had 200 people; 50, 60, also have.”

Pointing to a mountain named Phnom Trayong, a monk said many killings had taken place there.

“To find this lady with your own eye, whether she herself did the killing, was impossible,” one villager said. “If we went near [an execution] they would kill us too.”