The United Nations on Sunday voiced alarm at the escalating political tensions in Cambodia, including attempted arrests of politicians, amid allegations from the opposition that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling party is persecuting it.
Last week Hun Sen said Cambodia’s next election will be in July 2018. Meanwhile leaders of the opposition are facing legal charges they say are politically motivated to stop them challenging the veteran premier in the vote.
[…] Long before the Southeast Asian nation goes to the ballot box, political tensions have risen. The last election in 2013 marked self-styled strongman Hun Sen’s toughest challenge in three decades of rule.
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), led by Hun Sen’s longtime foe Sam Rainsy, accused the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) of cheating its way to victory and boycotted parliament for a year.
On the 60th anniversary of the founding of ITV, Britain’s and Europe’s biggest commercial broadcaster, John Pilger’s groundbreaking film, ‘Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia’, has been named as one of the network’s 60 top programmes.
‘Cambodia Year Zero’, as it became known, was credited with alerting the world to the suffering of the people of Cambodia under the fanatical regime of Pol Pot. It raised tens of millions of dollars for Cambodia’s children – mostly unsolicited – and became the most watched documentary throughout the world.
’40 years ago the US dramatically exited Cambodia just before the brutal Khmer Rouge took power. Now the former ambassador has marked the anniversary with a withering attack on Washington for “turning over a people to the butcher.”‘ (Associated Press)
‘A 1979 British television documentary written and presented by the Australian journalist John Pilger, which was produced and directed by David Munro. The film recounts the bombing of Cambodia by the United States in 1970 during the Vietnam War, the subsequent brutality and genocide that occurred when Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge militia took over, the poverty and suffering of the people, and the limited aid since given by the West. Viewers were so moved by the plight of the people that they donated ₤45 million to the station in aid.’ (Wikipedia)
‘The head of police in an impoverished south-east Asian country has praised Adolf Hitler, saying he learnt everything from the leader of one of the most brutal regimes of the 20th century.
The remarks of Cambodian Lieutenant-General Sao Sokha, also a private advisor to the country’s prime minister Hun Sen, have been condemned by human rights organisations who claim the government henchman has “blood on his hands.”
The general told reporters at a military gathering: “Speaking frankly, I learned from Hitler.”’
‘Cambodia on Saturday reported 129 landmine casualties in the first eight months of 2014, representing a 55 percent increase from 83 casualties over the same period last year.
However, the number of the dead declined to 17 during the January-August period this year, down from 19 deaths over the same period last year, said the report of the Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority.
The number of the injured people rose to 112 during the period this year, up from 64 over the same period last year, it said.’
‘Cambodia’s aggressive anti-trafficking campaign is designed to rescue and rehabilitate sex workers. But many women say authorities in Cambodia are actually forcing them into a trade where conditions and pay are even worse: making clothing for Western brands. VICE founder Suroosh Alvi traveled to Phnom Penh to speak with former and current sex workers, officials, and labor organizers to investigate what is happening to those swept up in the country’s trafficking crackdown.’ (VICE)
‘In transmitting President Richard Nixon’s orders for a “massive” bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said, “Anything that flies on everything that moves”. As Barack Obama ignites his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger’s murderous honesty.
As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery – including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields – I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again. A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today’s Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia.’
‘On 30 April 1975, the last American helicopters beat an ignominious retreat from Saigon as the tanks of the North Vietnamese Army rumbled into the capital of defeated South Vietnam. Victory over the US military is remembered each year in Vietnam as a triumph over foreign aggression in a war of national liberation.
Less celebrated is Vietnam’s quiet retreat from its own deeply unpopular foreign war that ended 25 years ago this month. A war where Vietnamese troops, sent as saviours but soon seen as invaders, paid a steep price in lives and limbs during a gruelling decade-long guerilla conflict.’
‘It was an extraordinary act of defiance, and it was extraordinarily risky. But all he did was take out a pen, and write. Nearly 40 years ago, hunched on the floor of the wood-and-leaf hut he was forced to live in away from his children, Cambodian school inspector Poch Younly kept a secret diary vividly recounting the horrors of life under the Khmer Rouge, the radical communist regime whose extreme experiment in social engineering took the lives of 1.7 million Cambodians from overwork, medical neglect, starvation and execution.
Acutely aware that he could be killed if discovered, Younly hid the diary inside a clay vase. In those dark days, when religion and schools were banned and anyone deemed educated was a threat, he had no right to own so much as a pen and paper. “Why is it that I have to die here like a cat or a dog … without any reason, without any meaning?” he wrote in the spiral-bound notebook’s last pages. Four decades later, that question still haunts Cambodia.’
‘President Nixon and Henry Kissinger unleashed 100,000 tons of bombs, the equivalent of five Hiroshimas. The bombing was their personal decision: illegally and secretly, they bombed Cambodia, a neutral country, quite literally back to the Stone Age. John Pilger vividly reveals the brutality and murderous political ambitions of the Pol Pot/Khmer Rouge regime which bought genocide and despair to the people of Cambodia while neighbouring countries, including Australia, shamefully ignored the immense human suffering and unspeakable crimes that bloodied this once beautiful country.’ (John Pilger)
‘The last surviving members of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge have been found guilty of crimes against humanity, and sentenced to life in jail. The regime’s chief ideologue and former head of state have been blamed for the deaths of up to two million people during the country’s terror period in the 1970s. Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were both convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison.’ (Al Jazeera)
‘Having worked for many years in this part of the world, I got to understand that all the answers to the important questions about Cambodia and its past, lie in its countryside. The West, for decades, managed to corrupt Phnom Penh, by paying almost everyone that matters there, to repeat and to perfect a twisted and clichéd narrative.
The NGO’s, journalists – they are all shouting about the “Communist” genocide in Cambodia. It has become a well-remunerated job, the source of an incessant flow of funding, a complex lie backed by the Western propaganda machine, academia and the mainstream press.
The Khmer Rouge was a brutal force, of course, but definitely not a ‘Communist’ genocidal monster. And it did not appear out of the blue.’
‘Victims of sex trafficking are often girls from poor families, who are tricked into working as prostitutes. Many girls are also sold to brothels by their own parents, often to pay off debts. A majority of the children taken into prostitution were students at the time, although children are vulnerable regardless of their school attendance. Girls who are forced to work in brothels endure regular rape and abuse, and may be tortured if caught attempting to escape. Some of the girls in the brothels are just 5 years old. Trade in virgins is also a big market, with buyers paying from $500 – $4000 to purchase a young girl’s virginity.
This shocking trade can be linked at least in part to Cambodia’s tragic history. The genocide during the Khmer Rouge era from 1975 to 1979 killed approximately two million people. The educated and religious communities of mainly Buddhists were nearly wiped out, along with social institutions, leaving behind a fractured society after the Khmer Rouge regime collapsed. Although the country has shown signs of development, there is a large wealth gap, and Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in Asia.
- Virginity for sale: inside Cambodia’s shocking trade
- The women who sold their daughters into sex slavery
- Cambodia to Lift Ban on International Adoptions
- Database on Sexual Trafficking, Sexual Exploitation and Rape in Cambodia
- Cambodia and Human Trafficking
- Cambodia Anti-Trafficking Efforts Earn US Nod
‘US military training to Cambodia’s abusive armed forces could easily be misused against the political opposition and labor unions and may violate US law. The US military support was evident in official publicity material and personal pages posted on Facebook during the annual “Angkor Sentinel” exercises conducted from April 21 to 30, 2014. “It’s shocking that the US military is providing armed soldiers training in kicking down doors soon after Cambodian armed forces killed protesting workers in Phnom Penh,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “While the ‘enemy’ the US is training Cambodia to defend against isn’t stated, these forces of late have only been used against opposition protesters and striking factory workers.”
US military forces have provided training that would assist Cambodia’s military in government crackdowns on the political opposition and civil society activists, Human Rights Watch said. This includes expanded military coordination with local political authorities and the police and a situational exercise centered on “security techniques in an urban environment.” A Cambodian military video featuring the seizure of a building shows troops advancing with assault rifles and kicking down an imaginary door to enter the building while US officers supervise the exercises. A photograph on the official Angkor Sentinel Facebook page, under the caption “vehicle search technique in an urban environment” shows a Cambodian soldier stopping a vehicle by standing in front of it with his assault rifle aimed at the windshield.’
At least four workers have been shot dead, after Cambodian military police opened fire yesterday [Jan 3rd] on striking workers blocking the road near the Canadia Industrial Park in the southern suburbs of the capital Phnom Penh. The national strike for higher pay involving tens of thousands of garment workers began on December 24.
Human rights group LICADHO described the incident as “horrific” and said its own investigation had found that four people had been killed and 21 wounded. The group’s director Naly Pilorge condemned “the appalling use of extreme lethal force by security forces” and called for an end to the use of live ammunition against civilians.
Yean Sothear who had suffered head injuries, told the Phnom Penh Post: “The workers didn’t want violence. We just wanted to block the road … the police attacked us and shot us. Most of the workers were injured. My friend went to the nearby hospital, but the police ordered them not to treat them—that’s why they were angry.”
More than 400,000 people have been forcibly evicted from their lands since 2003, often without compensation, as the nation sells off its territory to sugar and rubber barons and property developers. Villagers who protest have been beaten, imprisoned and murdered – such as the environmental campaigner Chut Wutty, who was killed last year – as more than one-tenth of land has been transferred in the past few years from small-scale farmers to agribusiness, rights groups claim. A recent Global Witness report – and investigation by the Guardian – found that Deutsche Bank and the International Finance Corporation were bankrolling massive government-sponsored land grabs in both Cambodia and Laos through two Vietnamese companies, HAGL and VRG, which had been granted recent economic land concessions. Villagers claimed they had little food to eat and no chance of jobs, as hardly any positions were offered by the companies.
The state can take land away from citizens for economic development, national security or defence reasons, or in the public interest. But in recent years the government has grabbed land to make way for eco-parks, resorts and golf courses, much to the anger of the public. Last year, around 3,000 security forces were deployed in the northern Hung Yen province after villagers protested against a 70-hectare land grab to make way for an “eco-urban township”. Around the same time, a family of four fish farmers protested against a state eviction squad armed with homemade shotguns and land mines – a bold move in this one-party nation. While the prime minister declared the fish farmers’ eviction illegal,a court recently handed down a five-year jail sentence to those involved in the protest for making a “bad impact on the social order … [of] the country as a whole”.
The sea gypsies in the southern resort island of Phuket are facing eviction after living on and around the beaches of Rawai for the past 200 years. Thai landowners claim they want the land back to build houses and a “sea gypsy village” in which tourists can buy fish and see how this once nomadic seafaring tribe now lives on land. The sea gypsy communities have so far refused to move, but could be forcibly evicted if no resolution is reached. Sea gypsies in neighbouring areas, such as Khao Lak, have also been forced off their land by resorts and hotels over past decades, while Burmese sea gypsies around the Mergui islands are reportedly being moved out by authorities keen to develop the area for tourism.
by Jason Ditz
Obama Administration officials have hyped their planned “Asian pivot” for awhile, an effort to get more US combat troops deployed in nations across the Pacific Rim in spite of the US not actually being in any wars there. Today Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos revealed his branch’s plans.
The US Marines currently have two battalions “permanently” deployed across the Pacific Rim, mostly Okinawa and Guam. This will be increased to add a third battalion, with an increase in troops in Okinawa, as well as Vietnam and Cambodia.