Thursday, 18 November 2010

Sihanoukville left out in the cold

via CAAI

17 Nov 2010

Cambodian hub is omitted from listing plans
In a surprising move, government officials in Cambodia have not named the country’s major hub in its role call of national assets likely to list.

Since September 2009, Sihanoukville Autonomous Port has been expected to list, along with the nation's Water Supply Authority and the Telecom Cambodia.

However, Aun Porn Moniroth, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, has named the latter two utilities but not the port as likely to list on the Cambodian Stock Exchange.

Instead he told reporters that the government would list another unspecified enterprise which will be announced later.

Sources at the port were not initially available for comment and government sites made no reference to the omission.

One possible explanation for the delay is that Sihanoukville might be deemed too important to list, or there might be security implications to a listing. Another is that the real port to watch is PPAP, Phnom Penh Autonomous Port, which is said to be better linked with growing international trade.


via CAAI

Posted by Travis Keune in Documentary
General News
SLIFF 2010

On the surface, ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE of the people may not feel like a terribly emotional film, given its gruesome subject matter, but it doesn’t take long for the undercurrent of guilt, regret and loss sets in. This is a film about the common people of Cambodia, the farmers and peasants, made to become both killers and victims.

In the 1970’s, The Khmer Rouge was responsible for the killing of approximately two million people in Cambodia. The reasoning of Pol Pot, the party leader infamously known as Brother Number One, was that these innocent people resisted change and therefore were dangerous enemies of the state; spies for Vietnam. Pol Pot saw them as a problem that had to be “solved.”

ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE, co-directed by Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambat, combines three elements of documentary storytelling. The film begins with Thet’s ongoing effort to get close to Brother Number Two, Pol Pot’s second in command. The process of gaining his trust is slow, but Thet perseveres and does eventually earn the truth from him, spoken on camera. In this vein, ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE has a hauntingly similar feel to the Errol Morris’ concept with THE FOG OF WAR, which pulled the truth from Robert McNamara, the mind behind the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War.

More significant to the success of ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE is Thet’s ability to relate with the surviving Khmer Rouge killers. The farmers who were ordered, often against their will, to murder the enemy still carry the grief and pain of the experience with them. Many resist speaking out, but Thet is able to convince them that coming forward with is necessary for history; for future generations to know the truth. Those who were killers, were at once also victims.

Finally, Thet’s documents his personal experience and feelings about making the film, which he refers to as his “project.” His parents’ deaths were a result of the Khmer Rouge, so the film is a means for the filmmaker to cope and gain closure as well. The lack of outward emotion from the people interviewed in the film is heavily overshadowed by their silently devastating emotions, internalized. Watching these people attempt to address what Thet confronts them with speaks so much more than strong words and tears.

ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE is hauntingly honest, capturing the Cambodian people as they struggle with this horrible tragedy. For a nation of people (that being the U.S.) used to the extremes of nonfiction storytelling, this film offers a more somber and elemental exploration of the torn human psyche.

On a final note, squeamish viewers beware. ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE is not terribly graphic, except for a brief montage of graphic archival footage from the killing fields where innocent people were slaughtered, followed by Thet’s decision to take time away from focusing on the past and a juxtaposing montage of peaceful serenity.

ENEMIES OF THE STATE will play during the 19th Annual Stella Artois St. Louis International Film Festival on Wednesday, November 17th at 9:30 pm at the Tivoli Theatre.

PM proposes measures to boost regional trade

via CAAI

Published: 17/11/2010

Phnom Penh -- Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Wednesday asked regional leaders to strengthen cooperation in dismantling non-tariff measures to boost regional trade as well as facilitate regional trade and investment through regional mechanisms.

In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 4th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Summit in the Cambodian capital, Mr Abhisit affirmed Thailand's commitment to ACMECS and said that the bloc is a special cooperation framework for Thailand.

ACMECS should direct regional collaboration guidelines, as it is the real stage for countries along the sub-Mekong region.

The summit is determined to develop for the mutual benefits of the peoples of the ACMECS' members and for further intergration of the bloc and of ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations), Mr Abhisit said.

He also announced progress on the collaboration on basic infrastructure development under the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) framework with Thailand agreeing to allocate Bt4 billion (US$137 million) to the project and soon to co-operate with its partners to develop rail lines to link Thailand with its neighbouring countries.

In this regard he asked for commitment to develop the region under the ACMECS framework and by ACMECS in relation to other nations.

Mr Abhisit suggested that the group should consider reducing and finally doing away with non-tariff barriers considered as obstacles to trade and investment in the region, while advising the setting up of industrial estates and joint production bases along the borders of the bloc's members for further cooperation on industrial development and agriculture.

The prime minister also said that Thailand gives importance to environmental protection and conservation along with climate change and natural disasters.

The environmental issue must be addressed in the bloc's development goals, he said, noting that the ongoing flood situation in the region as challenging for all ACMECS governments and should be dealt with jointly.

The five country leaders of ACMECS - Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam and Thailand, adopted the Phnom Penh Declaration and ACMECS 2010-2012 Plan, where Thailand acts as the centre for human resources development, offering over 200 scholarships among the member countries.

Vietnam - CLV summit pledges border development

via CAAI

A Cambodia-Laos-Viet Nam (CLV) summit concluded in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on November 16 with a joint statement to make the CLV Development Triangle politically stable and economically dynamic.

Vietnamese Prime Minister joined his counterparts from Laos and Cambodia in signing the scheme after approving a revised planning framework on the CLV Development Triangle, which now consists of 13 border provinces, for 2020 under the chair of Viet Nam.

Government leaders from the three countries also attended the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on preferential policies for the CLV Development Triangle.

The accords were the outcome of one day’s sitting, with Vietnamese Prime Minister Dung emphasising the huge development gap between the CLV Development Triangle area and other regions.

“The Development Triangle has failed to make a turning point in socio-economic development, while infrastructure development remains behind the plan and human resources to execute projects are falling short,” Dung said.

He called on relevant governments to pay special attention and give a higher priority to the regional development.

The initiative on an Indochinese development triangle area cooperation was raised at a similar summit held in Vientiane, Laos in October 1999, aimed at strengthening solidarity and cooperation in socio-economic development and contributing to maintaining stability and security along the borders between the three countries.

The Cambodia-Laos-Viet Nam Development Triangle area initially consisted of 10 border provinces, and three more provinces were admitted at the fourth meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee in 2009, bringing the total to 13 provinces.

Later on November 16, Dung and his entourage, including leaders of ministries and industries, met the Association of Vietnamese Investors in Cambodia to solve problems for Vietnamese enterprises wanting to boost investment in the Angkor Watt market.

The association reported that investment into Cambodia over the past year has reached 60 projects capitalised at over 900 million USD. The figures represented a four-fold increase in the number of projects and six-fold increase in investment compared with the period before 2009, when the Government issued a policy to encourage investment into Cambodia.

As a result, Viet Nam ranks third in the list of major foreign investors in Cambodia with investment focusing on finance-banking, aviation, agriculture, energy and mining.

Most worthy of note is a 2.2 billion USD project jointly invested by the Electricity of Viet Nam group, EVN International and the Viet Nam Urban and Industrial Zone Development Investment Corporation (IDICO). The Bank for Investment and Development of Viet Nam (BIDV) has signed credit contracts worth over 150 million USD with Vietnamese enterprises in support of their projects in Cambodia. The credit amount is expected to increase soon after these projects complete their procedures.

Trade relations between Viet Nam and Cambodia are faring well with two-way revenues up to 1.15 billion USD so far. The recent inauguration of Cambodia Angkor Air – a joint venture

Chinese dams not to blame for low Mekong levels: Cambodia PM

Children walk along the Mekong river in Phnom Penh
via CAAI

PHNOM PENH — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen dismissed concerns Wednesday that Chinese dams were responsible for the Mekong River's low water levels, telling environmentalists not to be "too extreme".

Hun Sen blamed decades-low water levels in southeast Asia's longest river on "irregular rainfall" caused by global climate change.

The so-called "Mighty Mekong" dropped to its lowest level in 50 years in northern Thailand and Laos earlier this year, alarming communities who depend on the waterway for food, transport, drinking water and irrigation.

"That the Mekong River, or other rivers, have lower or higher levels of water depends on the rain," Hun Sen told reporters after a regional meeting with leaders from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar.

"So please don't be too extreme about the environment and don't say hydropower dams cause water levels to drop in the lower Mekong. If you think that, it is a mistake."

China has eight planned or existing dams on the Mekong River, and rejects activists' claims that these have contributed to low water-levels downstream.

"There is no clear data-sharing from China on how they manage their Mekong dams, so they can still insist that they are not causing the problem," said Premrudee Daoroung from Bangkok-based environmental group TERRA.

"However, looking at northern Thailand, we can see the hydrology change is very abnormal and it be will hard for people there to keep believing that it is not because of the dams," she told AFP.

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) -- an intergovernmental advisory body representing Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam -- is currently studying the possible construction of 11 hydropower projects on the lower Mekong river.

Last month, the MRC released an influential report urging the four countries to delay any decisions about building dams for 10 years due to the many risks involved.

Environmental groups have long objected to damming the river, arguing that it would damage fragile ecosystems.

More than 60 million people rely in some way on the river, which is the world's largest inland fishery, producing an annual estimated catch of 3.9 million tonnes, according to the MRC.

Cambodian lawmaker focuses on rights for women (with video)

via CAAI

Published: Wednesday, November 17, 2010

By Bonnie Adler

Nobel Prize nominee Mu Sochua, an advocate for rule of law and rights for women in Cambodia, is a remarkable study in contrasts.

At 55, she is an exotic beauty, slender, soft-spoken, graceful and charming. She is also alarmingly brave and intensely committed. As the most outspoken female leader of the opposition party in an impoverished post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia, she risks her life in calling publicly for the cessation of sex trafficking, equality for women and an end to the corruption that is endemic to all levels of Cambodian society.

Mu Sochua made numerous appearances in Westport last week, raising awareness about her work as a Cambodian lawmaker to promote greater equality and freedom for women in her country and to publicize the deeply disturbing film documentary “Redlight,” an expose about the global issue of sex trafficking of children.

Mu Sochua is featured in the film, which focuses on the personal stories of the victims of child sexploitation and the efforts made thus far to try to stop the crime, which is so prevalent in Cambodia. “Redlight” was directed by an award-winning Israeli filmmaker, Guy Jacobsen, and was shown in Westport and Ridgefield last week with personal appearances by both Mu Sochua and Guy Jacobson.

Mu Sochua also made a day-long appearance at Staples High School, speaking with students in the about the situation in her country. She also made a special presentation to the Staples High School chapter of Teen Vital Voices, where Westport teens are learning about women empowering other women.

Mu Sochua is sponsored by Vital Voices Global Partnership, an international non-profit organization that trains and empowers emerging women leaders and entrepreneurs around the world, with the goal of creating a better world for those in impoverished and underserved countries.

The Connecticut Chapter of Vital Voices brought Mu Sochua to Westport and Ridgefield, where she participated in a number of events aimed at highlighting the devastating effects of poverty and lawlessness in her country. Her demands, made in her firm but soft-spoken voice, are for laws which Americans take for granted, such as the enforcement of the laws which make illegal the practice of sex slavery by children.

In an interview with the Minuteman, Mu Sochua said, “There is a Cambodian proverb which says, ‘Men are gold, women are just a white piece of cloth.’ Gold can be worn forever. It is always solid, but a white piece of cloth can be stained forever. In Cambodia, if you are raped, you are ruined forever. If you are divorced you are ruined forever. Society will not accept you. If you are independent of your husband you are a ‘bad woman.’

“As a Cambodian Cabinet Minister, I committed myself to changing this proverb to ‘men are gold, but women are precious gems.’ Now my supporters are known throughout Cambodia as ‘precious gems.’

“We have a large problem with domestic violence. When I was minister, we did not blame the men, but gave a picture of a family where the gold and precious gems to work together in order for the family to be intact with a sense of harmony. We did not ask women to demand equal rights, but tried to make the men understand that a sense of harmony is for the family, and that men and women should share the same responsibility to raise the family.”

At 18, Mu Sochua’s family sent her abroad to escape the Khmer Rouge and to get an education. She received a Masters degree from the University of California at Berkeley, where she was deeply influenced by the women’s movement. Those were also the years the Khmer Rouge swept through Cambodia, killing millions in just three and a half years, including Mu Sochua’s parents.

“The scar of the Khmer Rouge is so deep, it is carved into our minds, our souls. I suffer the pain of an outsider, the loss of my parents, and of course, having to grow up outside the country and reconstruct my life from then on.”

Remarkably, she says she holds no grudges and it is with that kind of attitude that she has positioned herself as leader and lawmaker and a role model to young women in Cambodia.

When Mu Sochua returned to Cambodia 18 years after she left, she was appointed to lead the Ministry for Women’s Affairs. She took the job, which she describes as “being in charge of 52 percent of the population,” far more seriously than those who appointed her ever imagined.

“I wanted to bring in western values of feminism and equality. Slowly, I slipped the ideas through, mainstreaming them into family life and culture, but at the same time saying that education is a right, quality of life and free health care are rights and women can be in charge of their own bodies.”

According to Mu Sochua, Cambodia is 85 percent rural, with an extremely high poverty rate. Four million of the 14 million population live on less than a dollar a day, a fundamental cause of the everyday violence and the rampant sex trade.

“The government is corrupt. We have the legacy of the Khmer Rouge, with violence agains women and a culture of impunity. Our present is still haunted by the genocide of the past, which occurred thirty years ago,” said Mu Sochua.

Undaunted by the enormity of the task, she fights each day to improve the situation. “As an opposition lawmaker we know things could be better. We demand a strong rule of law, accountability and the end of violence against women and the end of social stigmatization of victims.”

Not surprisingly, this kind of public opposition was met head on by the Prime Minister of Cambodia. The two clashed in a battle of words and the Prime Minister started a public campaign against her.

“His speeches against me were broadcast on the radio across the country,” she said. “He even said he would finish my political life.” The battle went on for months, and although Mu Sochua lost the lawsuit, she gained much more public recognition and took advantage of the opportunity to defend her right to justice and a fair trial, and what she calls “the right of a woman to be seen and to be considered as a human rights defender.”

She was nearly imprisoned, but the government ultimately backed off when it appeared that the publicity generated by the imprisonment would be too visible and help Mu Sochua’s cause. Instead she was fined $4,000, a king’s ransom in a country where teachers make $50 a month.

“Now I am seen totally differently, even by the Prime Minister. I am a very straightforward lawmaker, although sometimes outrageous, but I do make sense to the people. I am now widely recognized and I still continue to take these causes very seriously.”

Even as she has gained a measure of renown in her own country, Mu Sochua is broadening her battle. She is seeking funding from the United States government to help the growth of democracy in Cambodia. She is hopes to obtain funds for more entrepreneurial opportunity for women in the form of microbusinesses run by women in local villages in order to decrease the level of poverty. She hopes for greater educational opportunity and access, and funding for more radio and television access. Dreams of technology are still far off, as less than one percent of the population is computer literate. Recently, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Cambodia, with a message of support for the protection of human rights. “I want delivery on that promise,” she said.

Cambodia, Thailand Sign Visa Exemption

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Wednesday, 17 November 2010

via CAAI

Photo: AP
Passenger queue up at the airport check-in at Bangkok International airport, in Bangkok.

“Now is the time to strengthen and promote a good relationship between the two nations, by narrowing our disputes and widening resolutions and cooperation.”

Cambodia and Thailand signed an agreement on Wednesday that will allow their citizens to cross back and forth across borders without a visa.

The visa exemption is for passport holders only, and will be added to agreements Cambodia already has with most other Asean members, excepting Brunei and Burma.

The signing took place during a summit of five Mekong River countries and comes on the heels of major diplomatic tension between Cambodian and Thailand this year.

“Now is the time to strengthen and promote a good relationship between the two nations, by narrowing our disputes and widening resolutions and cooperation,” Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday.

Officials said they hoped the exemption would boost tourism. Around 60,000 Thai tourists have visited Cambodia in the first nine months of 2010, a drop of 9 percent from the same period last year.

Opposition Leader See Vietnam Losing Influence

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Wednesday, 17 November 2010

via CAAI

Photo: AP
Sam Rainsy is currently in exile, facing a prison of 12 years on forgery, disinformation and incitement charges related to public claims he has made of Vietnamese border encroachment.

“But if we have a lot of countries as friends, we can find a balance in the we can change positions and not allow any one country to freely oppress us.”

The influences of the US and China have begun to overshadow Vietnam, in what could prove a postiive development, Cambodia's leading opposition lawmaker says.

“Cambodia is in the strategic zone, so all superpower countries want to have influence over Cambodia,” Sam Rainsy told VOA Khmer.

At the same time, he said, neither country wants to see Cambodia “falling into the other's hand.”

Meanwhile, China and Vietnam have a number of competing interests, including border and sea disputes.

“China does not want Cambodia to become a province or colony of Vietnam at all,” he said. “That's why we see China coming to invest and to escalate its influence in Cambodia. As I understand it, China is a positive element for Cambodia.”

When larger powers compete for Cambodia, it has a positive impact, he said. “If they don't pay attention, they forget about Cambodia, how we are suffering.”

On the other hand, if only one power takes interest in Cambodia, such as China during the Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodia doesn't benefit. When Cambodia was under the influence of Vietnam, following the ouster of the Khmer Rouge, “Cambodia suffered too,” he said.

“But if we have a lot of countries as friends, we can find a balance in the we can change positions and not allow any one country to freely oppress us,” he said. “Now I believe that Vietnam's influence will be curtailed, because the US has a strong influence over Vietnam itself, and China also is increasing its influence over Cambodia. So we can try to move away from an influence of Vietnam that is too strong.”

With its Soviet backing long gone, Vietnam will look to the US to resist China, he said. “And I believe that the US still maintains the stance of democracy and wants Cambodia to become a real democratic country that fairly respects human rights.”

Chea Vichea Documentary Banned at Freedom Park

Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Wednesday, 17 November 2010

via CAAI
Photo: by Heng Reaksmey
Labor leader Chea Mony was turned away from Freedom Park on Wednesday, where he hoped to screen a documentary about his slain brother, "Who Killed Chea Vichea?"

“The banning of this film shows that the freedom of expression in Cambodia is less than zero.”

About 100 armed police prevented a group of demonstrators from showing a film at Phnom Penh's newly built park for protesters.

The Cambodian Cofederation of Unions had hoped to show “Who Killed Chea Vichea?,” which criticizes the handling of the murder case of a union leader, Chea Vichea.

A group of 20 protesters, including Chea Vichea's brother, Chea Mony, arrived at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh Wednesday, but they were turned away by police with electric batons and shields.

“The banning of this film shows that the freedom of expression in Cambodia is less than zero,” Chea Mony, who is himself a labor leader, said Wednesday.

He planned to make $10,000 in copies of the film for free distribution to the public, he said.

Chea Vichea, a widely popular labor leader, was shot to death in February 2004. His killers have never been arrested, and two men brought to court for the crime were widely considered innocent.

The film is an indictment of the handling of the case and has not been allowed a public screening in Cambodia.

Freedom Park was established by the city of Phnom Penh as the only legal site where protesters may gather.

Asean's Poorer Nations Find Need to Cooperate

Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Wednesday, 17 November 2010

via CAAI

Photo: AP
Prime Ministers, from left, Thein Sein of Myanmar, Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam, Hun Sen of Cambodia, and Bouasone Bouphavanh of Laos, shake hands during an opening ceremony of the 5th Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam summit in the Cambodia's Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.

“We hope that our four countries will strengthen economic cooperation under a principle of equality, for mutual interest, and without mutual interference, to boost growth and reduce gaps of progress.”

The leaders of Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam met in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, vowing closer ties for economic growth in an integrated Asean economy.

This was the fifth summit between the countries, Asean's least developed.

“We hope that our four countries will strengthen economic cooperation under a principle of equality, for mutual interest, and without mutual interference, to boost growth and reduce gaps of progress,” Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said following meetings Tuesday.

Laotian Prime Minister Bouason Bouphavanh said the four countries, known collectively as CLMV, could play a major role in the integration of Asean.

“The linking of railway networks, human resources, green power and recyclable power are still crucial priorities in the cooperation of the CLMV,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the four nations needed to attract regional development partners, as well as cooperating with institutions like the Asian Development Bank, the Institute of Research for Asean and Southeast Asia and others.

The four countries need to consolidate cooperation to boost trade and investment, facilitate commerce and create markets along respective borders, he said.

Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein said greater links between the countries would not only encourage businesses and tourism, but would also bring their citizens closer together.

Cambodia is hosting three summits over Tuesday and Wednesday: the CMLV, the Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam, and the Ayeyawady-Chao Praya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy.

On Tuesday, leaders signed an agreement to form preferential policies and to develop the triangle of 10 provinces connecting Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Cambodia signed an air agreement with Laos. Burma, also called Myanmar, was congratulated on elections held earlier this month.

Israeli lawyer unlikely defender in Cambodia case

via CAAI

Associated Press

Jewish lawyer here is helping a Cambodian man appeal his conviction for war crimes similar to the Nazis' persecution of Jews.

Nick Kaufman's role in the defense of a former Khmer Rouge prison head has prompted some pointed questions from Israeli TV journalists and the head of a Holocaust survivor group.

"Are you certain that if you succeed in reducing his punishment, you will be doing a good thing?" anchor Yaron London asked on a popular evening news show.

"I am not here to deal with ethics," the Jerusalem-based Kaufman responded. "I am a lawyer and I have a job to do."

From 1975-79, about 1.7 million people died in Cambodia from execution, starvation and overwork under the Khmer Rouge, a communist guerrilla movement that took control of the Southeast Asian country.

Kaing Guek Eav, who is better known as Duch, ran the feared S-21 prison in Phnom Penh, the capital. Most of the roughly 16,000 who entered its gates were tortured before being executed and buried in mass graves, which became known as the killing fields.

Kaufman acknowledged the industrial nature of the Nazi mass killings "raised its head once again in the Cambodian experience."

He noted the meticulous categorization, numbering and records kept of the doomed inmates in the prison overseen by Duch (pronounced Doik).

But "everyone has a right to an effective and strong defense," said Kaufman, even Adolf Eichmann, the top German Nazi officer who was tried in Jerusalem in 1962 and later executed.

He added that Duch has accepted responsibility for what he did, so "the moral dilemma (of whether to assist in his defense) never arose as far as I was concerned."

In July, a U.N.-backed tribunal in Cambodia convicted the 67-year-old Duch of war crimes, crimes against humanity, murder and torture. He was the first person tried by the court. Four other Khmer Rouge leaders are due to go on trial next year.

His sentence of 35 years was reduced to 19 years after taking into account time served and other factors. Many Cambodians think the punishment is too lenient, and prosecutors are seeking to increase it to life in prison. Duch has also appealed, seeking a shorter sentence.

In August, the tribunal's defense support section hired Kaufman as a temporary consultant to prepare a report for Duch's lawyers on possible lines of appeal. He also may be retained to write a friend of the court brief, if the judges agree to accept one.

In his appeal, Kaufman said, Duch will argue that he should not even have been convicted. The tribunal was set up to try senior leaders and those most responsible for the crimes committed during Khmer Rouge rule.

Duch does not deny that he ran the prison. But he believes he was not among "the most responsible" and says that many other officers and prison commanders committed similar crimes, Kaufman said.

The defense is similar to what some Nazis argued unsuccessfully at the Nuremberg trials, said Yuval Shany, an international law professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. "The argument is interesting, but I wouldn't pin too many hopes to this," he said.

Kaufman isn't the first Israeli lawyer to help represent an alleged mass murderer. In 1993, Yoram Sheftel persuaded Israel's Supreme Court to overturn the murder conviction of John Demjanjuk, who was accused of being a Nazi death camp guard. Sheftel was vilified by many Israelis and nearly blinded by a Holocaust survivor who threw acid on his face.

Demjanjuk, a retired U.S. autoworker, is currently on trial on similar charges in Germany.

The Duch case hasn't attracted as much controversy in Israel, because most aren't following the trial closely, Shany said.

Still, Kaufman's role is striking a nerve with some.

"Emotionally, it's hard for me to accept that an Israeli Jew would defend a mass murderer," said Noah Flug, a survivor of the Auschwitz camp and head of an umbrella group of Holocaust survivor organizations in Israel.

The British-born Kaufman has not always represented high-profile defendants. He used to put them behind bars.

After moving to Israel at age 23, Kaufman spent 16 years in the Jerusalem district prosecutor's office, handling rape and murder cases and winning life sentences for Palestinian militants.

His prosecutorial flair and knowledge of international law landed him a job with the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague in 2003, where he helped convict Serbian and Montenegrin generals of war crimes for a 1991 attack on the city of Dubrovnik. He later helped prosecute two Congolese war lords in the International Criminal Court, also in The Hague.

Last year he switched sides, joining the defense of former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba, who is due to go on trial for war crimes on Monday. He was the first prosecutor to do so at the international court.

Kaufman still fights for victims: He is representing eight people who fled from Darfur to Israel in an International Criminal Court case against Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir.

But he also represents such defendants as Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana, who was arrested this month on 11 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

"What are you doing with all these friends?" Motti Kirshenbaum, a veteran Israeli interviewer, asked Kaufman on TV.

The lawyer chuckled but remained firm. "They are not my friends, they are my clients," he said.

Military police enforce eviction

Photo by: Pha Lina
Protesters from Preah Sihanouk province gather outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Villa yesterday after briefly trying to rally at the newly inaugurated Freedom Park to protest a Stung Hav land dispute.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 17 November 2010 15:02 May Titthara

ABOUT 80 families from O'Tres commune, in Preah Sihanouk province’s Stung Hav district, held a brief protest at the city’s new Freedom Park yesterday, requesting official intervention in a land dispute with a local company.

Villagers claim military police surrounded the community following a Supreme Court ruling on Friday, which handed the land to the Ly Hong Sin Company, a local developer.

Mon Sina, a village representative, said the residents travelled to the capital because local authorities had shown no desire to address their concerns.

He said the land ceded by the Supreme Court lay in commune 1, which lies inside Sihanoukville town, but that military police were instead deployed in neighbouring Outreng.

After spending more than an hour at the Freedom Park without any visits from the authorities, the protesters then gathered in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s villa near the Independence Monument.

The villagers claim that 149 families have been living on the 20-hectare plot of land since 1999, and had documents acknowledging their ownership. After military police began enforcing the Supreme Court’s verdict on Friday, clearing 78 homes from the land, they allegedly forced residents to register each time they entered or exited the land.

“We made an appointment to meet at the Freedom Park, aiming to show our grievances, because it is very unjust for us,” said Lou Vannaret, another of the affected villagers.

Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy governor Sun Sakhorn said the authorities were just implementing the Supreme Court’s verdict.

“The verdict said the loser must leave. So we didn’t allow them to access the land,” he said.

Hun Sen’s deputy cabinet chief Lim Leangse could not be reached yesterday.

Cambodia Sent 195 Peace Keepers To Lebanon For UN Mission (In picture)

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Cambodia Sent 195 Peace Keepers To Lebanon For UN Mission

Land Protesters From Sihanoukville Prevented

The 6th Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam (CLV) Summit on Triangle Development Area

New UN rep appointed

via CAAI

Nov 17, 2010
By Mavis Toh

SENIOR civil servant Tan Yee Woan has been appointed the country's next Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

She will assume the post on Dec 6, taking over from civil servant Tan York Chor, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement on Wednesday.

Ms Tan joined the MFA in 1989 and has served in various capacities on issues related to Western Europe, economic policies, international organisations and human resources.

Her first overseas posting was as First Secretary (Political) in the Singapore Permanent Mission to the UN from 1992 to 1995.

In her last posting, Ms Tan was Singapore's Ambassador to Cambodia from 2007 to 2010.

Ms Tan graduated from the National University of Singapore in 1986 with a Bachelor of Social Science. In 1996, she obtained a Master in Politics of World Economy from the University of London.

History of Combodian Buddhism

via CAAI

S. Panneerselvam

Much of the source material available on Cambodian Buddhism is in French. This is understandable, given that France was Cambodia's colonial power. What is available in English is only scanty. This book is an attempt to fill this gap. In a chronological order, it traces the development of Theravada Buddhism before the arrival of the French, and then the politicised Buddhism, which had its beginnings in the middle of the 19th century. That the author, Ian Harris, has made extensive research into the primary as well as secondary sources stands out clearly from the work.

In the first chapter, Harris discusses the place of Buddhism in Cambodia's history from the period of Funan to Angkor, citing epigraphic, art historical, and other documentary evidences. Although it is difficult to establish precisely when Buddhism arrived in Cambodia, the standing Buddha in varamudra and the images of the Buddha in parinirvana point to its existence from ancient times.

While the factors that led to the development of Theravada Buddhism following the fall of Angkorian power are dealt with in the second chapter, the next two chapters are devoted to a detailed study of its various aspects. The death of King Ang Duang marked the end of the middle period and the beginning of the modern, with unexpected influences. The way the pre-modern Khmer interpreted their environment from the physical and mythological perspectives is also explained. In the modern context, Thailand, which signifies orthodox Theravada values, influenced Cambodian Buddhism.

Analysing the literary sources and practices related to the Cambodian Buddhist tradition, the author argues (in the fourth chapter) that the Tripitaka was hardly known in its entirety in Cambodia until modern times. He contends that the influence of the Indian epic Ramayana was seen in Cambodia for more than a millennium. But the story in vogue there was somewhat different from that in India and other regions of Asia. For example, in the Cambodian version, King Janaka finds Sita on a raft sailing down the Yamuna.

Umbrella war
The next chapter narrates how Cambodian Buddhism reacted to the challenge of the colonial rule and brings out the conflict between the traditionalsits and the modernists. Monasteries were in the forefront of the freedom struggle and the Coa Dai movement was founded by Ngo Van Chieu. Monks, with umbrellas in hand, staged a huge demonstration, which came to be known as “umbrella war.” During May 1930, Ho Chi Minh founded the Indo-Chinese communist party. The colonial authority established the Buddhist Institute to save Cambodian Buddhism from degeneration and to counteract Thai influence by creating a strong sense of Indo-Chinese identity.

The seventh chapter presents the religio-political dimension. From 1970, Cambodia started slipping into disorder and lawlessness. Monastries were demolished (1970-73) and converted into military bases. Resistance by the monks was met by execution. Buddhism plunged into a dark period during Pol Pot's regime and, in 1975, it was mandated, inter alia, that the monks be defrocked and made to grow rice.

The re-emergence of Buddhism after the downfall of Pol Pot, its reorganisation, and the restoration of the sanghas are dealt with in the eighth chapter. The year 1978 saw Heng Samrin attempting to unite all patriotic forces, including the Buddhist monks, and the founding of the United Front for National Salvation of Kampuchea, which succeeded in liberating the country with the aid of Vietnamese troops. The anti-religious policies of the Pol Pot regime were reversed. But the process of Buddhist revival was slow for various reasons. For one, the government itself was backed by the Vietnamese and, for another, Buddhism had lost a large number of educated monks during the troubled times. The break-up of the Soviet Union, the exit of Vietnamese from Cambodia, and the internationally monitored elections in 1993 have also had their impact on the restoration process.

The Cambodian inscriptions of the pre-Angkorian and Angkorian Buddhist periods are explained in the appendices, which also provide detailed notes and references. Those interested in the cultural history of Buddhism in general and Cambodian Buddhism in particular will find the glossary and bibliography very helpful. Ian Harris deserves to be complimented for having done an excellent job in presenting the history of Cambodian Buddhism to the academia and the lay public alike.

Free Thai-Cambodian concert

via CAAI

Published: 17/11/2010

A free concert aimed at tightening Thai-Cambodian relations will be held on Sunday, Nov 28, Prime Minister's Office Minister Ong-art Klampaiboon said on Wednesday.

He said the concert at the Indoor Stadium at Hua Mark, from 3pm-11pm, will feature musical and cultural shows by artists of the two countries.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will formally open the show at 6pm.

The concert will be telecast live nationwide and to Cambodia.

Admission is free and tickets will be available from 8am at the stadium he said.

PM Dung attends 5th CLMV Summit in Cambodia

via CAAI

Wed, November 17, 2010

Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam should further strengthen co-operation on the principle of equality and mutual benefit, promoting internal strengths in combination with the international assistance, as well as intensifying scientific and technological application and investment attraction.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung made this statement while attending the fifth Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam (CLMV 5) Summit, which took place in Phnom Penh on November 16.

PM Dung said that after six years of development, the CLMV co-operation has moved from forming mechanism to gradually implementing specific co-operative activities.

He noted, however, that this co-operation is yet to meet the four countries’ aspirations and match their potentials, stressing the slow implementation of co-operative activities due to difficulties in mobilizing capital and weak capacity.

At the summit, PM Dung and his Cambodian, Lao and Myanmar counterparts reviewed co-operative activities that have been deployed since the fourth CLMV Summit in Hanoi in 2008 in such fields as trade and investment, transport, agriculture, industry and energy, tourism and human resource development.

The CLMV 5 recorded several specific progresses in the four countries’ co-operation since that time, including Vietnam’s establishment of the CLMV Scholarship Fund.

To boost the search for capital sources to fund CLMV projects, the prime ministers approved a list of 16 top priority projects in the four countries.

They agreed to adopt a Joint Statement that affirms a determination to continue strengthening co-operation within the CLMV mechanism for peace, stability and prosperity in the Mekong sub-region, and helping narrow the development gap between CLMV and other ASEAN member countries.

The prime ministers also agreed to hold the next CLMV Summit in Laos in 2012. (VNA)

Cambodia, Thailand to sign visa exception agreement

via CAAI

November 17, 2010

Cambodia and Thailand will sign the long-waited visa exception agreement for ordinary passports on Wednesday evening, said Prime Minister Hun Sen.

"There will be a signing ceremony by the two countries' foreign affairs ministers on visa exception on ordinary passports this evening after the bilateral meeting between Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and I," said Hun Sen at a press conference after the conclusion of the 6th CLV (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam), 5th CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam) and 4th ACMECS (Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy) Summit.

"It is a new progressive step in the relations between the two countries that allow people of the two countries travel freely without visa fees," he said.

The premier said THAT in the bilateral talk with Abhisit on Wednesday afternoon, the topic will be focused on strengthening cooperation, narrowing conflicts and expanding solutions.

So far, Cambodia has visa-exception agreements with seven countries in ASEAN, except Thailand, Myanmar and Brunei.

ASEAN makes up of ten countries including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodia sends 197 deminers to participate in UN mission in Lebanon

via CAAI

November 17, 2010

Cambodia on Wednesday sent a group of 197 forces to Lebanon for a UN peace keeping mission in the framework of the UN's interim forces, bringing the total Cambodian forces in Lebanon to 219.

During a see-off ceremony at the military airport on Wednesday, Tea Banh, minister of defense, advised the forces to respect the independence of the sovereignty of the country that will work on the mission and keep good relations with that country, as well as maintain the dignity of Cambodia as they represent the country.

Prak Sokhon, undersecretary of state for the council of ministers and chairman of the National Coordination Committee of UN Peacekeeping Operation, said that including the forces to Lebanon, up to now, Cambodia has sent 845 forces to join the UN Peacekeeping Operation overseas.

On November 8, a group of 21 engineering forces at the Cambodian Royal Armed Forces had already departed for Lebanon for a one year humanitarian mission to construct roads, bridges, and de-mining. The group of 21 left early in order to prepare camps, materials and equipments in advance.

Under the United Nations Peace Keeping Programs, Cambodia has sent de-mining teams to Sudan, Chad and Central African as well as Lebanon for humanitarian mission.

Source: Xinhua

The Constructive Cambodian

A group of forward-thinking young women at the conference, including myself (centre) and my good friend and fellow Lift writer Lyta Cheng on the far left. Photo by: Preetam Rai

via CAAI

Wednesday, 17 November 2010 15:00 Kounila Keo

After spending four days in October in Ho Chi Minh City attending a workshop called Foss Asia 2010, I reached the conclusion that open source software could be the answer to copyright issues on software or computer technology in developing countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam, where many poor people were under-paid and pirated copies of software were widely available.

This second Foss event after the first one in Vietnam last year featured open source advocates and open source software developers from all around the world and big names such as Google, open-source web-browser Mozilla, and many more.

Growing up with a lot of bootleg software programmes easily available in Cambodia, I had become used to these commercial software applications. As a consequence, this practice has deterred technology companies like Microsoft from fully operating here, which means no jobs or prospects for more development.

The other thing to consider is that the more that pirated software becomes available here, the more it increases anarchy and neglect of copyright laws – why use costly commercial software when we cannot afford it?

But what about open source software? And in what way can it help a country like Cambodia avoid using pirated programmes? Open source software is only a fraction of what’s known as “open source”, which some people call a philosophy and others “pragmatic methodology”, according to wikipedia, an online open-source encyclopedia.

Besides computer technology and culture, open source extends its influence to areas such as education, health and science and journalism, along with arts, digital content and more. As a way of illustration, open source software, which is different from the commercial software one has to pay for, was built on the concept of making everything free for all the people.

The source code of open source software is “published and made available to the public, enabling anyone to copy, modify and redistribute the source code without paying royalties or fees”, wikipedia states.

Open source code evolves through community cooperation in a collaborative manner in which software developers from all over the world come together online and develop a code to make any programme better.

These communities are also comprised of very large companies which believe in free access to free software for everyone. Where does the idea come from? In fact, open source existed even before computers when it was called the spirits of sharing.

At Foss Asia 2010, I learned that open source software technology has been taken to a new level in Vietnam, where many people have turned to open source programmes for use rather than the commercial software that many cannot afford.

In the late 1990s, the Vietnamese government strongly supported free open source software integrated in education as well as business, prompting an order from the government for all administrative offices to use open source applications in 2008. With more support from the national government and relevant OSS organisations, Vietnam has a strong open source community which enables the country’s consumers to save more and contribute less to copyright violations.

In an effort to bring development through technology to Cambodia, the Open Institute, which was established in 2006, is committed to improving access to quality education by using technology in the local language. Open source software has changed the face of education and business around the world.

It is still a struggle for Cambodia, however. According to Norbert Klein, a German author of the Cambodian Mirror blog and a strong supporter for internet development in Cambodia, the government in 2001 announced a policy aimed at “avoiding dependency on proprietary systems, instead promoting open systems and interoperability”, which was supported by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Education to use free open source software such as OpenOffice, Khmer Unicode and other FOSS applications.

However, there is a lack of support for those who want to shift from commercial applications and a lack of facilities and training in schools around the country.

It is perhaps still a dream to see Cambodia fully integrate FOSS into education as much as Vietnam has, but FOSS will be the answer to more development in Cambodia in the information and communication technology sector. What is needed now is support and more programmes to lift awareness about the free use of open source software and at the same time reduce the use of pirated software.

What technology has the most potential to truly change Cambodia? Talk about it at and then make it happen.

Cambodia needs love - politicians need love as the foremost priority in all decision making

via CAAI

If a people is guided with love rather than with profits in mind, then any attempt to bribe a politician will fail. Corruption and one sided governance of a country only is possible when love is missing in a country's culture and political tradition.

 Lotus flower of wisdom and God's love

PRLog (Press Release) – Nov 17, 2010 – If a people is guided with love rather than with profits in mind, then any attempt to bribe a politician will fail. Corruption and one sided governance of a country only is possible when love is missing in a country's culture and political tradition. A king may feel like a father of a nation and act in love for the benefit of all nation, including all minorities and nature as well.

Cambodia is a country with missing love in its tradition and history of past many centuries. Hence an ongoing struggle or even war with neighbors as well as social tension within. Love has nothing to do with religion. Love can and should be the innermost core of any religion and any political guidance.

A blind going into tropical sun for all day may get sun burn even if he never sees the sun. Any person including politicians or business men will be subject to God's power and love even if they are unaware of God and Love. The law of karma acts on all. The power of love is available to all - to politicians as well!

After the centuries and decades of war and struggles within and toward outside, it is time that Cambodia reviews its basic way of governing and keeping its entire Khmer population happy and in real peace with each other. Industrialization and easy money never has been a solution to any nation on earth. Western countries - Europe, USA as well as other industrialized nations start to suffer more and more from environment destruction, pollution of basic life space, nature, drinking water, breathing air and farming land. To learn from all those already made mistakes and disasters that have occurred is infinitely wiser than to follow the same steps of misguided, greedy politicians, bankers and industrial powers from other nations.

The temptation to succumb to the easy money fast profits calls from other nations who have exploited their own nature and population and are thus looking for new victims is great. A few hundred thousand dollars saved in a few months - Millions in a few years - who can withstand that temptation? The truly loving one! The truly honest one who loves his entire nation always can withstand the temptation for easy money offered versus a lifetime of hard work into a prosperous future amidst a strong, hard working population of free Khmer.

To betray your own people by welcoming and accepting easy money making industries at the expense of a beautiful nature that offers a safe and healthy future for all Khmer during the entire eternal future will eventually bounce back like a boomerang. The last time karma bounced back was in the post war time of cruelties and atrocities committed against Khmer by Khmer. Until the end of war we had already an establishment of overpaid and indulging upper class living at the expense of bribery and monkey business - my very own Khmer family included! The result is known: Millions got killed, all rich ones or influential ones got killed (unless they managed to hide or escape from Cambodia). My own Khmer family got whipped out with no single survivors.

The current policy of industrialization, deforestation, mass farming by rich companies or foreign investors appears nothing better than the very same steps toward another future disaster waiting to happen.

The one and only single key force within the government of the Kingdom of Cambodia is wisdom. Wisdom is the result of love toward all. Toward nature as well as the hidden one somewhere in the Cambodian jungle. When love is accepted as THE essential core of all ruling - ruling as a PM or king or president or whatever titles may be held - then peace starts to grow among all parts of the Kingdom. Without love there can be no wisdom. If wisdom is missing within you, then you have to search for wise guidance - in a deep prayer to God ... asking for love in all your decisions.

To prosper together is the result of clean, honest and hard work as an entire nation. One nation is one family. A family business is as weak or as strong as the weakest members. What are we doing with all the industrial money in Cambodia? We buy food. But we have no need to buy food as long as we have an opportunity to produce our own food on our own small piece of land. We have ample very fertile garden and agriculture land in Cambodia. Enough for every single family to have a honest share as a gift from God. We have silk and many natural resources really needed for a happy life. We have bamboo and other basic construction material needed for each family to have a small Khmer style home for a happy family.

All we need is to develop and practice love among all Khmer. Full forgiveness for all past mistakes by wealthy ones as well as full forgiveness for all bouncing back karma and cruelties by Khmer rouge is the first prove of willingness to love. All else comes step by step just as we learn over a few years step by step the ABC in reading and writing, we also can learn the ABC of loving all in all our daily life, business, politics and family. Jesus teachings of love and solutions of love are an in depth set of beginners lessons available to all. For all religions, For all philosophies, for all genders and ages. God is God of all - even spiritually blind ones or misguided ones or stubborn ones.

A Vietnamese woman who has survived the war in Cambodia once told me early last year: "Before we had Buddha - but he never helped us during war. But now we have Jesus." If you pray to God, you can feel his love - instantly if your heart is sincere and open for love. If you pray to a bank, another country or an industrial power - you feel nothing at all, except the pain of a bouncing karma-boomerang after many more mistakes. On wrong path all steps wrong! We have all eternity time to learn, to progress together as a happy loving family amidst a clean God made nature. Hence there is no need to overrun a country with fast and easy money making industries and mega size plantations owned by banks and richest ones. We have all time we want and need to grow together, to work together and to prosper together - step by step - on a path of Love.

Fourteen Cambodians die from mine explosion

via CAAI
An estimated 4 to 6 million land mines and other unexploded ordnance from more than three decades of armed conflict continue to maim or kill Cambodians each year. –Photo by Reuters

PHNOM PENH: Fourteen people died in western Cambodia when their homemade tractor ran over an anti-tank mine left over from the country’s civil war in the 1980s, an official said Wednesday.

The incident occurred Tuesday in Battambang province, 155 miles northwest of the capital Phnom Penh, while the farmers were on their way back home from harvesting chilies, police Maj. Buth Sambo said.

He said 12 of them were killed instantly, including a one-year-old girl, and the two others died on the way to a hospital.

The police officer said the area was the site of intense battles between the Khmer Rouge and government forces in the 1980s and early 1990s and thus was seeded with numerous mines.

An estimated 4 to 6 million land mines and other unexploded ordnance from more than three decades of armed conflict continue to maim or kill Cambodians each year.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said earlier this year that it will still take years to clear the once war-torn nation of land mines that endanger lives in nearly half the country’s villages.

Cambodian and foreign deminers have destroyed 2.7 million mines and unexploded ordnance over about 200 square miles and the number of mine casualties has dropped significantly, but the explosives remain a major threat.