Saturday, 4 July 2009

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Towers of the legendary Angkor Wat temple are seen north of Siem Reap provincial town, about 230 kilometers, 143 miles, northwest of the capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Siem Reap is Cambodia's main tourist destination where the famed Angkor temples are located and attracting millions of dollars in revenue every year for the poor Southeast Asian nation.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian mahout and two Asian tourists ride an elephant as they tour Angkor archaeological park north of Siem Reap provincial town, about 230 kilometers (143 miles) northwest of the capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Siem Reap is Cambodia's main tourist destination where the famed Angkor temples are located and attracting millions of dollars in revenue every year for the poor Southeast Asian nation.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

An unidentified foreign tourist passes a name card to a Cambodian Buddhist monk at the top of the 10-century Bakheng monument at Angkor archaeological park in Siem Reap province, about 230 kilometers, 143 miles, northwest of the capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on June 4, 2006. The temple is a popular place for both Cambodian and foreign tourists, who climb it everyday to view the sunset.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

This is an overview of the center of Siem Reap provincial town, about 230 kilometers, 143 miles, northwest of the capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Siem Reap is Cambodia's main tourist destination where the famed Angkor temples are located and attracting millions of dollars in revenue every year for the poor Southeast Asian nation. Most of the buildings in the picture are hotels.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Foreign tourists tour the legendary Angkor Wat temple north of Siem Reap provincial town, about 230 kilometers (143 miles) northwest of the capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Siem Reap is Cambodia's main tourist destination where the famed Angkor temples are located and attracting millions of dollars in revenue every year for the poor Southeast Asian nation.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Foreign tourists tour a site inside Angkor archaeological park north of Siem Reap provincial town, about 230 kilometers, 143 miles, northwest of the capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Siem Reap is Cambodia's main tourist destination where the famed Angkor temples are located and attracting millions of dollars in revenue every year for the poor Southeast Asian nation.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Rays of morning sunrise beam behind the towers of the legendary Angkor Wat temple north of Siem Reap provincial town, about 230 kilometers, 143 miles, northwest of the capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Siem Reap is Cambodia's main tourist destination where the famed Angkor temples are located and attracting millions of dollars in revenue every year for the poor Southeast Asian nation.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Tourists gather atop one of the many shrines at Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Destinations once deemed to dangerous or remote for travelers such as Angkor Wat are now being overrun with tourist seeking that one last great destination.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File)

Tourists gather at Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Destinations once deemed to dangerous or remote for travelers such as Angkor Wat are now being overrun with tourists seeking that one last great destination.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File)

Tourist ride elephants at one of the main shrines at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Destinations once deemed to dangerous or remote for travelers such as Angkor Wat are now being overrun with tourist seeking that one last great destination.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File)

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban meet with Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban cuts a ribbon as Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen (C) looks on during an inauguration ceremony of National Road 6, at Bakong commune in Siem Reap province, northwest of Phnom Penh July 4, 2009. National Road 6 runs from Siem Reap province to Anlong Veng district near the Cambodia-Thai border.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban (R) listens as Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks during an inauguration ceremony of National Road 6, at Bakong commune in Siem Reap province, northwest of Phnom Penh July 4, 2009. National Road 6 runs from Siem Reap province to Anlong Veng district near the Cambodia-Thai border.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban (L) and Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) applaud during an inauguration ceremony of National Road 6 at Bakong commune in Siem Reap province, northwest of Phnom Penh July 4, 2009. National Road 6 runs from Siem Reap province to Anlong Veng district near the Cambodia-Thai border.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban (L) and Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) talk during an inauguration ceremony of National Road 6 at Bakong commune in Siem Reap province, northwest of Phnom Penh July 4, 2009. National Road 6 runs from Siem Reap province to Anlong Veng district near the Cambodia-Thai border.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban (2nd L) and Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen (C) walk on National Road 6 during its inauguration ceremony at Bakong commune in Siem Reap province, northwest of Phnom Penh July 4, 2009. National Road 6 runs from Siem Reap province to Anlong Veng district near the Cambodia-Thai border.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Vietnam Plans To Build Border Economic Zone With Cambodia

HANOI, July 4 (Bernama) -- Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved a master plan to build the region along the border with Cambodia into a major economic zone, according to the Vietnam news agency's report.

Under the ambitious scheme, the southwestern border areas, comprised of four provinces in the Central Highlands and six provinces in the southern region, will be developed into an economic zone of national and international importance by 2020.

The border economic zone including Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dac Lak, Dak Nong, Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, Long An, Dong Thap, An Giang and Kien Giang provinces, will act as an entry point for trade, services and cargo transportation between the Greater Mekong's Sub region and the East Sea.

The area, which totals 73,, is home to 12,650,000 people and expected to become a national economicdriving force in terms of agriculture, forestry, hydropower and transportation, according to the plan announced by the Government website.

By 2030, the areas along the Cambodia border will become a major economic zone of national and international importance, which can have a special influence to the Central Highlands and the central and southern regions of Vietnam, as well as to other economies in the Gulf of Thailand.

The area is expected to become the nation's biggest natural reserve of biological diversity and ethnic cultures, and one of the major tourist attractions in the ASEAN region, the news agency said.

The cities of Buon Ma Thuot and Pleiku in the Central Highlands, Long Xuyen in the Mekong Delta and Trang Bang Town in Tay Ninh will be developed into the development cores of the region.

Priorities will be given to developing urban centres and economic zones along the border with Cambodia. Phu Quoc Island will become a special administrative and economic zone under the plan, which has a vision through 2030.

Chinese senior CPC official visits Cambodia

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Liu Qi, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the CPC, arrived here on Saturday afternoon for his four-day visit to Cambodia.

Liu, leading a delegation of the CPC, makes the goodwill visit at the invitation of Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and the Funcinpec Party of Cambodia.

Liu and his delegation will arrive in Phnom Penh on Sunday afternoon. During his stay in Cambodia, Liu will pay a courtesy call on Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, meet with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and other government officials and party leaders.

Cambodia is the first leg of Liu's four-nation visit which will take him to the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Editor: Wang Guanqun

Deputy PM confident tensions at Thai-Cambodian border will ease

MCOT English News

BANGKOK, July 4 (TNA) -- Tensions at the Thai-Cambodian border are expected to ease as concerned army officers of the two countries progress in negotiations, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said on Saturday.

Mr. Suthep, who oversees Thailand’s security affairs, told journalists before leaving for Cambodia that he would have an opportunity to meet Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, but troop reductions at the border -- which Cambodia asked Thailand to begin reducing troops first -- will not be discussed.

He said he would not go into detail on the issue as military commanders of both sides would have to negotiate.

However, Mr. Suthep said he is confident that situation at the border would not deteriorate.

Mr. Suthep is scheduled to inaugurate the construction of a 131-kilometre highway linking Anlong Veng and Siem Reap province along with Mr. Hun Sen.

Thailand in August 2006 signed a Bt1.3 billion loan agreement to finance the highway construction.

The highway will reach Thailand at a border checkpoint in Si Sa Ket province upon completion, set for 2010. It will benefit peoples of both countries for land transport and simultaneously help boost bilateral trade and investment. (TNA)

Suthep: No plan to scale down troop at border

Published: 4/07/2009

Deputy Prime Minister for security affairs Suthep Thaugsuban said before leaving for Cambodia on Saturday morning that Thailand has no policy to cut number of military force deployed along Thai-Cambodia border for the time being.

Mr Suthep stated that he was assigned by the prime minister to attend the opening ceremony of No 67 highway in Cambodia on his behalf. Thailand had provided 1.2 billion baht soft loan for the construction of this highway which links cities of the two neighboring countries. The highway will help promote trade and tourism between the two nations. Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen will preside over the ceremony today.

The deputy premier insisted that the troop withdrawal was not on the discussion agenda of his today trip as it is the matter of security units of both Thailand and Cambodia. He was confident that the situation along the border will not escalate to violent confrontation between the two countries.

Gen Prawit: Border dispute won’t lead to war

Published: 4/07/2009

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said on Saturday afternoon that the Army Region 2 commander will hold talks with Cambodia’s army region 4 commander to ease tension along Thai-Cambodia border and to reduce military forces of the two countries deployed near Preah Vihear temple.

Gen Prawit was confident that the border dispute will not lead to war between Thailand and Cambodia as some fear.

Troop reductions not seen at Preah Vihear; Thai village defence volunteers ready

MCOT English News

SI SA KET, July 4 (TNA) – Neither Thailand nor Cambodia have reduced their military personnel at the ancient Preah Vihear temple, and Thai village defence volunteers in the area are now fully prepared to defend their villages if Cambodian troops intrude into Thai territory.

The situation around the temple, listed as a World Heritage Site in July 2008 following Cambodia’s application to a committee of the United Nations for Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), remained tense Saturday, one day after Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the two countries had started reducing the numbers of their military personnel deployed along the border to ease tension between the two neighbouring countries.

But Mr. Suthep on Saturday said the cut in military personnel at the border would have to be dealt with by senior military officers of both countries.

Thai and Cambodian soldiers posted at Preah Vihear temple were seen only 50 metres apart, with their combat gear ready, while villagers living near the border had already changed from collecting forest products to other occupations from collecting forestry products for sale, at least for the time being, as they were told not to go near the tense border.

A village chief in Kantharalak district bordering Cambodia said that so far no villagers had been evacuated from their homes, but village defence volunteers were ready to join with Thai government soldiers to fight if national sovereignty is violated.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia. Clashes have occurred frequently near the 11th-century monument after the temple was listed as a World Heritage Site as both countries maintain their claims on area adjoining the temple. (TNA)

No Troop Cut along Disputed Border: Thai Deputy PM

Web Editor: Zhang Jin

Thai Deputy Prime Minister for security affairs Suthep Thaugsuban said on Saturday that Thailand has no policy to cut number of troop deployed along Thai-Cambodia border for the time being.

The troop withdrawal was not on the discussion agenda of his trip as it is the matter of security units of both Thailand and Cambodia, Suthep was quoted by the website of the Bangkok Post as saying before leaving for the neighboring country, his second visit within two weeks.

Meanwhile, he expressed confidence that the situation along the border will not escalate to violent confrontation between the two countries.

Suthep's Saturday visit was assigned by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to attend the opening ceremony of No 67 highway in Cambodia, which will be preside by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Thailand had provided 1.2 billion Baht (35.2 million U.S. dollars) soft loan for the construction of this highway which links cities of the two neighboring countries. The highway will help promote trade and tourism between the two nations.

Just on Friday, Suthep was quoted by the Bangkok Post as saying that the two neighbors will begin reducing troop levels along the area around Preah Vihear Temple, a move should help ease the tension along the sensitive frontier.

The area around Preah Vihear Temple, which was inscribed as a World Heritage Site on July 7 last year, has since been the scene of a tense standoff between the Cambodian and Thai armed forces. The Cambodian government insists Thai troops have deployed on Cambodian soil, while Thailand says its troops are only in the disputed zone.

In mid-June, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit said the government would ask UNESCO to review last year's decision to register Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site when the meets this week in Spain.

On Cambodian side, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said his country was ready for any situation which might follow the reinforcement of troops on the Thai side of the border.

Tensions have escalated at the Thai-Cambodian border, with Thailand's Second Army Area commander Lt General Wiboonsak Neeparn recently rotated troops at Preah Vihear so that they are fresh and ready for a possible attack from Cambodia.

Cambodia has already boosted its presence in the border area.

Prostitution in Cambodia: 'New law doesn't protect me'

Guardian News and Media
In March 2008, Cambodia saw the implementation of a new law entitled: Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation. Aimed at offering protection to women in prostitution by making the selling of sex illegal, it has resulted in clean-up operations and police raids of red light areas. Women in prostitution are being arrested, reporting police brutality and imprisonment. It's also resulted in decreased safety for women as brothels are closed down and women are forced into street work. Mei, a young prostitute in Phnom Penh, describes how she fell into prostitution and the horrific experiences she has had as a result of the new law

Comment on this article

Cambodian sex workers sit on the sidewalk along a street in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP

My name is Mei and I’m 19 years old. I live in Phnom Penh but I’m from a small village in Prey Veng province. I went to school when I was younger, but I had to leave to work in the rice fields when I was 13. My family is poor and when there is no food to eat, you have to do what you must to support them – as I’m the oldest it’s my responsibility.

When I first came to Phnom Penh, I got a good job in a garment factory. I was making $50 a month but, after I paid debts, I could only send home $20 a month. This wasn’t enough for my family. I worried all the time about them; my mum is old and ill, and I wanted my brother and sister to stay in school.

At the time, I was living in a room with other factory workers, and one of them had a friend who worked in a beer bar. My friend said she was earning good money from this and that I could do it too, so I went there to work. At first things were OK as I earned more money. I would sit outside the bar and ask men to come in and drink. The men would ask me for sex but I always said no, I wouldn’t sell my body. Sometimes they’d grab me or fondle my breasts, which I hated, but if I complained the boss would shout at me.

A man called Sothy used to come to the bar a lot. He was so nice to me, he spoke to me romantically. One night, he offered to walk me home. I went with him, and he asked me to his room. I really liked him so I said I would, we sat and talked. When I wanted to go, he wouldn’t let me. He pinned me to the bed and raped me. I was a virgin and the pain was huge and I bled a lot. He told me he would beat me if I told anyone and that no-one would care anyway as I was a beer girl.

I was so scared after this and so ashamed that I wasn’t a virgin anymore. The owner of the bar said he had a friend I could stay with, somewhere safe, and he took me to a guesthouse in the Toul Kork area. I realised it was a brothel when we arrived, but he said I didn’t have to sell sex but could work as a cleaner. He lied.

After a week, the "aunty" there said I had to sell sex, that I owed her money. Because I’d lost my virginity, I was ruined already so I had no choice. When a man came to the brothel, he took me into a room. He took off all my clothes and had sex with me. He paid me $6. I realised then in my heart that I’d become a prostitute. I cried a lot. The other girls said it would get easier but it didn’t. I slept with between five and 10 men a day. I tried to stop myself from being there in my head and drank a lot.

Last year, a new law was introduced and the police came and arrested everyone in the brothel. I was taken to the police station and they asked me for $100. I didn’t have it so they kept me in a cell for three days and beat me with sticks. In the end, they let me go. After that, I started going to the park or street, but it’s much less safe for me. At the brothel there would be a gangster to help if there was trouble, but I’m on my own now. I’m scared to even carry condoms because if the police find these, they arrest you.

I’ve been hurt many times since working outside and gang-raped often. Recently, a man came and we agreed $8 for the whole night and he took me 20 kilometres out of Phnom Penh. When we arrived, there were four other men waiting for me. They had two knives and I was very frightened. They told me not to scream. I was scared they were going to kill me. But in my heart I thought: “I’m a good person, the spirits in this area will protect me.” After three men had raped me, a man passed by on a motorbike and I screamed and ran to the man, naked. The other men ran off then.

Another time, a man came and took me to a pagoda and there was a Buddhist monk there. I was so shocked. I begged not to be raped. The monk looked very skinny, like he might be HIV positive, but also sleeping with a monk is against my religion. He kept me for the whole night. I’m so ashamed – this has caused me great spiritual pain.

It wouldn’t have happened in the brothel. The law is supposed to protect women, but it doesn’t. I don’t know how I cope, all I can do is cry. Sometimes when I try and express my anger, I can’t. No woman wants this life, but what can I do, I have to care for my family. This is my karma. I must have done very bad things for this to happen to me.

Tribunal upholds Khmer Rouge leader's detention


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - Cambodia's genocide tribunal rejected a former Khmer Rouge leader's appeal Friday for his release from pretrial detention on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Judges of the U.N.-assisted tribunal's pretrial chamber upheld the detention of Khieu Samphan saying that the measure was necessary for his own safety.

Khieu Samphan, who has been detained since November 2007, is one of the five former Khmer Rouge leaders in custody for their alleged involvement in the group's brutal 1975-79 rule. He served as the regime's head of state.

«He was one of the most prominent politicians and a Khmer Rouge leader. He also received a beating by an angry mob in 1991,» said Prak Kimsan, the chairman of the five-judge panel.
In 1991, Khieu Samphan was attacked by a government-organized mob and almost killed.

Khieu Samphan may be held in provisional detention until Nov. 19, 2009, a statement issued by the panel said.

In November, lawyers for the 77-year-old filed an appeal to the tribunal for his release, citing his poor health.

An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died from forced labor, starvation, medical neglect and executions under the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime.

Kaing Guek Eav _ better known as Duch is the first senior Khmer Rouge figure to face trial. He was the head of a notorious prison and is accused of overseeing the torture of some 16,000 inmates before they were executed.

Duch (pronounced DOIK) is the first senior Khmer Rouge figure to face trial, and the only one to acknowledge responsibility for his actions. He is charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes and murder, and could face a maximum penalty of life in prison. Cambodia has no death penalty.

Khieu Samphan and other senior leaders, including Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Ieng Sary's wife, Ieng Thirith, are all in detention and likely to face trial in the next year or two.

A Judgment Obtained in Absentia Is Implemented to Destroy More Than 20 Houses of Citizens in Order to Confiscate 35 Hectares of Land for Some Business

Posted on 3 July 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 619

“Kandal: There was a clash on 2 July 2009 between many armed forces and about 300 citizens in Trapeang Krasaing village, Ang Snuol district, Kandal, who were opposed to the implementation of a judgment to destroy and remove houses by construction machinery in order to confiscate 35 hectares of land relating to a village, for a company owned by Seng Nhak and Seng Nheang who won a court case unjustly.

“Citizens said that at least one woman fainted and was sent to hospital, and some people were injured, after the Kandal court ordered the authorities to implement a judgment to confiscate the land for that company.

“The Trapeang Krasaing village chief, Mr. Him Sam Ol, said that his villagers were repressed by about 60 representatives of the authorities by hitting them with sticks, who were also armed, but there was no armed confrontation.

“The Ang Snuol district governor, Mr. Samut Thoeun, could not be reached for comment on Thursday. The Ang Snuol district military police chief, Mr. Sok Phearum, refused to make any comment.

“According to Mr. Him Sam Ol, the village chief, the 35 hectares of land which are now being cleared by construction machinery still belong to the citizens; Seng Nhak’s and Seng Nheang’s company, that the citizens do not know much, had made a down-payment to them of only 25% back in 1995, and it has not paid the remaining money until now in 2009. The citizens said that while the former Ang Snuol district governor was in his office, there was no problem, but after the new district governor, Mr. Samut Thoeun, took office, the company started clearing the land using construction machinery to grab the 35 hectares of land from the citizens.

“The citizens claimed that more than 20 of the 70 houses on the 35 hectares of land were removed and damaged by the machinery, and about 300 workers of the company are still keeping on clearing the land.

“117 families do not agree with the judgment in absentia by the Kandal court, and they complained that the civil procedure used for the implementation of this judgment is irregular, as the hearing was made in absentia.

“Representatives of citizens who are involved in the 35 hectares land dispute with the Universal Development Corporation company told Deum Ampil that the citizens do not agree, and they were shocked after having seen the notification from a deputy prosecutor of the Kandal Municipal Court, Mr. Chreng Khmao, informing Hun Yom, who lives at Tuol Krasaing, about the implementation of the judgment to confiscate the land from the citizens for the company.

“Representatives of the citizens said that they will protest by whatever means, in order to prevent the judgment from being implemented. They ask the provincial authorities and the court to follow the decision of the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia, Samdech Hun Sen, based on a written communication dated 14 January 2008, and the Notification #67, dated 17 January 2008, saying, ‘To protect the intention of the law and legal benefits of the citizens, and to avoid possible violence resulting from the implementation of a judgment, the Royal Government decided to suspend the implementation of the absentia judgments #78p to #109p, dated 1 December 1997, by the Kandal court, in order to let the Ministry of Interior coordinate and further research, to report to Prime Minister Samdech [Hun Sen] to check the results, and to decide again as well as to give the citizens the opportunity to appeal against this absentia judgment at the court, to follow legal procedures.’

“As the citizens said regarding this land dispute, once the company had negotiated to buy the land from them, offering US$2.80 per square meter, but the citizens did not agree with the company’s offer, as it was too low, and they suggested to the company to offer US$9 per square meter – then they would agree to sell their land according to a contract agreed upon previously. But there was no solution, and then the rich side lodged a complaint and prepared documents for the court to implement that judgment in absentia.

“The Ministry of Interior concluded, ‘All in all, the root of this dispute originates from the fault of the company that does not obey the contract, and this fault is intentionally created by the company.

“The Kandal court could not implement the judgments in absentia #78p to #109p, dated 1 December 1997 because it does not comply with the intention to protect the legal benefits of the citizens.

“There are many points that raise suspicions in the purchase agreement between the Chay Chean Fa Trading Investment company and Mr. Seng Nhak dated 16 March 2006, like the price of the land sold by that company to Mr. Seng Nhak is cheaper than the price for which the company bought the land from the citizens 10 years ago, for nearly half the price.”

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #226, 3.7.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 3 July 2009

Former Khmer Rouge Head Of State Denied Release

Former Khmer Rouge President Khieu Samphan sits in the dock before a ruling by Cambodia's genocide tribunal on an appeal against his fourth pre-trial detention, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh July 3, 2009. Samphan is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
REUTERS/Tang Chhin Sothy/Pool

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AFP)--Judges Friday rejected the former Khmer Rouge head of state's appeal for release from jail before his trial at Cambodia's U.N.- backed war crimes court.

Khieu Samphan, 77 years old, who is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes, is one of five top cadres being held by the tribunal over atrocities committed during the regime's 1975-1979 rule.

The former leader appealed in April to be let out of jail, but judges ruled his detention was necessary to protect his security and preserve public order.

"There continue to be well-founded reasons to believe that the charged person may have committed the crimes with which he has been charged," said the pre- trial chamber ruling.

"The charged person attended at least one meeting where the situation of traitors and their potential execution was discussed," it added.

Up to 2 million people were executed or died of starvation and overwork as the Khmer Rouge regime emptied Cambodia's cities, exiling the population to vast collective farms in its bid for a communist utopia.

The ongoing first Khmer Rouge trial began in February, when the regime's notorious prison chief, Kaing Guek Eav, better known by the alias Duch, went before the court.

Khieu Samphan was arrested in 2007, but no date has been set for his trial with three other leaders, which is expected to take place next year.

The Khmer Rouge tribunal was convened in 2006 after nearly a decade of fractious talks between the government and U.N. over how to prosecute the former Khmer Rouge leaders.

Cambodia says it gave UN a plan for Preah Vihear in April

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Published on July 4, 2009

Cambodian authorities have dismissed a claim by Thailand's Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti in the dispute over the drawing up of a plan to "safeguard and develop" the Preah Vihear Temple. Cambodia says Phnom Penh submitted the plan in April.

Suwit said earlier, after the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee in Spain, that the committee had delayed its decision to take up the Preah Vihear issue since Cambodia had not yet completed its management plan.

Hang Soth, the general director of Cambodia's Preah Vihear National Authority, said Cambodia had submitted conservation plans to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) on April 4.

"We don't understand why Thai leaders have said Cambodia has until next year to submit the plan," Hang Soth was quoted as saying by the Phnom Penh Post as seen yesterday on its website.

"We have already submitted our projects … Cambodians made the temple. Why can't we conserve it?" he said.

Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said the Thai statements were meant to cover up their failure at the Unesco meeting in Spain, where they were unable to get their challenge to the Preah Vihear plan on the agenda.

"The Thai leaders' comments are just to hide their failure to review the listing," he said.

The World Heritage Committee meeting in Spain on June 23-30 issued its decision 33COM 7B.74, which has been seen by The Nation and does indeed say that Cambodia submitted its report for the safeguarding and development of the temple in April and the committee reviewed it on April 24.

The committee made a request to the State Party (Cambodia) to submit to the World Heritage Centre by February 1, 2010, a report on the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations by the committee in its decision 32COM 8B.102, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010.

In fact there is no extension of a timetable, as February 2010 was mentioned in the previous decision in the 32nd session in Quebec, in paragraph 16, saying: "further requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit to the World Heritage Centre by February 2010, for submission to the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010, a full management plan for the inscribed property, including a finalised map".

For former Khmer Rouge prisoners, reparations are key to justice

Chum Mey and Bou Meng are two of seven prisoners left alive in S-21 prison when the regime fell in 1979, out of more than 14,000 inmates. They testified this week against former leader .

By Stephen Kurczy
Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor
from the July 3, 2009

Phnom Penh - Thirty years after their torture inside the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison, two elderly Cambodians finally got their day in court as a cash-strapped tribunal attempts to bring justice to victims of one of the 20th century's most serious atrocities.

"I was beaten for 12 days and 12 nights," Chum Mey, one of the former prisoners, told the United Nations-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal on Tuesday, detailing how guards pulled out two of his toenails and electrocuted him in 1978.

"I have a lot of scars on my back as evidence of that torture," Bou Meng, the other former prisoner, said during his testimony the next day, dabbing his eyes with a tissue. "They put me face down and then started to beat me. They kept asking me when I entered the CIA or KGB and who introduced me to the agents."

Mr. Chum and Mr. Bou were two of seven prisoners left alive when the regime fell in 1979, out of more than 14,000 inmates. Chum said he survived because he could repair sewing machines, while Bou eluded execution by painting portraits of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leader who died in 1998.

The men are two of 94 registered civil parties in the trial of S-21's former chief, Kaing Guek Eav, whose alias is Duch. He is the first of five detained former leaders to stand trial. Hearings began Feb. 17 and are expected to last through August, after which judges will determine Duch's guilt and what, if any, reparations to award victims.

'The court needs to calculate [my loss]' in monetary terms

Chum already has a request.

"I want money," he says in a recent interview at S-21 prison, now a museum, in the same room where guards tortured him to confess his involvement in the CIA. "I lost five family members – my wife and four children – and some property under the Khmer Rouge. The court needs to calculate what this equals with money."

"I want compensation from the court," adds Bou, whose wife died in S-21, in a separate interview. Unemployed and living with his children in Kandal Province, he said he struggles to afford travel costs to attend the trial in Phnom Penh. "I want to make a funeral for my wife."

The tribunal's bylaws state "collective and moral" reparations might pay for services for the benefit of victims, although the court has yet to define exactly what this means. As the case against Duch progresses, lawyers and judges are wrangling over how to reconcile the chasm between what victims want versus what the court can give.

A 'novel approach' to international justice

The hybrid court, so called because it combines elements of Cambodian and international law and features both domestic and foreign lawyers and judges, has already taken unprecedented steps to give victims a role in the proceedings. Unlike any other international criminal or hybrid court, the Khmer Rouge tribunal allows victims to register as civil parties with the right to a lawyer and the ability to ask the defendant questions and request investigation into certain crimes.

"It's a novel approach in the field of international justice," Clint Williamson, the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, said at a recent press conference in Phnom Penh. "We think victim participation in the process is a positive thing, but it should not be taking place because people are seeking some type of monetary remuneration at the end of the process."

The idea of reparations raises myriad issues. (To read about what's happened in Sierra Leone and Guatemala, click here.) During Khmer Rouge rule between 1975 and 1979, about 2 million Cambodians, or a quarter of the population, died from starvation, disease, torture, and execution. Almost everyone lost family, and a study by the Documentation Center of Cambodia concluded that approximately 1 in 3 survivors today suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Strong legal and public support for reparations

A victim's claim to reparations is recognized in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that "everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or laws."

This appears to be widely accepted in Cambodia. According to a survey of 1,000 Cambodians published in January by the Human Rights Center of the University of California, Berkeley, some 26 percent of respondents said they want victims to receive support for agriculture and farming, 23 percent want health care or counseling for victims, and 22 percent want victims to get money. Supreme Court Chamber President Kong Srim said at a November conference that reparations are likely to take the form of schools, memorials, or the order of a public apology, though they could possibly be ordered in monetary form.

It is unknown from where the money would come. The current five former Khmer Rouge leaders in detention have all claimed insolvency – though this has never been seriously challenged. The tribunal's refusal to look for alternative ways of awarding money to victims disappoints and angers many of the 94 civil parties, says Kong Pisey, a Cambodian attorney representing Chum and Bou.

"Some of the victims are even jealous of the defendants – they have a nice place to live, a car that brings them to the court," says Mr. Kong.

Chum is one of them.

"[Duch and the other defendants] don't have to sleep with small containers filled with their own urine and [excrement]," he scoffs, describing his life while inside Duch's prison. "If S-21 was hell, they live in heaven."

Possible trust fund for reparations money

A vocal proponent for reparations, German lawyer Silke Studzinsky leads one of four teams of lawyers representing civil parties in the case against Duch. Ms. Studzinsky has requested the court review its internal guidelines and determine whether Cambodian law – which allows for individual monetary awards – takes precedence in the hybrid court.

Studzinsky's team has also requested the creation of a trust fund into which third parties might donate money for reparations, although the court has twice declined to forward Studzinsky's requests to the biannual plenary session of the court for consideration.

Studzinsky says she plans to raise the requests again. Awarding individual financial reparations, she says, "is part of the justice process. It is not complete if you miss this very important part."

While Studzinsky's group of civil parties is discussing ways to bring attention to the issue, including possibly staging a march in Phnom Penh, other civil party lawyers disagree about the feasibility of individual reparations.

"It could create all kinds of tensions," says Alain Werner, a Swiss attorney representing a group of 38 victims. Instead of amending the court's internal rules, Mr. Werner favors working within the confines of what the court has already approved. "We might be able to say collective reparation could be hospitals, medical care – it could be things which mean something financially to individuals," he says.

Tensions Reportedly Rise at Preah Vihear Border

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
03 July 2009

Military sources said Thursday Thai troops have reinforced their positions along the contested border near Preah Vihear temple, adding tensions to a military standoff that has resulted in several skirmishes over the past year.

“A clash could have happened this afternoon, at 3 pm, but finally tensions were abated,” one officer stationed in Preah Vihear province said Thursday.

On Wednesday night, Thai soldiers arrived in five trucks at the entry of Preah Vihear temple, which is at the center of the disputes that were sparked when the temple was added to a Unesco World Heritage list in July last year.

Cambodian soldiers barred about 10 Thai soldiers from entering an encampment near Keo Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda, which has been occupied by Thai soldiers since July 15, 2008, the officer said, requesting anonymity.

“They came with their truck lights switched off,” he said.

Other military sources said Thai soldiers had reinforced positions near Ta Thao gate, at the entry of the 11th-Century temple, near two areas where fighting occurred in 2008, namely Sambok Khmom and Veal Intry, or Eagle Field.

Gen. Pol Saroun, commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, downplayed the rising tensions between the military.

Lt. Gen. Chhom Socheat, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Defense, said the situation on the border was “normal” on both sides.

In meetings between regional military commanders Wednesday, the Cambodian side urged the Thais to withdraw troops from nearby the pagoda, Sambok Khmom and other areas around the temple, Chhom Socheat said.

Thai commanders said they would take the request under consideration, he added.

Opposition Seeks Visit of Jailed Journalist

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
03 July 2009

Opposition lawmakers on Thursday made a request to Phnom Penh court to visit a jailed opposition journalist who arrested following a verdict last week he had printed false information about a senior official.

Hang Chakra, chief of the Khmer Mchas Srok newspaper, was sentenced to 12 months in prison and fined $2,195, after publishing reports in April and May that implicated Council Minister Sok An in corrupt practices.

Sok An, who is responsible for some of the nation’s most important matters, including the Khmer Rouge tribunal and offshore oil exploration, filed suit, alleging the articles could affect political stability, as they were written about government leaders.

Police arrested Hang Chakra immediately after the verdict was announced, June 26.

“We want to visit him and ask him about some affairs about the arrest,” Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yim Sovann told VOA Khmer Thursday.

Chhoung Chu Ngy, Hang Chakra’s lawyer, said he had requested release on the grounds that his detention was unjust. He also said he plans to appeal the verdict.

Chiv Keng, chief of Phnom Penh Municipal Court, and judge Din Sivuthy, who handled the case, could not be reached for comment, but a court official who asked not to be named said the court was considering the visitation request.

Tribunal a ‘University’ of Experience: Expert

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
03 July 2009

As the Khmer Rouge tribunal continues with cases against five jailed leaders of the regime, it is acting as a giant school of experience for Cambodians, a human rights researcher said Thursday.

The UN-backed court is undertaking its first trial, of Duch, former administrator of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, and it is holding four more senior-most leaders of the regime, who will also be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“The trial is giving a lot of information, and I understand it as a big university,” said Lao Monghay, a researcher at the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission, as a guest on “Hello VOA.” “We can study and learn to extract experiences, lessons of history, to build individuals and society for good in the future.”

As it continues its work, the tribunal highlights the activities of the Khmer Rouge, its crimes, its abolishment of law, religion, education and financial systems, and its crimes against Cambodians, Lao Monghay said.

“For example, in Duch’s case, he made arrests and executions, but he is still detained in a good prison, and this should be a consideration,” he said.

The tribunal, with support of the international community, is a benefit for Cambodian and international affairs, and it raises questions about how the Khmer Rouge came to control the country and how that led to the deaths of up to 2 million people.

“Why after controlling power for a few years did [the Khmer Rouge] start killing people?” he asked.

He quoted Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, in saying the killings at the prison were done under orders, but that raises questions about whether a person should follow such orders and how a system of government can protect subordinates who make moral decisions.

In the modern Cambodian context, this has significance in whether authorities should follow commands to, for example, evict people from their homes, even if those orders are wrong.

“There is an international norm stipulating that we as the subordinate should now follow wrong or inhumane orders,” he said, referring to the military police and police who routinely perform forced evictions in the capital and provinces, often at the behest of powerful officials in unlawful land grabs.

A system should be in place to protect victims, such as evictees, a lesson that should be taken from Duch’s trial, Lao Monghay said.

Duch is accused of sending 12,380 people to their deaths, following confessions coerced under severe torture, but he is still treated humanely in detention.

Meanwhile, in modern Cambodia, a person suspected of even a small theft can be detained in terrible conditions, subject to abuse, without proper medicine or other care.

“This must be a lesson,” Lao Monghay said.

Orphaned Child Survivor Testifies in Duch Trial

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
03 July 2009

Norng Chanphal, who was nine years old when he and his family were arrested by the Khmer Rouge and sent to the infamous Tuol Sleng prison, wept before judges at a UN-backed tribunal Thursday as he recounted the torture his mother underwent as an inmate.

Tuol Sleng’s administrator was Kaing Kek Iev, better known as Duch, who is on trial at the Khmer Rouge tribunal for war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and murder.

When Norng Chanpal first arrived at the prison, known the Khmer Rouge as S-21, with his mother and younger brother, he watched as prison staff put his mother before a camera and yanked her hair back, he recalled, at times weeping during his testimony.

He was separated from his mother, but he could see her standing at the barred window of a room on the second floor of the facility. She looked at him but would say nothing, he said.

Norng Chanpal was alive and in hiding when Vietnamese forces invaded Phnom Penh and ousted the Khmer

Rouge, liberating the prison where prosecutors say Duch sent 12,380 people to their deaths, following tortured confessions of acts against the ultra-Maoist regime.

As he fled the prison, Norng Chanpal saw bloodied corpses of inmates, he said, but he never again saw his mother.

Remember Me?

By Brian Calvert and Men Kimseng
Original report from Washington
03 July 2009

[Editor’s note: When it opened in March, the trial for Kaing Kek Iev, the infamous Khmer Rouge torture chief better known as Comrade Duch, returned the world’s attention to Cambodia and the horrors of the failed regime. In 1976, two American women helped care for a group of 114 Cambodians in the US who were determined to return to their home, now controlled by the Khmer Rouge. The two recently spoke with VOA Khmer to ensure the stories of those Cambodians, nearly all of whom perished, would not be forgotten. This is the second of a two-part series.]

Cynthia Coleman, who had helped the repatriates on their way to a Khmer Rouge-controlled country, was still working with refugees in the US in late 1978, when Vietnamese forces began their offensives against the regime. The fighting sent Cambodians streaming into Thailand, and in February 1979, after the capital had fallen to the Vietnamese forces, Coleman traveled to the border, in hopes of finding news of her lost friends.

“There was absolutely nobody in sight. I mean no one. I just stood at the gate stared into nothing,” said Coleman.

The Cambodians she found along the border were corralled in pens, shell-shocked and thin from their experiences under the Khmer Rouge. Coleman talked to everyone she could. She carried photographs with her, including one of Maj. Kim Pok Tung, one of the group of 112 Cambodians she had taken care of in Philadelphia in 1976.

“There was a big, makeshift bulletin board on one side of the camp. And there was hanging a lot of letters and photographs, in Khmer, people looking for family and relatives and friends, and I searched there and put up some of the photographs that I had,” Coleman said. “If you know any of these people or have seen them or have heard of them, please contact me.”

Coleman and another American, Mary Beach, who had been deeply involved in the lives of the Cambodians in 1976, had heard nothing from them for three years. Part of program through the Nationality Service Center in Phildelphia, they had been given the task of helping the Cambodians return to Democratic Kampuchea. They counted many among the group as their friends, and they retold their stories to VOA Khmer recently to ensure the group was not forgotten.

After 1976, neither of them forgot their friends, and they searched whenever they could for information about them. On the border in 1979, Coleman learned nothing, and she returned to the US. Their fates remained a mystery until in 1981 history professor Ben Keirnan called her. He had uncovered a list of people executed in the Khmer Rouge’s main torture center, Tuol Sleng. On that list were 19 names that Coleman recognized. Among them was her friend, Kim Pok Tung.

“Certainly, there is no way that you could be involved in something like this without feeling tremendous sorrow and guilt. But looking back on it was clear that there was not anything else. There was no other way that this could have ended,” said Coleman.

Coleman continued refugee work with Southeast Asians until 1986, when she changed careers. Beach worked with refugees in the US until the 1990s, when she too changed careers. Both became teachers in small US towns.

Bonded by their experiences working with the Cambodians in Philadelphia, the two kept in touch, and they continued to have Cambodian friends. But it wasn’t until 2002 that a new opportunity to learn about their Philadelphia Cambodians emerged.

“I knew I had not heard anything about any of the others, in all these years,” said Coleman.

By then, Coleman was teaching high school in the US state of Michigan. As part of her lessons, she taught about the Cambodian tragedy. Eventually, some of her students began to question why she had never learned more about what happened to the Cambodians she had been so close to. She told them maybe she didn’t want to know.

“So finally the kids said, all right, sit down at the computer—it was kind of a question at this point of who was running the class—but, sit down at the computer and let’s see if we can find if there is some place that can tell you something,” she recalled.

It was then that Coleman learned about Youk Chhang and the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which by then had been working for years to record atrocities of the Khmer Rouge.

“Several hours later, I got an answer back from Youk Chhang,” said Coleman.

Youk Chhang, in a recent interview with VOA Khmer, remembered.

“All the adults were dead...we had found all the documents from Tuol Sleng. They were tortured and executed,” he said.

Youk Chhang sent them photocopies of documents, but Coleman still did not want to believe that every single person she had known in Philadelphia, save two who had disappeared from the regime in Paris, were dead. Still, she kept in touch with Youk Chhang, and when the Khmer Rouge tribunal stood up, both Coleman and Beach saw a chance to stand as witnesses for their friends.

Beach, who had been 22 when she met her first Cambodians and had known little about their culture or their war, was now determined that their stories be told.

“I don’t want this group to be forgotten. I don’t want them to be just a statistic somewhere. So ya, it was an important thing to do at that point,” said Beach.

The two women had not seen each other since 1976, but they reunited in Cambodia, determined to file testimonies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal. Flying in, Beach thought about her lost friends.

“I remember specifically as the plane was landing, the image in my mind was, I kept thinking, what did they see when they landed at this airport, and I sort of half expected to see jeeps full of military men with machine guns lined up along the runway,” recalled Beach.

That didn’t happen. They met at the airport. Coleman wept. They shared a hotel room, shared evenings at restaurants along the river, shared cyclos. For Beach, this time in Phnom Penh was reassuring, from the moment she stepped into the New York Hotel on Monivong Boulevard.

“When I spoke to the bellboy, or the bellboy spoke to me, in that moment it was like, oh, I recognize this, the look in his eyes and the sound of his voice, I thought, yes, this is something that I know, and the thing that I love about Cambodia has not been destroyed,” Beach said.

What she loved was still there. In short time, the two went together to visit the Documentation Center, a day Youk Chhang also remembers.

“She burst into tears while recounting the returnees. I believe that the event really affect her feeling,” said Youk Chhang.

Documentation Center staff explained to the Americans how to file their testimonies, but both declined to file in Phnom Penh, preferring instead to do it from America, far from Cambodia and its politics and its potential dangers.

“Both of us felt strongly that we had to stand witness, but I was not going to do it from inside Cambodia,” Coleman said.

The two made another stop, at Tuol Sleng, the prison where most of their friends had met their end. They looked for faces among the hundreds of photographs on display at Tuol Sleng, where 16,000 Cambodians were tortured into confessions, later to be executed on the outskirts of the capital.

“After several rooms, I said to Mary, ‘I’ve had enough, I can’t do anymore’…. And I went out and sat on the stone bench… I should have come here ten years ago,” Coleman recalled.

The trip gave each of the women some solace, knowing that the Cambodians likely understood the risks they faced.

“I sat there on that bench and I thought, these guys knew what they were potentially getting into and this isn’t anything I did,” said Coleman.

Cynthia Coleman is now 67, living in a remote town in Michigan, volunteering at the local library, keeping up on tribunal news and wondering if Duch will ever mention her Cambodian friends. She does not regret having worked with them.

“I have a tremendously strong respect and probably love for Cambodians, and I’ve never been sorry that I’ve known a good many Cambodians, and been close to a few,” she said.

Marcy Beach teaches French in Farmington, New Mexico, fulfilling a career goal she’d had when she graduated college, before she’d become so involved, by a chance hiring, in the lives of the Cambodians.

There were many times over the years that the tragedy came back to Coleman, but there is one particular time that affects her most, a letter she received in 1982.

“Somebody passed me a letter from a woman in one of the refugee camps inside Thailand, and the letter started out, ‘My name is such-and-such, I was a lead dancer with the Royal Cambodian Ballet. And I am here in a refugee camp, and need a sponsor to come to the United States. Does anyone remember me?’ I was sitting in a restaurant in Washington, DC, and I just started sobbing,” said Coleman.

As the tribunal continues, and more witnesses come forward, that answer might someday be yes.

No troop readjustment at Thai-Cambodian border: Thai military commander

MCOT English News

NAKHON RATCHASIMA, July 3 (TNA) - Thailand's 2nd Army commander on Friday said border troop deployment remained unchanged along the Thai-Cambodian border near the disputed ancient Hindu temple ruins, stating that any troop readjustment had to be carried out in conjunction with a similar move of Cambodia.

Lt-Gen Wibulsak Neepal, second army commander, said the situation along border at Thailand's Si Sa Ket province remained calm, and there were no signs of any unusual troop movements, but precautionary measures have been taken to prevent possible clashes.

Referring to talks Thursday with Cambodia's 4th Army chief Lt-Gen Chea Mon in Thailand's northeastern province of Surin, Gen. Wibulsak said both parties agreed to submit each other's proposal to their superiors for further consideration.

He stressed there was no progress on any border troop reductions, but both sides pledged not to resort to violence and recommitted to peaceful means through talks to end the dispute.

"Thailand will not be the first to remove any troop from the area claimed by both countries as the troop reductions had to be carried out by Thailand and Cambodia at the same time," the general said.

"If it isn’t done, the standoff otherwise will remain as it is for the time being until the boundary committee can resolve the border dispute through (proper) demarcation," he said.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban is scheduled to leave for the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh on Saturday to talk with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Mr. Suthep said the troop reductions should help ease border tensions.

He and the Cambodian leader had agreed during their meeting last week border dispute should be settled by peaceful means.

Border tensions have been escalating since the Thai government protested to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and its World Heritage Committee over their decision granting Cambodia's unilateral application last year to list Preah Vihear (Phra Viharn in Thai) temple as a World Heritage site. (TNA)