Cambodia Announced that the United States of America Suspends Military Aid, but Said the Uighurs’ Case Should Not Be Taken as Excuse – Saturday, 3.4.2010

Posted on 4 April 2010. Filed under: Week 658 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 658

“Phnom Penh: Cambodia is not surprised about the announcement of the US Department of State to suspend military aid for Cambodia. In the afternoon of 1 April 2010, during the daily press conference of the US Department of State in Washington, the spokesperson, Mr. Philip Crowley, announced the decision of the United States of America to suspend donating about 200 military trucks and trailers. According to Mr. Philip Crowley, the suspension was decided because Cambodia deported Uighurs, who had sought asylum in Cambodia, to the Beijing authorities in December 2009.

“The Spokesperson of the Cambodian government, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, said, ‘This aid suspension is not a problem. If they grant it, we say thanks for it. Anyway, the trucks are not new. They are used vehicles to be provided to others, to clean out their storage. But the United States of America should not take the case of the Uighurs as an excuse to put blame on Cambodia.’ He said so to journalists in the afternoon of 2 April 2010.

“The spokesperson of the government blamed the United States of America and the UNHCR for their slow work which had not led to any results to take the Uighurs out of Cambodia to a third country – and now they put the blame on the Cambodian government! Mr. Khieu Kanharith recalled, ‘When the Uighurs were hiding in Cambodia for over one month, the Cambodian authorities did not know this. The Chinese government did not know it either. But during this period, even the UN human rights office and some US organizations could not determine whether those Uighurs were political refugees or who they were. When they saw they could not handle this, they decided to announce it to journalists.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong, considered the US statement as their own decision, and an affair of the United States of America. Mr. Koy Kuong added, ‘Cambodia worked based on its rights and integrity.’

“During a previous meeting between Mr. Scott Marciel, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Ambassador for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, Mr. Hor Namhong, the Minister had explained to him that the expulsion of 20 Uighurs from Cambodia was just implemented according to Cambodian immigration law.

Note:

“A State Department official tells The Cable that just before the Cambodian government sent the ethnic Uighurs back to China, where they face imprisonment or worse, there were a flurry of diplomatic efforts to try to convince the Cambodians to hold off. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even phoned Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong to urge him to rethink the decision, the official said, but to no avail.”

[source]

“The deportation of 20 Uighurs from Cambodia in December 2009 is a sensitive case for the US administration. The US Department of State reacted since the beginning and used serious words. Washington even said that the decision of Cambodia to deport the Uighurs to the Beijing authorities will affect the relations between the United States of America and Cambodia.

“The spokesperson of the Cambodian government claimed that there is still no visible effect on the Cambodian-US ties due to the suspension of military aid.

“The spokesperson of the US Embassy in Cambodia, Mr. John Johnson, said that the latest announcement by the US Department of States is only related to military assistance. It is a suspension without a specific time-line. He said, ‘This is a special and worrying case. But the United States of America will continue to cooperate with Cambodia in other fields.’ According to this spokesperson, the US military aid provided to Cambodia since 2006 amounted to about US$6 million.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5167, 3.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 3 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #451, 3.4.2010

  • About US$248 Million Were Wasted due to Traffic Accidents in 2009 [according to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport]
  • 309 Families from Chhlong District Protested against Land Grabbing by the Kastim Company [for prohibiting them to do farming on the land that they have been cultivating for a long time – Kratie]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2218, 3.4.2010

  • The United States of America Suspends the Donation of 200 Military Trucks to Cambodia
  • In 2009 1,717 Citizens Died from Land Traffic Accidents in Cambodia [7,022 were seriously injured; there were 12,535 accidents – according to Handicap International Belgium]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.17, #3849, 3-4.4.2010

  • The Phnom Penh Municipal Court Summoned Mr. Sam Rainsy for the Second Time for Questioning [over the accusation of using fake maps to document border cases, and for disinformation – he is required to appear at the court on 20 April 2010]
  • [A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mr. Yim Sovann Expressed Regrets that the United States of America Cut Military Aid to Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6925, 3-4.4.2010

  • More Than 100 Persons Are under Arrest for Forestry Crimes [including powerful persons and wood traders – according to Mr. Ty Sokun, Director, Department of Forestry and Wildlife, Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries]
  • [Pailin Governor] Ea Chhean Sued the Pailin Forestry Chief for Colluding with Wood Traders Who Organized to Cut Trees of Some Mountains from Top to Foot
  • Four Forestry Officials Were Removed form Their Positions, and the Municipal Court Issued Arrest Warrants for Four Other Wood Traders [over illegal wood trading – Kompong Cham]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3849, 3-4.4.2010

  • The United States of America Temporarily Suspends Military Assistance, Straining the Military Ties between Both Countries Again

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5167, 3.4.2010

  • Cambodia Announced that the United States of America Suspends Military Aid, but Said the Uighurs’ Case Should Not Be Taken as Excuse
  • Phnom Penh: Laying Culverts Is More Important Than Constructing Roads [because the culvert system left from the past is almost totally ruined, which results in floods in the city]

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Report of the US Department of State Is in Line with the Actual Situation in Cambodia – Monday, 15.3.2010

Posted on 15 March 2010. Filed under: Week 656 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 656

“Recently, the US Department of State assessed the human rights situation in Cambodia for 2009, saying that Cambodia progressed in the prevention of human trafficking. But the United States of America expressed some concerns, such as about the restriction of the freedom of expression, the deportation of Uighurs to China, land disputes, and the growing corruption in Cambodia.

“The report on human rights for 2009 of the US Department of State noticed that Cambodia positively promoted the rights of the disabled, and made also efforts at the national level to protect victims of human trafficking that helps the most vulnerable people. Besides this, the authorities worked to reduce serious crimes – the number of murders declined, compared to 2008. The report continues to say that the United States of America is worried about the restriction of the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press by the Cambodian government, pointing to court cases related to defamation and disinformation.

“The report continues that the United States of America is worried about land disputes, forced evictions, and corruption that frequently happens in Cambodia, while the court systems remains weak. The report of the US Department of State is not welcomed by high ranking officials of the Cambodian government, and they accused it as not being based on thorough observations. However, officials of human rights organization recognized that the report reflects the actual situation, and what is mentioned in the report is true.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia said that the Cambodia government is settling those problems, including through the adoption of an anti-corruption law soon. But meanwhile, the president of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO], Ms. Pong Chhiv Kek [Dr. Kek Galabru], said that in general, the work to prevent the trafficking of women and children still faces some shortages, but the government tried to do it to some extent. The other three points that are unacceptable for the United States of America are real issues, because land disputes is also recognized by the government as a major issue. The claim by non-government organization officials testifies that the situation of human rights violations in Cambodia has not improved.

“It is remembered that in late 2009, the Cambodia government arrested 20 Uighurs and forcedly deported them to China, while they were applying for asylum from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Such action caused concerns from human rights groups, voicing the concern that those Uighurs might receive the death penalty in China. Due to this deportation, the Cambodian government was strongly criticized by many local and well-known international human rights organizations.

“At present, heavy human rights violations happen in Cambodia, not different from the concerns raised in the report of the US Department of State. Typically, like in a land dispute in Kompong Thom, the authorities ordered armed forces to evict citizens without any justification, to grab land for a Yuon [Vietnamese] company. When citizens protested to protect their land and their shelters, they were shot at like animals – an unacceptable human rights violation.

“In another case, even the freedom of expression of a parliamentarian, who had expressed his opinion to protect the territorial integrity of the country, was restricted. The opposition party president and parliamentarian from Kompong Cham, Mr. Sam Rainsy, was convicted by the Svay Rieng Court to serve two years in prison and was ordered to pay millions of Riel as a fine, because he uprooted border posts at the Khmer-Yuon border in the Samroang commune, Chantrea district, Svay Rieng, while two villagers who lost their rice fields, Mr. Prum Chea and Ms. Meas Srey, were jailed unjustly.

“After all, the report of the US Department of State regarding human rights issues in Cambodia complies with the actual situation, and officials of [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s government cannot hide this. Therefore, all members of the international community and donors, especially the United States of America, should encourage the Cambodian government to respect human rights, as stated in the Constitution. That means the government should stop restrictions that violate the freedom of expression, and protect the right of living of citizens by completely stopping to use the word ‘development’ as an excuse to evict citizens from their land.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3832, 15.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 15 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #434, 14-15.3.2010

  • The Government Reacted against the US Human Rights Report That Overlooks the Efforts of Cambodia [to improve the human rights conditions]
  • US$41.5 Million for Investment Projects Were Approved in February 2010 [mostly focusing on investments in the garment sector and in agricultural product processing; in January 2010, the Council for the Development of Cambodia approved US$75 million]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2201, 14-15.3.2010

  • The Phnom Penh Municipal Court Informed the Public of a Temporary Relocation, in Order to Construct a New Court Building [it is relocated to the previous headquarters of the Ministry of Tourism in Tuol Svay Prey II, Chamkar Mon, Phnom Penh]
  • The Republic of Korea Congratulates Cambodia after an Anti-Corruption Law Has Been Discussed and Adopted

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #744, 15.3.2010

  • Chinese Hydro-Electricity Dams Cause Drought and Environmental Destruction to the Mekong River – as [Thai] NGOs Inform the United Nations

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #626, 14-15.3.2010

  • Perpetrators Who Shot and Injured [three] Disabled People [guarding the land of the Vietnamese Tan Bien company] in Kompong Thom] Are Out of the Net of the Law, while Some Victims Do Not Dare to Return to Their Own Homes [as the authorities are seeking to arrest them because of their protests against their eviction from the land]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6908, 15.3.2010

  • Among 569 Poor Communities in Phnom Penh, for More Than 300 Their Problems Have Been Solved [through ‘development-in-place’ and through compensation – according to the municipality]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3832, 15.3.2010

  • Report of the US Department of State Is in Line with the Actual Situation in Cambodia

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #130, 15.3.2010

  • The Opposition Party President [Mr. Sam Rainsy] Was Formally Indicted at a Count for Faking Public Documents
  • Cambodia Spent US$59 Million on Electricity Bought from Thailand [about US$19 million] and Vietnam [about US$40 million] in 2009
  • More Than 1,000 Hectares of Conservation Forest Were Destroyed by Fire in Siem Reap, Pailin, and Kampot [because people slashed-and-burnt some places to claim farmland, which led to fire getting out of control]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5150, 14-15.3.2010

  • Nine Members of the European Parliament Will Visit Cambodia [from 18 to 20 March 2010, to study the political and economic situation in Cambodia]
  • France Will Help to Establish a Chemistry Laboratory for the Royal Academy of Cambodia [according to a meeting between the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, and the director of the National Scientific Research Center of France, Ms. Marie-Florence Grenier Loustalot; it might take two to three years]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1887, 15.3.2010

  • Citizens from 10 Villages in Amleang Commune, Kompong Speu, Are Struggling to Demand Their Land Back from a Company of [Senator and Oknha] Ly Yong Phat [who invests to grow sugarcane on this land]

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The Royal Government Released a Sub-Decree about Obligatory Military Service – Wednesday, 30.12.2009

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

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 645

“The Royal Government of Cambodia issued a royal sub-decree about the conditions and modalities for a census for the recruitment, the conscription, and for the possible delays for youth who are studying, and for citizens under special conditions, and about the law for the implementation of military service.

“The sub-decree, signed by the head of the Royal Government, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, states that it aims to define the conditions and modalities for a census for the recruitment, the conscription, and the possible delays for youth who are studying, and for citizens under special conditions, and about the law for the implementation of military service. It aims to protect the territorial integrity and the national sovereignty, and contributes to the reform of the military sector, strengthening the foundation of the forces for national defense, developing citizens physically, as required by the country, and training in national defense skills.

“The sub-decree describes a National Commission for Military Service, which has the Minister of Defense as its head, the Minister of Interior or a secretary of state as the deputy head, the commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces [RCAF] as another deputy head, the Minister of Economy and Finance or a secretary of state, the Minister of Planning or a secretary of state, the Minister of Health or a secretary of state, the Minister of Labor or a secretary of state, the Minister of Social Affairs or a secretary of state, and the secretary of the Public Affairs Secretariat, the director general of the National Police, the commander of the National Military Police as members, and director of personnel of the Ministry of Defense as a secretary.

“The sub-decree adds that census for obligatory military service will be conducted by the military service committees of the communes from January to March every year. Recruitments will be made in early August every year, and the military service commissions of the commune have to issue the invitations to the citizens whose names are listed in the census lists and who live under their control, to attend to the recruitment process and the medical checkup, to prepare them for military service.

“This sub-decree states also the conditions for a delay for youth who are studying, stating that the youth who can receive a delay are: students during studies to finish their courses; students preparing to take exams for higher education, for higher degrees, or for associated degrees, and for high school and lower secondary school certificates; and students receiving scholarships to study abroad and students preparing to further their education abroad.

“The sub-decree offers also delay in military service for citizens under special situations. These are citizen who are the only labor force in their family and are the breadwinner of the family; citizens who have not yet reached the age to do full labor, or who are too old, or disabled; citizens who are the only child whose father or mother lost their life in the battlefield; citizen who live in a one-child-family – a family with only one child and the mother, or a child-and-father family; citizens who lost their husband or wife and have many children to raise; citizens who are receiving treatment for illness; citizens who have to leave the country with their parents to fulfill a long-term mission abroad; civil servants who have to fulfill a task abroad more than 3 months; lecturers and teachers who are working under the Ministry of Education; workers who are experts in their factories or enterprises, where a skilled replacement cannot be found immediately; and employers who are responsible leading in expert positions in their enterprises and cannot find a replacement.

“As for the calls to military service, the sub-decree states that citizens who volunteer to fulfill their military service are the first ones to be conscripted. A lottery system will be used if there are more, or less, persons than needed who want to start their military service. The commissions have to conscript citizens for military serve based on the required numbers. The commune military service commissions have to send the draft notices to the conscripted persons directly through the commune authorities or its unit heads, to ministries, departments, factories, enterprises, or educational institutions, within at least 30 days before the day the conscripts are required to appear.

“It should be noted that the military service law of the Kingdom of Cambodia defines the age of affected citizens to be from 18 to 30, and women can make their service as citizens through voluntary services. This sub-decree is directed at Khmer citizens in general who are civilians, workers, employees, employers, students, civil servants, and citizens who have two nationalities and live permanently in the Kingdom of Cambodia.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2137, 30.12.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #374, 30.12.2009

  • A Man Lured a 5-Year-Old Girl and Raped Her Four Times [he was arrested – Sihanoukville]
  • Major Leaders [from the UNHCR, the United States, and Australia] Criticized [Thai] Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva for Deporting Hmong People Back to Laos

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2137, 30.12.2009

  • The Royal Government Released a Sub-Decree about Obligatory Military Service
  • Wood Traders [in the military] Burnt Two Bridges to Block the Authorities Who Went to Crack Down [Battambang]
  • A Policeman of the Ministry of Interior Used a Pistol to Hit a Person on the Head and Shot Three Times in the Air [he was detained – Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #557, 30.12.2009

  • The National Assembly Adopted the Expropriation Law, though Some Articles Make Citizens to Lose Benefits

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6844, 30.12.2009

  • UNHCR Dismissed the Request of Khmer Kampuchea Krom People for Asylum because They Are Cambodian Citizens
  • The Head of the Supreme Court of Vietnam [Mr. Trương Hoà Bình – Truong Hoa Binh] Visited Cambodia to Seek Cooperation [with the Supreme Court of Cambodia, such as in the general field of laws, and in the training of judges]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #78, 30.12.2009

  • [The president of the Senate and of the Cambodian People’s Party] Mr. Chea Sim Encouraged the Strengthening of Discipline for Khmer Monks
  • Phnom Penh Organizes a Three-Day Exhibition [from 30 December 2009 to 1 January 2010] to Celebrate the Founding of Phnom Penh [575 years ago – at Wat Phnom]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5086, 30.12.2009

  • Civil Society Is Not Satisfied as the National Assembly Adopted the Expropriation Law
  • The Ministry of Education and Metfone [a Vietnamese mobile phone company] Signed a Memorandum of the Understanding Worth US$5 Million about the Provision of Internet Services to Public Educational Institutions and the Provision of Scholarships

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1844, 30.12.2009

  • [The Svay Rieng Court] Issued an Arrest Warrant for Mr. Sam Rainsy [he removed temporary Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers – Mr. Sam Rainsy is at present abroad]
  • [The high ranking official of the Cambodian People’s Party and chairperson of the Commission on Economy, Finance, Banking, and Audits of the National Assembly] Cheam Yeap Recognized that Some Government Officials from the Cambodian People’s Party Are Corrupt [in response to a publication of a US magazine, in which a foreign journalist criticized that children of Cambodian government officials and of oknhas compete with each other to show off their luxury cars bought with their parent’s money. And the journalist criticized it that they got much money from illegal activities, like illegal logging or committing corruption. In response, Mr. Cheam Yeap said there is really corruption committed by some officials from the CPP, but not by all. But he added that opposition party officials also commit corruption]

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Khmers from Kampuchea Krom in Vietnam and Uighurs from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China – Sunday, 27.12.2009

Posted on 28 December 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 644 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 644

The following information is not saying that the situation of the Khmer people in Kampuchea Krom – now a part of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – and the situation of the Uighur people in the People’s Republic of China is the same. There are a lot of reasons to point to the differences – but still, there are similarities in spite of the many differences in history, culture, and politics.

A brief survey of both situations is presented her, because people from both regions have been in the press during the last week. But while people in Cambodia have general information about the history why Kampuchea Krom is not part of the Kingdom of Cambodia, which leads to an understandable immediate emotional relation – from Khmers to Khmers – there were hardly any reports in the Khmer press about the asylum seekers’ background. In one report they were even called “Chinese ethnic Uighurs” – on the other hand, it is not usual in the Khmer press to speak about “Vietnamese ethnic Khmers” when referring to Khmer people from Kampuchea Krom.

The following brief information is also not claiming to be a comprehensive description of the two complex fields under discussion. Information is collected in good faith – but where there may be important omissions or mistakes, we invite our readers always to come forward with their Comments in order to present a better picture – not only in this case, but in general.

The Khmer Kampuchea Krom in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

The area of the lower Mekong Delta was inhabited by Khmers long before the arrival of the Vietnamese. In the 17th century, more and more Vietnamese people moved South, so that the Khmers in the Mekong Delta became a minority in their original environment. In 1623, King Chey Chettha II of Cambodia (1618-1628) allowed Vietnamese refugees fleeing the Trịnh-Nguyễn War [Trinh-Nguyen War] in Vietnam to settle in the area of Prey Nokor. In 1698, Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh [Nguyen Huu Canh] was sent by the Nguyen rulers of Huế [Hue] to set up Vietnamese administrative structures, separating the Mekong Delta from the rest of Cambodia. Cambodia had no energy to resist this gradual Vietnamization, because it used more of its energy for a conflicts with Thailand. By 1698, the area had a Vietnamese administration.

Before that, Prey Nokor had been the most important access to the sea for Cambodia. Under the name of Sài Gòn [Saigon], it became the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina.

In 1939, Jules Brevié as head of the French administration, draw a line on the map basically do delineate the maritime borders between Cochinchina and Cambodia, but this “Brevié Line” was also used, when Cambodia gained independence from France, to set the border between South Vietnam and Cambodia. Saigon became the capital of South Vietnam from 1954 to 1975, and in 1976, it was named Hồ Chí Minh City [Ho Chi Minh City]. And with it, the originally Khmer inhabited Mekong Delta became Vietnam.

According to Vietnamese statistics, now there are more than 1 million Khmer Krom in Vietnam.

The Uighurs [also Uygurs or Uigurs] in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China

The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region [新疆维吾尔自治区] “spans over 1.6 million sq. km and borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, has abundant oil reserves and is China’s largest natural gas-producing region. It administers most of Aksai Chin, a territory formally part of Kashmir’s Ladakh region over which India claims sovereignty since 1962.

“‘Xinjiang’ literally means ‘New Frontier,’ a name given [only as late as 1884] during the Qing Dynasty [清朝 – 1644 to 1912]. It is home to a number of different ethnic groups and major ethnic groups include Uyghur, Han, Kazakh, Hui, Kyrgyz and Mongol [in the extreme North-West of present day China]. Older English-language reference works often refer to the area as Chinese Turkestan, Sinkiang and East Turkestan…

“With a documented history of at least 2,500 years, and a succession of different peoples and empires vying for control over the territory, Xinjiang has been, and continues to be, a focal point of ethnic tensions well into the beginning of the 21st century.” [Main source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xinjiang]

The 13th century European-Venetian traveler to China, Marco Polo, described the region as Turkistan. One part of the vast “region became part of the Russian Empire in 1860, as Russian Turkestan [Туркестанский Край], later as the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union, then split into the Kazakh SSR (Kazakhstan), Kyrgyz SSR (Kyrgyzstan), Tajik SSR (Tajikistan), Turkmen SSR (Turkmenistan) and Uzbek SSR (Uzbekistan). After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these republics gained their independence.” [Main source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkestan]

The eastern section of the area, inhabited by Uighur speaking people – a Turkic language, related to the Turkish language and completely unrelated to Chinese – did not gain political independence, as it had become part of China in 1884, after China had conquered the region, established it as Xinjiang (“new frontier”) as a province; as the name shows, it was clearly identified as a newly acquired border region.

A rebellion in 1933 tried to gain independence by establishing the First East Turkistan Republic – only for a brief time.

Another rebellion in 1943 established the Second East Turkistan Republic, from 1944 to 1949. During this uprising, a brother of Mao Tse-Tung, Mao Ze-min, was killed. The Second East Turkistan Republic came to an end when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army entered the region, and it was renamed in 1955 as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. (As it was now part of the People’s Republic of China, it could also be used in 1964 to test the first Chinese nuclear explosion.)

Having been made a part of the People’s Republic of China, this opened also a steady stream of Han-Chinese immigrants into the Uighur region.

The fear of Uighurs to lose their social and economic role in their own region, including their cultural and religious identities – the Uighurs are traditionally Muslim – led to a series of violent clashes. In 1962, 60,000 people fled to the Soviet Union and were accepted as refugees, there were student demonstrations in the 1980ies, in 1990 there was an uprising that resulted in 50 people being killed. In 1997, 30 Uighurs were executed as suspected separatists.

The ethnic tensions, which also let to the establishment of an East Turkestan Independence Movement, saw a newly element added recently, relating to some international Islamist-fundamentalist terrorist movements. As the long history of the Uighur struggle to have their own identity respected shows, present day terrorist elements cannot be called to be the main problem of ethnic self determination – which does not necessarily mean political separation. But the problems became more complicated during the last conflicts in 2009: some Han Chinese voices in the Uighur region are reported to reject the policy of the state to accept a certain autonomy of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as discriminatory against non-Uighur – Chinese – immigrants.

Some officials of the Cambodian government claimed that the 20 Uighurs, who were forced to be sent to China were treated like this, because they were illegal immigrants who had not entered the country with proper documents. That is what hundreds of thousands of Cambodians did, who fled the country to Thailand during and after the Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia.

Now there are 24 Khmer people from Kampuchea Krom who were deported from Thailand as illegal immigrants – but as a first step, the Poipet authorities rejected to provide shelter for them, as some seem originate from within the country. But not all. Six of them arrived now in Phnom Penh to seek assistance from the government and the UNHCR to receive Khmer nationality. In whatever way they came to Thailand and were sent to Cambodia – if they came from Kampuchea Krom, they are Vietnamese citizens (whether they carry identity papers or passports from where they came from or not). As they are Khmer, the Thai authorities could send these “illegals” to Cambodia, hoping they will get Cambodian citizenship and will not be repatriated to Vietnam.

The twenty Uighurs did not have such a place of origin to go to, they had fled their place of origin. There were no reports that they had been personally identified as having committed crimes – there were two children among them! – but they were sent to China.

But they were not “Chinese ethnic Uighurs” – unless we also call the six Khmer people asking for Cambodian nationality “Vietnamese.” And in both cases it is similarly difficult to see why one should – as some commentators say – “Just leave them to their government.” In both cases, the history, which they carry in their lives, is more complex than to be appropriately dealt with, using such simpleminded advice.

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Var Kimhong Did Not Talk about the Khmer Farmers Who Lost Their Land because of the Setting of Border Markers – Friday, 25.12.2009

Posted on 26 December 2009. Filed under: Week 644 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 644

“Mr. Var Kimhong, the chairperson of the Border Committee of Cambodia, led a delegation to clarify border issues at the National Assembly on 24 December 2009. During the clarification, which took more than three hours, Mr. Var Kimhong did not answer the questions of the parliamentarian Son Chhay, who represented the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians.

“His questions, laid out on eight pages, with attached documents and photos, reports, and videos about the Khmer farmers who lost many rice fields because of the way in which border markers were set, were not clarified by Mr. Var Kimhong, and during more than three hours of his clarification in the National Assembly, he read also border reports from nearly 100 years ago, so that even some parliamentarians did not understand what was going on. What about the citizens?

“Mr. Son Chhay asked the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, to clarify issues regarding the border demarcation with Vietnam, which resulted in the fact that some Khmer farmers lost their rice fields, and he inquired about the experts in this work, and about materials used for the demarcation. There are still many other questions, like the case that even when there was no agreement yet between Yuon [Vietnam] and Cambodia, they came already to construct roads and unilaterally put border markers, like at the Dac Dang point.

“Mr. Var Kimhong said that Cambodia has qualified experts and proper materials, which had cost tens of thousands of dollars when it was bought, provided by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and the demarcation and setting of border markers does not just depend only on Yuon or Thai materials.

“Spending almost two hours from 8:40 a.m. to 10:25 a.m., Mr. Var Kimhong gave clarifications which did not touch the specific questions of Mr. Son Chhay that had been raised during the meeting, as those questions were rejected by the president of the National Assembly, Mr. Heng Samrin.

“Mr. Son Chhay reminded Mr. Var Kimhong to answer the questions which had been raised, ‘What His Excellency is talking is still a problem. We listen to you, but you do not answer the questions at all. Please answer the questions.’ Mr. Son Chhay’s reminder was interrupted by Mr. Heng Samrin, who rang the bell and turned the microphone of the speaker off.

“Mr. Var Kimhong could not control his feelings and angrily attacked Mr. Son Chhay, as Mr. Son Chhay had asked him not to waste time giving answers not related to the questions. However, Mr. Var Kimhong considered his descriptions as proper answers.

“At about 11:10 a.m., Mr. Var Kimhong finished his clarifications, and the National Assembly immediately closed the meeting and did not allow any parliamentarians to continue to ask any questions.

“After leaving the National Assembly, Mr. Son Chhay held a press conference at the Sam Rainsy Party headquarters in Phnom Penh. Mr. Son Chhay said that he cannot accept Mr. Var Kimhong’s clarifications, and he still has the plan to ask for government representatives to provide clarifications next time.

“Mr. Son Chhay said that Mr. Var Kimhong did not respond to many points, like the case that some Khmer farmers in Chantrea district lost their rice fields, because of the way border markers were set, such as the border markers number 152, 184, 185, 186, and 187.

“As for Mr. Var Kimhong, he claimed that Cambodia has qualified border experts who studied everything before setting those border markers. Mr. Son Chhay said that during the setting of some border markers, like numbers 184 and 185, villagers said they only saw Yuon [Vietnamese] soldiers and border officials, while the Cambodia side had only one police officer at some border markers, and only one representative of the authorities at some others.

“Yesterday morning, the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians took Video CDs and documents, together with many questions, to the National Assembly, to show slides to the parliamentarians and to the Khmer citizens. But Mr. Heng Samrin said that the National Assembly has little time, and the permanent committee could not approve the request of the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians.

“Because the questions were not answered, Mr. Son Chhay said that he cannot accept what was said as clarifications. He said, ‘The government representative came to give answers to details which we had not asked in our questions. We had sent an official request… what he answered was something different.

“Also, Mr. Son Chhay’s the questions about some border issues with Siam [Thailand] and about the report of Mr. Ke Kim Yan [the former Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief] were not clarified by Mr. Var Kimhong. Regarding this, Mr. Son Chhay asked him to answer directly to the questions. But he was interrupted by Mr. Heng Samrin.

“Mr. Var Kimhong said, before he made his clarifications, that border issues are sensitive. His clarifications seemed not to be clear relating to the point where border markers were set, or how the locations were copied from the map, based on documents that Cambodia deposited at the United Nations in 1964, and sometimes he said the places depend on a treaty of 1985, and an additional treaty of 2005. This additional treaty of 2005 was approved by the National Assembly, by the parliamentarians from the Cambodian People’s Party and from Funcinpec, led by Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh, but all Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians did not approve it.

“All in all, Mr. Var Kimhong did not give answers to the problem of Khmer farmers in Chantrea district in Svay Rieng, because of the border demarcation with Yuon, but he just claimed that Cambodia loses some territory at some places, and also Vietnam loses some territory at other places – as these issues are left from the time of French rule.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #563, 25.12.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 25 December 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #370, 25.12.2009

  • The Prime Minister Warned some Officials Who Want to Become Five-Star-Generals [Prime Minister Hun Sen said the 5-star-general appointments, some days ago reported in Rasmei Kampuchea, is a special case, for only him, Mr. Heng Samrin, and Mr. Chea Sim. He warned others not to try to find ways to also become 5-star-generals. The US military had, throughout its history, only 9 five-star-generals; at present, no US military person holds this high rank]
  • Environmental Experts [of the Wildlife Alliance] Asked the Government Not to Provide Too Much Economic Concession Land

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2133, 25.12.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: This Year Cambodia Has More Than Two Million Tonnes of Rice for Export
  • The Opposition Party Does Not Accept the Clarifications Provided over the Border Issues

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #563, 25.12.2009

  • Var Kimhong Did Not Talk about the Khmer Farmers Who Lost Their Land because of the Setting of Border Markers
  • The Sam Rainsy Party Asked Not to Discuss the Draft Law on Expropriations Yet [during forced evictions and frequent land disputes, the country is not ready for expropriations]
  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Asked the Khmer Authorities to Stop Intimidating Farmers Who Lost Their Rice Fields due to Yuon [Vietnamese] Border Violations

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6840, 25.12.2009

  • Thousands of Cubic Meters of Luxury Wood [worth millions of dollars] Were Found in the Khmer-Yuon Buffer Zone [between the provinces of Ratanakiri and Gia Lai]
  • The Murderer Who Used a Cleaver to Kill a [14-year-old] Girl to Rob Valuables Is a Woman [she was arrested – Battambang]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #75, 25.12.2009

  • Prime Minister [Hun Sen] Accused the Thai Government of Planning a Coup in Cambodia [preparing to create war with Cambodia – Anything like that was strongly denied by the Thai government]
  • Six Khmer Kampuchea Krom People among 24 [sent to Cambodia by the Thai authorities] Arrived in Phnom Penh [to seek assistance from the government and the UNHCR to receive Khmer nationality]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5082, 25.12.2009

  • The Minister of Health Announced to Stop Allowing Clinics to Sell Medicines
  • The Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Rewards US$15,900 for Athletes Who Won Medals at the South East Asian Games [in Laos; Cambodia won 40 medals, in total there where 3 gold medal winners who received US$500 each; 10 silver medal winners received US$300 each; and 27 bronze medal winners received US$200 each; US$1,000 is given to coaches; and US$5,000 for the football team]

Note:

Accordiing to the Cambodia Daily of 25.12.2009, in addition to the rewards from the municipal governor, “the government will pay out some $200,000 in reward money for the 40 medals the country’s athletes and coaches brought home” – though the timing is not yet decided by the Ministry of Economy and Finance. As one official explained: “Just one dossier must go through 61 desks before reaching the minister. It is a relay like a snail.”

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1841, 25-27.12.2009

  • [The spokesperson of the Sam Rainsy Party and parliamentarian] Mr. Yim Sovann Wants the Government to Expel Yuon [Vietnamese] Immigrants from Cambodia

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When Is It Possible to Trust, or Not to Trust the Law? – Sunday, 20.12.2009

Posted on 21 December 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 643 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 643

Several events during the past week provide a lot of food for thought. Some cases have been extending over several weeks before they came to a surprising end, others started only recently – but in their mutual links, they leave the public with a lot of questions.

It is not the task of the media to respond to many of these question – but to collect information and to share it publicly. How the answers have to be found, for the whole society, is clear according to Article 51 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia: “The Cambodian people are the masters of their own country. All power belongs to the people.” This is the starting point, so the people need to know what is going on.

The next point is (still according to the same Article 51): “The people exercise these powers through the National Assembly, the Senate, the Royal Government and the Judiciary” – about which the constitution adds an important point of clarification: “The legislative, executive, and judicial powers shall be separate.”

The people elect the legislative, which appoints the executive, and the judicial power cares that new laws conform to the Constitution and are implemented properly.

The past week saw several events where the public cannot easily understand how public procedures work and laws and applied – and this is in some cases made more difficult because the press does not cover some areas in detail. The following is just a series of descriptions. How they are to be understood is not clear in all cases.

An employee handling air traffic control information at the airport shared information over the telephone about the Flight Plan of the private jet-plane of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra. This employee was convicted to seven years in prison for allegedly having engaged in an act of spying. But according to some public media reports, information about the flight plan was shared with the Thai embassy only 20 minutes after the plane had already landed. In addition, in many countries, flight plans are in principle public, not secret (except for military aircraft in combat or military training). Were flight plans not publicly available, in national and in international Flight Information Regions, there would be a lot of near or real accidents in flight. We tried to find any information in the press about the legal status of Flight Plan related information – we did not see any.

In this, and in some other of the cases, the Mirror does not claim to have all information publicly available, though we try. If there is important information publicly available but we missed it, we are always grateful to receive additional information in the form of Comments.

The legally convicted spy was freed by a Royal Pardon within less than a week – in response to requests by representatives of the opposition party of a neighboring country, and, as the Prime Minister said, also in view of the concerns and the love of the mother of the convict to her son. That the convicted spy was set free was welcomed widely, including by the Thai government.
As a general reaction, the Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian Mr. Son Chhay said that the Prime Minister had suggested a Royal Pardon to the King, though the court had claimed to have enough evidence for a legal conviction to serve seven years in prison, so the Prime Minister might also initiate the procedures to have the Khmer people set free, now in prison over land disputes, who were jailed when they just protested when the land they were living on for many years was taken away.

Surely there are many mothers caring for their sons in a similar way as the mother of the convicted Thai spy.

The former Thai prime minister, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, now often also identified as a billionaire because of the huge economic gains of his telecommunications companies during his time as prime minister, had been ousted from office by a bloodless military coup. But later, he was also convicted for corruption – related to the sale of public property to his wife, and three of his lawyers were arrested, arrested of leaving about US$60,000 to officials at the Thai high court, handling his case. During the appeal process, he asked for bail to leave the country for some business in China for some days – but he did not keep the conditions of the bail agreement and stays ever since in other countries.

When Mr. Thaksin, in legal terms a convicted fugitive, was invited to Cambodia as an adviser to the Prime Minister on economic affairs, the Thai government made an extradition request based on a Cambodian-Thai extradition agreement. The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was reported to have refused to even receive the documents from the Thai embassy, claiming the conviction by the Thai courts was politically motivated. Interpol sees this differently: Interpol is prepared to help locate Mr. Thaksin as a convicted fugitive.

On Saturday, 19 December 2009, the Cambodian authorities arrested and handed over 20 Uighur people to the Chinese authorities, that had asked for their extradition, claiming they are criminals (though two of them are said to be children). They applied for recognition as refugees with the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees – UNHCR – in Phnom Penh, but the UN interviews with them had not yet been finished. They were not, in legal terms, convicted for anything in China, there had been no court hearings on them. “They were led to Cambodia by the leader of a terrorist group, but I do not want to mention the name,” Mr. Khieu Sopheak, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, is quoted. And the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Phay Siphan, is quoted to have said that they were deported to China “because of Cambodia’s obligations as a sovereign state.” Obviously this would apply to both China and Thailand.

In addition, Cambodia has signed the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, adopted by the United Nations in 1951. The regional spokesperson of the UNHCR called the deportation, before the end of the interviews, a “grave breach of international refugee law” – to which Cambodia had actually subscribed.

The Thai government declared that a normalization of diplomatic relations with Cambodia would require that Cambodia terminates the agreement with Mr. Shinawatra as economic adviser, and not to continue to call a legal conviction for corruption as politically motivated. But the spokesperson of the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said these conditions are “nonsense.” Prime Minister Hun Sen added that relations with the Thai government cannot be normalized, unless the present Thai government is replaced.

Such statements are of a dimension which has never existed before in ASEAN, with a tradition of not interfering into the internal affairs of another country, like calling for a change of government. Even in relation to the present military leadership of Myanmar, ASEAN states have only called for the institution of a democratic process in Myanmar.

The Nation of Bangkok wrote in an analysis:

“The dispute is one thing, but the most important thing is that the incident not pose a risk to Asean solidarity,” Tommy Koh, chairman of the grouping’s task force, was quoted as saying by [the Chinese] Xinhua News Agency. “I’ve asked my colleagues how they would have felt if [a neighboring country] had done to us what Hun Sen did to Thailand,” said one Asean diplomat even before the Thai-Cambodian conflict deteriorated into a spy farce and relations sank to new lows. An expert on Asean affairs said: “No other Asean leader in the grouping’s long history has ever called for the destruction of a neighboring government. This is beyond everything we have experienced.”

The present situation will probably be remembered in the history of ASEAN as a new turning point, testing the very fabric of the ASEAN community.

Finally, the meaning and the role of the law is extremely tested in another way in Cambodia itself: There are two cases, where the president of the largest opposition party, and leader of the government, are quoted to have said that they have no respect for the calling of a court:

  • The opposition party president, Mr. Sam Rainsy: I Do Not Care about the Court That Serves the Ruling Party Only [he was sued by the Svay Rieng Municipal Court for removing temporary Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers]
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that all recently summoned witnesses, who are presently holding high offices in the Royal Government – like the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Economy and Finance and he himself – do not need to cooperate with the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

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Saturday, 30.8.2008: Khmer Authorities Cooperate with the US FBI to Investigate Murder of Moneaksekar Khmer Journalist

Posted on 31 August 2008. Filed under: Week 575 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 575

“Regarding the brutal murder of Mr. Khim Sambo, a journalist of Moneaksekar Khmer and his [21-year-old] son Khat Sarinpheata, on 11 July 2008, so far the Phnom Penh authorities have not arrested the murderer or those who are behind to be convicted according to the law. The weakness of the authorities to find the murderer to be prosecuted makes the general public and some local and foreign civil society organizations strongly criticize the Phnom Penh authorities, because so far, the murderer still lives freely and is staying outside of the net of the law.

“Civil society officials and the general public have requested the Phnom Penh authorities to speed up the investigations to seek the murderer who shot dead the journalist of Moneaksekar Khmer and his son, and also those who are behind the murder to be punished, and also to know the clear reasons why the father and the son were murdered; is it for political reasons or other reasons? – so that the general public and civil society organization officials know the root of the story that led to the brutal murder.

“The reasons for the shooting of Mr. Khim Sambo and his son Khat Sarinpheata to death near the Olympic Stadium on 11 July 2008, while they were returning from their exercises, is not known yet, though it is being investigated by the authorities. Unless the murderer is convicted, the real reasons of the murder cannot be revealed. However, the authorities have not had any clear light that can lead to identify the murderer, as it is not easy.

“Because of complications to look for the murderer, the authorities decided to cooperate with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation – FBI – in Cambodia, to cooperate to seek the murderer and those who are behind them to be convicted according to the law. It is hoped that this cooperation will lead to arrest the real murderer to be sentenced soon, because the FBI has high skills in investigation and can provide ideas to the Cambodian authorities to look for the murderer who shot dead Mr. Khim Sambo and his son.

“A high ranking police official who asked not to mention his name said that yesterday, on 29 August 2008, the FBI in Cambodia met for the first time with the Cambodian authorities to discuss the cooperation to seek the murderer and those who are behind the murder of Mr. Khim Sambo and his son. The first time meeting between the Khmer authorities and the FBI was attended by Mr. Touch Naroth, the head of the Phnom Penh police, and some other officials, and by Mr. Laro Tan (a Cambodian-American), the head of the FBI office in Cambodia. Both sides focused on the murder of Mr. Khim Sambo and his son by anonymous persons.

“A police official said that during the meeting between Mr. Laro Tan, the director of the US FBI office in Cambodia, and the Cambodian authorities yesterday, Mr. Touch Naroth reported in detail about the murder of Mr. Khim Sambo and his son Khat Sarinpheata, how the Cambodian police had investigated before cooperating with the FBI office. Also, Mr. Laro Tan was satisfied with the report about the investigation by the Cambodian authorities, and the FBI agreed also to cooperate with the Cambodian authorities.

“The police official continued to say that Mr. Laro Tan responded that he will also ask the director of the FBI in the United States to offer two experts – one for investigations, and the other for drafting a ‘wanted’ circular with a sketch of the face of the suspect, and he is also an expert in performing autopsies

“The cooperation between the Phnom Penh authorities and the US FBI to investigate the murder of Mr. Khim Sambo and of his son Khat Sarinpheata was welcomed by civil society organization officials and by the general public, and it is hoped it will help to find the murderers and those who are behind them to be convicted soon.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3552, 30.8.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 30 August 2008


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1733, 30.8.2008

  • Primary Investigation Says Murder of Moneaksekar Khmer Journalist Is for Rancor against His Son [who was also murdered. – Why is this so reported? Because a policeman said it might be so]
  • While Prices of Goods Are Going Up, Khmer Rat Meat Is Best-Selling
  • All Kinds of Trees and Wildlife at Kirirom National Park Are Endangered [because preservation officials there allow illegal logging and hunting – Kompong Speu]


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #233, 30.8.2008

  • Kampuchea Krom Associations and Organizations Ask for Permission from Yuon [Vietnamese] Embassy to Visit Mr. Tim Sakhan [who has been defrocked on the accusation of having perpetrated an offense against the Buddhist law, because he was accused to have destroyed the harmony between Vietnam and Cambodia – he is now seriously ill and kept in house arrest in Vietnam]
  • Strongman [Prime Minister Hun Sen] Pushes Prince Ranariddh to Be at a Dead End Road, Forcing Him to Swallow His Saliva [to change his mind against his own will – by urging him to return to Funcinpec again]


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #86, 30.8.2008

  • Municipal Police Does Not Take Action against Traffic Jams


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6437, 30-31.8.2008

  • Authorities Recruit 30 Persons to Create Militia to Defend Chub Kokir Village [where Thai black-clad uniform soldiers – special Border Unit forces – threaten Cambodian people to demolish their houses – Banteay Ampil, Oddar Meanchey]
  • [Cambodia] Urges Negotiations Soon; Thailand Cancels Negotiations for Reason of Crisis [demonstrations in Bangkok]; Cambodia Cannot Accept
  • Constructions Spread on Prohibited Areas Next to Phnom Penh International Airport Fences


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3552, 30-31.8.2008

  • Khmer Authorities Cooperate with the US FBI to Investigate Murder of Moneaksekar Khmer Journalist
  • Civil Society Wants Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodian to Be Maintained

  • Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4681, 30.8.2008

    • Siamese [Thai] Police Cannot Control Demonstrators; Demonstration Is Stronger
    • Four Cambodian Children [who were arrested on accusation of entering Thailand illegally on 26 August 2008] Are Released by Siamese [Thais] and Two Siamese Citizens [who were arrested on accusation of entering Cambodia illegally on 27 August 2008] Are Also Released in Exchange


    Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3397, 30.8.2008

    • Dispute between People and a Company in Kampot over Sand Pumping to Extend the Beach Area [the pumping affects people’s livelihood]

    Click here to have a look at the last editorial – some fundamental challenges into the future

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