Saturday, 24 July 2010

Cambodia, Vietnam to open another auxiliary border gate

via Khmer NZ


Tan Bien district in the southwestern province of Tay Ninh and Romeas Haek district in the Cambodian province of Svay Rieng have agreed to open an auxiliary border gate on the shared borderline.

An agreement to this effect was signed between officials of the two districts on July 23.

The Ben Nam Chi – Ta Ro border gate will be the 11th of its kind to be opened along the border between Tay Ninh and Cambodian provinces to facilitate people’s travel and the flow of goods from both nations.

In recent years, Tay Ninh authorities have exempted import tariffs for goods worth less than VND2 million a person a day, and opened quarantine areas for imported animals.

Statistics shows two-way trade turnover via border gates between Tay Ninh and Cambodia provinces reached US$150 million in the first seven months of this year, US$50 million higher than the same period last year.

Vietnam’s imports include rubber, timber, processed rubber latex, cassava, maize, cigarettes and cattle, while its exports are plastic products, fruit and vegetables, instant noodles and handicrafts.

Ambassador to Cambodia: Who is Carol Rodley?

via Khmer NZ

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A career officer in the Senior Foreign Service, Carol A. Rodley is serving her second tour in Cambodia, having worked in the Southeast Asian country in the late 1990s. Although she has served in many capacities in the State Department, Rodley is well-versed in issues of intelligence and counter-terrorism.

A native of Massachusetts, Rodley graduated from Smith College in 1976.

Her Washington assignments have included executive assistant to the Bosnia coordinator for the Dayton peace accord negotiations; deputy director of the secretariat staff; Cyprus desk officer in the Office of Southern European Affairs; senior watch officer in the Operations Center; and intelligence analyst in the Russia Division of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

Rodley’s overseas assignments have included postings in Germany, South Africa, the Dominican Republic and Pakistan.

From 1997-2000 she worked her first tour in Cambodia, as deputy chief of mission at the American embassy in Phnom Penh. During this time, she supported bringing former Khner Rouge officials to trial for crimes against humanity before an “international court.”

Rodley then attended the State Department’s senior leadership training course, the 43rd Senior Seminar, at the Foreign Service Institute from 2000-2001.

For the next two years she served as deputy executive secretary in the Executive Secretariat, until July 2003.

From 2003-2006 Rodley served as acting assistant secretary and principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. While in this position, she put together “Team Al-Qaida,” a group of State Department analysts whose goal, in Rodley’s words, was to “deepen our understanding of both specific terrorist networks and the broader international jihadist movement” using “computer-aided methods to mine the volumes of data and have developed particular expertise on terrorist support networks and terrorist facilitators.”

She relocated to Afghanistan to work as counselor for political and military affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, before returning to the states to serve as a faculty advisor at the Foreign Service Institute for Afghanistan and Iraq training.

President George W. Bush nominated Rodley to be ambassador to Cambodia in May 2008, a post she finally took over on October 24.

In May 2009, Rodley ruffled the feathers of the Cambodian government when, while delivering the opening speech at an anti-corruption concert in Phnom Penh, she claimed that Cambodia loses $500 million a year to corruption.

Rodley is married to David Newhall, and the couple has three children. Rodley speaks Khmer, German, Spanish, Urdu, and Hindi. -Noel Brinkerhoff

Repeat sex offendersshould feel full weight of law

By Daphne Bramham

Vancouver Sun

July 24, 2010

via Khmer NZ

Png / Kenneth Robert Klassen has pleaded guilty to 14 counts of sexual interference with minors and one count of possession of child pornography.
Photograph by: Nick Procaylo, Vancouver Sun

Within hours of Kenneth Klassen arriving in Cambodia, the first of eight girls -- all under the age of 14 and one believed to have been eight -- arrived at his hotel.

In two and a half days, the Burnaby art dealer fondled, touched, probed and had oral sex and intercourse with all eight of them.

He has admitted to that and to having captured at least some of it on video -- "souvenirs" of his trip.

Klassen has also admitted to having sexually interfered with six Colombian girls ranging in age from 11 to 13.

Klassen is a sex tourist.

In May, he pleaded guilty to 14 counts of sexual interference with minors and one count of possession of child pornography after he lost his constitutional challenge of the law.

Sex tourism is shorthand for what predators do who travel to countries where they can sexually abuse, assault and exploit the poorest and most vulnerable. Often, their prey is children.

On Wednesday, Klassen will be sentenced.

The Crown has asked Justice Austin Cullen of the B.C. Supreme Court to sentence the 59-year-old to 12 years in federal prison: 10 years -- the maximum -- in concurrent sentences for having sex with minors and two years for pornography possession.

Klassen's defence team has asked for half that.

If Cullen agrees with the Crown, it will be the longest sentence ever given a Canadian sex tourist. However, this is only the third case to go to trial since the legislation was passed 13 years ago.

What Klassen's case highlights is just how easy it is for well-organized, predatory pedophiles with money to get what they want abroad.

It's so much easier than here, where we have better laws, better enforcement and a better social safety net that means large numbers of children aren't forced to beg in the streets.

Klassen lived in Colombia for 20 years and has admitted that he first had sex with a prepubescent girl when he was 27 or 28. He has admitted his sexual predilection for girls and easy access to them made him "reckless."

His lawyer, Ian Donaldson, told the court that Klassen's abuse of children arose "from the milieu in which he was living" where it was "common" for men to have sex with young girls.

He went on to say that Klassen's offences were "circumscribed by his geographical location," since there is no evidence of him engaging in this kind of "anti-social behaviour" in Canada.

But as Crown counsel Brandon McCabe pointed out, Klassen must have known what he was doing was wrong, because he had his face edited out of all of the homemade videos of him with girls under 14 and he didn't bother doing that with girls over 14.

Among Klassen's claims is that he never had sex with a child in Canada. Too dangerous, which is exactly the reason that Parliament enacted legislation that allows Canadians to be charged in Canada with sex crimes committed abroad.

Here in Canada, Klassen satiated his appetite for prepubescent girls with pornography. Some of it was purchased abroad; some was homemade movies.

(More than two hours of clips from Klassen's collection were viewed by Cullen during the two-day sentencing hearing. Following a request from The Vancouver Sun, Cullen has ordered Crown counsel Brandon McCabe to make descriptions of those clips available to reporters.)

McCabe is asking for the maximum penalty for Klassen, arguing that Klassen's offences were aggravated because of the girls' ages, because some of their statements that they were threatened or coerced by him, and because they were so desperately poor that some didn't have soap.

Donaldson rejected that characterization, even though he called Klassen's actions offensive and illegal.

He claimed that there was no abuse of trust or exploitation. Repeatedly, he referred to what happened as a series of commercial transactions between willing participants.

He called the little girls -- one of whom Klassen gave a teddy bear -- "sex trade workers."

To establish a basis for requesting a sentence of only six years, Klassen's lawyers noted that Donald Bakker, the first Canadian convicted as a sex tourist, received only five years for having sex with seven Cambodian girls under the age of 14, and five years for sexual assault of Canadian women in the sex trade.

Klassen's second lawyer, Leonard Doust, went through a long list of other cases in which children as young as six had been horrifically abused by relatives, teachers and even a former B.C. Provincial Court judge.

He read off horrific descriptions of violence against them and pointed out that the sentences for offences far worse than what Klassen pleaded guilty to were only in the six-to-10-year range.

Doust may have intended to paint his client as a lesser among evils.

But what was also highlighted was a long and sad history of failure to punish these vile pedophiles and predators to the full extent of the law.

Cullen has an opportunity to set a new standard and precedent.

Thai PM: Cambodia continues pushing management plan for ancient temple

via Khmer NZ

BANGKOK, July 24 -- Thailand is still objecting to Cambodia's move to proceed with its unilateral management plan for the environs of the ancient Preah Vihear temple at next week's World Heritage Committee (WHC) meeting, scheduled to be held in Brazil beginning Sunday July 25 and extending through August 3, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Saturday.

Mr Abhisit’s remarks were made after Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Suwit Khunkitti, leading the Thai delegation to attend the 34th meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's heritage committee in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia.

He said Mr Suwit phoned him from a stopover in Paris where he met the UNESCO director Friday, telling him that the Cambodian government is still determined to attend the WHC session and propose that it should be allowed to conduct its management plan for the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodia's plan does not show the border demarcation between the neighbouring countries and the Cambodian government had insisted that it would not involve the northern and the western parts of the temple, Mr Abhisit said.

Mr Suwit told him he would not accept the Cambodian plan. Now Thailand must inform the international community on the issue and also follow the meeting in Brazil closely, said Mr Abhisit.

Mr Abhisit said he informed Mr Suwit that the temple issue would be discussed in Brasilia on Wednesday and that if the Thai delegation needs support the Cabinet canto issue a resolution.

Cambodia and Thailand have been locked in nationalist tensions and a troop standoff at their disputed border since July 2008, when Preah Vihear temple was granted UNESCO World Heritage status. The site was awarded to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice in 1962 in a decision that rankles most Thais.

In another development, Mr Abhisit said Thailand has proposed to host a WHC session in the next two years and Cambodia is expected to make a similar request. (MCOT online news)

HCMC doctors to give free treatment to Cambodian patients

via Khmer NZ

Saturday ,Jul 24,2010

A patient with nasal sinus inflammation is examined at the HCMC ENT Hospital (Photo:

A group of Ho Chi Minh City doctors in eye, ear-nose-throat, and obstetrics and gynecology is going to take a trip to Cambodia to offer free examination, treatment and surgery to Cambodian patients.

The doctors, from the Eye Hospital, Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT) Hospital, and Hung Vuong Obstetric and Gynecological Hospital, will arrive in Cambodia on July 30, at the invitation of the Phnom Penh-based Preah Ket Mealea Hospital under the Royal Cambodian Army.

During the 4-day trip, the eye doctors will give examination and treatment to 200 patients and perform Phaco cataract surgery for a number of them. Meanwhile, the doctors in ENT and obstetrics and gynecology will examine and give medicines to about 450 patients.

By Tg. Lam – Translated by Truc Thinh

Justice for Cambodia victims about to be served

Around 1.7 million died at the hands of Pol Pot's regime

TV3 News (New Zealand)

via Khmer NZ

Sat, 24 Jul 2010

By Janika ter Ellen

Former Olympic rower Rob Hamill is in Cambodia, but not to bask in the sun or to attempt another transatlantic record.

He's there for the verdict of a war crimes trial involving the man he blames for his brother's killing over 30 years ago.

Mr Hamill surveys the killing fields in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, where the skulls of Khmer Rouge's murdered victims lie - exhumed from mass graves after the regime's defeat.

They represent the 1.7 million men, women and children who died during Pol Pot's reign.

"I can't quite reconcile how justice can ever be served with the nature and the way these people's lives were taken," he says.

Pol Pot's long dead, but Mr Hamill is here for the sentencing of his trusted commander Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, for his part in the genocide.

During the trial, Mr Hamill had the chance to speak directly to the frail maths teacher-turned killing commander, and wished upon him the punishments he had dished out to his victims.

"I have imagined your scrotum electrified, being forced to eat your own faeces, being nearly drowned, and having your throat cut."

Duch ran the S21 prison where at least 14,000 were detained - including Mr Hamill's brother.

Kerry Hamill had been sailing to Bangkok in 1978 when his yacht veered into Cambodian waters - he was captured, tortured then killed.

Family found out about Kerry's fate 16 months later, after the regime fell in 1979. It was too much for Mr Hamill's younger brother john, who jumped from a cliff soon afterwards.

Mr Hamill says he's more accepting now, and the verdict brings closure for the family.

"After 30 years of our own family kind of suppressing it - and kind of not talking about it - and the effect it had on our family, I think this is a very special time and I'd like to think he's looking down on us thinking, yeah, it's about bloody time."

Duch's verdict and sentence will be handed down in two days.

FAO: Bugs Take a Bite Out of Hunger

Bob Burns | Washington, DC
23 July 2010

via Khmer NZ

Photo: VOA – S. Baragona
Selling insects as snacks in Cambodia

Most people try to keep insects out of their kitchens. But many of the creepy-crawlers are edible and quite nutritious. That is, if you can get past the idea of eating something usually considered a pest. In Laos, that is not a problem, since nearly everyone likes to snack on edible insects. Now, the United Nations is encouraging even more bug-eating there to solve the country's high rates of child malnutrition.

Larrisa Brunn of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization admits the anti-hunger fight has entered somewhat unfamiliar territory.

"We've done a nationwide survey here in Laos and it showed that nearly 95 percent of the Lao population eats insects. So this shows how insects are part of the diet here and part of the culture, part of their nutrition," Brunn said. "So it's not like we are introducing something new, on the contrary we are working with the existing food base."

VOA Photo – S. Baragona
Insects are eaten widely in Cambodia. The UN hopes to fight child malnutrition in Laos with nutrient-packed bugs

Researchers estimate that worldwide, there are more than 1,700 edible insects. In Laos, grasshoppers and crickets are among the most popular, but locals also eat beetles and grubs and insect larvae. The insects are rich in protein and fat, as well as essential vitamins like iron and calcium. While some bugs can be eaten straight from the field, it is tastier and safer to prepare them Brunn says.

"Just like any meat, they are normally cooked. I'm sure there are some you can eat live, but here in Laos traditionally they are cooked. The normal way they will be served is quickly deep fried but I've also tasted very traditional recipes which can be made with fish and other meats with insects added. They can be flavored as well with cheese. So there are many ways insects can be eaten."

Bug eating has been popular for hundreds of years in the region. The FAO is hoping to capitilize on that trend by raising the income of local bug collectors and increasing the yield of bug farmers. That, in turn, could lead more people to rely on the critters for the daily nutrition. Brunn said the FAO is working with the Lao government and insect aficionados to improve their yield and make it sustainable.

"For the past year, we've had a small pilot which where we worked with some farmers in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, trying out insect farming and now in May we had a bigger two year project approved where we will be working with a bigger group of farmers and the main aim being on nutrition, because insects are highly nutritious and part of the culture in Laos. They are tied to the diet. They can provide income opportunity and also diversity in the project."

VOA Photo – S. Baragona
Insect merchant in Cambodia

As for people who may be squeamish about eating a fried grasshopper or termite, according to the FAO's Brunn, taste is not necessarily the biggest issue.

"In the West, I know in North America and Europe insects are not part of the diet like they are in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. So for us, myself a European, it can be a repulsive experience once you first try it." Brunn points out, "Somebody just said to me when you eat a cow, you don't put the whole animal on the table. So we have to transform crickets for example to a cricket hamburger. You may actually like the flavor and find them delicious."

Part of the FAO's bug campaign in Laos is to encourage traditional insect eating habits and reassure people that swallowing a silkworm is not something to be embarrassed or ashamed of. Brunn said the bugs are an important part of culture, and a potentially important contribution to a diverse and healthy diet.

Suwit takes off for temple talks

via Khmer NZ

Published: 24/07/2010

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti is in Paris today to meet with Unesco director-general Irina Bokova to express Thailand's concern over the Preah Vihear temple issue.

Suwit: Admits it’s a very tough mission

Unesco's World Heritage Committee (WHC) will open its annual meeting in the Brazilian capital Brasilia tomorrow, and Mr Suwit will also attend to oppose Cambodia's proposed management plan for the Preah Vihear temple and its buffer zone covering the 4.6 square kilometre disputed area claimed by the two countries.

APINYA WIPATAYOTIN talked with him about his mission before he left the country on Thursday.

Regarding the 34th session of the WHC, what do you expect to happen?

I admit that this mission is very tough for me. Thailand, as one of the WHC's 21 commissioners, has never seen Cambodia's plan, and that means the WHC has not received the plan too despite the fact that WHC rules require such a plan to be submitted six months before the meeting for consideration.

Are you confident that Unesco will listen to our voice?

I believe that since the Preah Vihear temple was registered as a World Heritage site, there have been many confrontations between Thailand and Cambodia, including border confrontations or even between the civic sectors of both sides. This is the point and Unesco needs to listen to the country which is now suffering from its decision.

Moreover, the WHC charter says that a qualification for a World Heritage site is that it brings peace. I do hope that it will cooperate with Thailand to find out the best solution to end the problem.

What is Thailand's position in this round of the WHC meeting?

First of all, I would like to assure the public that I will do my best. My team comprising officers from the Foreign, Defence, Culture, and Natural Resources and Environment ministries has worked very hard for over a year on the mission. So I am confident that we will not let the Thai people get upset.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva previously said clearly that Thailand will not support the Cambodian plan until there is clarity over land demarcation.

In the event the WHC agrees to endorse Cambodia's plan, we will raise a strong objection.

As you told me that Cambodia has not yet submitted its plan to the WHC, do you think this could delay the discussion of the issue?

I don't know. I can't say at the moment whether it is good or bad for Thailand and we need more time to study it.

What is Thailand's progress in submitting other areas near the Preah Vihear temple which are on Thai soil as world heritage sites?

We will not discuss that issue until there is clarity over the land demarcation of the Thai-Cambodian border.

The Khmer Rouge tribunal is set to deliver its first verdict Monday in the case of former torture chief Duch. It may also be the last verdict at a court beset by allegations of corruption and political interference

Cambodian visitors listen to a guide as they tour the former Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison now known as the Tuol Sleng genocide museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday. The UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal is scheduled to deliver its verdict on Monday, July 26, against Kaing Guek Eav, better know as 'Duch,' the Khmer Rouge prison chief accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder and torture.
Heng Sinith/AP

via Khmer NZ

By Jared Ferrie, Correspondent / July 23, 2010

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In a widely hailed victory for international justice, a war crimes tribunal in Cambodia is set to deliver its first verdict Monday in the case of a former Khmer Rouge torture chief. But some observers fear he may end up being the only regime leader to face justice in a cash-strapped court beset by allegations of political interference and corruption.

Kaing Guek Eav, known by his Khmer Rouge alias “Duch,” oversaw the torture and killing of about 15,000 prisoners during the regime’s 1975-1979 rule. His trial has played an important role in a nationwide “healing process” that is helping Cambodians come to terms with a regime that killed as many as 2 million people, says Reach Sambath, a spokesman for the United Nations-backed court.

Officials say almost 31,000 Cambodians visited the tribunal during the 77-day trial, and millions more watched proceedings on television or listened to radio broadcasts.

Duch alone has admitted responsibility for his role in the killings. But Duch was not a member of the ruling clique, unlike the four additional defendants still to be tried.

Government pressure

Some observers warn that current government officials who were once Khmer Rouge cadres could step up efforts to prevent damaging information from being revealed during in the next trial. David Chandler, a historian and former US diplomat to Cambodia, told the Monitor in November that he would not be surprised if Duch was the only suspect to face justice.

Already the government has shown reluctance to participate in investigations. Cambodian officials said it is unnecessary for government members to comply with court requests to be questioned as witnesses. Prime Minister Hun Sen said he would prefer to see the court fall apart than allow charges to come against a handful of additional suspects, as the prosecution intends.

Those statements, and other less obvious tactics, put extreme pressure on Cambodian court officials who must consider their employment prospects once the tribunal wraps up.

“In the end, the ability of individual Cambodian actors to resist interference by senior political figures and still maintain a position within the Cambodian legal system is limited,” the Open Society Justice Institute (OSJI) warned in a report this month. While OSJI said “political interference was not an important factor in the conduct of the Duch trial,” the watchdog indicated that pressure from government officials could undermine future trials, which promise to be far more politically charged.

Donors hesitant over interference, corruption

Such controversies do not strengthen the confidence of donors, upon whom the court depends for its survival. The tribunal, which has already cost about $100 million, is chronically short of cash. It was bailed out most recently by Japan, which announced early this month that it would provide $2.3 million to pay salaries of national staff.

The hybrid court places Cambodian staff alongside international staff, the latter of whom are directly employed by the United Nations and have not faced payroll troubles.

The tribunal is also blighted by unresolved allegations that Cambodian court employees were forced to pay kickbacks in order to obtain and keep their jobs.

Aging defendants

A further worry is that the painfully slow pace of justice may prevent further trials. No date has been set for the trial of top-level Khmer Rouge officials Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, and Nuon Chea. All four suspects are elderly and have health problems. There are concerns that they may not live to face trial, particularly if Cambodian politicians engage in delay tactics.

The case against them became even more complicated in December when the court laid charges of genocide, which stemmed from the slaughter of ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims. Both Mr. Chandler and Philip Short, who wrote the definitive biography of deceased Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, say the charges were dubious and would only serve to delay proceedings.

Short argues that the minority ethnic communities were targeted for political reasons, as was much of the majority ethnic Khmer population. In an e-mail interview, Mr. Short called the charges “misconceived and unhelpful.” He argues that the suspects already faced charges of crimes against humanity, which would be much easier to prove.

The court’s former lead prosecutor, Robert Petit, has also expressed worry that the remaining suspects may escape justice.

“That’s one of the things that keeps me awake at night,” he says.

PAD urges boycott of World Heritage meet

Preah Vihear proposal 'could lead to land loss'

via Khmer NZ

Published: 24/07/2010

The yellow shirt People's Alliance for Democracy is calling on the government to boycott attending a World Heritage Committee meeting.

Key People’s Alliance for Democracy figures, from left, Piphob Dhongchai, Sondhi Limthongkul, Panthep Puapongpan and Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang urge the government to drop a plan to attend the Unesco World Heritage Committee meeting in Brazil. APICHART JINAKUL

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti has taken a Thai delegation to attend the 34th session of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage Committee, starting tomorrow in Brazil.

As Thailand is among the WHC's 21 commissioners, its absence from the meeting would result in a postponement of the committee's consideration of a controversial Cambodian item on the Preah Vihear temple, said key PAD figure Sondhi Limthongkul.

Cambodia is expected to propose a management plan for the Preah Vihear temple and its buffer zone.

The proposal also concerns Thailand because it opposes Cambodia's plan on the grounds that sovereignty over the buffer zone, the 4.6 square kilometre disputed area claimed by both countries, has not been settled.

Preah Vihear has been on Unesco's World Heritage list since 2008.

"If the committee acknowledges Cambodia's plan, it is only a matter of time before Thailand loses the disputed land, and this government will be to blame," said Mr Sondhi.

The government should express its stance against the listing of the Preah Vihear temple by ordering Mr Suwit to stay away from the meeting, he said.

Mr Sondhi said the PAD would again ask the Abhisit Vejjajiva government to take further action against the listing of the temple as a World Heritage site.

The Administrative Court has ruled to revoke the Thai-Cambodian communique which former foreign minister Noppadon Pattama signed in support of the temple listing but Mr Abhisit had yet to do anything about the court's ruling, said Mr Sondhi.

The communique is believed to have been a major factor leading to the World Heritage site listing of the ancient Hindu temple.

If the WHC meeting was favourable to Cambodia's proposal, PAD would lodge a complaint with the Administrative Court and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to seek legal action against the people responsible.

The PAD would call a public forum against the government for causing the country to lose territory, he said.

Any Unesco committee endorsement of Cambodia's proposal to develop the disputed land would cost Thailand not only that 4.6 sq km of land, but also a further loss of 1.5 million rai of border land and beaches, said Mr Sondhi.

Piphob Dhongchai, another key PAD figure, said the government should respect the Administrative Court's ruling on the joint communique.

Ask Lonely Planet: Getting a taste of real life in Cambodia

via Khmer NZ

Saturday Jul 24, 2010

Banteay Srei near Siem Reap. Photo / Jim Eagles

My fiancee and I are heading to Siem Reap next month for our honeymoon. While the temples are an obvious attraction, we'd like some advice about getting out and about in everyday Cambodian villages to see real life. More specifically, we'd like to spend some time investigating the impact of land mines on people in the area. We don't want to turn people's suffering into some selfish tourist attraction but, if there is some place we could go and see the continuing efforts to clear away this plague and return some semblance of safety to the countryside, we'd be very interested.
- Matt Hollinshead

Tashi Wheeler, a former commissioning editor with Lonely Planet, writes:
Siem Reap is a gorgeous town to spend time in, but sight-wise it really is all about Angkor Wat. Heading out in a boat to some of the further-flung temples such as Banteay Srei and the river of a thousand lingas at Kbal Spean will take you out of Siem Reap. Although there isn't much in the way of village life around there.

You can't exactly watch land mine clearing in action but, if you are interested in the impact of land mines, you should definitely check out the Cambodian Land Mine Museum. It was established by a former Khmer Rouge child soldier turned DIY de-miner, Aki Ra.

It has informative displays on the curse of land mines in Cambodia and includes an extensive collection of mines, mortars, guns and weaponry used during the civil war in Cambodia.

Not only a weapon of war, land mines are a weapon against peace and proceeds from the museum are ploughed into mine awareness campaigns and support an onsite orphanage, rehabilitation centre and training facility.

Visiting the floating village of Chong Kneas, which is a bit of a tourist trap but still very scenic, can be a nice escape from Siem Reap and a good break from the temples.

Further afield, about two hours from Siem Reap, and more memorable than Chong Kneas, is the village of Kompng Phhluk. It's an other-worldly place built on soaring stilts. The village is a friendly place, where most of the houses are built on stilts of about 6m or 7m high, almost like bamboo skyscrapers. Check out the Lonely Planet Cambodia guidebook for more information on the villages and how to get to them.

The winning question this week is from Matt Hollinshead, who receives a copy of Lonely Planet China ($69.99).

Travelling by rail

I'm planning a backpacking tour with a friend of mine around Europe for six weeks, visiting Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Marseilles or Nice, Munich, Rome, Naples (for Pompeii), Pisa, Venice, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, Berlin, Hamburg, Amsterdam, possibly Rotterdam, London and back to Paris. We are wanting to travel by rail, but are a little stumped by the multitude of rail passes available and what would be best for this. We are both 22 and are planning on travelling using 2nd class youth tickets. What would be the best rail pass(es) to buy to suit this trip?
- Mathieu Wilson

Former Lonely Planet commissioning editor Tashi Wheeler writes:

Think carefully about purchasing a rail pass. In particular, prices for the multitude of Eurail passes have been going up much faster than inflation. They are pricey. Spend a little time online on the national railways sites and determine what it would cost to do your trip by buying the tickets separately. More often than not, you'll find that you spend less than if you buy a Eurail pass.

You have a lot of destinations, about 17, you want to get to and not that much time with only six weeks to spend doing it. This gives you about 2.5 days per destination and this isn't taking into account travel time on the trains or anything else that happens along the way.

Most of the Eurail passes only allow 10 to 15 days of travel within a one- to three-month period and Eurail doesn't cover the UK.

Out of all the Eurail passes, I would recommend the Eurail Youth Flexi pass. It's for those under 26 and for 2nd-class travel only: 10/15 days travel in two months for about $720-$940. Two to five people travelling together can get a saver version of Eurail passes, cutting about 15 per cent off.

Win a Lonely Planet guide book

Get the information you need to make your big trip a success. Email your travel questions to and they'll be answered by Lonely Planet's experts. In addition the best question each week will earn a Lonely Planet guide book. To give yourself a chance to win, add your postal address and the guide book you'd like to receive. You can find out about Lonely Planet books at Not all questions are necessarily answered and Lonely Planet cannot correspond directly with readers, or give advice outside the column.

Japanese Textile Artist Drawn to Silk Mystery

Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer | Washington, DC
Friday, 23 July 2010

via Khmer NZ

Photo: by Pin Sisovann
Louise Allison Cort, a ceramic curator at the Freer and Sackler galleries, is seen admiring these beautiful silk.

“I am interested in the mysterious story of yellow raw silk of Cambodia as material relating to Cambodian textiles.”

While the Freer and Sackler galleries showcase rare Khmer bronzes in an ongoing exhibition, traditional Khmer silks are also on display.

The silks are a bit of a mystery, at least to Kikuo Morimoto, the founder of the Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles, who was invited by the Smithsonian to explain Khmer silk dyeing and weaving.

Morimoto brought with him examples of hand-woven textiles that include an important twill pattern, called “hol.”

“I am interested in the mysterious story of yellow raw silk of Cambodia as material relating to Cambodian textiles,” he said, in addition to finding the source of the unique weaving technique.

An artist from Kyoto, Japan, Morimoto said he started his project to restore silkworm cultivation in Cambodian villages and to preserve a culture of weaving that is similar to that in Japan. He especially worked with weavers in Takeo province.

“I met an old woman, she is still keeping the old-day [hol],” he said. “This is the same in Japan also.”

He moved his institute to Siem Reap in 2000, after establishing it in Phnom Penh in 1996, and he hopes to find a way to teach the old methods to younger generations. He now has five hectares of land north of the temples of Angkor, a region that was the heart of the Khmer empire from the 9th to 14th centuries.

His work earned him a Rolex Award for Enterprise in 2004 and an audience with King Norodom Sihamoni in 2007. The king praised the institute for providing employment opportunities to impoverished Cambodian women and maintaining the old tradition.

Louise Allison Cort, a ceramic curator at the Freer and Sackler galleries, said she admired Morimoto for working to preserve the environment as well as the methods.

“When I wear this piece, I know that it was made completely by hand,” she said. “Somebody grew the mulberry trees to raise the silkworm; someone sponged the silk from the silk cocoons; someone used the natural dye to make the colors; someone weaved on the loom; and all of these people enjoyed their work and felt that it contributed to the whole finished result. And when I wear this I feel like I am participating in that project as well.”

The products of the silk weavers' labours are already being sold at a shop above the Siem Reap workshops. They are also available at the Freer and Arthur galleries withing the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.

Peeping-Tom Pagoda Reopens After Scandal

Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer | Phnom Penh
Friday, 23 July 2010

via Khmer NZ

Photo: AP
The images were allegedly secretly taken by Neth Kai, a 35-year-old monk at Srah Chak pagoda.

“All of Cambodian Buddhists should bury what happened at Sras Chak pagoda, and they need to think about Buddhism.”

A pagoda that was at the center of a peeping-tom scandal has reopened in Phnom Penh, but it has seen few worshippers.

Sras Chak pagoda, where a monk allegedly convinced women they could be blessed by showering there and then secretly videotaped them, will now have to work to recover its reputation.

The video images have spread throughout Cambodia, passed phone to phone via Bluetooth technology or USB drives, despite a national call from the government to cease their disbursement.

Now defrocked, Net Khai has been charged with shooting video of more than 100 women since 2008. He is also charged with distributing pornography, a crime under the anti-trafficking law. He faces up to 15 years in prison.

The former head of the pagoda, Meas Kong, stepped down as a result of the scandal. The new chief monk, Chhoeng Bunchhea, told VOA Khmer he was preparing internal regulations and rules of Buddhism to restore the reputation of the pagoda.

“Monks are not allowed to bless in hidden rooms,” he said. “We allow the monks to bless people in public spaces.”

He appealed to Cambodians to stop the spread of the footage and destroy copies as an act of good merit.

“All of Cambodian Buddhists should bury what happened at Sras Chak pagoda, and they need to think about Buddhism,” he said.

The pagoda, which is home to 55 monks and 108 students, is now quieter than before and still controlled by investigating police.

The pagoda had previously seen up to 30 or 40 visitors per day, but now very few visit, according to a layman at the pagoda who asked not to be named. The shower room where victims were videotaped has now been destroyed, he said.

“I didn't think Net Khai could commit this video shooting, because he was a gentle man and talked little with ordinary people,” said a monk living near the suspect's quarters.

Chea Vannath, the former head of the Center for Social Development, said the scandal will hurt the reputation of monks as well as the victims.

Police are now investigating whether more suspects were involved in the video shooting.

NZ Man in Cambodia for Khmer Rouge Verdict

AssociatedPress | July 22, 2010

The brother of a New Zealander killed by the Khmer Rouge has returned to Cambodia to hear the verdict in the war crimes trial of a notorious prison commander. (July 22)

AP Photo/Charles Krupa : Massachusetts program turns refugees into farmers

Immigrant farmer Visoth Kim, who is originally from Cambodia, waters his vegetables on a two acre parcel at Ogonowski Farm in Dracut, Mass., shortly after sunrise, Wednesday July 7, 2010. A 10-year-old program continues to quietly train refugee farmers on modern farming techniques as a way of integrating them into American life while also providing locally-grown foods for area farmers markets and ethnic stores. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Immigrant farmer Visoth Kim, who is originally from Cambodia, waters his vegetables on a two acre parcel at Ogonowski Farm uin Dracut, Mass., shortly after sunrise, Wednesday July 7, 2010. A 10-year-old program continues to quietly train refugee farmers on modern farming techniques as a way of integrating them into American life while also providing locally-grown foods for area farmers markets and ethnic stores. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Ly Try Yeiy, who is originally from Cambodia, picks green onions as his brother-in-law Visoth Kim, at rear, waters his vegetables on a two acre parcel at Ogonowski Farm in Dracut, Mass., Wednesday July 7, 2010. A 10-year-old program continues to quietly train refugee farmers on modern farming techniques as a way of integrating them into American life while also providing locally-grown foods for area farmers markets and ethnic stores. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Ly Try Yeiy, who is originally from Cambodia, stacks green onions while picking vegetables on a two acre parcel at Ogonowski Farm in Dracut, Mass., Wednesday July 7, 2010. A 10-year-old program continues to quietly train refugee farmers on modern farming techniques as a way of integrating them into American life while also providing locally-grown foods for area farmers markets and ethnic stores. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Immigrant farmer Visoth Kim, who is originally from Cambodia, poses at the vegetable sorting table, with his portrait painted on the side of a storage trailer at a farm stand in Dracut, Mass., Thursday July 1, 2010. A 10-year-old program continues to quietly train refugee farmers on modern farming techniques as a way of integrating them into American life while also providing locally-grown foods for area farmers markets and ethnic stores. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Immigrant farmer Rechhat Proum, who is originally from Cambodia, invoices the vegetables he delivers to the farm stand in Dracut, Mass., Thursday July 1, 2010. A 10-year-old program continues to quietly train refugee farmers on modern farming techniques as a way of integrating them into American life while also providing locally-grown foods for area farmers markets and ethnic stores. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

AP Photo/Heng Sinith : Overview of bamboo bridge at Koh Soten island

Cambodian farmer use a cart to cross a bamboo bridge over the Mekong River at Koh Soten island of Kampong Cham province, about 120 kilometers (74 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, July 23, 2010. The bamboo bridge will soon to be replaced by a ferry upon the rising of Mekong River water. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

An overview of a bamboo bridge on the Mekong River at Koh Soten island of Kampong Cham province, about 120 kilometers (74 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, July 23, 2010. The bamboo bridge will soon to be replaced by ferry upon the rising of Mekong river water. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian farmer uses a cart to cross a bamboo bridge over the Mekong River at Koh Soten island of Kampong Cham province, about 120 kilometers (74 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, July 23, 2010. The bamboo bridge will soon to be replaced by a ferry upon the rising of Mekong River water. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodians Seek Justice In "Killing Fields" Verdict

via Khmer NZ

Published: Jul 23, 2010

by Martin Petty

The first U.N.-backed trial of a top member of the murderous Khmer Rouge "Killing Fields" regime will deliver a verdict next week that could bring some closure in one of the darkest chapters of the 20th century.

The Khmer Rouge's chief torturer and jailer, 67-year-old Kaing Guek Eav, is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for overseeing the deaths of 14,000 people as commander of Phnom Penh's notorious Tuol Sleng prison.

Better known as "Duch," he is widely expected to receive the maximum sentence on Monday of life imprisonment by a joint U.N.-Cambodian court set up to prosecute the ultra-Maoist regime blamed for 1.7 million deaths that wiped out almost a quarter of Cambodia's population from 1975 to 1979.

Any lesser sentence, analysts say, could trigger public outrage and further dent the credibility of a snail-paced and financially draining tribunal that has already been tainted by allegations of corruption and political interference.

"Cambodians will lose confidence in this court if Duch doesn't get the maximum sentence," said Pou Sothirak, a former Cambodian diplomat who is now a senior research fellow at Singapore's Institute of South East Asian Studies.

"This is a hugely important and historic day for Cambodia. If people don't believe justice has been served, they can't move toward any healing or closure," he said.

Chum Mey, one of only a few survivors of Duch's S-21 torture center and a key witness in the trial, said a lighter sentence would only prolong painful memories in a country where most families suffered losses at the hands of the regime.

"If he is not sentenced to life, there won't be any justice," Chum Mey, 79, told Reuters. "We have been waiting for more than 30 years. It's a really long time."


Duch, a former maths teacher and now a born-again Christian, insists he was following orders to avoid death at the behest of the late Pol Pot, a French-educated engineer who led the regime and sought to return Cambodia to a year-zero peasant utopia.

Duch asked for forgiveness and wept during his 17-month trial but said nothing of the Khmer Rouge's motives and why so many people were allowed to die of starvation, exhaustion and disease, or by horrific methods of torture and execution.

"I'm still angry, my relatives are all gone," said villager Som Rorn, who lost 12 family members to the Khmer Rouge, eight by execution and four by starvation.

Duch is the first of five of Pol Pot's former cadres indicted by the court. Facing genocide charges are former President Khieu Samphan, "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, ex-Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and his wife, Ieng Thirith, a former Shakespeare scholar known as the "Khmer Rouge First Lady."

Regardless of Monday's verdict, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) will probably face more criticism for its bureaucracy, big spending and lack of progress.

Since its establishment in 2005, the ECCC has spent $78.4 million of foreign donations without making a ruling and was last year granted a further $92.3 million for 2010-2011.

Many Cambodians fear that the ailing defendants could die before they see a courtroom and say the cases are so complex and politicized they may not even go to trial, which has fed allegations of high-level interference.

Mark Turner, an expert on Cambodia from the University of Canberra, said the composition and purpose of the tribunal was often in question and the government, which includes some former Khmer Rogue members, was in no hurry to speed up the hearings.

"One would suspect some people in government aren't too anxious to rake up the past," he said. "They might also be implicated. That's why this court has never been their priority."

(Additional reporting by Prak Chan Thul in Phnom Penh; Editing by Jason Szep and Sugita Katyal)

Al Jazeera talks to Aids activist Annie Lennox

AlJazeeraEnglish | July 23, 2010

Researchers in South Africa have found that a vaginal gel containing a prescription drug could dramatically cut the prevalence of HIV in woman.

Results of a study in the country showed that the microbicide gel reduced the HIV infection rate by 39 per cent over two and a half years.

Renowned singer Annie Lennox, who is also an AIDS activist, has told Al jazeera that the results of the gel trial is good news, but much more work still has to be done.

Cambodia Power Report Q3 2010 - New Market Report Published

via Khmer NZ

New report provides detailed analysis of the Energy and Utilities market

Published on July 23, 2010

by Press Office

( and OfficialWire)


The new Cambodia Power Report from we forecast that the country will account for just 0.04% of Asia Pacific regional power generation by 2014, with a slight theoretical supply surplus that may eventually provide the basis for exports to neighbouring countries. BMI's Asia Pacific power generation assumption for 2009 is 7,308 terawatt hours (TWh), representing an increase of 2.6% over the previous year. We are forecasting an increase in regional generation to 9,725TWh by 2014, representing a rise of 26.2% in 2010-2014.

Asia Pacific thermal power generation in 2009 totalled an estimated 5,849TWh, accounting for 80.0% of the total electricity supplied in the region. Our forecast for 2014 is 7,600TWh, implying a 23.7% growth that reduces the market share of thermal generation to 78.1%. This is thanks largely to environmental concerns promoting renewable sources, hydro-electricity and nuclear generation. Cambodia's thermal generation in 2009 was an estimated 1.8TWh, or 0.03% of the regional total. By 2014, the country is expected to account for 0.04% of thermal generation in the region.

For Cambodia, direct burning of wood and other organic fuels accounts for an estimated 73% of primary energy demand (PED), followed by oil at 26%. Hydro makes a very small contribution, while coal and gas do not yet feature in the energy mix. Regional energy demand is forecast to reach 5,334mn toe by 2014, representing 24.6% growth from the estimated 2009 level. Cambodia's estimated 2009 market share of 0.15% is set to rise to 0.18% by 2014. Cambodia's hydro-electric demand is forecast to reach 0.9TWh by 2014, with its share of the Asia Pacific hydro market rising to 0.07% over the period. Cambodia is 16th and last, behind even Taiwan, in the expanded and updated Power Business Environment Ratings, due largely to the growth potential of power consumption and energy demand, offset by low scores in several other categories. It has the long-term potential to overtake Taiwan and even Singapore, however.

We forecast Cambodian real GDP growth averaging 6.1% a year in 2010-2014, with the 2010 assumption being an increase of 4.8%. The population is expected to expand from 14.2mn to 15.1mn by 2014, with per capita GDP and electricity consumption set to increase 67% and 69% respectively. Electricity consumption is expected to increase from an estimated 1.7TWh in 2009 to 3.0TWh in 2014, providing a slight theoretical supply surplus if generation grows at no less than our assumed average annual rate of 17.0%. There is, however, a risk of electricity shortages if the power industry cannot deliver adequate new capacity as demand soars.

In 2010-2019 we are forecasting an increase in Cambodian electricity generation of 414.2%, which is top of the range for the Asia Pacific region. This equates to 159.2% in 2014-2019, up from 98.4% in 2010- 2014. PED growth in 2014-2019 is set to rise from the expected 2010-2014 level of 41.2%, reaching 53.9% and representing 117.2% for the entire forecast period. Hydro consumption is expected to rise by 3,550% through 2010-2019 (from a very low base), with thermal power generation forecast to increase by 116% over the same period. More detailed long-term power forecasts can be found later in this report.

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Q+A - Cambodia's Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal

via Khmer NZ

Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:35pm IST

(Reuters) - A war crimes tribunal will deliver its verdict on Monday in the trial of Pol Pot's chief torturer, the first for a top Khmer Rouge cadre 31 years after the fall of a brutal regime blamed for 1.7 million deaths in Cambodia.

Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity while chief of the S-21 torture centre, where more than 14,000 died during the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge era.

Below are some questions and answers about the tribunal:


The United Nations and the international community set up a tribunal more than a decade ago, but the government sought to retain control of the court and the plan languished for years.

The U.N. gave the go-ahead for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), as the tribunal is known, in 2005.

The trial, originally expected to cost around $20 million a year over three years, was delayed by bail hearings, appeals and pre-trial machinations. The ECCC has spent $78.4 million of foreign donations so far and was granted a further $92.3 million last year for 2010-2011.

The whole process is extremely bureaucratic and painstakingly slow. Khmer Rouge victims have right to a lawyer, to call witnesses and to ask questions and some lawyers have tied up proceedings with repetitive or irrelevant questions.

The Documentation Centre of Cambodia, which collects evidence of Khmer Rouge crimes and estimates about five million survivors of the regime are still alive, accuses the tribunal of failing to invest enough time and resources. The tribunal hopes to streamline victim participation for its next four cases.


Many Cambodians have expressed frustration over the slow pace of bringing Khmer Rouge leaders to justice and fear the complex nature and politicisation of the cases will mean many will never go to trial.

Many former Khmer Rouge members have been reintegrated into Cambodian society and work in businesses, the civil service and top levels of government.

Allegations of political interference in the court have been made and Cambodia's government has been in no hurry to speed up the hearings. The United Nations has appointed a special expert it hopes can address issues of political meddling and corruption.

Long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself a former Khmer Rouge guerrilla who says he defected to the Khmer Rouge's eventual conqueror, Vietnam, has warned of a potential civil war if the court indicts more suspects.


Duch is among five ageing and infirm senior cadres facing various charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. They include ex-president Khieu Samphan, former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith, a former Shakespeare scholar, and "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, Pol Pot's right hand man.

All four received additional charges of genocide in December, prompting concerns among experts that the court could become even more bogged down. "Brother Number One" Pol Pot, the French-educated architect of the ultra-Maoist movement, died in 1998 and there are fears his surviving allies will die of old age before they face trial.


Conducted under a modified form of Cambodia's French-based judicial system, Cambodian and foreign judges and prosecutors work together and try to reach unanimous decisions. If they cannot all agree, then a decision requires a "super-majority".

The Trial Chamber of three Cambodian and two foreign judges requires four to agree on a verdict. The seven-judge Supreme Court Chamber -- comprising four Cambodians and three foreigners handling appeals -- must have five judges in agreement.

Sentences can range from a minimum five years to a maximum of life in prison. There is no death penalty in Cambodia. The court can also seize money or property acquired unlawfully.


Cambodia's prosecutor opposed a bid by her foreign counterpart to go after six more suspects, citing the need for national reconciliation. Critics saw a political move to stop the court from digging too deep and avoid implicating senior figures in Cambodia's business and political circles.

More broadly, some critics say the role of the United States and China in supporting Pol Pot's regime should also be probed. The court says it can only try individuals for crimes committed in Cambodia between April 17, 1975 and Jan. 6, 1979, and cannot try countries or organisations.

(Compiled by Martin Petty; Editing by Jason Szep and Sugita Katyal)

Massachusetts program turns refugees into farmers

Charles Krupa
Immigrant farmer Visoth Kim, who is originally from Cambodia, waters his vegetables on a two acre parcel at Ogonowski Farm in Dracut, Mass., shortly after sunrise, Wednesday July 7, 2010. A 10-year-old program continues to quietly train refugee farmers on modern farming techniques as a way of integrating them into American life while also providing locally-grown foods for area farmers markets and ethnic stores.

via Khmer NZ


DRACUT, Mass. — The bullet wounds show on Rechhat Proum's back when he bends down to pull lemon grass or water spinach on his farm in peaceful northern Massachusetts. When the 56-year-old Cambodian refugee lifts a pumpkin, the movement of his shirt reveals deep stab wounds on his stomach.

Nearby, Bessie and Samuel Tsimba tend African maize. The Zimbabwean immigrants deflect questions about the country's violence and instead direct attention to the freshness of their cucumbers. "They'll taste better than what you'll get at most supermarkets," promises Bessie, 43.

Proum and the Tsimbas got their start through a program that has quietly trained about 150 refugees of war, famine and genocide in modern farming to help them integrate into American life. On farms along the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border, the refugees have slowly replaced aging farmers and put back into use land that has been idle for years, the program's organizers said.

They supply the region's farmers markets and ethnic stores with beets, cabbage, egg plant, Asian spices and other produce.

"Some were farmers. Some come from a family of farmers," said Jennifer Hashley, project director of the 12-year-old New Entry Sustainable Farming Project. "What we do is provide them with the means to return to agriculture by figuring out financial resources and developing a production plan."

The program was launched in 1998 largely with the help of John Ogonowski, the pilot on American Airlines flight 11 to Los Angeles that crashed into the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Ogonowski served as the program's first mentor farmer and let Cambodian and Hmong refugees use his land to get started.

Proum credited Ogonowski for introducing him to modern irrigation techniques and said Ogonowski wouldn't accept money from him, only fresh vegetables.

After Sept. 11, Ogonowski's widow, Peggy, helped create a farm trust as a memorial to her husband. Meanwhile, Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science's Center for Agriculture, Food and Environment secured $500,000 in grants to expand the program and train more farmers, Hashley said.

Under the program, refugees take a six-week course at Tufts on agriculture and commercial farming. Would-be farmers then enter a three-year transition program in which they farm small plots, typically earning $5,000 to $10,000 a year to help supplement their non-farm incomes.

Bessie Tsimba, of Tyngsboro, a second-year trainee with her husband, said working her plot has introduced her to the basics of farming and allowed her to pick up techniques from other refugees. "You hear all sorts of languages when you're out here," said Tsimba, while cutting weeds with a machete. "We pick up new ideas from each other."

The apprentice farmers also work to find steady, new markets to sell their produce.

"People call me up for orders and I can barely keep up," said Tsimba, who sells to African churches in northern Massachusetts.

After three years, graduates lease a new plot from the trust set up by Peggy Ogonowski or New Entry helps them find other land.

Visoth Kim, 64, of Lawrence, one of the program's original farmers, has built a steady business on a couple of acres he leases. A former teacher and survivor of the Khmer Rouge, a regime that slaughtered more 20 percent of the Cambodian population in the 1970s, Kim sells sweet potatoes, redroot pigweed and tomatoes to Boston-based Tropical Foods and stores in Maine.

"I wake up at 4 every morning and pay close attention to everything I grow," Kim said. "They like what I give them."

Lori Deliso, marketing manager for the Lexington Farmers Market in Lexington, Mass., said refugee farmers have introduced new foods to her market that proved popular, even if customers were a little apprehensive at first about buying "exotic" vegetables.

"They've been great to work with and they always bring different kinds of ethnic foods," Deliso said. "They offer wonderful suggestions on recipes and are quick to show us how good everything tastes."

The program has developed a reputation for teaching about locally grown food and is now attracting American-born would-be farmers, Hashley said. In three years, it has grown from 15 trainees a year to 30 — with more than half American-born.

Amanda Munsie, 34, of Wilmington, said she came from a family of Ohio farmers and wanted to get involved in the locally grown food movement. African and Asian refugees in the New Entry program introduced her to new foods.

"They farm so differently than the way we did back in Ohio," said Munsie, a trainee who farms next to the Tsimbas. "Now, I want to grow some of (their) vegetables because they looked so colorful and tasty to eat."

Proum, who recently lost his full-time job at a technology company, said farming his 3-acre lot gives him solace and keeps him busy. If he is idle, his mind drifts to painful memories of the Cambodian-Vietnamese war or losing his friend Ogonowski on Sept. 11, he said.

"I don't like to think about all of that," Proum said while looking over his Chinese long beans. "I want to think about these."