Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Border troops battle illness

Photo by: AFP
Cambodian soldiers stand guard on the front lines in disputed border territory near Preah Vihear temple in this file photo.

Written by Thet Sambath
Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Preah Vihear

Armed clashes aren't the only challenges facing troops stationed near Preah Vihear, as hundreds suffer from malaria and other ailments each month.

CAMBODIAN soldiers stationed at Veal Antri, the scene of some of the fiercest fighting with Thai soldiers in the two countries' months-long border dispute, are now facing another formidable battle - repeated cases of malaria and other physical ailments.

About four out of 10 soldiers stationed there currently require some form of medical treatment, military doctors say.

Bo Sarath, a medic deployed with Battalion 81 at Veal Antri, has seen his fair share of hardships on the front lines.

The 47-year-old former Khmer Rouge soldier regularly amputated limbs and removed shrapnel from injured soldiers during the 1980s and 1990s.

His treatments now are less gruesome but still plentiful.

Bo Sarath says he treats between 200 and 500 soldiers each month at a treatment centre near the front lines for ailments ranging from minor aches and pains to recurring bouts of malaria.

"I ask them about their illnesses and then treat them straight away because I know the symptoms, particularly those of malaria," Bo Sarath said.

"Treatment for malaria is simple but because they are in the mountains, they contract it easily."


Mok Keng, chief medic for Brigade 8 in Ko Muoy, about 5 kilometres from the Preah Vihear temple complex, said as many as 600 soldiers fell ill there each month, typically from malaria, typhoid or less serious fevers. A few even contracted measles last month, he added.

Mok Keng's medical team is currently preparing for malaria season, which typically runs from August through October. He has requested the pesticide Albet be used throughout the area to kill mosquito larvae and has instructed soldiers to drink only boiled water.

Sann Sokhom, a soldier based at the Preah Vihear temple, is well-acquainted with malaria. As well as being the first soldier wounded during border clashes in July last year - he was shot in the left arm - Sann Sokhom has suffered three bouts of malaria since his arrival at the front lines.

"I was very sick but over the decades since I first contracted malaria, I have gotten used to it," he said.

But other areas near the border have seen much fewer cases among soldiers.

Neak Vong, deputy commander of Brigade 42 at the Ta Moan temple, said malaria was rare among soldiers deployed there.

"I have had only two or three soldiers come down with malaria in the last three months. They rarely catch it because they are immune to it by now,' Neak Vong said.

He added that soldiers there have houses near the front lines and sleep with mosquito netting to protect them against infection.

But conditions in general along the battle lines of a border dispute now in its ninth month tend to favour the spread of illness, soldiers in the area say.

Chik Meng, deployed at Veal Antri, says garbage has begun to build up around soldiers' campsites, and troops are exposed to the extremes of the weather, with only minimal shelter from the elements.

Scores demand compensation from Thailand for rocket attack

Written by Thet Sambath
Tuesday, 21 April 2009

After Thai rocket fire destroys homes and businesses near Preah Vihear temple complex, affected residents ask the Thai military to pay up.

Some 260 people who had property destroyed by Thai rockets in early April near the Preah Vihear temple complex have given their thumb prints to a document requesting compensation from the Thai military.

On April 3, Thai soldiers opened fire with machine guns and rocket launchers in a firefight that left three Thai soldiers dead and, according the Khmer Civilisation Foundation, destroyed 147 Cambodian houses. Now, the community and the foundation want Thailand to pay compensation for the damages.

"They gave us their thumb prints, and we will ask the [Cambodian] government to complain to the Thai government to get compensation from them," Moeung Sonn, president of the Khmer Civilisation Foundation, said by phone on Sunday during a visit to Preah Vihear.

Moeung Sonn says that it is only fair for Thailand to recompense the families because in the past Thailand has asked Cambodia for compensation.

"Before, the Thai government asked the Cambodian government to pay for damages to the Thai embassy and Thai citizens' properties during anti-Thai riots in Phnom Penh, and now we will ask our government to get compensation from the Thai government for our people."

The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights is still investigating the firefight to determine if Thailand committed any crimes, but acknowledged that Cambodian property was destroyed.

"We saw damage to the temple and that people's properties were destroyed by the Thai military," said Ou Virak, director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights.

"If we find that the Thai military intentionally targeted civilians and their property, that would be a war crime," he said.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Sunday that the ministry has already sent a complaint to the Thai embassy regarding the destruction of Cambodian property, but they have yet to receive a response.

Armed Forces: Army not to cross border, PM warns

Written by Sam Rith
Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Armed Forces

Prime Minister Hun Sen cautioned military officials against the use of force outside Cambodia at a ceremony to award doctoral and master's certificates to 22 recipients Monday. "Troops can be deployed and defensive force used only within Cambodian territory. [I] do not allow [you] to fight outside your own territory", he told military leaders, soldiers and police assembled at Chaktomuk Theatre. The awards, made by the Military Institute of the People's Army of Vietnam, included a doctor of military science certificate to army commander Pol Saroeun and deputy commander Kun Kim. Hun Sen said he personally checked all research theses and that none contained references to military activity outside Cambodia. "This indicates that the military has not thought of sending troops outside of Cambodia ... so there would be no reason for another country to be concerned," he said.

Waiting to fly

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Heng Chivoan
Tuesday, 21 April 2009

A baby Indian Roller makes its first attempts to fly in Battambang province last week. The bird, called "teav" by Cambodians, was discovered by a 10-year-old boy in Bavel district, who took the nestling in and has cared for it since by providing a steady diet of frogs and insects until the young Roller is strong enough to fly. HENG CHIVOAN

Temple tourism down over Khmer New Year holiday

Photo by: Sovann Philong
Many of Phnom Penh's restaurants catering to foreign tourists say they're seeing a slump.


ALCOHOL is often recession-proof, but Phnom Penh's bars are starting to feel the pinch from the global economic crisis. Riverside Bistro manager Christina Grosse said they had noticed a "sharp decline" since February compared with last year. "It was almost a 50 percent decline," she said, adding that average spending had dropped as people tightened purse strings. Building along the riverfront was also hurting business as tourists had formerly been able to take in river views. "Why would anyone travel 10,000km to sit on a construction site?" she asked. Cadillac Bar and Grill and Reggae Bar and Cafe owner Kenny Friedman said it was the start of the slow season and a decline was expected. "What is more of a threat is the trouble in Thailand," he said, adding that he hoped tourists would start travelling through other hubs such as Singapore. FCC Cambodia had been less badly affected: "Generally it has been a bit down compared to last year, but I think it was because last year was really good," said restaurant manager Benjamin Le Grande.


The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan and May Kunmakara
Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Preah Vihear hit as Thai tourists stay away while Angkor Wat experiences modest decrease in numbers - a sharp contrast to busy coastal resorts.

CAMBODIA'S two most important temples experienced tourism declines during Khmer New Year, which officials attributed to a precipitous drop in the number of foreign visitors in the case of Preah Vihear, and the overall effect of the economic downturn in the case of Angkor Wat.

The number of tourists at Preah Vihear temple fell from 4,870 last Khmer New Year to 1,476 this year, a figure that included just 13 foreigners, said Kong Vibol, chief of Preah Vihear province's tourism department. The vast majority of visitors to the temple last year - 4,522 out of 4,870 - were Thai, Kong Vibol said, adding that the decline in Thai visitors this year was a result of the ongoing dispute over the temple.

"There were no Thai tourists at the site, but there was a sharp rise in Cambodian tourists," he said. "As a whole, the situation at the temple was stable."

The number of tourists province-wide fell by 28 percent, from 7,150 to 5,177, he said.

The tourism decline at Angkor Wat was less pronounced, from 121,855 during last year's holiday to 120,096 this year, said Choey Chan, the administration chief at Siem Reap's tourism department.

He said he believed many prospective tourists "faced financial problems, meaning they did not earn enough money to visit the province this year". He said his office had not yet received data on the ratio of foreigners to Cambodians at the temple complex.

He said he did not believe the decrease would persist.

"I don't think this trend will continue for the rest of the year ... but we can't predict something which has not happened," Choey Chan said.

In contrast to the drop in temple tourism, the number of holiday visitors to Cambodia's four coastal provinces increased.

In Kep, the increase was dramatic. Sok Chheav, administration chief at the provincial tourism department, said the number of domestic and foreign tourists rose by 48.7 percent to 127,500 during the holiday compared with 2008, a rise he credited to "favourable weather".

"It was not too hot, and there was no rain," he said.

Nem Sinuon, chief of Kampot's tourism department, said the number of domestic tourists was up 2 percent year on year to 45,647, while foreign tourists increased by 53.5 percent to 559.

"I suspect that more and more foreigners were attracted to the province because of the rise in foreigners doing business here," he said.

In Preah Sihanouk, the number of tourists increased by 18 percent year on year to 64,800, a figure that Seng Kha, deputy director of the provincial tourism department, said was "mostly" made up of Cambodians.

Bun Beav, director of Koh Kong's tourism department, said that the province's increase - from 12,900 last year to 13,000 this year - would have been higher had the number of foreigners not declined by 7 percent.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon said Monday that he believed the coastal provinces had been successful in attracting tourists because tourism officials cooperated with provincial authorities to host events featuring traditional Khmer New Year games.

But he said provincial businesses did not see large revenue gains because travellers had cut spending.

Rice-milling capacity rises

Photo by: Sovann philong
A new rice mill is demonstrated by CEDAC in Takeo province earlier this month.

Written by Chun Sohpal
Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Cambodia's largest rice association says a government loan has permitted an equipment upgrade leading to increased production of processed rice.

THE head of Cambodia's largest rice exporter said Monday that a government loan granted last year had led to a significant increase in purchases of unprocessed rice.

That could mean more exports of processed rice, and ultimately, higher incomes for farmers, officials said.

Phou Puy, president of the Federation of Cambodian Rice Miller Associations (CRMA), said the organisation had purchased 1 million tonnes of paddy, or unprocessed rice, for US$200 to $210 per tonne since November 2008.

By contrast, a lack of equipment and funds for processing rice meant that only 400,000 tonnes of paddy could be bought and stored in all of 2008, Phou Puy said.

Cambodia's rice industry has suffered from a lack of processing capacity, which has led many farmers to export unprocessed paddy illegally.

A government loan given late last year allowed the association to upgrade equipment and increase its rice purchases as part of a government plan to restructure the sector and boost processed rice exports.

Son Koun Thor, president of the state-owned Rural Development Bank, which provided the loan, said it totalled $15 million and was to be paid back at an interest rate of 5 percent per year.

We expect that we will be able to expand our export base.

CRMA President Phou Puy said: "We have been able to increase our purchases of paddy because we have had both capital and modern equipment.

"We are trying to control local paddy markets because we expect that we will be able to expand our export base this year."

Of the 1 million tonnes purchased since last November, 340,000 have yet to be milled.

Phou Puy said the CRMA plans to export that rice as well as purchase an additional 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes of dry season paddy before the season ends in May. "Our plan this year is to find markets to export rice as farmers have more paddy in hand," he said, adding that the paddy would be sold to local markets for export to Germany, Malaysia and France.

"We are also negotiating with the Philippines to open a new market there," he said.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported earlier this month that Cambodia harvested 7.17 million tonnes of rice in 2008, with 3.16 million tonnes earmarked for local use.

Cambodia has about 2.61 million hectares of rice under cultivation, and authorities are working to boost milling capacity to increase processed rice exports.

"We have modern and standard rice mills that are capable of producing rice with only 5 percent broken grains," Phou Puy said.

"Cambodia will become a major rice exporter by 2010 because the country has more paddy in stock, more capital for buying paddy, bigger storehouses and more modern rice-processing equipment."

If Cambodia's milling capacity were to increase, officials said, the amount of paddy smuggled across the border would go down. Vietnam reported that about 1 million tonnes of paddy was smuggled across the border last year.

"Through the federation's activity in buying a huge amount of paddy, I am sure that we can eliminate illegal smuggling of rice into neighbouring countries," said Phou Puy

Gains made in fighting IT pirating

Officially licensed software produced by companies including Microsoft make up only about 5 percent of total sales in Cambodia, where many of the computer programs in use are pirated.

Written by Hor Hab
Tuesday, 21 April 2009

But Cambodia remains major seller of unlicensed software.

DESPITE Cambodia's status as a regional leader in software piracy, government and private sector officials said in recent interviews that the situation is improving, in part because of the formation earlier this year of a national committee to combat the problem.

Pily Wong, country manager of Microsoft's Cambodia office, said the most recent data provided by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a software trade organisation, indicates that more than nine in 10 Cambodian companies "are not using genuine software".

Our people are still poor and it has become their habit to use copied products.

By comparison, he said, 35 percent of companies worldwide and 59 percent of companies in the Asia-Pacific region were estimated to be using pirated software.

But Pily Wong said he was encouraged by the government's decision to create in January a national committee for intellectual property rights chaired by the Ministry of Commerce.

"This shows the strong will of the Cambodian government to respect international laws, and it's a very encouraging sign which will definitely attract more foreign investment," he said.

Var Roth San, the head of the committee, said one of its goals was to work with companies such as Microsoft to bring down the price of licensed software, "because so far we have never had good cooperation" with software companies.

"It's difficult for people in Cambodia to use licensed software because our people are still poor and it has become their habit to use copied products," he said.

Since opening its Phnom Penh office last year, Microsoft has worked to lower the price of software for NGOs, educational institutions and individual students, Pily Wong said.

He added that the enforcement of laws banning the use of pirated software was just as important as lowering prices, but the problem could never be fully eradicated.

"Even in developed markets such as Singapore or the United States, piracy still exists" in part because "there are always people who don't want to go by the law", he said.

He said it was important for consumers to pay the listed prices for software, as companies such as Microsoft depend on that revenue to fund software improvements.

"We spend a lot of time and effort to develop our products and to keep them evolving with new functionalities in order to help people, help business and increase their productivity," he said.

He acknowledged that people using unlicensed products are "sometimes not even aware that they have been the victim of pirated software".

Sao Volak, the chief executive of Campura Systems Corporation, a Microsoft certified partner, said the piracy problem in Cambodia is similar to that in other developing countries, adding that "almost 100 percent of home users use pirated software".

He also said he believed the situation was likely to improve, however, noting Microsoft's effort to expand its presence in the Kingdom - which has included the establishment of an extensive network of retailers - has made it easier for consumers to obtain software licenses.

Pily Wong said the problem of piracy was "an industry problem", meaning "it's not only related to Microsoft".

New clinic aims to harness the power of suggestion

Photo by: Sovann Philong
Lance Castille opened Phnom Penh Hypnosis last year.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Anita Surewicz
Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Lance Castille has opened the Kingdom's first licensed hypnosis centre in Phnom Penh to introduce benefits of the often misunderstood treatment.

While hypnosis is still in the process of transition from sideshow spectacle to valuable medical tool, the treatment is gradually gaining credibility. The recently opened Phnom Penh Hypnosis is the first hypnosis centre in Cambodia to be issued a business licence and a testimony to the treatment's growing international popularity.

Lance Castille, the mastermind behind the operation, has practised as a professional hypnotist in both the United States and Japan for six years, and throughout his career has worked with clients from a wide range of backgrounds, professions and nationalities.

Despite the growing popularity of hypnosis as a medical treatment, Castille says that most people still have misconceptions about it.

"Generally, I find that in Western countries the misconception about hypnosis is that it is mind control; and if it was, I wouldn't be [in Cambodia]. I would be in the troubled spots of the world."

Referring to familiar examples of television hypnotists who appear to make people act in foolish and ridiculous ways, Castille says that this form of entertainment is performed by highly skilled hypnotists.

"With a really good hypnotist it is possible - it is real. Look at the mechanics. They usually start with a large audience and on TV probably don't show the selection process. They ask for a number of people to come out, so the show involves volunteers - people who are willing to do this. They ask for a number of people because you may get a few in there who will not go into trance at that particular moment. It is all about odds," Castille said.

While TV shows are all about entertainment value, Castille says there are no swinging pocket watches and laughter of the audience during his therapy sessions.

"During my sessions, people remain completely in control," he said. "My typical session would be very boring to watch from the outside. Inside the person's internal experience is usually very pleasant. They enjoy it but there is not much external emotion."

Hypnosis became popular as a treatment of medical conditions in the 18th century and is a form of deep relaxation and focused awareness, not unlike meditation, Castille said.

A soothing tone of voice conveying messages and repetitive stimulus, such as the sound of a metronome, can induce a hypnotic state in susceptible individuals.

International career
After living in Japan for 20 years, Castille came to Cambodia on a short holiday last year and liked the country so much that he decided to stay indefinitely and open Phnom Penh Hypnosis.

"I came to Cambodia with my wife on vacation in January 2008, and we were due for a change," he said.

Having studied acupuncture in Japan and China, Castille stumbled upon hypnosis by chance during a training workshop.

Now, Castille offers customised hypnosis programs at his new centre in the capital and says the results he obtains are fast and effective.

"Hypnosis is a safe, natural and effective way of helping people change habits or increase motivation," he said.

Castille says that hypnosis is akin to a natural state of mind that we are in and out of frequently - something he refers to as a "trance-like state".

Some areas in which hypnosis has been used with great success include weight control, stopping smoking, stress management, insomnia and even pain management. However, if the problem is a medical issue Castille says that he usually asks for a referral from a doctor.

"Hypnosis can be useful in any place where you have stress, as it seems to affect all types of conditions - mental, emotional or physical," he said.

While at the moment the treatments in Phnom Penh are offered only in English, Castille plans to explore the possibility of providing hypnosis through a translator, something he has already tried in Japan.

"Hypnosis is not well-known to Cambodians. They know the word when I show them the translation, but I am not sure what they think about it," he said.

"Cambodia's past is very different from what other people have been through. There is a lot of trauma from a lot of different causes," he said.

"Cambodians I treat would have to speak English, or I could use a translator.... Even though it's not ideal, I have done this in Japan. The process just took longer."

While Castille guarantees the quality of his service, he says success of hypnosis is dependent on many variables including the level of the client's commitment and cooperation.

Prior to the start of the treatment, Castille asks his clients to attend a free 40-minute screening to find out if hypnosis is the right way to proceed.

Cost is calculated per package and depends on what issue needs to be resolved and how many sessions are required, but fees are generally about US$250 for three sessions and three home sessions on CD.

For more information on Phnom Penh Hypnosis, call 085 606 234 or visit www.phnompenh-hypnosis.com.

Police Blotter: 21 Apr 2009

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Lim Phalla
Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Hi Hin, 31, was arrested for the alleged fatal stabbing on Thursday of his 55-year-old father, Hi Ho. Police said Hi Hin stabbed his father nine times after an argument over the number of wives the son had. The attack occurred in Ta In 2 village, Sreah Raing commune, Mongkul Borey district, Banteay Meanchey province.

Chhorn Nath, 25, from Battambang province, was severely beaten by villagers before being turned over to police after he had broken into a house in Phsa Leu village, Phsa Chhnang commune, Kampong Chhnang province on April 10 and attempted to steal property. Police said local residents captured the would-be burglar and beat him unconscious. Chhorn Nath was taken to an area hospital for treatment before being detained at a local police station.

A man in Battambang province's Dach Prath village was electrocuted on Wednesday while singing karaoke in his house. Police identified the deceased as Chin Chey, 41, of Dach Prath village.

A dozen youths from two rival gangs were arrested Thursday afternoon when police in Koh Trong commune, Kratie province, broke up a brawl involving swords, knives and wooden sticks. Eight other youths escaped arrest. Police said the one of the gangs was from Koh Trong commune, while the other came from Saob commune, both in Kratie province. The youths were later released after being reprimanded by police.

Van Vassa, 19, from Kandal Cheung village in Battambang province, and his 20-year-old fiancee Keo Savon were killed on April 12 when they were run down by a truck on National Road 5 in Banteay Meanchey province. Police identified the driver of the truck as Sim Tha, 45, from Kampot province.

A dispute between families ended with three wounded in a violent attack on April 10 in Tonle Bet Kraom village, Kampong Cham province. Moung Sokol, 42, and his son Moung Keo Sela, 18, were severely injured after another family suspected they had cursed them. Police said both families blamed each other for initiating the violence.

The Phnom Penh Post News In Briefs

In Brief: US Urges teachers towards exchange

Written by Mom Kunthear and Khuon Leakhana
Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Cambodian secondary school teachers are encouraged to compete for their chance to be one of 156 successful applicants eligible for the Teachers Excellence and Achievement Program, US embassy officials told the Post, Monday. The TEA program is a global competition whereby successful applicants travel to the United States for intensive training.

In Brief: Mosquito nets to be distributed

Written by Mom Kunthear
Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control will distribute 600,000 mosquito nets and hammocks to 20 provinces over two weeks as part of a campaign to reduce malaria infection rates to a record low by 2015. Dr Siv Sovannroth, chief of the centre's net department, said Monday the program will distribute one net for every two people. "More than 2 million Cambodians face malaria infection this year," he said.

In Brief: Thailand delays artefacts' return

Written by Khouth Sophak Chakrya
Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The return of seven Angkorian artefacts from Thailand has been delayed by unrest in Bangkok, Culture Ministry Secretary of State Chuch Phoeun said Monday. The artefacts, which were seized by Thai authorities after being smuggled across the border in 2000, were to be repatriated during Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's aborted visit to Cambodia last week. "We hope that the Thai government ... will honor our agreement to return the artefacts," Chuch Phoeun said.

2 men face child sex charge

The Straits Times

April 21, 2009

PHNOM PENH (Cambodia) - A CAMBODIAN court has charged a French man and a Greek national with paying for sex with an underaged girl, a lawyer said on Tuesday.
Prosecutor Kry Sok Y said charges were laid against Jacques Collinet, 61, of France and Christos Kapalios, 62, from Greece.

The pair are alleged to have bought sex from a 15-year-old girl and are both now in custody pending trial, a court official said, but declined to give further details about the men.

Cambodia has struggled to shed its reputation as a haven for paedophiles, putting dozens of foreigners in jail for child sex crimes or deporting them to face trial in their home countries since 2003. -- AFP

Dengue Fever emulates Cambodian pop music

Red and Black


In tropical climates, Dengue Fever is the name of a viral disease that is passed from mosquitoes to humans with one discreet bite. But, for the Los Angeles-based band of the same name, the disease punctuates the memory that began the quintet's musical journey.

In 2001, Ethan Holtzman, Farfisa organ player and one of the band's founding members, embarked on a fateful trip to Cambodia during which his traveling partner was diagnosed with the disease. On the way to a hospital in the capital of Phnom Penh, Holtzman heard the country's psychedelic '60s pop-rock and was inspired by the unconventional sound.

"Cambodia … really stood out from all the other countries," he said. "I just happened to come across this music, and [it] just blew me away."

After his return to Los Angeles, Holtzman recruited his brother - guitarist Zac Holtzman, bassist Senon Williams, drummer Paul Smith and brass player David Ralicke to re-create the music he had experienced during his travels.

"We weren't that academic about it. It was very organic. It was something that was just going to be fun," Williams said.

Shortly after they began rehearsing, the group began its search for a singer. The goal was to find a vocalist to sing in Khmer, Cambodia's native language, so the band could fully emulate the classic Cambodian pop for which they had a growing appreciation.

"After trying out some singers, we found [vocalist Chhom Nimol]. It was pretty evident as soon as she touched the microphone that we wanted her to sing. She was basically miles beyond all the other singers," Williams said.

Nimol, a native Cambodian, had moved to Long Beach, Calif., and was living and working in the area's Cambodian community. She had garnered a reputation as a local karaoke singer and once she joined Dengue Fever, the band began rehearsing, recording and performing at festivals and venues across the nation.

The group has spent the past eight years building its reputation by spanning musical genres and blending Cambodian psychedelic rock music with jazz, indie-rock and '60s pop influences. The band also recently released a documentary, "Sleepwalking Through the Mekong," which chronicles a 2005 trip to Cambodia.

"There was a level of authenticity after we went there. We kind of had to go to Cambodia to play," Holtzman said.

Before the trip, the band was unsure of how its interpretations of Cambodian classics would be received.

"It was really positive," Holtzman said. "They were really inspired by the fact that their music got us excited."

Back home, the band has been well-received by critics and music fans alike.

"We're being embraced by the rock scene as well as the world music scene," Williams said. "We kind of bridge this gap between [the two genres]."

While the band remains largely influenced by Cambodian psychedelic rock, the group doesn't hesitate to experiment with new sounds while exploring its musical identity.

"It's a natural progression, but I think it's also purposeful. To keep us interested, we like to try new ideas and go in new directions," Williams said. "If I expect you to like my record, I would hope you would want to grow with us."

Duch trial : insignificance of two witnesses?

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 20/04/2009: 8th day of Duch trial at the ECCC. Defence Lawyer François Roux on his way to the interrogation of witness Chan Voeurn during a short recess at the court. ©John Vink/ Magnum

By Stéphanie Gée

On the eighth day of former Khmer Rouge torturer Duch, on Monday April 20th, ranks appear to have gone down among the courtroom audience. Lagging behind the schedule announcing that the interrogation of the accused relating to the creation of S-21 would start this week and would be followed by hearings for Civil Parties, witnesses and experts on that matter, the Trial Chamber continued with the hearing of the last two witnesses testifying on the M-13 security centre, which Duch directed before 1975, before being in charge of S-21. This interlude was seen as necessary to simply put back in context S-21 and the period before April 17th 1975 - i.e. when the Khmer Rouge seized power – a period of time which falls outside of the mandate of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Contradictions and memory lapses undermined the testimonies of the last two witnesses on M-13 and left some confused about the relevance of their words at the trial.

Testimony falls flat due to lack of coherence
Chan Voeurn, a dark-skinned 56 year-old farmer, shows up in front of the bar and introduces himself as a former member of M-13 staff. He finds it difficult understanding the questions he is asked. Keeping his head bent over and frowning constantly, he seems nervous and ill-at-ease in his role as a witness. He was only twenty-something when he claims to have been sent to his position for about a year in the detention centre located in the Kampong Speu province, where he was appointed treasurer and then warder.

According to him, Duch himself carried out interrogations and it was he too who struck detainees with blows. As he speaks such words, the accused leans forward on his seat to seriously stare at the witness. Chan Voeurn then describes two scenes he says he saw “with [his] own eyes”: Duch allegedly used a flaming torch previously soaked in petrol to burn the bare chest of a woman. He also allegedly shot his uncle dead with two bullets – he was incarcerated at M-13. The witness then clumsily wipes the tears he is trying to hold back.

During his testimony, judges quickly realise that the witness turns isolated cases into general statements. And neither does the man, now in his fifties, clear up the many conflicts standing in the way between his first statement before the court and the one he made during the hearing, thus sowing doubt among the assistance. Indeed, he said he saw three executions carried out by Duch but on Monday, he only mentioned one... After encouraging him to be more precise, Judge Lavergne has him acknowledge that there is indeed one of the executions which he did not see but “deduced”, as the victim disappeared from the camp. His answers, which he always formulates with assertion, seem to vary as questions are reformulated. The quiz game looks like a real headache and truth struggles to come out. How can this illiterate man answer with conciseness and coherence, when even a Cambodian greffier, who holds a diploma, manages after three attempts to understand what is expected of her, i.e. reading out again Chan Voeurn’s statement paragraph after paragraph to leave some time for magistrates to confirm with the author whether he still stands by his previous declarations...?

Called up to go back over an “issue” he supposedly had with Duch, the witness explains he allowed the escape of three detainees who were under his own surveillance. He was not punished for that and later joined the local cooperative.

"I cannot accept his testimony!"
When Duch is allowed to take the floor to react to these declarations, he says at once: “To start with, let me tell you that the witness was not part of my staff at M-13!” The accused then puts every effort in pointing out incoherent details in the witness’ hearing statement, which do not always compound with the declarations he made before court investigators. “He made things up... [...] He got mixed up with facts and fiction in his testimony! […] This is pure fabrication, from what he heard and what he added!” Staring at him in the direction of the audience where he stands, he adds, outraged: “This affects me! I cannot accept his testimony!” But the witness stands by his statement: “How can he say I was not a member of staff at M-13?” Later, Duch loses his temper again: “The witness did not see anything and he comes to testify at the trial! This is not right! I reject that perjury! As for the crimes I committed, I admit them and I accept to be liable for them!”

Via a methodical interrogation of Chan Voeurn, Duch’s international lawyer Mr. Roux finally has the testimony fall flat as it does not stand up due to too many contradictions.

It is then the turn of the last witness for the M-13 question. Chan Khan is also a farmer and arrived at M-13 in 1973 as a warder. He was only 13 or 14 years old back then, he cannot remember very well. Duch recognises him. Now in his forties, Chan Khan explains that when a prisoner escaped, his warder or guard was automatically held responsible for it, which questions the fact that Chan Voeurn came out unscathed of the incident about the breakout of three prisoners.

Flooded with Judge Lavergne’s questions, Chan Khan fails to give details. “I was young at the time, I do not remember very well...” He says that when three or four detainees lost their lives when they drowned in the pits where they were detained after being battered by violent rains, it was the majority of them... When until now, the number of M-13 prisoners has always been estimated to be higher than just a handful of people. There again, divergences and discrepancies between the declarations Chan Khan made before investigators and those he makes before the Trial Chamber unavoidably surface. When asked whether he recognises Cham Voeurn, he says he does: “He is the one who let some prisoners escape”. At the end of the hearing, Mr. Roux asks judges to remind the witness of the rule stating he must not meet previous witnesses before completing his own testimony before the court...

The fear of Duch
Chan Voeurn told investigators that “Nobody [at M-13] dared look Duch in the face” and that he behaved like “a tiger in front of game”. At no point did he look in the direction of Duch, whom he simply looked at via the television screen standing on the desk before which he was sitting. Chan Khan also told investigators he used to be scared of Duch. “No guard would dare go into his office.” When asked by Judge Lavergne whether today he is still afraid of Duch, he replies in the negative but his eyes are cast down. Hard to believe. His interrogation continues on Tuesday April 21st. Mr. Roux will probably mention translation issues during the hearing as these problems seriously hinder the good understanding of debates.

KRouge prison chief held 'self-criticism' meetings

Skulls of victims are piled up on display at the Choeung Ek memorial where the Khmer Rouge executed thousands of people

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — A former jungle prison camp guard told Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court Tuesday how he was forced to attend "self-criticism" sessions to improve his work for Khmer Rouge jailer Duch.

Chan Khorn, 53, said he was so terrified of Duch that he "could not look him in the face" when he worked under him at the communist movement's M-13 prison in the early 1970s.

Duch -- whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav -- regularly told comrades that they would be punished if they failed to perform their duties, and held several "self-criticism" meetings over the course of a year, the witness said.

"These self-criticism meetings were designed to criticise one another. I myself, for example, revealed my mistakes and then received criticisms from other guards," Chan Khorn told the court.

"No one would dare criticise (Duch). None. Because he was the most important chairperson of the place, who would risk criticising him?"

Last month Duch apologised at the start of his trial, accepting blame for overseeing the extermination of 15,000 people who passed through the regime's main prison, Tuol Sleng.

But he has maintained that he never personally executed anyone and has only admitted to abusing two people.

The court has been hearing evidence about M-13, a secret jungle camp which Duch ran during the 1971 to 1975 Khmer Rouge insurgency against the then US-backed government, to better understand Tuol Sleng's organising structure.

The Khmer Rouge were in power in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, when Duch is accused of supervising Tuol Sleng prison and sending thousands of people to their deaths in the so-called "Killing Fields."

The former mathematics teacher has denied prosecutors' claims that he played a central role in the Khmer Rouge's iron-fisted rule.

He faces life in jail at the court, which does not have the power to impose the death penalty.

Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998, and many believe the UN-sponsored tribunal is the last chance to find justice for victims of the regime, which killed up to two million people.

Cambodian feast serves up tolerance

Mickey Hennessey

Staff Writer

Monday, April 20, 2009

In an effort to give students an insightful look into Cambodian (Kampuchea) and Southern Cambodian (Khmer Krom) culture, nearly 120-strong gathered in the Rutgers Student Center Multipurpose Room Thursday evening for the first-ever Cambodian Food Festival.

Sponsored by the Rutgers Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Cultural Association, the club and festival were meant to raise awareness at the University of the cultural, social and political issues related to the Khmer and Khmer Krom peoples, said Daniel Yi, a club board member and a School Of Environmental And Biological Sciences sophomore.

“Although Cambodian food is often quite spicy, several of the dishes were toned down in piquancy to accommodate for all in attendance,” said Rutgers College junior Hien Tran, the club’s social outreach chair.

As one of the school’s newest organizations, the association has put on events of a smaller scale, such as movie nights. The club’s leaders worked all semester to ensure the success of this event, meant to mark the end of the club’s first year as well as to act as the commencement for a bright future.

“I just wanted the club to make a splash in the Rutgers community,” said Club President Sambo Thach. “Cambodian culture is so vast and diverse that I felt it was important [to] afford as many people as possible the chance to experience it.”

The festival featured a smorgasbord of nearly 10 traditional Cambodian dishes, including tilapia fried in chili sauce, fruit salad, chicken lollipops, fried rice, spicy prawns, spring rolls and Cambodian crepes, as well as bean cakes for dessert.

“The fruit salad is for the particularly adventuresome palate, since it includes copious ingredients not readily found in most Western cuisine, such as jack fruit and leches,” said Thach, a School of Engineering junior.

But food was not the only thing on the menu for the night. The event included a coconut dance by Tran and a performance by a Cambodian percussion ensemble. The Philadelphia-based ensemble included six drummers, a cymbalist and a gong player. Finally, students participated in a durian eating contest.

Many individuals in attendance were experiencing Cambodian culture for the first time, and other organizations such as the Vietnamese Student Association came out to show their support.

George Kotzias, one of the students new to Khmer culture, had nothing but good things to say about the club.

“As a member of other Asian cultural clubs, I found this to be a culturally and culinary enlightening experience,” said Kotzias, a Rutgers College senior. “The food was of a sweet-tangy nature that I found thoroughly delectable.”

Ceremony of Doctorates and Master Degrees to Senior Officers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces


Keynote Address in the Awarding Ceremony of Doctorates and Master Degrees to Senior Officers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Force for the Successful Completion of Study at the Army Academy of the Ministry of National Defense of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

20 April 2009

- H.E. Lieutenant Gen. NGUYEN CHI VINH, Deputy Minister of National Defense of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,

- H.E. Lieutenant Gen. NGUYEN DUC TE, Head of the Army Academy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and all delegates,

- Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, National and International Guests,

It is my great pleasure and honor to be here in the awarding ceremony to award doctorates and master's degrees to the senior officers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Force after successfully completing their study courses at the Army Academy of the Ministry of National Defense of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and all the people, through H.E. Lieutenant Gen. NGUYEN CHI VINH, H.E. Lieutenant Gen. NGUYEN DUC TE and all Vietnamese delegates, I would like to convey my profound thanks to the government, the military, and the people of Vietnam for their valuable supports. This further highlights the long-standing Cambodia-Vietnam friendship. Cambodia and Vietnam have stuck to each other both during peace and war times, during our battle with the Khmer Rouge to prevent its return and during Cambodia’s restoration and development processes. We are indeed strengthening the cooperation of our countries, especially by deepening our relationship as good neighbors and expanding cooperation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government and the people of Vietnam for providing assistance in physical infrastructure, capacity building and health sector.

Along with this, I would like to sincerely appreciate the Army Academy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and its management for exerting efforts to successfully trained senior officers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Force who will be awarded degrees in this ceremony. This outcome reflects determination and hard work of all Royal Cambodian Armed Force officers in protecting sovereignty, security, social order in Cambodia, rescuing people during disasters, and building their capacity to serve the country more effectively.

On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to sincerely congratulate all awardees for your brilliant success. I think this is another achievement in human capacity building of the Royal Cambodian Armed Force. This achievement indeed stems from hard work and tirelessly efforts of all awardees to constantly improve their capacity. Moreover, this achievement cannot be separated from close and historic friendship of Cambodia-Vietnam army and people who have always supported each other during both peace and war times. I think we can use this fruitful cooperation as a lesson to build good relationship with other countries in ASEAN, Asia and the world.

Education is a long-term investment. Investment in this sector will produce outcomes for the current and next generations and it is a determining factor for ensuring sustainable development in all sectors. This implies that education does not produce immediate outcomes like other sectors. It takes a long time, with clear vision and policy, before we can see quality results. Taking this opportunity, I would like to remind all educational institutions that the outcome of education does not only refer to awards, but the real meaning of this refers to quality standard and more importantly the transformation of intangible knowledge into real implementation to take part in development and protecting people. In this spirit, all education actors must have a clear vision, adequate physical infrastructure, monitoring mechanism, and willingness for research and development to succeed in this 21st century. In this context, the Royal Government has steadily increased expenditure for the social sector, especially the education sector, and invested heavily to construct new schools and improve teachers’ capacity through “Priority Action Plan” in order to improve the quality and efficiency of education to support the implementation of poverty reduction policies and strategic plans.

As already raised by H.E. Lieutenant General the head of Army Academy of the Vietnam People’s Military, all awardees have presented their theses and answered challenging questions. Awardees’ research in military or national defense topics are scientific knowledge and beneficial for pursuing further studies.

Along with this, receiving awards today do not mean mission accomplished, but it is a starting point of your duty and further studies. As often raised in my previous recommendations regarding studies, I hope all awardees have conducted studies and presented theses according to the requirement of the Academy. It is actually reflecting the sole ownership of your knowledge, making today’s graduation a bright honor for yourselves as graduates, families, institutions, the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces as well for the whole nation.

The Royal Cambodian Armed Forces needs the qualified and experienced human resources to build a Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, which is competent in fulfilling the duties to protect the nation, people, territorial integrity and national sovereignty. Therefore, doing researches and participating in on-site-training are the two significant and necessary factors; in training and developing the required qualified human resources. On the other hand, building the foundation for human resources development is still a key factor in ensuring the development and equitable distribution of economic growth because knowledge and know-how can improve the living condition of families and societies.

Therefore, a good society is a society where people are living together, respecting and helping each other with no violence, no discrimination, and no division of social classes, which usually resulted from the lack of knowledge.

According to the above objectives and principles, we have to gather our joint efforts on the basic knowledge of building and developing a Royal Cambodian Armed Force on the basis of clear cut and deep reform. Along with the substantial works in a mission to protect the nation, territorial integrity and sovereignty and the people, I would like to provide a number of recommendations to be implemented by the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces as follows:

1. Strengthen the combat ability and be prepared to fight in all fronts in order to protect the territorial integrity, national sovereignty and the people as well as cooperating with all competent authorities in regulating social public order, maintaining social stability, aiming to contribute to the improvement of national development.

2. Try to enhance the living condition of the militants and build the military camps.

3. Continue training the young generation military officers to produce well-qualified soldiers in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

4. Prepare the military glossary or index in order to set up a unified basis in preparing other strategic and legal documents to develop an efficient and sustainable Royal Cambodia Armed Forces.

5. Control and adjust the tactics for national protection strategies to make sure that we have sufficient possibility in taking on the duties for the sake of land, water and air territorial integrity, especially the border line of the country. Give reflection and comments on the white book of national protection according to the current and prospective practical situation.

6. Cooperate in transferring knowledge and experiences among senior national and international military in the training units of the Ministry of National Defense and the General Commanders in order to improve the training quality of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

Before ending, I would like to once again deeply thank the Government and Army of Vietnam, various training centers of the army and people of Vietnam, especially the Army Academy for having funded and trained military commanders of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces so far and I strongly hope that the Government, army and the people of Vietnam will continue to provide spiritual and material supports for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, particularly on the training of soldiers to be more competent and responsive to the demand and duties of the current and future Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

At the end, taking the opportunity of the Khmer New Year’s Celebration, the year of OX, which has just been finished, I would like to wish Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen and all compatriots a good health and success along with the four Gems of Buddhist Blessing: longevity, nobility, health and strength.

An amazing film in more ways than one

Reviewed by: Lekha J. Shankar

As the world watches the historic trials of the atrocious Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, this is a good time to watch a ‘life-affirming’ film on the country, made by a New Zealand director, who spent two decades of his life, in creating it.

Stanley Harper’s 18-year-old cinematic odyssey ‘Cambodia Dreams’ is an amazing film in more ways than one. Apart from being made against all odds in a politically volatile country, it achieved the miraculous feat of ‘connecting’ a mother and daughter, living on either side of the border, who did not even know, they existed!

The movie had an unprecedented screening on all seven TV channels of Cambodia, when had its first public showing, last year. At the end of it, the toughie Prime Minister of the country Hun Sen gave the New Zealand director an honorary citizenship of the country!

The film received rave-reviews,when it was screened at the well-known Frontline Journlists Club,in London, last year. It will have a special screening at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, this on 30 April.

Harper said that he was so financially and emotionally drained after making the film, that he did not have the means or energy to send the film to international film festivals, although that would have been the ultimate reward for his two-decade cinematic odyssey.

It all started way back in 1986, when the BBC commissioned Harper to make a film on the refugees living on the Thai border, as part of a BBC Global Report Special, to commemorate the International Year of Peace.

The New Zealander, then based in Paris, came with his camera-team to the famous ‘Site 2’ refugee camp, 50kms from the Aranyaprathet / Poipet border crossing, never imagining it would change his life.

It was here that he met Yan Chheing, the ‘granny’ whose story became the subject of his two-decade film-odyssey.

The BBC film was quickly finished.

After that, Harper got started on his own film, totally fascinated by the ‘granny’s moving tales about the lush country she was forced to leave , and the dreary refugee camp she had to live in.

The result was a one-hour documentary called ‘ Situation Zero’, which was premiered at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington in 1988, by the US Committee for Refugees, to a rave response.

The film was simultaneously screened on national TV, in three countries- Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand, creating such an impact that it was later televised in 14 countries around the world.

But Harper still felt his movie was incomplete.

Somewhere in the course of filming ‘ Situation Zero’, the ‘granny’ had mentioned the name of her daughter, ‘Tha’, who lived in ‘Preak Kroach’ village in Cambodia .

He knew that this was the ‘other half' of the Cambodian story that he needed to tell.

It was not easy getting into Cambodia.

But with the help of an NGO organization and a Khmer interpreter, Harper sought hard, and found both the village, and the daughter.

It was when he was inside Cambodia, that the New Zealander realized how this mother-daughter relationship reflected the “deep and divisive” feelings between those who lived inside the country, and those who lived outside.

One of the most moving scenes in the film, is when the daughter gets a letter from her mother (delivered by Harper) - the first ‘connection’ between both of them.

After 12 years in the refugee camp, the ‘granny’ finally returns to her village and her daughter, with joy and freedom.

The film suffered a set-back in 1992, when there was a military coup in Thailand, followed by an economic crash, which led to a crash in the funding of the documentary.

But Harper went back to Cambodia, nearly a decade later in 2001, and completed his story on the ‘Granny’, this time filming her grand-children, one dying of AIDS, and one having a baby.

That to him, summed up the story of the family and the country.

‘Cambodia Dreams’ that was started in 1986, was finally completed in April 2008 !

It is truly the example of a docu-film that is more than just a docu-film.

It’s of epic stature, because it connected a family, reconciled a community, re-built hope in a ravaged country- even if it took two decades to achieve all this.

Active Travel Asia promotes Cambodia biking tours in Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

Cambodia Biking tours


- This 3- days cycling tour brings travelers to explore Siem Reap in Cambodia, not only its highlighted Angkor Complex, but also small local villages, markets, pagodas, to have an opportunity to interact with local passers-by and immerse in Cambodian cultures.

Upon arrival in Siem Reap, travelers transfer to hotel in Siem Riep for check-in. The rest of the day is free to explore Siem Reap, the gateway to the impressive Angkor Wat which is located 7km south of Siem Reap. With its many bars, cafs and restaurants, Siem Reap is a bustling town that relies on the tourism industry and has all the amenities travelers need when travelers travel.

Second day, travelers start exploring Angkor Wat by bike. Angkor Wat is one of the biggest religious monuments in the world and represents the Khmer heritage. Its stunning base relief, massive towers and huge entrance way will simply awe travelers in every sense.
Travelers continue heading to the former capital Angkor Thom (Bayon, Terrace of the Elephants) and Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm is famous for its massive overgrown trees. It was used as set for the movie Tomb Raider. In the afternoon, travelers cycle to Banteay Kdey and explore this massive complex before travelers head back to Siem Reap for refreshing and dinner.

Last day, travelers are free to explore the town of Siem Reap and shopping in local market before leaving Siem Reap.

Book the Cheaper Option and save from 4% to 5% (depending on the group size)
From 9 persons: on request

This Cheaper Option is offered to those who seek for good travel experience at an affordable budget. Travelers are offered the finest 2-star hotels instead of 3-star hotels in all destinations. These 2-star hotels are chosen for good location, clean, comfortable room and nice staff.

Suspect in custody for shooting at Cambodian temple

Pioneer Press

By Frederick Melo
Updated: 04/20/2009

A 29-year-old man is behind bars in connection with a Saturday shooting incident that took place during a heavily-attended festival at a Cambodian temple in southern Dakota County. No one was hurt, but authorities are attempting to determine if the altercation was gang-related.

Chief Deputy Sheriff David Bellows said it was miraculous no one was hit when at least two individuals opened fire on each other in the temple's parking lot, though several cars were struck. The shooting occurred at 3:36 p.m. with 1,500 to 2,000 festivalgoers nearby.

He said about 8 or 10 rounds were fired. "The potential of getting hit was extraordinarily high," Bellows said.

The crowd directed several off-duty sheriff's deputies who were at the festival working security to a suspect, who was taken into custody.

Nera Keng was booked into the Dakota County Jail in Hastings Saturday on probable cause of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and reckless discharge of a pistol. The Dakota County Attorney's office is reviewing the incident for charges.

"We're still looking for the second, and possibly more individuals involved as part of our investigation," Bellows said. "This could potentially be gang related."

The elaborately-decorated Watt Munisotaram, completed in 2007, is 60 feet tall and among the largest temples of its kind in the United States. Festivalgoers said they were there to celebrate the Cambodian New Year, which usually draws a sedate crowd for a week of religious ceremony and festivities.
"Usually, it's pretty good," said Ann Choun, a Shakopee resident who attended on Saturday with her three sons. "I was kind of shocked. ... We come to visit every year for New Year's. We've never heard of anything like this."

Said Bellows: "We have not had violence here before. It's typically a very family-oriented event ... This was unusual."

The cause of the incident remains under investigation, according to the sheriff's office. A description of the second suspect was not available.

The temple, run by the Minnesota Cambodian Buddhist Society, is located on 220th Street East in Hampton.

The sheriff's office is asking anyone with information to call their tip line at 651-438-TIPS (8477).

Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172.

Ex-Khmer Rouge says he is selling Pol Pot's shoes

Associated Press

A former member of the Khmer Rouge member said Monday that he is auctioning off a pair of shoes he claims belonged to the group's late leader Pol Pot to fund a museum about the brutal regime.

Nhem En, the chief photographer at the group's notorious torture center who photographed prisoners before and after they were tortured, is also selling his cameras. His images are the centerpiece of a permanent exhibition at the prison, which is now known as the Tuol Sleng genocide museum.

He has denied any involvement in the atrocities committed by the regime, whose policies were believed responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million Cambodians when they were in power in 1975-79. He has said his job was only to take photographs.

As many as 16,000 men, women and children are believed to have been tortured at S-21 in Phnom Penh before being executed.

The prison's commander, Kaing Guek Eav, is currently being tried by a U.N.-assisted genocide tribunal. At the trial Monday, a witness at the U.N.-assisted genocide trial of Duch told the tribunal he had seen the defendant torture a woman.

Nhem En said a public auction would be held next week for the shoes and two cameras he used to photograph prisoners. Bids for the lot would start at $500,000, he said.

"I love and like these items very much, but if I don't sell them I would not have enough money to fund the museum," he said.

The photographer plans to build the museum at Anlong Veng, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold in northern Cambodia where he now serves as a deputy district chief. The museum will display photos of the communist group's leaders.

Nhem En said he received what he says were Pol Pot's shoes from a close aide of the leader about a month after his death in April 1998. He said Pol Pot wore the shoes _ rubber sandals made from automobile tires, which were standard issue footwear for Khmer Rouge guerrillas _ for several years before his death while a prisoner of one of the group's factions.

He said the two cameras for sale were given to him in 1976 for his work at S-21.

At Duch's trial Monday, Chan Voeurn, 56, told the court on Monday that Duch had burned the breasts of the woman. Chan said he worked as a guard in 1974 at the M13 jungle prison, which had also been under Duch's command.

Crying as he testified, he also said that Duch had personally shot dead his uncle, another prisoner.

The defendant said the testimony was false, fabricated or based on hearsay accounts. The commander has denied most accusations of personally torturing and killing prisoners.

Duch is the first senior Khmer Rouge figure to face trial, and the only one to acknowledge responsibility for his actions. The 66-year-old is charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder and torture.

Four other former Khmer Rouge leaders are in custody and are scheduled to be tried sometime over the next year or two.

At Jungle Prison, Duch Tortured, Murdered: Guard

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
20 April 2009

A man claiming to be a former Khmer Rouge guard at M-13 prison told judges that Duch also tortured prisoners, as trial proceedings continued Monday.

The purported guard, Chan Voeun, said Duch, who is facing numerous atrocity crimes charges, had shot his uncle and lit fire to the breast of a female inmate at M-13, the Kampong Speu provincial prison he ran before he was chief of Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh.

Judges are considering the behavior of Duch at M-13 as reference to acts later carried out at Tuol Sleng, as prosecutors continued to build a case against him. Now 66, Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, is the first to be tried by the UN-backed court.

“I saw him hang prisoners, beat them, and I saw my uncle fall down and die after [Duch] shot him,” Chan Voeun said Monday. “I saw Duch holding in his hand a gun. He put a torch to burn the breast of a woman prisoner. She died at the prison.”

In his defense Monday, Duch said Chan Voeun had not been a guard at the prison and that his testimony was a fabrication. However, Duch did recognize some testimony of Chan Voeun, that villagers from the commune of Am Laing, near the prison, were arrested and put in M-13 and later killed.

Chan Voeun, 56, told judges he worked for Duch at M-13 from 1974 to 1975, and that there were around 70 people from the village.

Duch said he remembered the prisoners, but he said the number was “not 70.” However many there were, they were killed, which he regretted, Duch said.

Other witnesses at Duch’s trial have said that five to 10 prisoners died each day at M-13. However, Duch has said that only between 200 and 300 prisoners were killed at the prison.

Chan Voeun said that on one occasion he passed the cells of prisoners and counted 10 people, but when he returned later, there only four or five remained.

Duch’s trial is scheduled to continue Tuesday and Wednesday, when judges are expected to look closer at Duch’s role at Tuol Sleng, known to the Khmer Rouge as S-21, where prosecutors say at least 12,380 people were tortured and sent to their deaths.

In Battambang, an Absence of Bird Flu Fear


By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
20 April 2009

Poultry vendors in Battambang province say they don’t always follow safety precautions for handling birds, mainly because they aren’t afraid of the bird flu virus, even as health authorities are working to prioritize areas to mitigate the threat.

Sitting on a box full of chickens, Yoern Yean, 31, told VOA Khmer recently he had been running his business for five years and never uses gloves to handle the birds.

Another vendor, Vy Savuth, 42, said he only buys healthy birds, so bird flu, caused by the H5N1 virus, was not a concern.

“I touch chickens every day, for 10 years already, by neither my wife nor I have ever had the bird flu virus,” he said.

Seven Cambodians have died from the bird flu virus, in eight outbreaks since 2005, making the country a target in the fight against the disease. Health officials worry that one day the disease could mutate into a form that could easily spread from human to human, creating a global pandemic.

“I never wear a mask or gloves,” said Meas Vy, 36, as she held a chicken in her arms. “I’m not afraid of the H5N1 virus.”

Pen Setha, director of the provincial animal health office, said market vendors are taught to use gloves and masks while handling birds, “but they don’t follow us.”

Health officials are seeking to change that behavior, especially in the districts of Samlot, Kamreang, Sampov Loun and Phnom Phroek, which are close to Thailand and therefore a greater threat.

Vietnam Offers Military Training to Cambodia

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
20 April 2009

Vietnam’s deputy defense minister on Monday offered aid in military training to Cambodian soldiers and officers, at a time when Cambodian and Thai troops are entangled in a protracted border dispute in the north.

Maj. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh made the offer to Prime Minister Hun Sen following a ceremony for 22 senior military officials who recently returned from PhD and master’s programs in military science at the Army Institute of Vietnam, in Hanoi.

“He is ready to help for human resources development in the field of national defense and to strengthen the cooperation between the Cambodian Defense Ministry and the Vietnamese Defense Ministry,” Hun Sen’s spokesman, Ieng Sophaleth, told reporters Monday. “Vietnam and the Vietnamese army are ready to learn and share experiences between Cambodia and Vietnam, with the purpose of strengthening and building-up the capacity of territorial defense and the defense of respective sovereignties.”

Military officials have received training in Vietnam since the 1980s, when Cambodia was under Vietnamese occupation following the ouster of the Khmer Rouge, in 1979.

“From 2001 to 2009, there have been 170 Cambodian military senior officials going to study at the institute,” Nguyen Duc Xe, director of the Army Institute, said in remarks Monday.

The 22 graduates, all officers, wrote theses that “are not made for offensives to invade any countries,” Hun Sen said at the ceremony Monday, “but they are just about management and order of the military, to defend national sovereignty. This shows that Cambodia is not thinking about sending its troops to invade any countries.”

Graduates of the Army Institute who were recognized on Monday included Gen. Pol Saroeun, commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, and his deputy, Gen. Kun Kim, both of whom earned PhDs.

Pol Saroeun wrote his thesis on the defense of Military Region 3, which comprises the provinces of Kampong Speu, Kampot, Kep, Koh Kong, Preah Sihanouk and Takeo. Kun Kim wrote about Military Region 5, which includes the provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Battambang and Pursat, as well as Pailin.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Thai and Cambodian troops have been entrenched along the northern border of Preah Vihear province since July, when Preah Vihear temple was included on a list of World Heritage sites, sparking protests in Thailand. Talks have failed to bring about a resolution, and troops have clashed at least twice, leading to deaths on each side.

Justice, 34 Years in the Making, Falters


By Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
20 April 2009

Thirty-four years ago on April 17, black-clad Khmer Rouge guerrillas walked into Phnom Penh and began nearly four years of terrible, terrifying rule, causing the deaths of nearly 2 million people and destroying the fabric of Cambodian society. Yet, for all that time, no justice has been served, even as five former leaders of the regime sit in a tribunal detention center.

Developments at the UN-backed, hybrid tribunal have raised questions about the court’s ability to deliver justice to victims of the Khmer Rouge: Prime Minister Hun Sen has said he would rather see the court fail than have indictments destabilize the country; the UN and the government can’t reach an agreement on how to handle nagging allegations of corruption; and prosecutors are at odds over how many people should even face trial.

The last one is a tough one. Cambodian prosecutor Chea Leang has said further indictments beyond the five currently in custody could lead to instability, while the UN-appointed prosecutor, Robert Petite, has advocated for more investigations.

“It is a line that is difficult to draw, sometimes, for prosecutors to proceed to a fairly worldly standard,” David Tolbert, a former UN adviser to the tribunal, told a forum in Washington recently. “But at the end of the day, it is a judicial judgment, and the arguments that have been put forward are not judicial.”

Caitlin Reiger, deputy director of the Prosecution Program and head of the Cambodia Program at the Center for International Justice, agreed.

“It is a matter for the judges to decide, based on, first of all, whether or not the evidence put before them is bared and whether the cases fall into their interpretation of the jurisdiction and the mandate of the court,” she told the forum, which was attended by academics, researchers and diplomats. “And the court mandate is explicitly [to try] senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge and those most responsible.”

The tribunal is undertaking its first trial, of former Tuol Sleng prison chief Duch, who, at 66, faces charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and murder. Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, has been in custody since 1999, and his trial is the easiest to prosecute.

Trials for four more former leaders—‘Brother No. 2’ Nuon Chea, head of sate Khieu Samphan, foreign affairs minister Ieng Sary, and social affairs minister Ieng Thirith—have not been scheduled.

Hun Sen, who was once a Khmer Rouge cadre himself, says those five are enough, and more arrests could erode the fragile peace Cambodia has achieved since Khmer Rouge leaders and soldiers defected to the government as part of a peace plan in 1998.

Such statements, made “on an increasing basis over the last several weeks,” can undermine the credibility of the court, especially in Cambodia, where the judicial system is widely seen as politically influenced, Reiger said.

Cambodia has never had a reconciliation commission, as have other countries, so the tribunal, established in 2006, must function without interference if it is to deliver justice, Scott Warden, an expert on the rule of law at the United States Institute of Peace, told VOA Khmer.

“It is not just about getting a conviction for the senior people,” he said. “I think this is also an opportunity for the court to give a much larger story, to bring out testimony that otherwise wouldn’t be talked about.”

Meanwhile, allegations that Cambodian staff pay kickbacks in order to work at the court have sullied the reputation of the process, leading some donors to withhold funding and leading to a budget crisis on the Cambodian side of the tribunal.

Earlier this month, the UN’s senior legal adviser, Peter Taksoe-Jensen, failed to reach an agreement with the Cambodian government on how the court should tackle corruption allegations.

Cambodian officials wanted those who file complaints to be named; the UN maintains their identities must be protected. There is no indication of further talks, even as donors hold back their funding.

For now, the hope is that the five leaders under indictment will at least be tried, in a fair manner, contributing to the process of justice, a process that has proven elusive for three decades.

"Salt Seeker" relives Khmer Rouge repression

Jenna Shepanski

Issue date: 4/20/09

West Chester University welcomed Daravaan Yi, author of "Salt Seeker" and a survivor of the Cambodian genocide, to speak of his experience on Friday April 17 2009 at 11 a.m. in Sykes Student Union.

April 17th consequently marked the 34th anniversary of the takeover of Cambodia in 1975, and Yi still gets chills when he talks about his experience. He noted this saying that he had goosebumps while sharing his story.

Yi was nine years old when Cambodia came under attack by the Khmer Rouge, an armed resistance movement formed by its leader Pol Pot. The men of the Khmer Rouge, which means "Red Cambodians" forced him out of his home, AK47s in hand, and made him walk for six days to a remote part of Cambodia. It was there where he was put to work by these men doing anything they asked. He lived in a tiny hut packed with people.

The men of the Khymer Rouge would take two or three people from these huts about every three months and they wouldn't return the next day. Yi explained. Yi's own brother was one of these people.

"They killed like a stealth bomber," Yi said. "You just never heard from them again." Others died from starvation, because they were given little to no food, or "they just gave up living," Yi said. He and the others who were enslaved were without soap, shampoo, or toothbrushes for four years.

He stayed a slave in Cambodia until he was 14 when he made the six day trek on foot to a refugee camp in Thailand. He remained there for a year until "this wonderful country took him in" and he became a legal U.S. citizen at age 15. When he arrived in the U.S. he had nothing, and knew no English.

"I wanted to learn English so I could tell my story," Yi said. After his arrival in America, he was placed into foster care and lived a life he had always dreamed of. He attended school where he learned English, and went on to college at Penn State. It was there where he earned a degree in Political Science in 1993. He then extended his schooling to earn a degree in student personnel. He now works as a counselor at the Philadelphia Community College.

He never forgets his experience and feels that he is a better person for having endured what he did.

"I am stronger than ever today, and if I die when I walk out of this building today, I die a happy man," Yi said.

Yi also sends the children of Cambodia items they desperately need to live every day life, such as medicine, bikes so they can ride to church, and sandals. He said that this is the way he gives back to those in need because he has everything he needs.

He then showed a series of photographs of his family, friends, and him while enslaved and at the refugee camp. He remembered those he knew and honored them for enduring for as long as they did.

Yi offered the students present a piece of advice at the conclusion of the presentation. He encouraged everyone to not give up on their dreams and to strive for whatever makes them happy, also to help people because "you can never be truly successful until you help someone in need," Yi said.

Jenna Shepanski is a fourth-year student majoring in English and minoring in Journalism. She can be reached at JS618186@wcupa.edu.

Southeast Asia Struggles With Democracy

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at World Economic Summit (file photo)

VOA News

By Heda Bayron
20 April 2009

The political turmoil in Thailand renews questions about democracy's future in Southeast Asia - a region historically ruled by authoritarian and military governments. Once celebrated democracies in the region - Thailand and the Philippines - are facing problems.

When Philippine President Gloria Arroyo and other Asian leaders were hastily evacuated from the rooftop of a hotel last week, as anti-government Thai protesters stormed an Asian summit, she may have felt a sense of déjà vu.

In 2001, barely four months into her presidency, a group of protesters attempted to storm the presidential palace to drive her out of office, just like what the Thai protesters were trying to do to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Mr. Abhisit and Mrs. Arroyo rose to power following the fall of democratically elected governments. Mrs. Arroyo became president when President Joseph Estrada was forced to step down amid corruption allegations, street protests and the withdrawal of military support.

Filipinos call it "people power" democracy, but analysts say this pattern of government change has brought political instability in Thailand and the Philippines -once icons of democratic change in Southeast Asia.

Give and take plays key role

William Case is a professor at the City University of Hong Kong and author of books on politics and democracy in Southeast Asia.

"Established interests will consent to democracy as long it produces the results and the governments that they like, and once they get governments they don't like they turn the democracy over," Case said.

That is how he explains what happened in Thailand. The red-shirted protesters who taunted Mr. Abhisit last week were from the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) - a group allied with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup because of alleged corruption. UDD supporters come mainly from the provinces, which benefited most from Mr. Thaksin's populist policies.

Elections brought back Mr. Thaksin's allies in government in 2007, and Mr. Abhisit's People's Alliance for Democracy party (PAD) demonstrated for months against the ruling party, taking over the parliament building and the international airport.

When Mr. Abhisit became as prime minister in December after the election commission dissolved the ruling party because of election fraud, the UDD launched counter protests against the PAD, whose supporters are largely urban middle class.

Protests undermine Thailand's constitutional democracy

Thanet Aphornsuvan, a politics professor at Thammasat University in Bangkok, says recent events further weakened Thailand's constitutional democracy.

"The constitution has never been respected, for the past 77 years," the professor said. "So any country, which doesn't have a real higher law, they have it but it never functions, there's always some group, some institution that can intervene and dissolve and rewrite it. In the past year, I think the PAD just started a new revolt of the masses to bring it to the streets, outside the Parliament, to rectify what they deem as corrupted policies of politicians. The UDD is a logical outcome of the PAD - two sides of the same coin. They exploit different situations and reasons."

Thailand's path to democracy has been rocky. The country was ruled by the military, on and off, until the 1992 elections. It entered an era of political stability, becoming a model of democratic transition from military rule, until the return of the military in 2006.

The Philippines' return to democracy, post-1986, has also been rough. Coup attempts plagued the country until the early 1990s. Like the fall of Mr. Thaksin, the end of Mr. Estrada's government in 2001 exposed class divisions in Philippine politics between the middle class, which sided with Mrs. Arroyo, and the lower class, supporting Mr. Estrada.

Case says the violent turn of events in Thailand, last week, may foil the spread of democratization in the region, in places like military-ruled Burma and in communist Laos and Vietnam.

"They could conclude that the problem in Thailand is that there's not enough democracy or, conversely, they could say that this is what happens when you have too much democracy and use it as a pretext to clamp down in their respective countries," Case said.

Elections do not produce desired results

Indeed, democracy remains unsteady in Southeast Asia. Several countries hold elections, but analysts say elections do not reflect the quality of democracy in these countries. The Philippines, which inherited democracy from its former colonial ruler the United States, suffers from weak political institutions, widespread corruption, often violent elections and increasing impunity.

Malaysia and Singapore hold competitive elections but parliament remains in the hands of long-dominant parties with entrenched political machinery. Last month, the Malaysian government banned opposition newspapers from publishing ahead of a hotly contested special election. Cambodia has long been led by Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Cambodia People's Party.

Indonesia praised for progress

"There's only one democracy in Southeast Asia today and that's Indonesia. Even there, there are major problems," Case said. "The civilian government does not have full control of the military. There's a lot of intimidation in the local level. But it's the great beacon of democracy in Southeast Asia."

Once ruled by the authoritarian General Suharto, Indonesia's democratic transition has not produced the kind of chaos seen in the Philippines or Thailand. It held parliament elections, this month, and its second presidential election is scheduled in July.

Thanet of Thammasat University says the protests in Thailand also show that people value democracy. He says, in the past few years, Thai people have displayed strong democratic aspirations.

"The uprising of the PAD and the UDD are probably similar to the people power in the Philippines," Thanet said. "We should share these kinds of experience; try to give much more meaning to democracy in this part of the world."

Democracy in Southeast Asia may be far from the stable, but there appears to be less talk about abandoning it, more about strengthening it.