The Grenade Attack Anniversary on 30 March Was Commemorated with a Call for Justice – Wednesday, 31.3.2010

Posted on 1 April 2010. Filed under: Week 658 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 658

“Phnom Penh: To commemorate the 13th anniversary of the grenade attack on demonstrators who were led by Mr. Sam Rainsy on 30 March 1997, the Sam Rainsy Party organized a gathering in the morning of 30 March 2010 at the stupa [the monument built in the Buddhist tradition where relics of the dead are kept] in the park opposite the former National Assembly, south of the Royal Palace.

“The commemorating site, where about 200 Sam Rainsy Party activities assembled, was the site where the attack by grenades had happened on 30 March 1997, killing 16 people and injuring more than 100.

“A woman representing the families of those who were killed and injured by the grenade attack 13 years ago expressed the sadness during the event, ‘We all have been waiting for justice for 13 years, and the murderers have not been arrested. We appeal again to the Cambodian government to investigate this crime and to arrest the murderers and the people behind it, so that they can be prosecuted.’

“The president of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Sam Rainsy, said from France via telephone during the event, that powerful people and those who are at the highest positions (in Cambodia) were involved in the coward grenade attack against innocent demonstrators on 30 March 1997. At that time, the demonstrators were demanding that the court systems should be independent when conducting hearings, avoiding corruption, and following legal procedures.

“Opposition leaders again encouraged the authorities to arrest the perpetrators to be punished according to the law for the grenade attack against demonstrators 13 years ago.

“Also, on 29 March 2010, [the US NGO] Human Rights Watch issued a statement, saying that Cambodia does not have justice for the victims of the grenade attack of 30 March 1997.

“Human Rights Watch said that the United State of America should review its previous investigation of the grenade attack on 30 March 1997 that killed 16 people and injured more than 150 others. The Cambodian government does not make any progress in the investigation to arrest the perpetrators, though there was enough concrete evidence.

“It should be remembered that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) immediately started an investigation after the grenade attack on demonstrators [including one US citizen who was injured] that had been led by Mr. Sam Rainsy on 30 March 1997. But the investigation did not lead to the arrest of the persons who threw the grenades, but ended just with some interviews of witnesses and of persons in the Cambodian police.

“Nevertheless, high ranking officials of the government said that since that event up to the present, the authorities are still conducting investigations and have not closed the case files of this grenade attack. The authorities are investigating to arrest the murderers and those involved to be prosecuted.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, General Khieu Sopheak, said that the Minister of Interior, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, has not declared the case to be closed for investigations.

“He added that though there was no formal appeal from the victims’ families and from the opposition party, the authorities still keep the investigations going towards the arrest of the murderers, because it is their duty.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5164, 31.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #448, 31.3.2010

  • The Japanese Government Grants Yen 524 Million [approx. US$5,650,000] to Construct Seven School Buildings in Phnom Penh
  • Two Chinese Nationals Were Prosecuted to Serve Eight Years in Prison and a Khmer to Six Years, for Drugs Smuggling

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2215, 31.3.2010

  • The Kompong Speu Military Police Sent the One-Star General Who Does What He Wants [not caring for any law – who shot a remorque-moto driver into the head, injuring him seriously] to the Court to Be Dealt with According to the Law
  • Fifty Citizens Protested in Front of the Court as Five People Were Summoned for Questioning [over a land dispute with a company – Sihanoukville]
  • The Opposition Party Asked the Government to Suspend Putting Cambodian-Vietnamese Border Marker Posts [saying that the positions of the temporary border posts 184, 185, 186 and 187 in Svay Rieng are not consistent with the border line set in the official 1:100,000 map of 1952 produced by Indochina, and the 1:50,000 map of 1966 produced by the US Army. This should allow to review the area again, to avoid territorial losses – but the government said that this request simply aims at hiding Mr. Sam Rainsy’s mistake in uprooting border markers]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #751, 31.3.2010

  • Thirteen Years after the Grenade Attack against Demonstrators in Front of the [former] National Assembly, Justice Has Not Been Achieved

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #640, 31.3.2010

  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy Said that He Cannot Forget the [grenade attack] Event of 30 March 1997 if the Murderers and Those Who Were Behind It Have Not Been Convicted

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6922, 31.3.2010

  • A Man Disappeared for Three Days and Was Finally Found Dead – Murdered, His Head Cut Off and Thrown into a Forest [perpetrators are not yet identified – Kompong Speu]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3846, 21.3.2010

  • The Government Has to Review the Provision of Concession Land to [Senator and Oknha] Ly Yong Phat while Citizens Are Victimized

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #142, 31.3.2010

  • Cambodia Plans to Start Allowing Foreigners to Adopt Cambodian Children Again [at the end of March 2011] amid Concern over Trafficking [according to the Minister of Social Affairs, Mr. Ith Samheng]
  • During the 1997 Grenade Attack Anniversary, Attendees Demanded Justice [for 16 people who were killed and more than 100 others who were injured during the demonstration in front of the former National Assembly]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5164, 31.3.2010

  • The Grenade Attack Anniversary on 30 March Was Commemorated with a Call for Justice
  • Cambodia Asked Thailand to Explain the Shooting and Killing of Two Khmer Citizens in March 2010
  • The United Nations Acknowledges that there is Progress for Human Rights in Cambodia [because of the adoption of many important laws, the strengthening of the health sector and of education, and of promoting women’s right, and reforms]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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Valentin’s Day 2010 – Sunday, 14.2.2010

Posted on 15 February 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 651 | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 651

Year after year, it is interesting to observe that Valentine’s Day gets more public attention and controversy, especially in a number of Asian countries. A Cambodian blogger, Ms. Chak Sopheak, collected a number of different voices under the title Cambodia: Valentine’s Day Sparks Controversy. She refers also to a public appeal of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, which “initiated five-minute spots educating the teenagers about the ‘meaning of the Valentine’s day’ in order that the young will be encouraged to expresses their love to family first, followed by teachers and then friends.”

Of course everybody is free to try to give their own interpretation of Valentine’s Day. But to say that it is about “to expresses their love to family first, followed by teachers and then friends” has no basis in the history of this celebration. Valentine’s Day – historically – celebrates the love between man and women, against the rules of the the society represented by the state. To declare Valentine’s Day not to be about lovers, man and women, but about some wider family and friends relations, is just another attempt of the nature against which the original Valentine is said to have fought.

There are hardly any explanations of Valentine’s day which clearly say: The original message is that Valentine was against the regulations of the authorities to prevent men and women to commit themselves to each other, against the law.

It is about this love. This is the message.

But as it is with old traditions, it is not always possible to verify them in detail. A holiday to remember a person of this name was established already in the year 496, more than 1500 years ago. But his story became more widely known only after the technology to print books by using movable individual letters – not only to copy books in handwriting – was invented around the year 1450 in Germany, and the Readings of the Saints (a Latin book Legenda Sanctorum) was reprinted often. I contained also the story of Valentine.

According to this, Valentine was a Christian monk who defended his belief even when he was made to appear before the emperor Marcus Aurelius Claudius who ruled only briefly in the years 268 to 270), but he was imprisoned as he was not prepared to compromise his positions, and was arrested and later executed.

Later reports say that he did not agree with the government’s rule to restrict solders to get married. The government thought that their romantic relationships would make them not good members of society as assigned by the government to be soldiers. But Valentine secretly organized their marriages, against this rule and breaking the law, as he considered it a basic right not to remain single. A case of an early human rights advocate.

The tradition says that while he was already in prison, he befriended the daughter of the prison guard, and on the day before his execution he is said to have written to her a note “From your Valentine.”

To reflect about Valentine’s Day is to reflect about this story. It is not “to be nice to everybody” but it is about a person who defended the right of men and women to be together, even defending and maintaining his position to the end of losing his life for not complying with the law, but supporting love.

It is obviously a complete misuse of the tradition of Valentine when this day is now used by boys to persuade and force their girlfriends to have sex as if this would be the meaning of Valentine’s Day, or even to rape one woman by a group of men. But it is also a misuse to this tradition to use it and to say it is a day of general friendship and love with family first, then teachers, and friends.

To do so is to close one’s eyes from the fact that – quite obviously in many countries – young people are not prepared to accept traditional restrictions imposed on their relations between men and women. And that such changes are not just the result of westernization we tried to show at last year’s Valentine Day with pictures from the People’s Republic of China and from North Korea – two countries really not know to be inclined to “Western” ideologies.

In a different cultural context – to give another example – also the society in Pakistan is without broad orientation in this context:

“Our homeland the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is also deeply influenced by events like Valentine’s Day which were unknown in the sub continent before but now after so many years of celebrating it, it seems like it has merged with our culture.

“In Pakistan the day is celebrated equally to many different countries of the world our youth celebrates it with more intensity and passion than our Independence Day, or any of our historic days which means so much for the whole Nation but our youth and our teenagers seems to have been so captivated by the Western ways and laws that they actually give more preference to celebrating these holidays then our own. Obviously it’s not just the youth which is to be blamed, but our society has created an image which is identical to the West.

“Every year in Pakistan people are getting more enthusiastic, energetic and more passionate to celebrate Valentine’s Day. If we talk about the outcome of celebrating this day we will get to know that there are two possible outcomes of this day, one is enjoyed by the participants while the other is enjoyed by the businesses and owner of different businesses.”

So what?

In spite of all the confusions which become obvious at this day, it is a challenge to face the question seriously: How are we, in our different societies, going to find solutions which the events and feelings and activities of each Valentine’s Day pose about the relations between women and men in our times and societies. Just to appeal to the traditions does not lead to solutions accepted by many people.

In Cambodia, there is the Chbab Srey, a traditional code of conduct for Cambodian women. The response I often receive: I am very much in favor of keeping our Khmer traditions, but I do not accept that the Chbab Srey says: “Don’t speak in a way as if you consider him as equal… My dear, no matter what your husband did wrong, I tell you: to be patient, don’t say anything without the husband being present.” Such partial, selective acceptance will hardly prevent that for many people Valentine’s Day may result in negative memories, because an open discourse on where to find new ways and new relationships is hardly happening.

Even so, Valentine’s Day provides every year a new impulse to think ahead. To boldly think, and to find way to live what is found to be right. Like Valentine, who was rather prepared to face death than to give up what he was sure was right.

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During the Three Quarters of 2009 so Far, 61% of Rape Victim Were Underage Persons – Saturday, 10.10.2009

Posted on 11 October 2009. Filed under: Week 633 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 633

“Phnom Penh: The increasing number of rapes indicates that Khmer tradition is falling apart under the influence of bad foreign culture, spread through porn videos played at some coffee shops, and through drug abuse.

“Based on news from five local newspapers, Koh Santepheap, Rasmei Kampuchea, Kampuchea Thmey, The Phnom Penh Post, and The Cambodia Daily, information collected by End Child Prostitution, Abuse and Trafficking in Cambodia – ECPAT-Cambodia – shows in a Media Analysis of Rape, Trafficking for Sexual Purpose, Indecent Cases in Third Quarter 2009 [in Khmer] that there were 69 cases of rape involving 70 victims. To tally the numbers within the three quarters of 2009, there were 216 rape cases and 225 victims, where 137 of them, 61%, affected underage persons. It should be noted that an Australian woman, a tourist, also became a rape victim. [ECPAT-Cambodia is a member of the international network End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes – ECPAT International.]

“Compared to the corresponding period in 2008 with 211 cases, there were 5 cases more. The provinces and cities with a high number of rapes are Battambang with 43 cases, Phnom Penh 22 cases, Kompong Cham 19 cases, Kandal 18 cases, Pursat and Banteay Meanchey each 17 cases, Kompong Speu 12 cases, Takeo 11 cases, and the other cases in other provinces. There were 6 cases of rape-and-murder, where one young girl was raped by seven teenagers living in the same village and then murdered cruelly by cutting her throat and stabbing her several times.

“These inhuman acts were done by 261 suspects, among whom 20 were underage people. Most of the crimes were committed by Khmers, but there were also some cases involving others: 2 Koreans, 3 Vietnamese, 2 Thais, 1 Cambodian Muslim, and 1 case of a woman. Notably, gang rapes [where several teenagers raped one girl or woman] add up to 21 cases, where 2 to 7 perpetrators were involved in the gang-rape cases. There were 15 cases where both the victims and the suspects were underage people. As for the relations between the victims and the suspects, there were 103 cases where the victims were raped by their neighbors in the same villages, in 40 cases by family members and relatives, in 35 cases by people knowing each other, in 9 cases a boyfriend raped his girlfriend, and in 24 cases there is no report about the relationship. As for the law, 217 suspects were arrested, and 147 cases were sent to be solved by the counts, 56 cases were under further investigations by police, in 39 cases the suspects escaped, in 2 cases the suspects were released on bail, and 1 case was addressed out of the court system. There was only one case with a comparatively high verdict, in which the court indicted the suspect for rape, and the perpetrator then was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison and was ordered to pay a fine of Riel 4 million [approx. US$975].

“There were some factors reported which were involved frequently in rapes cases, where there were 69 cases where the perpetrators used special opportunities, 47 cases were planned, 22 cases involved drug abuse and alcohol, 6 cases resulted related to watching porn movies and pictures, and for other cases no such circumstances were reported. There were 65 cases resulting from a situation where the victim stayed alone, 35 cases where the victim trusted to go with the suspect, 32 cases happened where the victims were attacked while sleeping, and 20 cases happened while the victims went out for a walk at night.

“During this time, there were 5 cases of human trafficking victimizing 8 women and 5 underage girls, 1 person was 1 Vietnamese. Compared to the same period in 2008, there was a decline of 3 cases. There were 8 suspects, including 1 Chinese man, and 2 were women. Four of them were arrested, and 3 were sent to be prosecuted by the court. Two suspects were under police investigation, and one escaped. There were no reports about how the suspects were convicted by the courts. Places of human trafficking are the road from Takeo to Banteay Meanchey, the city of Phnom Penh, Pailin, and Battambang.

“Within the same period, there were 11 cases of producing child pornography, involving 12 victims, where 10 were girls between the ages of 5 and 17. Among the 12 victims, 2 were Vietnamese and 10 were Cambodian. Involved in these cases were 11 suspects from age 19 to age 68, and most of them are tourists from America, England, France, Japan, and Switzerland. Nine of them were arrested and convicted to serve 3 years in prison. Those cases occurred in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap, Battambang, and Kandal.

“ECPAT-Cambodia noticed that there was a slight increase in the number of rapes, and a slight decrease in the number of human trafficking, based on the information in those newspapers. But the number of victims who were underage is alarmingly high. Also there were cases of extreme cruelty like gang rapes and murders, while the number of suspects that were prosecuted is low. Therefore ECPAT-Cambodia appeals to relevant organizations and institutions, especially to the Royal Government of Cambodia, to strengthen law enforcement by the courts and the police, and to make the related laws widely known to the citizens. All parents have to be very careful about the safety of their sons and daughters, especially when they are very young.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #67, 10-11.10.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 10 October 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #307, 10.10.2009

  • Radio Free Asia Dismissed [two more staff members:] Sam Borin and San Sovityak
  • The Cambodian Red Cross Has US$570,000 to Assist Citizens Suffering from the Flood
  • Robbers Armed with AK Rifles Robbed Jewelry [worth approx. US$2,000] and Injured a Man Seriously [Kompong Cham]
  • Eighty Countries Support the Cambodian Candidacy as Member of the World Heritage Committee [at the 35th UNESCO General Conference]

Note:

During the last meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in June 2009, the following countries were represented on the committee:

Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, United States of America.

While there are at present 851 sites registered in 141 countries, the World Heritage Committee can have only 21 members.

According to its rules, there cannot be only countries on the Committee which have registered World Heritage Sites, it is not the primary task of committee members to defend the cases of their countries. Countries which want to be on the committee have to offer their services, according to the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, to fulfill the following tasks:

“to work for harmonious synergy among the Organization’s three main legal instruments for cultural diversity:

  • the World Heritage Convention of 1972;
  • the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of 2003; and
  • the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, adopted by UNESCO in 2005.”

In addition, the members of the World Heritage Committee will have to work more on developing the following two fields:

  • “to develop the complementarity of science and culture, notably in the 80 sites which carry the twin labels of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program and World Heritage, and
  • to reinforce the link between biodiversity and cultural diversity.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2068, 10.10.2009

  • Samdech Hun Sen: The Powerful Who Protect Gangsters Must Be Punished
  • The Minister of Water Resources Considers Typhoon Ketsana as the Most Disastrous Ever for Cambodia [destroying infrastructure and crops]
  • The Committee for Free and Fair Elections (COMFREL) Is Concerned that Relocated Citizens [in the context of clearing sites where they used to live, to make place for business and high rise housing developments] Do Not Have the Right to Register for the Elections
  • A Journalist and His 4-Year-Old Son Were Killed in a Traffic Accident [they were hit by another motorbike – Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #506, 10.10.2009

  • [Cambodian People’s Party parliamentarian] Mr. Cheam Yeap: An Anti-Corruption Law Could Not Be Created for Many Years, because the National Assembly and the Government Sent Its Drafts Back and Forth [but he said that it will be adopted within the first six months of 2010]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #67, 10-11.10.2009

  • During the Three Quarters of 2009 so Far, 61% of Rape Victim Were Underage Persons
  • One Hundred More People Died in Landslides in the Philippines

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5017, 10.10.2009

  • The Defamation Complaint of Samdech Hun Sen [against Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Ms. Mu Sochua Will Be Heard Again on 28 October 2009
  • Siem Reap Town Became Like a Water Reservoir, after a Dam, Surrounding the Town, Had Been Built [improperly]
  • Nearly 2,000 Workers of the Tac Fat Factory Are Striking for Two Days with No Solution [after the factory had closed – Phnom Penh]
  • Vietnam Prosecuted Six People and Sent Them to Serve Six Years in Prison for Campaigning for [multi-party] Democracy
  • It Is Surprising! Obama Received the Nobel Peace Prize! [in 2009 for his hard effort to strengthen international diplomatic developments and cooperation among the people]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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