Archive for February 17th, 2008

Saturday, 16.2.2008: Khmer Citizens That Cannot Speak Khmer

Posted on 17 February 2008. Filed under: Week 547 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 547

In two communes at the northern border of the country, people are far away from the national society

“Preah Vihear: Khmer citizens living at the northern border of the country, including in Sralau Muoy and Sralau Pir communes, situated along the upper Mekong river bank bordering the Laotian side of the Mekong river, have until now not yet received any influence in terms of any dissemination of information from their own society and the cultural relations of their own country, because they are in a remote area next to the border of Laos.

“The people in the two communes of Sralau Muoy and Sralau Pir live very far away from the Khmer society ever since the border was set between the two countries of Cambodia and Laos during the French [colonial] era. The area is around 150 kilometers far away from the provincial town. There are no roads there connecting them to the town. In the dry season, the two communes can only be reached by trucks, because they can use cow-cart roads. It is very difficult to reach Kompong Sralau village, located in Sralau Muoy commune, at the Mekong river bank. In the rainy season, both communes cannot be reached, neither by car nor by motorbike or even cow-carts, because vehicles would get stuck, and many creeks cannot be crossed.

“In the two communes, all Khmer people were under the ideological influence of Siam [Thailand] during the time of control by Siam. Currently, in their villages and communes, their general language is 95% Laotian, while the Khmer language is used only when they meet with guests coming from outside once in while. Recently, a reporter from Koh Santepheap has traveled to the Khmer-Lao border with a delegation of the Provincial Department of Education, Youth and Sports, to Sralau Muoy and Sralau Pir. ‘At that time, we met a Khmer woman named Sen Mi. She is 36 years old, living in Kompong Sralau village, in the Sralau Muoy commune.’ She told Koh Santepheap in Khmer, with a Laotian accent, that she is Khmer, living in this village since she was very young. She had completed school with grade 6 (in the Laotian language), but she does not know any single Khmer letter, because in her village, a Khmer school existed only since 2000. So older people do not know the Cambodian language. Most of them can only speak Laotian.

“The people, who live in Sralau Muoy commune, have close relations with Laotian people, where they live on each side of the Mekong river bank, and they regularly cross the river by small boats to do business and exchange information with each other. Regarding their occupations, besides farming, the Kompong Sralau villagers enter the forest to seek non-timber forest products such as limes, rattans, and vines etc. All of these products are brought to the Laotian side of the river bank for Laotian businesspeople, because all of them have more trust in Laotian people, more than in their own Khmer people living nearby. Almost all of their life depends on business with Laotians. Most of those villagers also use mobile phones connected to Laotian services provider companies, to contact other people in Laos, and they travel by boat to reach each other, both Khmers and Laotians, without any document. As for the currency, people in both of Sralau’s communes generally use, the Kip, the Laotian currency only. There is hardly any Riel used in the area. However, if they want to relate to business more closely to Cambodia, they exchange their Laotian Kip into Dollars in a Laotian market.

“It is to note again that 95% of the children 10 years old and below do not know Khmer, they know only the Laotian language. Nowadays, when a delegation or tourists come and look at the upper areas of the Sralau communes, they see the area where our Cambodian citizens live next to the Great Mekong river border: at night, the other side of the river bank at the Smao island in Laos, has a lot of electricity, but if one looks back to our Khmer Sralau commune, it is dark and quiet…

“Monks, who stay at Wat Botom Phallaram in Kompong Sralau village, as well as commune councilors, and people in the Sralau Muoy commune, appeal through Koh Santepheap to the Royal Government to build a road connecting the Preah Vihear provincial center to Kompong Sralau village, a distance of around 150 kilometers, and they hope that Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen will respond to this request, in order to enable them to have easier communication in all fields with the present society of Cambodia as well as in the future. They want this area to regularly get connected to the Khmer community again, and to reduce the use of the language and culture of another nation.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6273, 16-17.2.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 16 February 2008

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1569, 16.2.2008

  • In Cambodia, 30 People Die from Tuberculosis per Day [according to Mao Tan Eang, Director of National Center for TB and Leprosy Control]
  • Lun Phun [Sam Rainsy Party official who has just joined the Cambodian People’s Party and was appointed as an advisor to the government]: Sam Rainsy Party Will Be Dissolved because of Eng Chhay Ieng [secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party]
  • Asian Development Bank Representative [Muhammad Saad Hashim] Studies Situation of Economic Development in Cambodia
  • Fortune Teller Stalls and Market Stalls at Wat Phnom Exhibition Site Demolished for Reconstruction of Garden
  • Young Man, Who Had Been Disowned by Parents, Hanged Himself [15 February – Kang Meas, Kompong Cham]
  • [General Secretary on the Karen National Union, Pado Mahn Sha,]Senior Leader of Burmese Insurgents, Murdered in Thailand [14 February]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6273, 16-17.2.2008

  • Khmer Citizens That Cannot Speak Khmer – In two communes at the northern border of the country, people are far away from the national society
  • Khmer Rouge Tribunal Plans to Prolong Its Mandate to 2011 and Increase the Expense, Which Have Not Yet Been Made Available, to $170 Million
  • Young Woman, Who Cannot Repay Debt of $200, Attempted to Jump into the River to Commit Suicide; She Was Prevented by Police [Phnom Penh]

Meatophum, Vol.52, #677, 18-23.2.2008

  • Senior Officials Leave Sam Rainsy Party Like Water Flowing through a Broken Dike
  • Mr. Keang Vang [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Kampot who has recently joined Funcinpec] Affirms that Funcinpec Is Democratic, so He Returned
  • Chicken and Duck Eggs and Pork from Yuon [Vietnam] Hidden Under Vegetables Are Imported through Doung Pram Pir Daeum Crossing Every Day [Memut, Kompong Cham]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3389, 16-17.2.2008

  • Asian Development Bank Must Prevent Its Aid from Being Used by Ruling Party for Political Benefit
  • US Secretary of State [Condoleezza Rice] Disappointed about [slow] Speed of Reforms in Cambodia
  • Director of Anti-Corruption Program of Pact Cambodia [Sek Barisoth] Concerned about Missing Points in Anti-Corruption Draft Law
  • Concerning Preah Vihear Temple, Siamese [Thai] Side Still Continues Insolently to Abuse Khmer Sovereignty and Integrity
  • [Director-general of the National Police] Hok Lundy Takes Action against Unusual Police Vehicle License Plates [which are used by criminals]
  • Chea Mony [the president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia] Pushes Supreme Court to Consider Amnesty for Falsely Accused Murderers Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun [accused of killing Chea Vichea in 2004, leader of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia]

Prithtikar, Vol.6, #68, 15.2.2008

  • Purpose to Block the Listing of Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site Is an Abuse [of the verdict of the International Court of Justice]
  • It Is Time AZ Company Should Remove Checkpoints Extorting Money from Travelers from National Road 4

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.15, #1279, 15.2.2008

  • Dekchor Hun Sen: I Have Never Had Even a Dream about Making a Law to Sell Land to Foreigners
  • Blood Still Continues Bleeding from Sam Rainsy Party; Mr. Hor Sopheap [who once left Sam Rainsy for Funcinpec and had recently returned to Sam Rainsy Party] Also Leaves [for the Cambodian People’s Party]; Eng Chhay Ieng Is a Thorn in the Eyes of Officials of the Party

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4517, 16.2.2008

  • US Demanded Debt [of approx. $154 million out of the debt of $339 million], Cambodia Said the Debt Was Owed by Illegal Government [of the Khmer Republic]
  • [Prince] Thomico: Officials Leave [Sam Rainsy Party] because They Lost Hope They Could Overcome the Cambodian People’s Party
  • Japan Provides Concession Loan [of US$31 million] to Create Special Economic Zone [in Sihanoukville]
  • Ministry [of Public Works and Transport] Instructs the Owners of Private Vehicles with State License Plates, Police License Plates, and Cambodian Royal Armed Forces License Plates to Change the Plates in Time [the due date is 1 March 2009]
  • Director of Tonga [garment] Factory Takes Legal Action against a Small Number of Workers Who Destroyed Factory Equipment [Dangkao, Phnom Penh]
  • Man, Who Took Beehives up to the Top of a Sugar Palm Tree, Got Stung All over His Body [14 February – Samraong Tong, Kompong Speu]
  • Police Suppressed Pornographic Video House and Arrested One Owner [Dangkao, Phnom Penh]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3249, 16.2.2008

  • Hun Sen Appoints Many Advisors for Himself after Sar Kheng’s Power Had Been Strengthened at the Ministry of Interior
  • Ten More Officials of the Sam Rainsy Party [names not mentioned] Continue to Leave
  • Siam [Thailand] Still Wants Equal Share of Khmer Preah Vihear Temple
  • US National Democratic Institute Organizes Meeting between Parliamentarians and Workers
  • Nhek Bun Chhay [secretary-general of Funcinpec] Wants to Remove Nuth Sokhom [Minister of Health] at the End of Term [over corruption in bidding for medical supplies]
  • Yeay [“grandmother”] Phan [Suy Sophan, the president of the Phanimex company] Takes Over Even Sites of Hospital of Labor and Department of Labor

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Friday, 15.2.2008: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Reacts to the Allegations of Amnesty International

Posted on 17 February 2008. Filed under: Week 547 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 547

“On 13 February 2008, the Khmer Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a statement [full text, 1 page, is here] rejecting the criticism by Ms. Brittis Edman, an Amnesty International official, who had claimed on 11 February that 150,000 Khmer poor people were illegally evicted from their houses by armed authorities, and that the land was granted to private companies [full text of the statement by Amnesty International – not a statement by the staff member Brittis Edman – 74 pages, with detailed references to cases, as well as to national and international law, can be downloaded here here]. This statement was made after this international organization’s staff had met and talked with poor people living in Dey Krahom, Rik Reay, and Group 78 communities in Sangkat Tonle Basak who are faced with forced eviction by armed forces of the government, in order to seize the land and hand it over to private firms.

“The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs response statement called Ms. Brittis Edman’s accusations totally groundless. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that there has been no illegal eviction as mentioned in the statement; most of the people who live in those communities agree with the companies and the authorities.

“Ms. Brittis Edman has previously said during meetings with people from the three communities in Sangkat Tonle Basak that the government’s armed forces forcefully evicted people for the benefit of private companies, and they contributed to and caused massive human rights violations, as those people do not get offered an appropriate solution from the companies that want to occupy the land.

“Ms. Brittis Edman added that these forced evictions are serious and illegal acts. On behalf of Amnesty International, she appealed to the Hun Sen government to stop to forcefully evict poor from these communities, as the government is obliged to protect legal settlement rights of the people.

“Ms. Brittis Edman’s statement was released after her visit to land grabbing victims in some provinces and municipalities in Cambodia. She stated that the victims in Dey Krahom are among the 150,000 poor people mentioned. She continued that people evicted from these areas should have a legal and suitable solution, and relocation sites should be first developed before evictions.

“Yesterday, on 14 February, Mr. Eng Chhay Eang, the secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party, a member of the National Assembly from Battambang, and the vice-president of the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes, issued a statement condemning the authorities in Ratanak Mondol, Battambang, who ordered armed forces to pull down the houses of Mr. Sat Sarang and of Ms. Seng Im in Rasmei Sangha village, Sdau commune, on 13 February 2008.

“Mr. Eng Chhay Eang stated that the authorities in Ratanak Mondol ordered armed forces to pull down the house of Mr. Sat Sarang in order to develop a road, without having any agreement with the house owner or an appropriate compensation for him. This act is a violation of the Constitution and of the law on land management.

“Mr. Sat Sarang legally built his house on this land in 1996. In the event that the authorities need this land to develop a road, it is necessary to have a suitable and fair policy for the land owner, following Article 44 of the Constitution: ‘The right to confiscate possessions from any person shall be exercised only in the public interest as provided for under law and shall require fair and just compensation in advance.’

“Mr. Eng Chhay Eang added that any official or authority, who use their power in violation or without a warrant to confiscate property, shall be fined from Riel 10 to 25 million, and face disciplinary actions according to Article 261 of the land law.

Mr. Eng Chhay Eng also called on the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes to take action to prevent local authorities, who illegally order armed forces by their own will, from pulling down houses or from seizing land from legal owners. These owners are protected by the Constitution and the land law.

“Concerning the evictions of people in provinces and municipalities from their residences, Mr. Om Sam Ath, the Monitoring Technical Supervisor for human rights violations of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO – said, ‘People have been evicted from their homes in some provinces and towns in Cambodia. During some of these evictions in the past, some people were arrested and jailed, and some were injured due to violence; some were even killed.’

“Mr. Om Sam Ath continued that the government should not have taken such quick reaction against Amnesty International’s criticism of forced evictions of poor people from their residences by armed forces in illegal acts. The government should clearly note that this organization’s criticism is really true, or that it is just a not complete statement. He continued that many people and civil society have joined to lobby the government to stop using violence in evicting people from their communities, but the government should try to find suitable solutions to develop those communities of people at the relocation sites. This kind of illegal evictions make people lose, while private companies will get great benefits.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #110, 15-16.2.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 15 February 2008

Chakraval, Vol.16, #2754, 15.2.2008

  • Woman Who Sells Cupcakes in Sihanoukville Takes Legal Action against Mr. Ngor Srun, Secretary of State of the Council of Ministers [and son-in-law of the president of the senate] on Accusation of Threatening [her and her husband] for Land Rights
  • Prime Minister Denies Allowing Foreigners to Have the Right to Own Land While Some People Are Concerned about the Crisis of Rising Land Prices
  • Sam Rainsy Gives Up Dozens of Faithful Officials and Gets Eng Chhay Ieng [considered controversial by some people as secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party]

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #44, 15.2.2008

  • Irish Government, a Donor of Global Witness, Pushes Hun Sen Government to Investigate Cambodia’s ‘Family Tree’ [Global Witness publication claiming deforestation and corruption]
  • Head of No Longer Appropriate Opposition Party Is Incompetent to Reconcile the Party; He Quietly Goes Abroad
  • Strongman Hun Sen Destroys Sam Rainsy Party by Using the Strategy which the Siamese [Thai] Thieves Used [in the year 1594], of Throwing Duong Silver Coins [as bait for the greedy] to Destroy a Lungvek Military Outpost

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1568, 15.2.2008

  • Khmer Rouge Tribunal Needs $170 Million for the Process to the End in 2011
  • Attempt by Thai Side to Take Preah Vihear Temple as Joint Property [actually, the Thai side does not claim it as property] Contradicts the Decision of the International Court of Justice in The Hague
  • [Six-year-old] Boy Lied on and Hugged His [allegedly alcoholic] Mother’s Dead Body More Than Ten Hours Because He Was Not Aware that She Had Died [13 February – Battambang]
  • Drunken Bodyguard of a High Ranking Official, Waiting Impatiently for the Music of a Song He Had Requested to be played [in a restaurant] Fired a Gun Shot, Seriously Wounding a Woman [13 February – he escapes – Meanchey, Phnom Penh]
  • Widower Set Himself on Fire to Die, the Fire Also Burned His House, Leaving His Six Children [13 February – reason not known – Baray, Kompong Thom]
  • Kampot Province Residents Crowd to Get Water from a Dragon-Protected Buddha Statue [for drinking and treating diseases – Banteay Meas]
    Snow Storms Make China Lose $15 Billion

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #110, 15.2.2008

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs Reacts against Accusation by Amnesty International
  • Yim Sovann [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh] Pushes Asian Development Bank to Pressure the Government to Eliminate Corruption

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6272, 15.2.2008

  • Anyone Can Be Nationalistic; Samdech Hun Sen Clarifies a Rumor that the Government Is Making a Law to Sell Land to Foreigners
  • [Female] Signer Sok Pisey Is Requested to Pay $110,000 Compensation to [KH Promotions] Company [accusing her of breaking a contract – Phnom Penh]
  • Khmer Surin Teacher Comes [from Thailand] to Find Khmer Language Textbooks in Cambodia
  • Burmese Military Regime Accuses Opposition of Wanting to Divide the Country into Two Parts

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3388, 13.2.2008

  • Yim Sovann [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh]: If Sam Rainsy Party Wins Elections, It Will Cancel Casino Contracts

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4516, 15.2.2008

  • Sam Rainsy Asks People Not to Care about Senior Officials Who Leave [the Sam Rainsy Party]
  • Can USA Create a Permanent Military Base in Cambodia? [as a rumor says – US Ambassador Joseph A. Mussomeli said there is no plan to do so]
  • Prime Minister: There Is No Preparation of Legislation to Sell Land to Foreigners
  • Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen during an inauguration of a school building in Kompong Speu]: ‘All Students Without Difference Shall Have the Guarantee that They Can Go to School by 2010’

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