Human Rights Watch Criticizes Cambodian Military, but Cambodia Dismisses the Criticism – Saturday, 10.7.2010

Posted on 11 July 2010. Filed under: Week 672 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 672

“Phnom Penh: Human Rights Watch [“Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world. We stand with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice”] criticized the Cambodian military for being involved in forced evictions.

“This criticism is made as Cambodian military forces cooperate with the US army to organize a big military exercise starting on Sunday next week.

“According to a report from New York issued on 9 July 2010, Human Rights Watch said that the joint military exercise, which the United States of America decided to organize in Cambodia, will affect the US commitment to promote human rights in Cambodia.

“Human Rights Watch said that Cambodian military forces are used to protect the interest of private companies [see Phnom Penh Post of 2 June 2010] and to evict Cambodian people by force in order to grab their land. In addition, Cambodian armed forces beat and sometimes shot at Cambodian innocent people over land disputes.

“Human Rights Watch asked the United States of America to suspend its military aid to Cambodia, where it granted about US$1.8 million in 2010 for the construction of a military training center.

“Anyway, high ranking officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia dismissed this criticism, adding that the cooperation between Cambodia and the United States of America continues.

“The spokesperson and Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of Defense, Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat, said that what was mentioned by the Human Rights Watch was without clear basis and thus it is unreliable. Cambodian troops have never committed anything as criticized [see Phnom Penh Post of 10 May 2010].

The Asian Human Right Commission (AHRC) has learned that on November 14, 2006, three villagers were allegedly assaulted in relation to a land dispute by members of the military from the ACO command headquarters (tank headquarters)

“The spokesperson of the government, Minister of Information Mr. Khieu Kanharith, said that the Cambodian armed forces are used to protect and to maintain security and social order, and every country uses armed forces, also the United States of America. But the government has never ordered troops to grab people’s land.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong, said that the criticism of Human Rights Watch is unnecessary and useless.

“He added that the relations of Cambodia and the United States of America are smooth in all sectors, both in such fields as diplomacy and military. These ties will continue without change.

“It should be noted that the criticism of Human Rights Watch was made a week before Cambodian forces start to cooperate with the US Pacific Command to jointly organize a big multi-national military exercise and training from 17 to 30 July 2010. Twenty six countries will join in this exercise which is named Angkor Sentinel 2010.

“The multi-national exercise is organized with the aim to strengthen the capacity of military forces for peacekeeping missions in the region and in the world.

“Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat said that twenty six countries will participate in the military exercise which is divided into two parts: a ‘command post’ exercise in Phnom Penh in the Intercontinental Hotel, and field training exercise at the area of the ACO [‘allied command operations’?] Tank Command Post in Kompong Speu, along National Road 4.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5246, 10.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 10 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2297, 10.7.2010

  • The Appeals Court Determined 9 August 2010 as the Date for the Hearing of the Border Post Removal Case [on opposition party president, Mr. Sam Rainsy]
  • After Taking Out Money from a Bank, a Man [a factory accountant] Was Robbed and US$3,500 Was Taken Away [there may have been two or more robbers involved, but they are not yet identified – Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7004, 10-11.7.2010

  • A Cambodian Muslim Man Got Drunk and Started a Shootout in a Cambodian Muslim Village, Killing Two People and Injuring Five Others Before He Escaped [Kompong Cham]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3928, 10-11.7.2010

  • It Has Been Two Years Already, but the Authorities Still Cannot Arrest the Perpetrators Who Fatally Shot [Moneaksekar Khmer] Journalist Khim Sambo and His Son
  • Human Rights Watch Wants the United States of America to Engage in Strengthening of Human Rights During the Participation to Organize a Multi-National Exercise in Cambodia [the “Angkor Sentinel” exercise is part of the 2010 Global Peace Operations Initiative, an effort jointly run by the US Departments of Defense and of State to help train peacekeepers]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5246, 10.7.2010

  • Human Rights Watch Criticizes Cambodian Military, but Cambodia Dismisses the Criticism
  • [Former Tuol Sleng prison chief] Duch Asked to Change His Foreign Defense Lawyer Mr. François Roux [the Khmer Rouge Tribunal agreed to his request]
  • The King Called on All Development Partners of Cambodia to Provide Financial and Technical Support for Forestry Reform in Cambodia
  • A Man Raped a Two-Month Pregnant Woman and Then Killed Her in a Rice Field [he was arrested – Preah Vihear]

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Officials: Cambodia Organizes Freedom Parks for Assemblies – Tuesday, 6.7.2010

Posted on 8 July 2010. Filed under: Week 672 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 672

“A government official said on Monday that Cambodia is making way to create Freedom Parks for citizens to demonstrate, but local activists are concerned that this would restrict the freedom of expression. The spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Khieu Sopheak, told Agence France-Presse [AFP], ‘All provinces and cities are organizing places for Freedom Parks.’ He added that the authorities countrywide had been notified accordingly.

“He went on to say that the parks planed to be established to provide safety and to permit people to freely express their opinions from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; it is compulsory to use them according to a law adopted last year that is the subject of controversial discussion.

“The law limits the number of demonstrators to 200 only; opposition party members and activists said that the authorities will use this limit defined in the law to restrict the freedom of expression.

“People from around the country have frequently demonstrated near the residence of Prime Minister Hun Sen about various issues, including about forced evictions, for which the government faces increasing criticism.

“An official of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC], Mr. Chan Soveth, said that the new parks might also reduce the level of attention from the general public, if demonstrators are forced to demonstrate far from the Prime Minister’s residence. He added, ‘It is a good idea to provide an opportunity to people to express their ideas, but we are worried that Freedom Parks might force people to demonstrate at places which they do not prefer.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #208, 6.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2293, 6.7.2010

  • [The Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Expressed His Gratitude toward Cambodia [for sending two bomb attack suspects to Thailand]
  • In a Tragic Event, a Whole Family [of six members] Was Killed in a Traffic Accident [after a collision between a car and a truck – Siem Reap]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7000, 6.7.2010

  • An Inhuman Man Raped a Seven-Month Pregnant Woman and Then Killed Her; It Is a Grave Tragedy Where the Mother and the Infant Were Killed [the perpetrator was arrested – Sihanoukville]
  • The US President Announced Investments of US$2 Billion for Solar Energy Projects [to create solar energy plants]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3924, 6.7.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua: The Petition to Ask the United States of America to Help to Monitor Judicial Systems in Cambodia Has Reached the Hands of [US President] Barrack Obama

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #208, 6.7.2010

  • Officials: Cambodia Organizes Freedom Parks for Assemblies
  • The Opposition Newspaper Khmer Machas Srok Suspends Its Publication due to Bankruptcy [after Deum Ampil, another critical paper, was announced on 2 July 2010 to be bankrupt]
  • The Government Encourages the Conservation of Old Constructions to Attract Tourists [like buildings of historical nature or traditional houses]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5242, 6.7.2010

  • Mu Sochua Maintains Her Position Not to Pay a Fine [for losing a defamation case against Prime Minister Hun Sen – considering the court verdict not to have been just] and Prepares to Get Jailed
  • Two People Were Killed and Four Others Were Wounded after a Truck Loaded with Cows Hit Motorbikes [Takeo]

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The Number of Cambodian Migrant Workers Is Increasing – Monday, 21.6.2010

Posted on 23 June 2010. Filed under: Week 670 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 670

“Observers said that the sharp increase in the number of Cambodian migrant workers creates more problems for officials fighting against human trafficking. According to the report of the US Department of State released last week, Cambodia carried out positive measures last year to fight human trafficking, but some people called for attention to the fact that workers migrating to foreign countries for better job opportunities are also facing more problems.

“A legal advisor of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO – Mr. Manfred Hornung, said that his team has worked with about 60 migrant workers who had been trafficked and then sent back to Cambodia during the last 18 months. He said, ‘They experienced dangerous situations after they had fallen into trafficking.’

“He added that they tell similar stories. Because there are less job opportunities in the country, many workers were lured by local merchants with the promise to find them well-paid jobs in Thailand. They were then trafficked across the border. Before they were sold to work on fishing boats, they were locked up in guesthouses. When they started to understand what had happened, it was already too late.

“Mr. Hornung said, ‘Those workers were almost like slaves. Many of them said that they worked under difficult working condition, where some were even beaten and killed.’ He added, ‘In many cases, they experienced the bad fate of trafficked male migrant people, whose labor is being exploited.’

“An obvious difficulty is not to have an accurate number of people who fell into such exploitation. The World Bank estimates that there are about 350,000 Cambodian migrant workers abroad. Observers who work with the problems of migrant workers said that there is also a large number of unreported workers working abroad.

“Mr. Hornung added that the International Labor Organizations [ILO] estimates that between 250,000 to 300,000 young citizens of Cambodia want to enter the job market every year. If there is a shortage of jobs in the country, some of these young citizens are forced to seek jobs in foreign countries.

“The head of the Anti-Human Trafficking Department of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Bit Kimhong, recognized that many citizens are being trafficked into forced labor in different countries. But he said that the authorities are stepping up legal measures. He said, ‘The government created its strategies for 2010 to investigate border crossing crimes.’

“The human trafficking report of the US Department of State released last week shows that the number of prosecutions against perpetrators of human trafficking increased compared to before, so that Cambodia was removed from the Tier 2 Watch List of countries that are being assessed in their combat against human trafficking, which is not yet sufficient. From thirty six reported convictions, only one was not for sexual trafficking, which shows that there was not much done against labor related trafficking.

“The report says, ‘The trafficking of Cambodian citizens abroad increases and it needs to receive more attention from the authorities during the next years.’ It adds, ‘While there are more reports about Cambodian migrant workers who become victims due to trafficking, resulting from the exploitation of their labor in different countries, the government hardly prosecutes criminals and those companies which select workers involved in the trafficking of laborers.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #197, 197.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 21 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #509, 20-21.6.2010

  • Ethnic Minority People in Ratanakiri Criticized the Authorities for Unfairly Distributing Donations [like money, paddy rice seeds, rice, fertilizer, or vegetables; the poor people did not receive donations, but only families with medium livelihood conditions received donations]
  • President Obama Asked Burma to Release [Burmese elected leader] Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2280, 20-21.6.2010

  • Within Half an Hour, There Were Two Traffic Accidents in the Meanchey District, Killing Two People and Injuring Three Others [Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #686, 20-21.6.2010

  • Khmer Journalists Need More Training to Write Investigating Information [to write such information, journalists have to investigate to collect strong evidence to support their conclusions]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6987, 21.6.2010

  • Diarrhea Raged in the Northeast: During Three Months, 902 People Were Treated Timely and 23 Others Died in Ratanakiri

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3911, 21.6.2010

  • Does [Phnom Penh Municipal Governor] Kep Chuktema Not Dare to Use Violence to Evict Yuons [Vietnamese] Living along the River in the Niroth Commune [Meanchey district, Phnom Penh] as He Did to Khmer Citizens Living in Temporary Shelters? [no details about the evicted Cambodians given, but in this case, the authorities ordered 70 Vietnamese fisher families living along the riverbank to move; now observers wait to see how the authorities will enforce it]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #197, 197.6.2010

  • The Number of Cambodian Migrant Workers Is Increasing
  • Fifty Two Cambodian Deminers Left to Sudan Last Night [20 June 2010] [under the auspices of the United Nations]
  • More Than 400 [illegal] Khmer Workers Were Arrested by the Thai Authorities [late last week]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5229, 20-21.6.2010

  • The Khmer Authorities Prohibit Farmers from Doing Cultivation on the Fields Next to the Temporary Border Marker Number 270 in Takeo [while experts are doing the demarcation]
  • There Will Be a Military Exercise with More Than 1,000 Soldiers from [23] Different Countries in Cambodia in July 2010

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Not Everything Legal is Considered Legitimate – Sunday, 20.6.2010

Posted on 22 June 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 669 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 669

A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Health spoke against the economic exploitation from blood donations and blood infusions during an event at the occasion of the World Blood Donors’ Day. Did she say that the financial transactions related to blood donations and transfusions are illegal? No. They are legal. But she still considers these business aspect as “totally against the moral of medical professionalism, and such behavior must be avoided.”

We encounter here a situation where something that is legal is still being considered not to be legitimate. No law is violated, but still some people claim to have good reasons to say that it is not acceptable.

And the Secretary of State elaborated further about the consequences of such a discrepancy, when – from a moral perspective – a legal but illegitimate action leads to a loss of “trust from the general public” in medical institutions which are involved in such actions.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, Mr. Subedi, is quoted to have made a similar remark. Speaking to journalists he said that several reasons: “the lack of resources, institutional problems, and the interference from outside of the court system have created institutions which are not trusted by citizens.”

He did not say that the law is violated – but still: the result is not trusted by many citizens.

Probably it can be said that many actions which caused the sufferings and the deaths of many people under the Khmer Rouge regime were implemented according to the law – the laws of that time – and still a basic feeling for justice considers them not to have been legitimate.

To question legality in the name of legitimacy is not without problems – but still it has to be raised in every society which is built on basic human values, such as the values stated in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia; nobody can avoid to face this dilemma.

As reported by Reuters, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia stated at the end of his third mission to Cambodia on 17 June 2010, that he was troubled by the land disputes and the apparent inability of the poor to get a fair hearing in court. And in a reference to the government’s tough stand on dissent, he expressed concern about what he called a narrowing of the political space for debate. He has the duty to report the results of this visit to the UN Human Rights Council, and he will do so in September 2010. Again: there was no statement claiming that laws are violated – but also a clear indication that he understands that there is doubt and lack of trust in the courts, and in the legitimacy of the results of court actions, felt and expressed by many people.

Facing this situation , the head of the government’s Cambodia Human Rights Commission is quoted to have said already that he expects that the assessment by the UN Special Rapporteur will not be correct, as he was in the country only for a short visit.

It is a general phenomenon that flawed or wrong information and opinion can best be countered and maybe corrected by open and transparent communication – but this may also lead to clarify that there are different, even opposing opinions.

The rapporteur, Mr. Surya Subedi, expressed also that he was disappointed that he could not meet the Prime Minister – a meeting had been scheduled only for the end of his 10-days visit, and the visit could not materialize because the Prime Minister was unwell.

In response, the Prime Minister criticized Mr. Subedi, considering it as a sign of disrespect that he said he was disappointed about the Prime Minister’s illness. “Every time he’s come here, I’ve met him,” Hun Sen said. “From now on, I’ll see him just once a year. I hope he will hear this: I’m ill, I don’t need to report to you,” Hun Sen added, accusing Subedi of wanting to “colonize” his country.

The necessary exchange of information and of opinion with Mr. Subedi, as the United Nations appointed Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, will not become easier. When Cambodia was “colonized” like many other countries by European powers and by Japan were colonized, this was done with military threat or lethal force. It is not obvious why this service of the United Nations, agreed upon with the Royal Government of Cambodia, looking into the status of the human rights situation in Cambodia, considering the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the laws based on it, is an effort to colonize Cambodia.

If it were not that hundreds of people would demonstrate – often holding pictures of the Prime Minister and the First Lady whom they trust that they will help them to find justice – and thousands of people gave their thumb prints to raise their concerns, considering that they have been unjustly evicted – Mr. Subedi would not listen. He listened also to these people after meeting government representatives and members of the judiciary. And these people are among the ‘masters of their own country” according to Article 51 of the Constitution, and they have the right to struggle, with all other sections of society, that the application of the law is felt to be legitimate.

Where this social consensus is lost – like recently in large section of the Thai society – this can lead to serious problems.

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People Losing Land and Housing Plan to Protest in Front of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – Monday, 14.6.2010

Posted on 15 June 2010. Filed under: Week 669 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 669

“Phnom Penh: Human Rights activists said that many citizens who have land disputes and suffer from evictions without proper compensation plan to come from provinces and cities to protest and to express their difficulties to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, Mr. Surya Prasad Subedi, on Monday, 14 June 2010.

“The UN Special Rapporteur, Mr. Surya Prasad Subedi, is on a 10 days mission in Cambodia, starting from 8 June 2010. Mr. Surya did not intend to take up land disputes and the evictions of citizens as important topics to discuss them with the head of the Cambodian government. He mentioned only the judicial reform as the subject to be discussed, to find solutions during his third visit to Cambodia.

“An official of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC], Mr. Uoch Leng, said that on 14 June 2010, many citizens who are victims of land disputes in several provinces and cities will come to protest in front of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia at House Number 4, Street 302, Boeng Keng Kang I commune, Chamkar Mon district, Phnom Penh.

“This activist said that the protest aims to express the difficulties of citizens losing land due to the activities of the rich and of the powerful, and due to the provision of economic concession land to private companies, which affect and make citizens lose the land on which they depend for their lives.

“Mr. Uoch Leng added that on 14 June 2010, there will be citizens from the Kompong Tralach district in Kompong Chhnang, the Kandal Stung district from Kandal, the Chi Kraeng district from Siem Reap, the Romeas Haek district from Svay Rieng, the Thpong and Oral districts from Kompong Speu, and the Srae Ambel district from Koh Kong, citizens from the Boeng Kak Lake area in Phnom Penh, and some other citizens involved in land disputes.

“According to ADHOC, since early 2010, 42 citizens were jailed over land disputes at different provinces and cities. 187 citizens were accused by courts relating to land disputes with private companies, officials, and the rich, such as in Svay Rieng, Takeo, Siem Reap, Kampot, Preah Vihear, Kompong Thom, Kompong Speu, Battambang, and Oddar Meanchey.

“About 150,000 citizens have been evicted from their homes on the basis of not transparent decisions by the courts.

“Regarding the plan of citizens from different areas to protest, an advisor of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, considers that officials of some non-government organizations which tend towards the opposition, take the opportunity to benefit from the visit of Mr. Surya.

“Mr. Tith Sothea, an adviser of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, added that those organizations encourage the UN human rights Special Rapporteur to solve land disputes so that they can apply for more international funds for their own organizations.

“Mr. Tith Sothea said the government is conducting reforms on land disputes, and the concessions of many companies had been withdrawn by the Royal Government after it became obvious that there was no development. He added that the plan of citizens from provinces and cities to protest on Monday, 14 June 2010, is within their rights, and their demonstration will not be prohibited by the authorities.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol. 18, #5223, 13-14.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 14 June 2010

Deum Tnot, Vol.3, #107, 14-15.6.2010

  • The Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers Called on Workers [in the whole country] to Suspend Their Work on 13, 14, and 15 July 2010 [to ask for an increase of their monthly salaries to at least US$70, and to demand that factory owners have to obey the labor law]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #503, 13-14.6.2010

  • The Authorities Allow 237 Families, Victimized by a Fire [at the railway block in Tuol Kork] to Settle on the Same Area [they will not be required to relocate to a new area – Phnom Penh]
  • About 100 Workers at the Seratic Garment Factory Fainted because of Inhaling Gas Leaking from some Pipes

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2274, 13-14.6.2010

  • The Supreme Court Ordered the [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Ms. Mu Sochua to Pay a Fine [roughly US$4,000 for losing a defamation case with Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • The Ministry of Information Ordered to Stop the Broadcasting of the Program of [the director of a development and training organization, providing education about democracy via radio at FM 90 in Phnom Penh, FM 90.25 in Battambang, FM 88.5 in Kompong Thom, and FM 90.25 in Oddar Meanchey, who is also the president the League for Democracy Party – “Think Together – Decide Together – Act Together” – who is a [dissident] former Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mr. Khem Veasna [claiming that the programs did not follow the principles set by the ministry, as the programs were often used for political propaganda]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6981, 14.6.2010

  • Within Three Months of this Year, Thai Products Imported to Cambodia Amounted to US$700 Million [and Cambodian products exported to Thailand were only about US$24 million]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3905, 14.6.2010

  • The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC] Denied that It Encourages Citizens Losing Land to Meet with the UN Human Rights Special Representative This Morning [there had been such accusations against ADHOC, but the accuser is not mentioned]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #192, 14.6.2010

  • [With more than 60,000 thumbprints attached] Citizens Victimized by Land Disputes Plan to Send a Petition to the Prime Minister [to ask for his intervention]
  • Samdech Euv [the former King] Plans to Go to China at the End of June [for a medical checkup]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5223, 13-14.6.2010

  • People Losing Land and Housing Plan to Protest in Front of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • The Export of Cambodia to France Increased [to Euro 83 million or approx. US$100 million in 2009, compared to 2008, when it was Euro 82 million], while There Are More French Investments in Cambodia [amounting to more than Euro 90 million or approx. US$108 million – [no 2010 figures given here]]

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A Government Official Claimed Human Rights Violations Dropped, while Civil Society Found They Increased – Thursday, 14.1.2010

Posted on 15 January 2010. Filed under: Week 647 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 647

“The chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the Royal Government of Cambodia, Mr. Om Yentieng, said that in 2009, human rights violations decreased compared with previous years, but civil society officials claimed they increased.

“Mr. Om Yentieng stated that the human rights conditions in Cambodia were better than in previous years. But he did not offer a percentage of the increase and of the decrease. He added that a better human rights situation exists in all sectors, because of a better understanding of the law by citizens. Also, the capacity of the authorities at most ministries and institutions did advance. He continued to say that the promotion of and the caring for human rights issues mentioned in the Rectangular Strategy are now in practice.

“Regarding this case, an investigating official of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), Mr. Oum Sam Ath, told Deum Ampil that in 2009, according to the findings of LICADHO, there were as many as 904 cases of human rights violation in 14 provinces and cities. He added that those cases consist of violations against general human rights, against women’s rights, and against children’s rights. Compared to 2008, there was an increase by 54 cases, as in 2008 there were only 846 cases. He went on to say that most violations of general human rights occurred all the time, including evictions, assaults, and murders. As for women and children, the number of rapes increased. He stressed that major problems, which led to the increase is that the court systems was not independent, and the understanding of the field still seems to remains limited. Therefore, the authorities frequently did compromise when there were offenses or crimes. Another point is that often perpetrators were not arrested for prosecution by the courts. There are other related problems that stimulated the increase of rapes against children and women, like foreign pornographic videos or drug abuse.

“He continued to say that there is more increase of violations in Phnom Penh than in other provinces. He said if human rights violations continues, it will contribute negatively to the situation of the whole nation. Moreover, foreign countries will see Cambodia as a country where sufficient actions are not taken against offenders.

“Also, an investigating official of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Mr. Chan Soveth, said that freedom of expression, impunity, land disputes, evictions, and different laws which relate to human rights in Cambodia are of concern. All civil society organizations notice that the freedom of expression is in a worrying situation, because some civil society officials were sued by government officials. The immunity of some parliamentarians was suspended, and they are indicted at the courts. As for impunity, he said that it is rising higher, and there is not yet an independent monitoring of the conditions. Mr. Om Yentieng said that he is pleased and welcomes talks about human rights issues in Cambodia, if anyone does not agree with his aforementioned claims.” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #387, 14.1.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 14 January 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #387, 14.1.2010

  • A Government Official Claimed Human Rights Violations Dropped, while Civil Society Found They Increased
  • [Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs] Hor Namhong Will Not [bilaterally] Meet [Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs] Kasit Piromya during the [ASEAN ministerial] Meeting in Vietnam

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2150, 14.1.2010

  • [Thai Deputy Prime Minister] Suthep Thaugsuban Responded to Samdech Hun Sen that His Government Will Have a Very Long Life
  • The Ministry of Health Vows to Completely Eliminate Illegal Pharmacies and Their Branches and Clinics by March 2010

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #717, 14.1.2010

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Warned to Arrest Any Parliamentarians Who Are Addicted to Gambling

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #579, 14.1.2010

  • Mr. Hor Namhong Orders an Investigation to Find the Place That Produces Shoes on which an Image of the Angkor Wat Temple Is Printed [considering it as in insult]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6857, 14.1.2010

  • Drunken Man Ended His Wife’s Life Cruelly in Front of Three Daughters [out of jealousy – making his five children become orphans; he was arrested – Kandal]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.2, #89, 14.1.2010

  • Cambodia Condemned Thailand over a Shootout Which Killed Khmer Citizens at the Border
  • [Thai ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Will Visit Cambodia in Late January while Red-Shirt Demonstrators [his supporters] Prepare to Demonstrate in Bangkok

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5099, 14.1.2010

  • The American Embassy Sponsored Training on Information Technology at the Ministry of Justice
  • A Terrible Earthquake Tragedy Occurred in Haiti [thousands of people died]

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The Sereypheap Market Is Totally Demolished to Take the Land to Construct Flats for Sale; Market Vendors Can Just Cry – Thursday, 31.12.2009

Posted on 31 December 2009. Filed under: Week 645 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 645

“Phnom Penh: There was a protest by the Sereypheap Market vendors in the Veal Vong commune, Prampi Makara district, Phnom Penh, after they received a notification from the local authorities on 29 December 2009. In the morning of 30 December 2009, the authorities, armed forces, and prosecutors of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court decided to remove the market, based on a warrant of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

“In the morning of 30 December 2009, some armed forces were found deployed since 3:00 a.m. until 12:00 o’clock in the compound of the Sereypheap Market, when the enforcement of warrant began, while all vendors were shouting to protest, raising banners and photos of Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen and of Her Excellency [his wife]. Finally, the protest could just make them cry, as the authorities implemented the warrant by deploying security forces around the area of the market, locked the gates of the market, and totally demolished the market.

“In the morning of 30 December 2009, all the market vendors did not agree with the warrant and marched to the residence of Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen near the Independent Monument, but their march was blocked by security forces who dispersed the march into different groups. Anyway, in the morning, about 10 vendors arrived at the Independence Monument. Then, some police and other representatives of the authorities came to coordinate the actions and suggested all the vendors should go to gather under the Boddhi tree in front of the Botum Vatei pagoda, or to gather in front of the National Assembly. The vendors agreed with the coordination by the authorities, but while another group of other vendors reached the Monivong Boulevard at the corner of the Ou Russey twin roads, the Sereypheap Market was already totally destroyed and demolished by the authorities.

“By the evening of 30 December 2009, there were no interventions from any institutions for the protesting vendors, when the stalls in the market had been totally removed.

“It should be noted that on 29 December 2009, 200 vendors wrote a letter to Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, counting that the Sereypheap Market vendors make contracts every three years. But on 1 December 2009, the director of the market issued a notification to order the vendors to stop selling anything from 31 December 2009, as he will take the land to build flats. The notification to the vendors to stop their operations in the Sereypheap Market is a violation of the contract with the director of the market, Mr. Lim Kimpheng, and this affects the poor livelihood of the vendors who earn an income by selling things to raise their families, which does not enable them to find new places, as they have no land for cultivation to support their living.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2138, 31.12.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 31 December 2009

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1425, 31.12.2009

  • The World Bank Prepares to Help Cambodia [to improve livelihood of citizens whose houses were demolished and who are encountering evictions, taking away their land for “development”]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #375, 31.12.2009

  • A Cambodian Official [the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong]: Cambodia Will Not Be Affected, though the Siamese [Thai] Court Canceled the Preah Vihear Temple Support Agreement
  • The Battambang Authorities Arrested a Wood Trader for Burning a Bridge in Samlot District [to block the way of the authorities who went to crack down on illegal wood transports]
  • Cambodia Expects to Receive Up to 3 Million Tourist Arrivals in 2010 [because there are plans to create more tourism sites at the northeast and the southwest – according to the Minister of Tourism, Mr. Thong Khon]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2138, 31.12.2009

  • [The Minister of Economy and Finance] Mr. Keat Chhon: The Cambodian Economy Will Recover in 2010 [by achieving 3% growth in 2010, while in 2009 it was 2%]
  • The Sereypheap Market Is Totally Demolished to Take the Land to Construct Flats for Sale; Market Vendors Can Just Cry

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6845, 31.12.2009

  • A Siamese [Thai] Court Canceled the Joint Statements of Cambodia and Thailand during the Administration of [the former Thai prime minister] Mr. Samak’s Government [to support Cambodia to list the Preah Vihear Temple as a world heritage site]
  • The Former [Thai] Convicted Spy Sivarak [who shared the Flight Plan of Thai ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Will Come Back to Cambodia to Continue Working in the Cambodia Air Traffic Services [CATS, as an engineer]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #79, 31.12.2009

  • Seventy Four Communities in the City Face Evictions [among 410 poor communities in Phnom Penh, 74 have received letters to inform them to leave their communities; Mr. Ny Chakriya of ADHOC said that the government always uses the pretext of development to evict citizens from the city, not offering proper compensation. However, the Phnom Penh deputy governor, Mr. Man Chhoeun, said, ‘Development is for all of us, but not only for a certain group. We clean the city which is part of developing the city’]
  • The Government Will Deliver the CATS Company Back to Thailand [to be controlled by the Samart Corps]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5087, 31.12.2009

  • Cambodia Will Not Make any Change to the Environment at the Border Regions with Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam
  • [The Thai Foreign Minister] Kasit Piromya Asked Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen to Stop Supporting Thaksin Shinawatra [in order to restore diplomatic ties]
  • [The Minister of the Council of Ministers] Mr. Sok An: Only 5% of Youth between the Age of 18 and 23 Can Enter College [lower than Laos 12%, Indonesia 17%, the Philippines 28%, and Thailand 40%]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1845, 31.12.2009

  • Civil Society Expressed the Concern over [future] Evictions of Citizens from Their Communities after the Expropriation Law Has Been Adopted
  • The Authorities Armed with Electric Batons and Shields Blocked [nearly 100] Sereypheap Market Vendors to Protest in Front of the Residence of [Prime Minister] Hun Sen [Phnom Penh]

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Cambodia Was Criticized from Different Sides over Human Rights Issues – Wednesday, 2.12.2009

Posted on 3 December 2009. Filed under: Week 641 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 641

“At the beginning of the UN Human Rights Council meeting on Monday, 1 December 2009, Cambodia was criticized from different sides over human rights issues, including housing rights, attacks on its citizens, and injustice at the courts.

“Created in 2006, the Universal Periodic Reviews by this council checks the human rights practices of the 192 members states of the United Nations every four years in order to solve problems of human rights violations and to promote the respect of international human rights.

“A researcher of Amnesty International, Ms. Brittis Edman, said on Monday that she hopes that land ownership rights and housing issues will be the most important agenda items of the meeting in Switzerland.

“Ms. Edman wrote in her email, ‘It is the very important that forced evictions and housing rights are brought to be discussed and reflected in the report on the findings. It is also important that all the monitoring states call on their governments to approve and to strengthen laws that clearly ban forced evictions.’

“Most non-government organizations working on human rights, that were invited to express suggestions regarding human rights problems on the record of the government, presented notes to the UN Human Rights Council, using serious words against Cambodia.

“A submission by Human Rights Watch, an international organization, says, ‘While Cambodia had experienced strong economic growth since the UN-brokered elections in 1993, the government has treated respect for human rights as an obstacle, rather than an aid, to development.’

“This submission specifically addressed concerns about the lack of independence at the courts, intimidation against freedom of expression, forced evictions, and violence against women, among other problems.

“In contrast, the document submitted by the government to the council says, ‘The Royal Government guarantees rights and freedoms, and continues with its commitment to achieve the best human rights for Cambodian citizens.’ But it has provided little documented evidence about the achievements of those rights.

“Responding to criticism from international human rights organizations, the government frequently called to review any problems in the context of the history of the country that has just recovered from the Khmer Rouge regime and from civil war.

“The government documentation continues to say, ‘Any human rights assessment in Cambodia should be based on considerations about the previous situation, on the efforts made during the first stage following the Paris Peace Agreements [of 1991].’

“The deputy head of the Human Rights Committee of the Cambodia government, Mr. Mak Sambath, said on Monday that Cambodia will be presented during the Universal Periodic Review by members of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee Mr. Touch Khemarin and Mr. Ith Rady, who is an undersecretary of state of the Ministry of Justice.

“Mr. Mak Sambath said, ‘They have the ability to work on the task because they have worked a lot with the government and with civil society.

“He added that the independence of the courts, the freedom of expression, and violence against women, are issues expected to be presented during the review.

“Both the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) and Amnesty International said on Monday that they have representatives to present their cases.

“Not only the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia, Mr. Surya Subedi, who had reported to see serious human rights violations in Cambodia, but also several other countries consider that Cambodia is under oppressive rule, though this country has international agreements about the respect of democracy, which includes the respect for human rights as a major point of policy.” Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1824, 2.12.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #351, 2.12.2009

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Expressed the Accusation That There Is a [not named] Third Person Who Creates Trouble between the Leaders in Phnom Penh and in Bangkok [according to the Bangkok Post]
  • Cambodia Sends Representatives to Present the [Cambodian] Human Rights Situation to the United Nations
  • Two Cars Collided with One Another, Hitting Two Motor-taxi Drivers to Death, while They Were Sitting and Waiting for Clients [Phnom Penh]
  • Lecturers of the Royal University of Agriculture Strike [by not teaching the students who have paid tuition fees] because of not Transparent Actions of the Leadership [under corruption allegations; about 500 students protested]
  • Over 600 People [including government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, and non-government organizations] Gathered to Mark the World AIDS Day [in Cambodia, there are 44,371 people infected with AIDS, and 92% of them receive medical treatment; 70% are orphaned children]
  • Cambodia and South Korea Signed an Agreement to Build a Building for the Cambodian Stock Market Worth US$6 Million

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2113, 2.12.2009

  • Four Khmer Citizens Carrying Drugs into Thai Territory Were Arrested by Thai Police and Sent to Court
  • Officials of the Ministry of Health Said Pregnant Women and Children Receive the A/H1N1 Vaccines First [Cambodia has received 300,000 doses of A/H1N1 vaccines from the World Health Organization]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6820, 2.12.2009

  • In One Year [from early 2009 to November] Siamese [Thai] Black Clad Soldiers [of the special border protection unit], Shot and Killed 4 Khmer Citizens, Injured 3, and Jailed 96 at Oddar Meanchey Border Area
  • Two American Men Had Different Problems: One Was Arrested in Siem Reap for Shooting, and the Other Fainted and Died during the Night in Phnom Penh
  • [The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation] Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong Encouraged the Asian Development Bank to Look at Cambodia’s Railway Problems
  • In 2008, Two Million People Died of AIDS [70% in the sub-Sahara region], and 2.7 Million Were Infected with HIV [according to UNAIDS and WHO]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #58, 2.12.2009

  • [The Australian company] OZ Minerals Hopes to Extract 2 Million Ounces of Gold by 2010 [in Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5062, 2.12.2009

  • A Thai General: Phanlub Pinmani – phonetic -, a member of the Puea Thai Party, said the diplomatic] Dispute Might Lead to War
  • More Than 80 Pieces of Luxury Wood Had Been Hidden by Merchants in Kounmom District, but Were Intercepted [Ratanakiri]
  • Two Sand Dredging Workers Died because of Inhaling Chemicals and Lacking Oxygen [Koh Kong]
  • America Announces to Continue to Help Cambodia to Combat AIDS

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1824, 2.12.2009

  • Cambodia Was Criticized from Different Sides over Human Rights Issues

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Three Were Arrested for Preventing the Implementation of a Notification to Confiscate Land in Kompong Thom – Thursday, 19.11.2009

Posted on 20 November 2009. Filed under: 1, Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

Apologies for the delays, which may continue for some days, as I am attending the UN Internet Governance Forum meetings in Sharm el Sheikh/Egypt with a busy schedule, in a different time zone, and then traveling back to Cambodia. I try to be on time as much as possible.

Norbert Klein

“According to a news source, at least three disabled veterans, poor citizens, were arrested between 14 to 16 November 2009, when they resisted armed forces and police of the Kompong Thom authorities, coming to enforce a notification to confiscate land, where the authorities claimed that those citizens live there illegally, in Banteay Rou Ngieng village, Kraya commune, Santuk district, Kompong Thom.

“The source of this information claimed that there is an association with more than 1,700 families of disabled veterans, living there since 2004, and that the association lives on more than 10,000 hectares of land, where each family was provided with 3 hectares by the head of that community, for housing and for growing different crops, since 2005. But on 14 and 16 November 2009, about 50 armed forces and other authorities came with machinery to remove their houses, and they arrested three people.

“The disabled veterans said that the authorities burnt their houses, shot at them, and even arrested some people and hit them with riffle handles, in order to evict them to seize the land for the Tan Bieng company [a Vietnamese company].

“Responding to the accusation that the authorities ordered armed forces to burn their houses, shoot at them, and arrest people, the Kompong Thom deputy police chief, who had gone himself to conduct the eviction, Mr. Nou Thany, told Deum Ampil on 18 November 2009, via phone, ‘The accusation is not true. And if there is anything true in it, the authorities used only their right to self protection, because those disabled people used knives, sticks, and gasoline bottles to burn the machinery of the authorities and to chase them away and to hurt them with knives.’ He added that the action was taken following a notification to confiscate the land for the Tan Bieng company, which had received the right from the Royal Government to make some investment on that land. For evictions, the municipality has a policy to offer each of them a plot of land in the nearby Thma Samlieng area, but only somewhat more than 100 of them agreed to register to take this offer of land at the new location. The rest protested, rejecting this policy and they used force against the authorities who went to enforce the eviction order.

“Mr. Nou Thany emphasized that the disabled veterans association does have the right to create an association at that area, but not the right to control the land. Therefore, there was a notification, ordering them to leave. Before they would have to leave, the municipality had set the deadline of 25 November 2009 for them to accept new land; however, they turned to resist strongly on 14 to 17 November 2009.” Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #340, 19.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 19 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #340, 19.11.2009

  • Three Were Arrested for Preventing the Implementation of a Notification to Confiscate Land in Kompong Thom
  • Most Malaria Medicines Are Fake and No-Quality Medicines [according to expert officials of the Ministry of Health]
  • Tragedy as a Boat Sunk [because of strong wind] Resulting in the Deaths of a Man and of Three Children while His Wife Survived [Kandal]
  • Two Young Men Died Immediately after They Were Hit [while riding on a motorbike] Behind a Bus of the Capital Company [Battambang]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2102, 19.11.2009

  • [About 300] Staff and Workers of the Royal Railways of Cambodia Stopped Protesting after the Ministry [of Public Works and Transport] Promised to Pay Their Salaries on 27 November 2009
  • More Than 600 Square Kilometer of Cambodia Are Still Mine Infested [according to the Cambodian Mine Authority]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #533, 19.11.2009

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy and Ms. Tioulong Saumura Attended the European Community Parliament Meeting about Cambodia Yesterday [in Brussels]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6809, 19.11.2009

  • The Red Shirt Demonstrators Announced to Conduct a Large Demonstration on Sunday [29 November 2009] to Dismiss [Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva’s Government
  • Special UN Envoy [in charge of AIDS in the Asia Pacific, Dr. Nafis Sadik] Met with a Group of Most Vulnerable People in the City [drug addicts, people infected with AIDS, and orphans – Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #49, 19.11.2009

  • Court Started to Question a Thai Man about Spying [he had copied flight documents of Prime Minister Hun Sen and of Thai ousted fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to send the copies to Thailand]
  • Cambodia Is Still the Country with the Most Corruption among the Countries in the Region [of Asia Pacific; according to a report of Transparency International, Cambodia stands at the 158th position among 180 countries affected by corruption in the public sector, while in 2008, Cambodia was at the 166th position]
  • Construction Investments Increased by 22% within 9 Months Compared to the Corresponding Period [last year; by the end of September 2009, there were 1805 projects amounting to US$1.165 Billion, while in 2008 there were only 1558 projects]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5051, 19.11.2009

  • A Robber Shot a Policeman to Death and Then after Half-an-Hour Siege the Robber Was Shot Dead by Police [if he had agreed to let police arrest him and not shoot one policeman to death, he would not have be killed – Chamkarmon, Phnom Penh]
  • A Japanese Man [a staff member of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)] Fell from the Second Storey of a Building of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and Died [police has not identified why he fell down – Phnom Penh]
  • The Minister of Tourism Asked UNESCO to Help Create a Master Plan for Eco-Tourism around the Tonle Sap Lake

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Denials, Insults, and Rational Arguments – Sunday, 15.3.2009

Posted on 17 March 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 603 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 603

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.

Norbert Klein

It seems that some issues, which need to be clarified, do not find any solution – not only because they are controversial, but because it seem to happen frequently that issues raised are not discussed – the detailed facts and concerns they raised are disregarded, they are put aside by flat denial, not touching at the presented facts at all. Or instead of dealing with controversial facts, the “other party” is served with an insult – and it is up to the reader to consider whether the insult carries enough conviction to override the arguments, or whether an insult, instead of an argument, backfires on the party which refuses to engage in a rational discussion.

We will bring here some reminders, where it seems that facts and opinions had been presented, and the public received responses. Some seem to have intended to close further discussion – though the discussion continues anyway. In some cases we hope to lead to further open discussion – inviting to consider some aspects which are not widely shared, but may merit more attention. We let “both parties” speak.

=

On 5 February 2009, the UK based organization Global Witness published a report entitled Country for Sale. The organization describes its general, global outreach, in the following way:

“Global Witness exposes the corrupt exploitation of natural resources and international trade systems to drive campaigns that end impunity, resource-linked conflict, and human rights and environmental abuses. Global Witness was co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its leading work on ‘conflict diamonds’ and awarded the 2007 Commitment to Development Ideas in Action Award, sponsored jointly by Washington DC based Center for Global Development and Foreign Policy magazine.”

The content of the study, presented on 72 pages with detailed references, is described by Global Witness as follows:

“Cambodia – one of the world’s poorest countries – could eventually earn enough from its oil, gas and minerals to become independent of foreign development aid. The report, Country for Sale, exposes for the first time how this future is being jeopardized by high-level corruption, nepotism and patronage in the allocation and management of these critical public assets.

Country for Sale details how rights to exploit oil and mineral resources have been allocated behind closed doors by a small number of powerbrokers surrounding the prime minister and other senior officials. The beneficiaries of many of these deals are members of the ruling elite or their family members. Meanwhile, the findings suggest that millions of dollars paid by oil and mining companies to secure access to these resources may be missing from the national accounts.”

Among the details, Global witness says:

“Global Witness wrote to both Chevron and BHP Billiton in October 2008 to ask them to reveal any payments made to the Cambodian government or government officials. At the time of publication, Chevron had not responded. BHP Billiton however, did reply to say that BHP Billiton, Mitsubishi and the Cambodian Government have established a joint social development fund. The total contribution of BHP and Mitsubishi is to be US$2.5 million. BHP’s response stated: ‘BHP Billiton has never made a payment to a Cambodian Government official or representative and we reject any assertion that the payment under the minerals exploration agreement is, or the amounts contributed to the Social Development Projects Fund are, “tea money”.’ BHP also shared how much had been paid to the Cambodian government, adding: ‘In accordance with the terms of a minerals exploration agreement with the Cambodian government which granted BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi the right to explore for bauxite an amount of US$1 million was formally paid to the Cambodian government in September 2006.’”

The Cambodian Embassy in London responded to the publication of Country for Sale with a press release with a color graphic page, saying global witness – A Collection of Rubbish

“Reacting angrily to the report, the Ambassador of Cambodia in the UK, H.E. Nambora Hor, accused Global Witness of being poorly-managed and indulging in hugely-damaging smear campaigns. He called on the wide variety of international bodies which help fund Global Witness to demand an urgent review of its policies and activities. ‘It is naïve for Global Witness to imagine that Cambodia’s international donors are not fully aware of the way the Royal Cambodian Government’s conducts its affairs and its commitment to demonstrating the highest possible standards.’”

Details about this Social Development Projects Fund – who administers these huge amounts of money paid by some foreign companies, and for which purposes, and under whose public monitoring – are not known to the public.

=

On 25 February 2009, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the US Department of State published a 2008 Human Rights Report: Cambodia, part of the 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The 16,000 words report on Cambodia states initially:

“The government’s human rights record remained poor. Security forces committed extrajudicial killings and acted with impunity. Detainees were abused, often to extract confessions, and prison conditions were harsh. Human rights monitors reported arbitrary arrests and prolonged pretrial detention, underscoring a weak judiciary and denial of the right to a fair trial. Land disputes and forced evictions were a continuing problem. The government restricted freedom of speech and the press and at times interfered with freedom of assembly. Corruption was endemic. Domestic violence and child abuse occurred, education of children was inadequate, and trafficking in women and children persisted. The government offered little assistance to persons with disabilities. Anti-union activity by employers and weak enforcement of labor laws continued, and child labor in the informal sector remained a problem.

On February 15, the government passed and promulgated a comprehensive Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation containing provisions criminalizing all forms of human trafficking. By year’s end the Cambodian National Police had arrested perpetrators in 48 trafficking-in-persons and related cases, and the courts had convicted at least 12 persons on trafficking-related charges.”

The Mirror had carried a related report from a Khmer language newspaper on 27 February 2009. On 14 March 2009, we carried a report from another Khmer newspaper, saying:

“The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dismisses the US Department of State’s Report [on the human rights situation in Cambodia] on behalf the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia.”

But later, another Khmer newspaper reported in its 15/16 March 2009 edition: “The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – said that tens of thousands of families of Khmer citizens suffer human rights violations.” And reports in the Phnom Penh Post of 16 March 2009 show a 9 year old boy standing in the wreckage of his house – sixteen houses in the Rik Reay Community – “Happy Community” – were torn down, and the area is being fenced in. A teacher, living there, said he had received a death threat. “This mistreatment is to force us to agree to their compensation package,” he said. “I am now worried for my personal security because I heard a company staffer on the walkie-talkie saying they would kill me because I am a community leader. I want to tell you that if I die, it was not at the hands of anyone else but because I was murdered by the staff of Bassac Garden City.”

=

On 12 March 2009, we carried the headline from a Khmer newspaper, reporting Dalai Lama: Tibet under Chinese Control Is Like Hell on the Earth. And in order to elaborate, we added a link to the original text of the March 10th Statement of H.H. the Dalai Lama, where he says:

“Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the Tibetan people’s peaceful uprising against Communist China’s repression in Tibet. Since last March widespread peaceful protests have erupted across the whole of Tibet. Most of the participants were youths born and brought up after 1959, who have not seen or experienced a free Tibet. However, the fact that they were driven by a firm conviction to serve the cause of Tibet that has continued from generation to generation is indeed a matter of pride… We pay tribute and offer our prayers for all those who died, were tortured and suffered tremendous hardships, including during the crisis last year, for the cause of Tibet since our struggle began.

“Around 1949, Communist forces began to enter north-eastern and eastern Tibet (Kham and Amdo) and by 1950, more than 5000 Tibetan soldiers had been killed…

“Since the re-establishment of contacts in 2002, we have followed a policy of one official channel and one agenda and have held eight rounds of talks with the Chinese authorities. As a consequence, we presented a Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People, explaining how the conditions for national regional autonomy as set forth in the Chinese constitution would be met by the full implementation of its laws on autonomy…

“We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. Fulfilling the aspirations of the Tibetan people will enable China to achieve stability and unity. From our side, we are not making any demands based on history. Looking back at history, there is no country in the world today, including China, whose territorial status has remained forever unchanged, nor can it remain unchanged.”

But while the voice of the Dalai Lama receives wide attention in the international press, there is also another aspect of the history of Tibet, which is not addressed, but to which the People’s Daily Online refers: Dalai Lama’s utter distortion of Tibet history:

“The Dalai Lama also alleged at a gathering in India’s Dharamsala to mark his 50 years in exile that “these 50 years have brought untold suffering and destruction to the land and people of Tibet.

“Unfortunately, the Dalai Lama has not only been on the wrong side of history, but also has got the history upside down. Miseries of ‘hell on earth’ and ‘untold suffering’ occurred nowhere but in the slavery Tibet symbolized by the Dalai Lama.

“Even from historical books written by Western scholars, people can draw the conclusion that Tibet under the rule of the Dalai Lama clique was a society of feudal serfdom that trampled human rights and easily reminded visitors of the dark age of medieval Europe.

“The feudal serfdom had truly brought ‘untold suffering and destruction’ to the serfs and slaves who accounted for 90 percent of the then population.

“The slavery in Tibet was just ‘hell on earth’ as Charles Bell, who lived in Lhasa as a British trade representative in the 1920s, observed that the Dalai Lama’s theocratic position enabled him to administer rewards and punishments as he wished. That was because he held absolute sway over both this life and the next of the serfs and coerced them with that power.

“In 1959, after the failed rebellion by the Dalai Lama and his followers, the central government of China carried out the long-delayed emancipation of millions of serfs and slaves in Tibet…

“But just as the rebellion by the Dalai Lama clique failed disgracefully 50 years ago, its fantasy of ‘Tibetan Independence’ is also doomed to failure, because of the firm opposition from the Chinese people, including the Tibetans in Tibet.”

But the Dalai Lama does not speak of Tibet’s independence, but of national regional autonomy as set forth in the Chinese constitution, and this within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. Both sides do not hear each other in detail to reach mutual understanding. It is easier to maintain an old antagonism than to find ways to a common understanding – a much more difficult task.

=

On 13 March 2009, the Mirror carried an article “IMF: Cambodia Cannot Avoid the Consequences of the Global Economic Crisis!” (with reference back to similar IMF statements which we had mirrored on 13 February 2009):

“The Cambodian economy is in a negative status… We are talking about a period of dramatic decline in economic activities. So far, what we have seen is that the depth of the downturn is worse than expected.”

Since many weeks, there were many voices echoing the IMF concerns, even more so, since the Prime Minister had publicly questioned that the international economic downturn – in the so called economically rich countries – has the same social effects in a country like Cambodia. His comparison of rich and poorer countries with elephants and sheep may turn out to be a clue not only to understand the differences, but also to find ways to mitigate the economic problems in Cambodia, in a way industrialized countries cannot do:

“Growth in agriculture can surely prevent Cambodia from falling into an economic crisis, even though some major sectors of the Cambodian economy encounter a downturn.”

A foreign businessman, living in Cambodia, shared his appraisal on 12 March 2009, Putting It in Perspective:

“Now that the U. S. has shed 4.5 million jobs in the past 18 months alone and unemployment stands at 8.1 %, the conventional wisdom is that garment exports will go down substantially as the U. S. is the main market for Cambodia. The current figures appear to prove it, with a 27% decrease in exports for the month of February alone. Last December it was 30%…

“Likewise, tourist arrivals show a 2.9% reduction over the same month last year…

“According to the latest statistics the construction sector is holding sort of firm, although it was reported that some 3,000 to 5,000 jobs were lost there too.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen finds fault with all those predictions, saying that all those number are altogether not that important. What’s important is that people won’t go hungry in Cambodia. All those factory workers that lost their job can go back to their native village where they will find a rice paddy to cultivate, and a family that will take care of them…

“So the garment factory girls come back and find their wooden houses, a functioning family structure, and food to eat. They don’t have problems with heating or air conditioning… They wear simple clothes. There is one communal cell-phone which provides contact to the outside world. Yes, this is a simple life, and Westerners can only look on with widened eyes wondering how people can live like this. But let’s face it – this is reality, not only in Cambodia, but in most of South East Asia. And rural areas are exactly where the majority of the factory workers come from.

“So the fact that people can go back to their village is actually a boon for them. Yes, they are poor but they have to eat. And in this context let’s not look at the social problems, e.g. lack of health care and fundamental education. This is for another, hopefully not too far off, time.

“The Western alternative is no laughing matter. People losing their jobs, lose their homes, their savings along the line, their health care, practically their freedom. In my view it’s much more dire in the West. Recession hits people in the industrialized world much harder.”

Not all readers shared his appreciation of the Prime Minister’s perspective. He responded, “I like a good discussion with contrarian viewpoints, but they need to make sense.”

It is in this same spirit that this issue of the Mirror presents contrary and controversial views. We hope also for a good discussion – but the points put forward need to make sense. And this requires to research complex facts, and to engage in open, rational thinking.

Please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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