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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.
Greater openness is a work in progress in the face of corruption, division and historical legacies.
By Michael Vatikiotis
Southeast Asia is no stranger to the challenges of unity and reconciliation. The early phases of nation-building were characterized by struggle and upheaval stemming from the reluctance of established conservative elites to share power. Democratic forms of government were deemed unsuited to societies that were organized along hierarchical lines and dominated by narrow interest groups.
By the mid-1970s, however, popular protest movements had begun to exert pressure on conservative elites, partly by harnessing popular support but also by threatening a communist-led takeover. The resulting compromise was a system of partially open, semi-democratic systems that generally promoted a broader base of wealth and prosperity but still limited freedom.
By the mid-1990s, this compromise was coming undone…
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.
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.
Filed under: Cambodia Files — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 12:59 PST
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.
WASHINGTON – The world – especially the Greater Middle East – has become less peaceful than it was five years ago, according to the 2013 edition of the annual Global Peace Index (GPI) released here Tuesday by the Institute for Economics and Peace.
The revived hearings over the Preah Vihear temple boundary dispute before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have concluded. Despite a formal decision from the court not expected for several months, several observations can now be made…
By Anna Bressanin, producer. Camera by Ilya Shnitser
Arn Chorn-Pond was a child in Cambodia when the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975. Born into a family of artists and musicians, he was sent to a children’s labour camp where he escaped death by playing his flute for the camp guards…
As a Cambodian-American, he considers the festival his personal answer to the US bombing of Cambodia. “The US bombed Cambodia,” he says. “I am carpeting New York with artists.”
“We have people say: ‘We want to know what happened to our family,’ ” said Phuong Pham, a research scientist at Harvard (pictured in Cambodia in 2008). Pham and fellow Harvard researcher Patrick Vinck have been conducting surveys of Cambodians’ attitudes toward trials of former Khmer Rouge officials. The trials — Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia — are currently under way.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Burma and the 21st Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Phnom Penh dominated news coverage in the region during the past month — and rightly so. Obama’s Burma trip put a global spotlight on the reforms being implemented by the civilian government in that country, while the ASEAN Summit exposed the continuing failure of the regional grouping to address the maritime disputes between China and several ASEAN member countries over the South China Sea.
But aside from these issues, the month of November was also memorable because of the phenomenal protests that took place across Southeast Asia. For example: The anti-government Pitak Siam (Protect Thailand) network mobilized 20,000 people in Bangkok; more than 15,000 participants joined Malaysia’s “Green Walk”; a bus strike in Singapore, the first labor strike in the city in almost three decades, stunned the city-state; and a peaceful protest camp set up by monks and farmers to oppose a copper mine project was brutally dispersed by Burmese riot police.
A growing outcry over corrupt governments forced several leaders from office last year, but as the dust has cleared it has become apparent that the levels of bribery, abuse of power and secret dealings are still very high in many countries. Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 shows corruption continues to ravage societies around the world.
Two thirds of the 176 countries ranked in the 2012 index score below 50, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean), showing that public institutions need to be more transparent, and powerful officials more accountable.
“Governments need to integrate anti-corruption actions into all public decision-making. Priorities include better rules on lobbying and political financing, making public spending and contracting more transparent and making public bodies more accountable to people,” said Huguette Labelle, the Chair of Transparency International.
“After a year of focus on corruption, we expect governments to take a tougher stance against the abuse of power. The Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 results demonstrate that societies continue to pay the high cost of corruption,” Labelle said.
HE WILL be on the ground for less than a day. Still, when Barack Obama arrives in Myanmar on November 19th, one leg of a three-country South-East Asian tour, it will be quite a moment: the first ever visit to the country by a sitting American president, which sets the seal on one of the fastest rehabilitations of a former American foe.
Chet Borei district, Kratie province – Sitting at his outpost overlooking the Mekong River, Deab Kuy remembers an incident some years ago when fishermen threatened to attack him if they were stopped from casting their nets around the river’s sandy islets here in Sambok commune.
The outpost, little more than a wooden house on the banks of the Mekong, is one of 15 set up in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces where a total of 77 unarmed “river guards” monitor local fishing communities in an effort to protect the area’s endangered freshwater dolphins.
Filed under: Cambodia Files — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 17:02 PST
19 October 2012
The man who was variously Cambodia's anti-colonial leader, king, prime minister, prince, and exiled figurehead is inseparable from his country's modern history, says David Chandler.
By David Chandler
The death of Norodom Sihanouk in Beijing on 15 October 2012 marks the end of one of the most remarkable careers in international politics over the last century. The former king of Cambodia packed so many lives into his 89 years. A full accounting of his legacy is for the future, but his passing offers the opportunity for a tentative assessment of how this mercurial, passionate figure might be remembered…