Interview between Koh Santepheap and the Director of the Open Institute, Ms. Chim Manavy, Regarding the International Women’s Day 8 March – Thursday, 5.3.2009

Posted on 9 March 2009. Filed under: Week 602 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 602

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

Norbert Klein

“1. What is the meaning of 8 March?

“The International Women’s Day (8 March) is a day that women around the world celebrate to commemorate and welcome achievements obtained after struggling for the equality between men and women. These struggles took place during the 19th century in European countries [and the USA] while women in those countries were oppressed, exploited, and forced to be sex slaves. The United Nations celebrates this day and many counties mark it as a national holiday. As women in all continents, often separated by national borders, different races, and by different religions, cultures, economies, and political systems, gather to celebrate their day of commemoration, they can recall the traditions representing at least nine [reference not given for 90 year] decades of struggles for equality, justice, peace, and development.

Note:

It is remarkable how the present commemoration of this history, with early reference to the political struggle of women – initially women textile workers – for economic, political, and social emancipation of women, lost part of its memory, in some countries even turning into a Women’s Day celebration, where the political history is suppressed and replaced by a vague mixture of Mother’s Day and St Valentine’s Day.

The early history was clearly a history of political struggle [most data from the UN website mentioned above]:

  • 1909 – The Socialist Party of the USA organized the first National Woman’s Day which was observed across the United States on 28 February 1909.
  • 1910 – The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women’s Day, international in character, to honor the movement for women’s rights and to assist in achieving universal voting rights for women.
  • 1913-1914 – As part of the peace movement around the beginning of World War One, 1914-1918, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on February 1913. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies to protest the war.
  • 1917: Aware of the sufferings of the war, women in Russia protested and organized strikes for “Bread and Peace” on 8 March – the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Four days later, the Russian head of stage, the Czar, abdicated, and the provisional government granted women the right to vote.
  • 1945 – The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men.
  • 1975 – International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating 8 March as International Women’s Day.
  • 1977 – Only then, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace, to be observed on any day of the year by member states, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

Nowadays in Cambodia, the major part of the industrial work force, creating a considerable share of export earnings, are women textile workers. There is ample reason to remember a much earlier section of the social struggles of women. In 1836, the first big strike of women textile workers ever was organized in the USA – and this was in Lowell, Massachusetts. This is now a town of 105,000 people – about 40,000 of them being Cambodian immigrants. Lowell is the second largest “Cambodian” city in the USA, after Long Beach in California.

Are the Cambodian women in the textile industry, fighting for their rights, aware of this historical coincidence? Are the Cambodians in Lowell aware of the historical role of their city of Lowell in the struggle for equal rights for women and men, and of the situation of the women in the textile industry of Cambodia today?

This “Cambodian” US city was the place of the first massive strike of women in the world, The Lowell Mill Girls Go on Strike in 1836, when 1,200 to 1,500 girls walked in procession through the streets, singing their special song:

Oh! isn’t it a pity, such a pretty girl as I –
Should be sent to the factory to pine away and die?
Oh ! I cannot be a slave,
I will not be a slave,
For I’m so fond of liberty
That I cannot be a slave.

The reference to slavery was clearly a reference to their working condition – there is no reference in the records about the history of the International Women’s Day that the political struggles considered or included the situation of prostitution and the related sexual exploitation of women.

“2. How important is 8 March for Cambodian women?

“Cambodia marks the International Women’s Day of 8 March as a national holiday. To women, 8 March is very important. 8 March is the day when many women assemble to express their opinions, address issues, and discuss problems, in order to seek proper solutions. Also, accomplishments by women, and different achievements of work are presented.

“8 March is not the only day concerned with women’s rights, though some opinions refer to it as if it were the only day that women can address exercising their rights. This idea is wrong. Women’s rights are human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 1, ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…’ Thus, women’s rights and human rights have to be implemented every time, throughout the life of human beings. Like women worldwide do it, Cambodian women use 8 March as the day on which women struggle with the government to define the agenda of work and to raise questions about different policies to support the equality between men and women.

“3. Previously, what did you organization, the Open Institute, do, related to 8 March? What programs will the Open Institute organize this year for this day?

“In 2008, we organized discussions through electronic messages like Internet blogs, joint mailing list – like gender@lists.open.org.kh, a discussion forum via electronic messages – about women’s problems and gender awareness. We compiled a report “Observations on Women’s News Published,” it is accessible at http://women.open.org.kh/km/monitoring [only in Khmer], and this was done in cooperation with the Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women, government institutions, and local non-government organizations to celebrate the International Women’s Day.

“In 2009, the organization defined the topic ‘Women Involved in Developing the Economy and in Social Affairs’ and will organize some activities:

  1. Publish articles related to the International Women’s Day: The Women’s Program will cover news about activities of institutions and of organizations that do women-related work.
  2. Editorial: An editorial will be published focusing on the above topic.
  3. Cooperate with the Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women, government institutions, and local non-government organizations to celebrate the International Women’s Day.
  4. Discussions via communication refer to the Women’s Web Portal [only in Khmer] from 20 February to 13 March 2009 about the topic ‘Women Involved in Developing the Economy and in Social Affairs’ through Internet blogs, online forums, and joint mailing list, as well the issuing certificates of appreciation for certain participants. For detailed information please go to: http://women.open.org.kh/files/8%20March/Announcement [only in Khmer].
  5. Opinion poll on the Women’s Web Portal: ‘Did Women really involve themselves in developing the economy and in social affairs?’
  6. Sending messages by phone: ‘Promote Women by Using the Web Portal about Women’ http://women.open.org.kh

“4. Besides 8 March, what programs does the Open Institute have to help to promote women’s rights in Cambodian society?

“We organize:

Women’s Forum Meetings: They are conducted with the aim to coordinate discussions about different challenges of women regarding gender issues. The meetings provide opportunities for women to gather, and they promote cooperation among women’s institutions, the government, and relevant institutions, to find solutions for women’s issues, so that women’s conditions improve.

Workshops: Through these workshops, the findings and comments from the women’s forums will be published, and addressed to government institutions, women’s networks and organizations, the media, and the public, in order to look for joint solutions which support and encourage gender equality in Cambodia.

Discussions about communication means on the Women’s Web Portal: to encourage discussions about gender issues in Cambodia through:

  1. a joint Mailing List: gender@lists.open.org.kh [Khmer and English]
  2. blog: http://women.open.org.kh/km/blog [Khmer and English]
  3. online forum: http://women.open.org.kh/km/forum [mostly Khmer]

“These discussions offer opportunities to gender activists, experts in law, rights, and researchers, the media, and individuals, to meet via electronic means and to step up cooperation, and expand the culture of sharing information between institution and institution, and institutions and individuals.

“5. There is one point in the women’s program of the Open Institute focusing on the strengthening of the technological capacity of women in communication, and in information technology, for women. How important is this point?

“At present, technology, communication, and information technology advance dramatically in Cambodia, and news are crucial in strengthening women’s competence. Technology, communication, and information technology can be used for searching, receiving, and publishing news. Most women in the Southeast Asian countries, including Cambodia, are not encouraged to use present technology, communication, and information technology, making them not a major source of news and of knowledge.

“Technology, communication, and information technology are used to empower women, such as the provision of training and the enhancement of women’s competence to the challenges of the labor market. Through technology, communication, and information technology, they can form networks between women and men from community to community, and from person to person, engaging in communication without discriminating borders or between different races. Women can share their knowledge, their work experiences, successes, and problems with men, to prove that women are also involved in development tasks and in social development, and to make men understand more about the achievements and efforts of women, about different requirements between men and women due to their different sex which is defined biologically, and about challenges for women. This sharing contributes to reduce gender stereotypes, and to reduce discrimination against women gradually, so as to reach gender equality in all sectors.

“6. Regarding women’s work, how does the Open Institute cooperate with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and with civil society?

“Women and gender issues are international problems. Therefore, they need to be solved globally with the participation from all institutions and races. Likewise, the Open Institute has to cooperate also with other organizations and institutions to implement this task. Several organization have joined to build up women’s competence, encourage gender equality, bring together analysts and seek solutions for women’s issues, by cooperating with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and the Open Institute has participated as a member of the gender technical working team organized by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, with the participation by representatives from all ministries, from local and international organizations, and from United Nations Development Fund for Women.

“As a permanent member of the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women – Cambodia section, which is a network consisting of 70 organizations as members, the Open Institute plays an important role and fulfills important obligations, such as to publish news countrywide about the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In addition, we are also involved in contributing some points to the concluding comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women – Cambodia.

“7. In its strategic and operational plans, what did the Open Institute define as the basis to motivate Cambodian women to join in developing the nation?

“The encouragement of more women to join in developing the nation is a strategic plan of the organization, as stated in the aims of the organization: ‘To promote gender equality by ensuring that all program areas equally benefit women and men.’ Therefore, we have a program Women Empowerment for Social Change, by which we created successful cooperation between organizations working related to women and their rights, through the provision of information about rights, the provision of training about technology, and about communication and information technology. These things are to help build up capacity and skills for women, help women’s work become more efficient and more challenging in the labor market.

“In the meantime, we organize women’s forums which are held every two months, so that women from different institutions and with different skills meet each other to discuss issues and find out joint solutions for their issues. We organize also workshops to produce publications addressed to the public and to relevant institutions about the results of discussions during the forums, such as different findings and comments provided during the discussions, in order to look for different policies supporting the equality between men and women. When women earn support and have sufficient capacity, women will be confident and dedicate themselves more to the development of the economy and of the society.

“8. Based on your point of view, what are major challenges and obstacles against the promotion of women’s rights in Cambodian society?

“The major obstacle against the promotion of women’s rights is a general opinion in society toward women, and the context of a (Khmer) social structure with men as controllers, which values men more than women, and even though we have the Constitution and different laws protecting women’s rights, and the Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government, which sets the strategic goal to encourage gender equality, there are many other obstacles, such as the weak implementation of laws.

Note:

The Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government, a basic policy paper presented by the Prime Minster in 2004, refers to GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT under 2.5 Other Cross-Cutting Programs, subsection 6. GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT.

“Especially, Prime Minister Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen also called on all institutions of the ministries for gender mainstreaming in all policies and programs. Thus, we see that by law, Khmer women are protected and valued. But the practical implementation is not what the law states.

“In Cambodian social structures, men lead almost all sectors, including the family. Most men are breadwinners and are considered to be the head of the family. Therefore, all decisions are mostly made by men. Because of this culture and society, women are not encouraged to go to school or to continue their education to higher levels, and are seldom offered opportunities for training like men. This leads most women to have lower education than men, and it hinders women to hold high positions.

“Hence, at the workplace, it is seen that most work is organized and decided by men, and most men are in dominating positions; as for women, they do lower class work, which leads to the situation that up to 70% of the total labor force are women. Though Khmer women have been eligible to vote and to stand as candidates in elections since 1955, the number of women involved in politics and in leadership positions is still limited. Women hold only about 14% of seats resulting from elections; and only 7% of women lead any institutions of the ministries. This reflects the imbalance of power between men and women. Furthermore, for society to acknowledge women’s achievements, women have to do twice of the men’s work at the workplace or in society; women and women’s work are not valued, and women’s leadership is not trusted. This factor makes women reluctant, and to have less self-confidence.

“9. Are there solutions for those challenges or obstacles?

“We must have solution as a strategy and as a system, so that women can fully gain the benefits from laws and policies of the government, which contribute to change women’s conditions in Cambodia. To promote women’s rights, to encourage gender equality, and to encourage more participation by women in economy, politics, and society, the government – by cooperating with different partnership organizations and non-government organizations – must have, and strictly implement, the following policies:

  • Apply gender mainstreaming in all policies at national and sub-national levels
  • Strictly enforce different treaties and international covenants, for which Cambodia is also a signatory country, that are the basis to protect women’s rights
  • Provide opportunities for women to more regularly take part in discussions about drafts of different policies, about the division and management of resources, about projects in the national budget, and in different processes of decision making
  • Create systems for jobs and implement actual methods to encourage equal opportunities for men and women, and to encourage the provision of skills for women to work in enterprises by connecting different markets
  • Encourage insurance policies for safety at work, and establish a legal system which results in better salaries for women
    Encourage policies to fully empower women
  • Encourage girls to learn as much as possible and to study with the same high goals as boys. Doing so helps also to cut down migration, exploitation, and sexual slavery.”

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6593 on 4.3.2009, and #6594, on 5.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 5 March 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1889, 5.3.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor: If the Cambodian People’s Party Loses the Elections, Thousands of Development Projects Might Be Halted
  • Owners of Micro-Finance Institutions Dismiss Sam Rainsy Party’s Parliamentarian [who had suggested to suspend or delay confiscating houses and land of farmers, while prices of agricultural products drop dramatically – they said that if they did, their institutions would not have money to repay foreign countries, and they claimed that 99% of citizens who had asked for loans can repay their debt]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.357, 5.3.2009

  • A Successor to Replace Mr. Yash Ghai [the former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia], a Former Challenger of Strong Man Hun Sen, Is Found [Professor Surya Prasad Subedi, Nepali, is assigned as the new Special Representative in Cambodia]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6594, 5.3.2009

  • Interview between Koh Santepheap and the Director of the Open Institute, Ms. Chim Manavy, Regarding the International Women’s Day 8 March
  • Four Political Parties [the Cambodian People’s Party, the Sam Rainsy Party, Funcinpec, and the Norodom Ranariddh Party] Register on the Election List [to join district and provincial/city elections planed to be held on 17 May 2009]
  • The Authorities Crack Down on Internet Shops [running online video games] Which Addict Students
  • Australian Embassy Provides 15,000 Australian Dollars to the Special Olympics in Cambodia

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3703, 5.3.2009

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Leaves to Tell the Inter-Parliamentary Union that the Khmer National Assembly Does Not Obey the Law and the Constitution [since it has not restored his immunity although he had paid a fine to the National Election Committee that had already withdrawn the complaint against him]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4837, 5.3.2009

  • Prime Minister Initiates to Eliminate the National Congress from the Constitution
  • Note:
    The Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia established an annual event, which was never held.

    THE NATIONAL CONGRESS

    Article 147:

    The National Congress shall enable the people to be directly informed on various matters of national interests and to raise issues and requests for the State authority to solve.

    Khmer citizens of both sexes shall have the right to participate in the National Congress.

    Article 148:

    The National Congress shall meet once a year in early December at the convocation of the Prime Minister.
    It shall proceed under the chairmanship of the King.

    Article 149

    The National Congress adopts recommendations to the Senate, the National Assembly, and to the Executive branch for reflection.
    The organization and operation of the National Congress shall be determined by law.

  • Because a Factory Owner Has Not Released Salaries for Five Months, Workers Ask for Help from Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen] and from Her Excellency [Bun Rany Hun Sen – Kandal]
  • Cambodian Prime Minister Asks ASEAN to Play an Important Role in Bilateral Disputes in the Region
  • Banks in Cambodia Have Total Worth of More Than US$4 Billion

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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Thursday, 18.9.2008: Mr. Yash Ghai Announced to Resign from His Position as UN Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia

Posted on 19 September 2008. Filed under: Week 578 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 578

“Mr. Yash Ghai, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia, whom many know well to be a person who dared to clearly criticize Mr. Hun Sen and who often created Mr. Hun Sen a headache, announced his resignation on Monday early this week.

Note:

Mr. Yash Ghai’s presentation at the UN International Human Rights Council, meeting in Geneva, was introduced by the the delegate from Japan:

“Japan introduced the review, rationalization and improvement of the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights situation in Cambodia. It noted that Cambodia had made substantive progress since the mandate had been introduced in 1993. However, there were still issues and challenges to be tackled by the Government of Cambodia, such as land ownership, establishing the rule of law, ensuring independence of the judiciary, and others. Japan underlined the need for the international community to provide advisory services and technical assistance to Cambodia in order to address human rights issues that needed further improvement. It proposed renewal of the mandate for one year.”

15.9.2008 – Press release by the UN Office in Geneva

“In spite of this, Mr. Yash Ghai called thorough his statement in front of the UN International Human Rights Council in Geneva to encourage the United Nations to continue its activities in Cambodia in order to help Khmer citizens whose rights were heavily abused.

“It should be noted that Mr. Yash Ghai took the place of Mr. Peter Leuprecht, former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia, in 2005, after this envoy did not get on well with Mr. Hun Sen’s government, because he seriously criticized the abuse of human rights in Cambodia.

Mr. Yash Ghai sated on Monday in Geneva, ‘The Cambodian government has already opposed the work of four UN envoys.’

“Mr. Yash Ghai said, ‘There is little improvement seen in Cambodia – this does not mean that there is no improvement – as there is a severe lack of seriousness in the court system and in important law enforcement institutions, and in protecting the rights of each person.’

“Mr. Yash Ghai added that the international community let him to face a war of words with the Phnom Penh government alone.

“In addition, Mr. Yash Ghai said, ‘It is most important that the person who will succeed me should be fully supported by the International Human Rights Council, that is, by the United Nations and by the international community.’

“Mr. Yash Ghai appeared to be sarcastic, when he said, ‘I cannot say that I earned much support,’ but he had the encouragement for Mr. Hun Sen, the Cambodian Prime Minister, who insulted him repeatedly.

“Mr. Yash Ghai said without hesitating, ‘Mr. Hun Sen called me to be stupid, and a lazy short term tourist.’ As for Mr. Khieu Kanharith, the government spokesperson, he called me a person with no civilization and lacking Aryan culture.’

“Mr. Yash Ghai continued, ‘Mr. Hun Sen also accused me of lying and that I was nominated just to receive a salary. Furthermore, Mr. Hun Sen described international human rights organization and me like animals. He humiliated Kenya which is my home country to be heading towards the killing fields, and Mr. Khieu Kanharith said that Kenyon citizens are rough and brutal.’

“Mr. Yash Ghai said also, ‘The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva did not protect me, and rejected to release a statement to clarify that I do not get paid. Therefore, I had to clarify this myself.’

“Yesterday there was no reaction from officials of the Phnom Penh government regarding Mr. Yash Ghai’s statement in Geneva on Monday.

“Nevertheless, on behalf of the European Community, Mr. Jean Baptiste Mattei, the French Ambassador to the UN International Human Rights Council, said, ‘The European Community Welcomes Cambodia’s decision to accept the continuation of the term for a Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia.’

“Also, Ms. Juliette de Rivero, Geneva advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, expressed support for the continuation of a term.

“She assessed that Cambodia does have problems with UN human rights officials who hold the mandate, but she still wants to see this mandate continued.

“It should be remembered that the war of words between Mr. Yash Ghai and Mr. Hun Sen had attracted public opinion statements from many sources, strongly criticizing Mr. Hun Sen, saying that the Hun Sen government does not cooperate with Mr. Yash Ghai which affected Mr. Hun Sen’s reputation negatively. If the government would terminate the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia, it is feared that human right abuses will spread one hundred times more than before.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #246, 18.9.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 18 September 2008


Cambodge Soir, Vol.1, #50, 18-24.9.2008

  • Citizens in Bavet Abandon Agriculture and Take up Services [some become vendors and some work in factories, restaurants, and casinos – Svay Rieng]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1749, 18.9.2008

  • Samdech Hun Sen Asks Thai New Prime Minister to Continue Negotiation [related to border dispute]
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Wants Samdech Krom Preah to Return to Cambodia during the Pchum Ben Day [which will be celebrated from 28 to 30 September 2008]


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #246, 18.9.2008

  • Mr. Yash Ghai Announced to Resign from His Position as UN Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia
  • Sam Rainsy Asks Hun Sen to Give His Reasons Why He Is Not Asking for Support from the Co-Chairmen of the 1991 Paris Peace Conference over the Intrusion by Siam [Thailand] into Cambodia

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #101, 18.9.2008

  • Labak Khon Hydro-Electric Plant Has Serious Impact on Humans and on Animals [it will prevent the movement of fish to find food and to move to their normal refuge for laying eggs, which will affect the people living along the Mekong River]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6453, 18.9.2008

  • Brother-in-Law of [ousted former Thai prime minister] Thaksin [Somchai Wongsawat – สมชาย วงศ์สวัสดิ์ – 61, married to Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra’s sister] Became Thai Prime Minister [after a vote in parliament on 17 September 2008]
  • Unknown Person Threw a Bomb with a Threatening Letter into the House of a Former [Cambodian TV program selected] “Freshie Girl [Ven Davin, but no explosion – Phnom Penh]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3568, 18.9.2008

  • The Cambodian Government Welcomes a New Person to Replace Mr. Yash Ghai as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia
  • Sam Rainsy: We Are Not Afraid of Losing Positions and Salaries in the National Assembly
  • Son Chhay [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh]: The Sam Rainsy Party Has Never Cried for the Position of Vice President and of Chairperson of Committees in the National Assembly


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4697, 18.9.2008

  • Japanese Investment Delegation Comes to Study Investment in Cambodia
  • American Man Is Arrested on Accusation of Keeping a 13-Year-Old Girl for Having Sex and for Committing Debauchery Acts [17 September 2008 – Phnom Penh]
  • There Were No Newspapers of Rasmei Kampuchea Available on 17 September 2008, because There Were People Driving a Car to Buy Them All [ Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4696, 16.9.2008, papers which had an article “Illegal Imports of Gas: There Was a Short Surprise because There Was Police, Then the Situation Turned Usual as if Nothing Had Happened” – Poipet, Banteay Meanchey]
  • Vietnam Started to Sell Bio-Fuel [at a price of Dong 16,500, corresponding to approx. Riel 4,000 per liter, on 15 September 2008, Hanoi]


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3410, 18.9.2008

  • Fuel Price Slightly Decreases, but [there are allegations that pumps of] Fuel Do Not Deliver Enough but Call it a “Liter”

Click here to have a look at the last editorial – how the whole Khmer press withholds the final, decisive document from the public, before the Preah Vihear Temple was listed as a World Heritag Site.

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Thursday, 20.12.2007: Finally It Is Clear, Ratanakiri Authorities Are Behind the Cutting of Trees to Claim Land; Ratha Visal and Pen Bunna Arrested in a March

Posted on 21 December 2007. Filed under: Week 539 | Tags: , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 539

“A march organized by the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC] to support the [Prime Minister’s] decision not to allow the cutting of trees and the clearing of forests to claim land, was cruelly suppressed on Wednesday morning. At that time, the ADHOC representative, Mr. Pen Bunna, and Mr. Ratha Visal, a Radio Free Asia reporter, were arrested, which shows very clearly that the Ratanakiri authorities are behind the crime of cutting trees and claiming land, contrary to what the Khmer Prime Minister Hun Sen had stated.

“According to a source from Ratanakiri, at least two fire engines with approximately 60 armed police under the strict control of Mr. Bou Lam, the Ratanakiri deputy governor, and You Kan Vimean , the deputy chief of forestry administration, were sent to suppress the march organized by ADHOC, to support the government’s decision to stop the cutting of trees and the clearing of forest to claim land. It was reported that Mr. Ratha Visal, a Radio Free Asia reporter, and Mr. Pen Bunna, the head of the ADHOC office in Ratanakiri, were arrested by a deputy provincial prosecutor, but they were later released.

“The suppression of the march, which had been organized by ADHOC, by the Ratanakiri authorities caused a shock and strong surprise among citizens, because so far it has often been observed that the authorities cruelly suppress all marches against the government – but now the authorities suppressed a march which supports a decision of the government. This is strange.

“It should be noted that during the recent few months, the powerful Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a decision, ordering to urgently stop all deforestation and clearance of forests to claim land from state property. The decision was publicized in order to prevent the grabbing of state forest land by rich and powerful people.

“Anyway, the suppression of the march by Ratanakiri authorities confused the citizens’ feelings related to the intention of this decision, and it triggered the question if Hun Sen’s decision is real or just a play for the cutting of all trees in Ratanakiri.

“It is remembered that between 2003 and 2004, a scandal of mass deforestation in Ratanakiri was revealed in Vireakchey National Park, which is protected by a royal decree. In the Ou Yeul and Kantuy Neak areas, big luxury wood trees were logged to sell them to Yuon [Vietnamese] companies.

“According to a complaint by the Ministry of Environment on 15 November 2004, which was in charge of the park, deforestation was conducted on an area of 6,420 hectares, equal to 80 percent of the whole park, that made the state lose approximately $18 million. Those who destroyed the forest were found – all of them were provincial officials starting from the provincial governor Kham Khoeun, the deputy provincial police commissioner Yoeung Baloung, and the provincial military chief Moeung Samoeun, to simple commune police, which shows that the illegal logging was systematic. But finally, none of those high ranking officials, including Kham Khoeun and Moeung Samoeun, were sent for trial, except for Yoeung Baloung and four to ten low level police.

“However, the shock about that illegal logging did not mean that it reduced the illegal logging in the northeastern Cambodian province; trees are illegally cut in considerable amounts.

“Mr. Bou Lam, who is known as a brother of Bou Thang [CPP member of parliament for Ratanakiri] and deputy Ratanakiri governor, became the president of forest protection community and You Kan Vimean, is a deputy chief of forestry administration – they are reported to be strong protectors for active illegal logging.

“The report said that You Kan Vimean protected many sawmills, causing citizens to lose confidence, and then illegal logging started again; it was like a broken dam overflowing with water. Some sources said that Muong Poy, the current Ratanakiri governor, also very much benefits from the illegal logging and the grabbing of land. Speaking to the point, just replacing Kham Khoeun for less than two years, Muong Poy became a millionaire, and he has now many villas in the province and in Phnom Penh, so many that he cannot remember the number of villas he owns very well.

“The money earned from the selling of forest and land makes Ratanakiri authorities confused about the laws, and they are not afraid of anything at all, not even Hun Sen’s regulations.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.1, #76, 20.12.2007

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 20 December 2007


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1523, 20.12.2007

  • Samdech Dekchor Threatens to Reveal His Former Spy Who Is in the Opposition Party [in Samleng Yuvachun Khmer Son Chhay, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Phnom Penh, says that the Prime Minister is probably referring to him, though without justification]
  • Mr. Yash Ghai [UN Secretary-General’s Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia] Is Just a Person Without Civilization [says Sea Kosal, Cambodian ambassador to the UN]
  • Ukraine’s Orange Revolution Leader Ms. Tymoshenko Gets Position of Prime Minister


Khmer Amatak, Vol.8, #537, 19.12.2007

  • Election Days Approaches, Judicial System Reforms Are Still on Paper and Lips


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.1, #76, 20.12.2007

  • Finally It Is Clear, Ratanakiri Authorities Are Behind the Cutting of Trees to Claim Land; Ratha Visal and Pen Bunna Arrested in a March
  • Prince Thomico Urges Prince Ranariddh to Hold Conference of Monarchists to Attract Support Again
  • Mr. Son Chhay [SRP parliamentarian, Phnom Penh]: If Cambodia Does Not Strengthen Respect for Human Rights, Cambodia Cannot Stay with Other ASEAN Members


Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #6223, 20.12.2007

  • Cambodian Royal Ambassador and Representative to the UN [Sea Kosal] Accuses Mr. Yash Ghai [UN Secretary-Generals Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia] of Looking Down on Cambodia [through his report about human rights situation in Cambodia]
  • US Prepares to Send 80 Observers to Monitor Elections [in Cambodia]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3342, 20.12.2007

  • Global Witness Gets Gold Medal [from the Center for Global Development, Washington/USA] for Report on Deforestation of Cambodia’s Family Trees
  • Chief Murderer Ieng Sary Uses American Lawyer to Defend Him in Court


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4467, 20.12.2007

  • Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen]: ‘Disregarding Agriculture Is a Big Political Mistake’
  • Pork Imported from Thailand Invades Siem Reap Markets
  • A Colonel’s Wife Takes a Taxi from Phnom Penh to Hangs Herself in Wat Dei Doh Pagoda [Kompong Cham – allegedly for domestic issue]


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.14, #3212, 20.12.2007

  • Civil Society Organizations Call for Government to Stop Verbal Attacks against Mr. Yash Ghai [UN Secretary-Generals Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia]


Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #580, 20.12.2007

  • Yuon [Vietnamese] Government Provides Money to Yuon Associations to Buy Land from Poor Khmer Citizens [according to officials of Ministry of Interior]
  • US Increases Visa Price in Order to Strengthen Safety and Security

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Wednesday, 19.12.2007: More Than 660,000 Ghost Names Deleted; More Than 50 Political Parties Have Registered, but Only 10 Political Parties Have Activities

Posted on 20 December 2007. Filed under: Week 539 | Tags: , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 539

“Phnom Penh: Mr. Tep Nitha, the secretary-general of the National Election Committee [NEC], said on 18 December 2007 that 669,365 names of citizens have been deleted from the voter lists of the 2007 election, and most of those names are known to be of those who have moved away or have died… Mr. Tep Nitha said this at a press conference on the first review of the new draft voters’ lists, comparing them with the first voters’ list in 2007 at the NEC office.

“Mr. Mao Sophearith, a member of the NEC, said that the NEC has checked and corrected the name lists sent from communes and subdistricts to the NEC, and after the review by the NEC, the name lists have been sent back to the communes and subdistricts of 17 provinces and towns so far. However, during the third term election, the NEC affirmed that approximately 100 communes and subdistricts changed the voters’ lists.

“Mr. Tep Nitha said, ‘The NEC has the task to create voters’ lists appropriately, based on documents where we registered the voters’ names at the places where they live, including their age and date of birth, so that we have properly corrected lists, so that officials who administer the elections can use these lists appropriately.’ He continued to explain that the sending back of the documents to the communes and subdistricts is to have the writing checked, not for checking the legal status of the documents [which has already been done by the NEC]..

“The NEC had instructed commune and subdistrict clerks to review the draft lists sent with the previous voters’ list carefully at important points, such as checking of code numbers and the sites of polling offices, and to review the number of voters in each polling office. If the lists sent by the NEC had too many voters, the names which had to be deleted had to be crossed with a line; if names were missing, the names had to be written on the lower section of the lists..

“Mr. Tep Nitha continued that there are approximately 1,500 polling offices for the 2008 election, and there are 8,132,063 citizens who have registered in the lists for the 2008 election. He continued that there are more than 50 parties which have officially registered in the lists at the Ministry of Interior; however, only 10 parties [names not mentioned] often attend meetings with the NEC.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #6222, 19.12.2007

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 19 December 2007


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1522, 19.12.2007

  • US Embassy in Cambodia Announces Increase of Visa Prices
  • National Assembly Discusses and Adopts Law on Suppression on Human Trafficking and Sex Exploitation
  • Two Men Who Used Deputy Prime Minister Sok An’s Name to Embezzle $250,000 Are Arrested
  • Telecom Cambodia Reviews Its Business in 2007 and Sets Goals for 2008


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.1, #75, 19.12.2007

  • Opposition Leader Calls on Authorities to Reveal Perpetrator Who Shot Mrs. Kan Siem to Death [member of Sam Rainsy Party – Prasat Balangk, Kompong Thom]
  • Mr. Son Chhay [SRP parliamentarian, Phnom Penh]: Tens of Thousands of Square Kilometers of Khmer Land Will Continue to Be Lost If Border Demarcation Is Not Inspected by Technical Group
  • Yash Ghai [UN human rights representative] Prepares to Come Again to Meet Government Officials and Hun Sen


Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #6222, 19.12.2007

  • More Than 660,000 Ghost Names Deleted; More Than 50 Political Parties Have Registered but Only 10 Political Parties Have Activities
  • Pragya Company Imports Out-of-Date Medicines to Be Labeled with New Dates and Sold in a Number of Pharmacies [an Indian man who represents the company is arrested – Chamkar Mon, Phnom Penh]
  • [Cuban] American Woman [Eunice Lopez] Secretly and Quietly Married Ten Men between 2002 and 2006 [she is charged with bigamy – Miami, USA]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3341, 19.12.2007

  • Human Rights Observers Call on Government to Respect UN Institutions [over action against Yash Ghai]


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4466, 19.12.2007

  • Samdech Prime Minister Agrees to Allow Sand Dredging Again in Some Areas
  • Civil Society Organizations Condemn Suppression of [Kampuchea Krom Khmer] Monks [who protested opposite Vietnamese Embassy on 17 December] by Police in Phnom Penh

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.14, #3211, 19.12.2007

  • Yash Ghai Politely Responds that He Represents UN in Cambodia, He Does Not Represent Kenya [his native country]

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #579, 19.12.2007

  • Prince Ranariddh Agrees with Hun Sen to Stop Criticizing the Cambodian People’s Party in Exchange for Returning to the Country; Samdech Krom Preah Acknowledges 18 October 2006 Event [when he was made Historical President of Funcinpec], but He Asks Hun Sen to Expel Nhek Bun Chhay [Funcinpec Secretary-General] from Funcinpec

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Tuesday, 18.12.2007: Mr. Yash Ghai Responds to Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen

Posted on 19 December 2007. Filed under: Week 539 | Tags: , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 539

“Phnom Penh: After a strong reaction from the head of the Royal Government last Wednesday, Mr. Yash Ghai, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia, responded with a statement.

“On 12 December, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen had said, at the inauguration of a dormitory for female students at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia, that he will not work with a Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia, if the present person is not changed. What Samdech said at that time was in reaction to a report by Mr. Yash Ghai which overstated the facts in Cambodia.

“Mr. Yash Ghai issued a press release in the afternoon of 17 December, saying that he is a special representative and a specialist who is assigned by the UN Secretary-General.

“He has a mandate to observe the respect of human rights and the basic freedoms in the country, in order to help the Cambodian government and the Cambodian people to insure that the Cambodian laws and norms are effectively respected, as an encouragement for international cooperation in the field of human rights, and he has to report annually to the UN Council for Human Rights which has been newly created.

“In his role as a special representative, he is not an employee of UN, and he also does not get a salary. His work is to serve the public free of charge. Mr. Yash Ghai is a professor of constitutional law and a protector of human rights who has a lot of experience in promoting the rule of law in many countries. He is not a representative of the country of Kenya. He is a representative for human rights according to the rules laid down in the Charter of the United Nations, to which Cambodia has subscribed as a member, including to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to many treaties which were also ratified by Cambodia, so they became part of Cambodian law.

“The declaration by Mr. Yash Ghai stated that as the Special Representative he does not want to talk with the government through newspapers. He had asked in advance to meet many ministers during his visit. Those ministers did not respond to the request, or refused to meet him. Having had no such meetings, he stated publicly his big concerns which he is obliged to take up as his task. These concerns will be raised in his next report to be further discussed in detail. He hopes that the government will respond to the content of his evaluation. He is prepared to discuss the report in detail, and to listen to the views of the government all the time.

“Mr. Yash Ghai stated also that he did not call for the international community to cut aid to Cambodia. In contrast, he encouraged all states as UN members, which are obliged to adhere to the UN constitution, to continue with their efforts to provide more aid as well as to play more important roles to acknowledge the reality of human rights in Cambodia – i. e. to acknowledge the mandate of the Special Representative to participate in making a contribution.

“Samdech Hun Sen had said last week that we have difficulties, because no one is blinder than the one who is not blind but does not intend to see anything, and no one is deafer than the one who has ears but does not intend to listen.

“Samdech asked why, at this time, the one who said something wrong does not correct his speech? Such a correction does not require anything besides saying “Very sorry for a misunderstanding against the government.” If one just says Sorry, we will accept it. If acknowledging that something stated was wrong, is this bad? May be it is not intentionally done in a bad way – but they know only one thing: that all we do is wrong.

“Samdech Hun Sen ended with another phrase that he has the right to receive [or not to receive] Mr. Yash Ghai, and also the government members have the same right [to receive or not to receive him]. If the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon still uses Mr. Yash Ghai, Samdech will not receive and work with him forever.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1521, 18.12.2007

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 18 December 2007


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1521, 18.12.2007

  • Mr. Yash Ghai Responds to Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen
  • Kampuchea Khmer Krom Monks Try to Petition Vietnamese Embassy, Demanding Release of Mr. Tim Sakhan [who has been defrocked on accusation of having perpetrated an offense against the Buddhist law, because he is accused to have destroyed the harmony between Vietnam and Cambodia, now jailed in Vietnam]
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Receives Minister of Foreign Affairs [Nitya Pibulsonggram] of the Kingdom of Thailand
  • Great Elder Hun Neang [Prime Minister Hun Sen’s father] Visits Site of a Buddhist Center and Gives Gifts to Citizens [Russey Keo, Phnom Penh]


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.1, #74, 18.12.2007

  • All Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Vow to Protect the Houses of Citizens at the Dey Krahom Community [from being removed by the 7NG Company – Phnom Penh]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #6221, 18.12.2007

  • Cambodia and Thailand Agree on Joint Visas; Tourists Can Use ACMECS Visas to Cross Border of the Two Countries
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Welcomes Agreement on Joint Visas
  • Rate of Births and Rate of Deaths in Phnom Penh Decline in 2007 While Marriages Increase


Meakea Thmey, Vol.7, #86, 17.12.2007

  • Samdech Preah Mohavirak Khsatr [the Great Heroic King] Norodom Sihanouk and Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen Have the Same Political Lines


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3340, 18.12.2007

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Led Parliamentarians to Hold Hands with Citizens at the Dey Krahom Community against Eviction [by 7NG Company – on 17 December – Phnom Penh]
  • Hundreds of Hun Sen Government Police Beat Khmer Krom Monks to Please Yuon [Vietnam – the monks petitioned the Vietnamese Embassy, demanding the release of Tim Sakhan]
  • Opposition Leader Notices that Corruption Is Still Obstacle to Investment


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4465, 18.12.2007

  • Foreign Businesspeople Rush to Buy Paddy Rice throughout Cambodia
  • Minister of Meteorology and Water Resources [Lim Kean Hor] Holds Press Conference on Suspension and Granting Permissions [for the companies that respect the contract conditions] for Sand Dredging
  • Cambodia Opens International Border in Northeast with Vietnam
  • Kep City Plans to Arrange Boat Races on the Sea to Attract Tourists
  • Man Attacks His Wife Twice with an Ax, Then Hangs Himself [in domestic violence – Prey Kabbas, Takeo]


Sangkum Kampuchea, Vol.2, #35, 17.12.2007

  • Samdech Hun Sen Blames Rich Countries for Causing Climate Change


Sar Noeung Khmao, Vol.8, #231, 17-18.12.2007

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