Peacemakers Trust posts news, reports or announcements of interest to people studying or working in the field of dispute resolution, conflict transformation and peacebuilding. Inclusion of an item on the media watch blog does not imply endorsement or agreement of Peacemakers Trust with views expressed by authors of posted items.
An independent United Nations expert today sounded the alarm on the deteriorating human rights situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, adding that the evacuation of aid workers following recent attacks on the humanitarian community would have severe consequences for life-saving work in the area.
“Recent developments in Rakhine state are the latest in a long history of discrimination and persecution against the Rohingya community which could amount to crimes against humanity,” said the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana.
BANGKOK – A group of Myanmar activists, including former political prisoners, are launching a campaign on Friday to tackle the ‘hate speech’ against Muslims that has engulfed social media and spread into Burmese society.
Panzagar, literally “flower speech”, is a movement set up by Nay Phone Latt, a blogger and executive director of Myanmar ICT For Development Organization (MIDO) who spent nearly four years in jail for writing about the monks’ protests in 2007 that ended in a bloody crackdown.
“What can we do, brother? There are too many. We can’t kill them all.”
He said it matter-of-factly—a former brigadier and diplomat from my native country, Myanmar, about Rohingya Muslims.
We were in the spacious ambassadorial office at Myanmar Embassy in an ASEAN country when this “brotherly” conversation took place. I am familiar with Myanmar’s racist nationalist narrative. I have also worked with the country’s military intelligence services in pushing for the gradual re-engagement between the West and our country, then an international pariah. Apparently, knowledge of my background made the soldier feel so at ease that he could make such a hateful call in a friendly conversation on official premises in total candor: Islamophobia normalized in the highest ranks of the bureaucracy and military in Myanmar.
"The opposition CNRP must focus on taking principled stances ... "
By Virak Ou
The past seven months in Cambodia can only be described as a roller-coaster ride… Cambodian citizens have repeatedly taken to the streets and public squares to demand reform…
Demands for change are now coming from all corners of society: victims of land grabs, who have been fighting a losing battle to protect their homes; garment-factory workers, who want a living wage; farmers, who remain mired in poverty; and civil society groups, which have been frustrated at a lack of real progress on the myriad of issues they work on. The increasing dissatisfaction and expressions for change since Rainsy’s return in early July have led many Cambodians to ask, will our country see a “spring” like the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East?
Late Tuesday night Cambodia wrapped up a review of its human rights record by assuring the United Nations and member states that it was taking pains to improve its rights record and maintain peace amid ongoing political turmoil.
“I promise you that we will make our efforts on human rights in Cambodia, develop progress and improve… even though we find our challenges, even though we just came from the civil war, we will do our best to be in line with your recommendations,” Mak Sambath, deputy chair of the government’s Human Rights Committee, told scores of delegates who had gathered for the Univeral Periodic Review which is held once every four and a half years.
Just hours after Sambath concluded his remarks in Geneva, dozens of riot police and district security guards in Phnom Penh stalked a small group of activists around town. Their offence was that they were going to embassies and UN offices to drop off a petition calling for the release of 23 activists and protesters believed to have been wrongfully imprisoned.
In spite of Sambath’s pledges to the contrary, Cambodia has shown little interest in aligning its rights record with international standards. The past month has seen a startling backslide on human rights and the worst government sanctioned violence in 15 years.
Discussions about what theMindanao peace process is and how the role of women has changed in peacemaking and what the unintended consequences are of being involved. We talk about how can the role of women can prosper and not be inhibited by the cultural requirements of faith.
Miriam Coronel Ferrer, Chairperson, GPH Peace Negotiating Panel for Talks with the MILF, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Philippines
Emma Leslie, Director, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPCS), Cambodia
Named as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2007 by Time magazine, Youk Chhang turned the misfortune and suffering of his childhood under the Khmer Rouge into a documentation centre detailing genocide under the Pol Pot regime which took around 2 million lives.
The Documentation Centre of Cambodia houses over 500,000 documents and 6,000 photographs, making it the largest archive of its kind. According to Chhang, it was an important source of evidence contributing to the establishment of the Cambodia Tribunal in 1997.
During his brief visit to Bangkok, Prachatai talked to Youk Chhang, Director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia and a genocide survivor about reconciliation, forgiveness and the future of Cambodia.
Inside Story, with presenter Kamahl Santamaria, discusses with guests: Sourav Roy, an Asian affairs political analyst and columnist for the Huffington Post; Chheang Vannarith, a senior fellow at the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace; and Rupert Abbott, an Asia researcher for Amnesty International.
By opheng Cheang and Justine Drennan, Associated Press
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Leaders of Cambodia’s ruling and opposition parties found rare common ground Monday in a meeting held a day after political violence left a man dead, but remained deadlocked over an opposition demand for an independent probe of election irregularities.
In scattered clashes Sunday, security forces used water cannons, smoke grenades and live ammunition, rights groups said, killing one person and wounding at least 10 over the course of the day. Thousands remained at the main protest site Monday, many having camped out overnight in defiance of orders from the government.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — He screamed, “This is so unjust!” But Yann Rith, a 25-year-old resident of Phnom Penh, did not struggle against the group of men who carried him away.
A supporter of Cambodia’s political opposition, Mr. Yann Rith was taking part this week in a practice protest, a role-playing exercise intended to show other supporters how to submit peacefully if arrested by the riot police.
“We will be nonviolent!” Mr. Yann Rith declared, as he patted down his rumpled, button-down shirt.
August 19 is the tenth anniversary of the death of Sergio Vieira de Mello, High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Iraq. De Mello, considered by many as the most suitable successor to Kofi Annan, was a victim of the terrorist attack on our political mission in Baghdad in the first — and so far, the most serious — attack on the UN since it was founded in 1945. There were twenty-one other victims, and more than 200 injured. As a survivor of the attack and partner of Sergio Vieira de Mello, I can say that to this day none of us understands why an attack of such magnitude did not warrant a rigorous investigation. Instead, the circumstances of the incident were buried under statues and memorial speeches.
On this anniversary we should take a moment to reflect on the life of a UN official who was truly committed to the ideals and principles of peace. However, we must also demand an independent investigation, doing justice to the memory of the people who lost their lives in Baghdad on August 19, 2003.
PHNOM PENH – In Cambodia, violence against women is a troubling – and common – concern. Ou Ratanak [is] making women’s safety his business. And he’s hoping to tackle the problem for future generations, by heading an organization that works with young adults to change attitudes towards sexual violence.
Listen to the report by Irwin Loy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
NEW DELHI – The Myanmar army released 62 child soldiers Wednesday in its latest bid to meet international human rights standards, although critics said more children still remain in uniform.
Since the army agreed to end the practice in June 2012, about 170 children and young adults have been let out of the army. No exact figures are available on the total number of child soldiers in Myanmar, although human rights group Burma Campaign UK has estimated there are 5,000.
Cambodia’s June 28 national elections ushered in the dawn of a new age of electoral politics in the small, southeast Asian country. A hotly contested election saw unprecedented political engagement coming from the country’s youth – those under 25 years old. And in an indirect way, Mark Zuckerberg and friends are responsible.
Rupert Abbott is Amnesty International’s researcher on Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The views expressed are his own.
By Rupert Abbott
The scenes in Phnom Penh last week were astonishing. Hundreds of thousands of people, including many young people, welcomed opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who had just returned to Cambodia after four years effectively in exile. Not to be outdone, the very next day, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) staged a huge youth rally and concert in Phnom Penh for more than 10,000 supporters. Amid the election fever that has gripped Cambodia ahead of the national polls on Sunday, one thing is clear – people seem less afraid than ever to voice their opinion.
Human Rights Brief, Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
Volume 20 Issue 3 Spring 2013
By Benjamin Zawacki
Much has been written either empathetically or as a challenge of Myanmar’s “Rohingya problem.” Between June and November 2012, the Rohingya bore the brunt of communal violence, human rights violations, and an urgent humanitarian situation in Rakhine State, and still face an uncertain future.
A great deal of rhetoric has attended these accounts—by officials and citizens of Myanmar, Rohingya organizations, journalists, human rights groups, and others—essentially attaching labels to the situation. And while there have been a number of thoughtful attempts to define or even explain the Rohingya problem in historical or political terms, they have been largely drowned out by emotive outbursts and media-friendly sound bites.
This is not only unfortunate, it is also consequential, for as was seen in 2012, rhetoric can influence both the way in which a crisis plays out as well as in how it is responded to. In other words, how we talk about what it is we are talking about matters… full article (pdf)
Filed under: Cambodia — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 12:59 PDT
23 July 2013
By Sovannarith Keo
According to this year’s recently released Failed State Index (FSI), prepared by the Fund for Peace and published in U.S. magazine Foreign Policy, which analyzes the level of stability among 178 countries, Cambodia is ranked at 41 and classified in the “Very High Warning” category, but not yet at an “Alert” level.
The U.S.-based Fund for Peace claims the FSI is “a critical tool in highlighting not only the normal pressures that all states experience, but also in identifying when those pressures are pushing a state towards the brink of failure.” By doing so it makes “political risk assessment and early warning of conflict accessible to policymakers and the public at large.”
As Cambodia prepares to hold elections for its National Assembly on 28 July 2013, and following the return to the country of opposition leader Sam Rainsy on 19 July, four international human rights organizations – Amnesty International, Civil Rights Defenders, Freedom House and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) – call on Cambodia’s government to respect and protect the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.