A 2558 New Year Message to the Khmer Krom Buddhist Monks and People from Khmer Krom leader and KKC President Thach Setha

Sat the 13th Waxing Moon of Citta BE2557, April 12, AD2014 Year of the Snake

Hon. Thach Setha, CNRP Permanent Committee member and former Senator, living a simple life, spending almost his whole life advocating human and religious rights for Khmer Buddhist monks and people in Kampuchea Krom, his beloved birthplace.

View the 2558 New Year Message

 

Khmer Krom leader Thach Setha touring the Orphan Child Center, OCC, on April 3, B.E.2557 A.D.2014

Wed the 4th Waxing Moon of Citta BE2557, April 3, AD2014 Year of the Snake

Khmer Krom leader, KKC Exec. Dir. and CNRP Permanent Committee member and former SRP Senator Thach Setha touring the Orphan Child Center, OCC, on April 3, B.E.2557 A.D.2014. Photo Op with Hon. Son Soubert, OCC Director, KKC Council President, former Parliamtary Vice President and former Constitutional Council member

 

Destiny Thwarted: Two Thousand Years of Cambodia

Wed the 4th Waxing Moon of Citta BE2557, April 3, AD2014 Year of the Snake
Courtesy the Sri Lanka Guardian

By Dr. Naresha Duraiswamy

Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian, Cambodian history illustrates the interplay of economics and ideology in defining the fate of a nation. A vibrant South East Asian empire that selectively adopted Indian civilizational norms and institutions expanded over a 1,300 year period before it witnessed a steady 700 year decline.

Background: The Indianized Khmers and their predecessors were the foremost power in mainland South East Asia between the 1st and 13th centuries of the Common Era (CE). Hinduism and later Buddhism flourished. The Khmer empire included the southern half of what is today Vietnam, North East/North Thailand and Laos. It stretched to the borders of Burma and the Malay peninsula. The civilizational interplay of Cambodia and classical-era India should be of interest to any student of Hindu history.

The early kingdoms of Funan, Chenla and Champa in the first millennium of the common era were the precursors of the Khmer empire. The Cambodians adopted Indic traditions in the 1st century CE via the maritime trade centers in what is today Vietnam. These ports were situated on the lucrative trade routes between India, the Indonesian archipelago and China. The Hinduized Kingdom of Funan, reportedly established by the Brahmin Kaundinya, dominated Indo-China between the first and sixth centuries CE. There were trade links with the Gupta Empire and later the Pallava Kingdom. Indonesian influence was significant. The Saivite and Vaishnavite Hindu traditions had left their imprint.
The Khmer subsequently moved up the Mekong river in part to avoid Indonesian naval domination. The expansion of irrigated wet rice agriculture complimented the earlier maritime trade. Authoritarian kings legitimized their rule using social concepts borrowed from India. Jayavarman II unified the Khmer in 802 CE forming the Angkor Empire. Having declared himself a Devaraja or God King, he embarked on military conquest. A succession of strong kings followed until the 1200s CE. The consolidation of the state was linked to the economic surplus and religion. There were huge investments in irrigated agriculture, temple construction and the military. Periods of tumult alternated with empire-building. Cambodia traded with India, China, the Indonesian archipelago and Mon dynasty Burma. An era of unparalleled prosperity had emerged.

Civilizational Momentum: Kampuchea was a hydraulic civilization. A centralized bureaucracy administered a vast irrigation network. The King’s control over water resources and the agrarian surplus resulted in immense wealth. Successive rulers invested their resources in a huge and expensive campaign of construction, one that was legitimized by Brahmanic ritual. The capital of Angkor may well have been the largest pre-industrial city in the world with an urban area of 1,150 square miles and a population of a million. This was a time when the biggest towns in Christian West Europe did not exceed twenty five thousand residents. Angkor may have also been the world’s busiest city at that time situated at the center of a vibrant overland and riverine trade network.
The temple of Banteay Srei, dedicated to the God Shiva and constructed in 967 CE by a courtier to King Jayavarman V, was noted for its intricate three dimensional stone carvings depicting scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Suryavarman commissioned the construction of Angkor Wat in 1112 CE in honor of the God Vishnu. This remains the largest religious structure in the world to this day. The artistic workmanship is sophisticated with scenes from the battle of Kurukshetra, the Battle of Lanka, the Churning of the Ocean of Milk, and the Battle between the gods and demons carved on its wall panels. The Hindu epics were portrayed in stone, literature, theater and dance. The temple towers dominated the surrounding countryside flanked by irrigated paddy fields, palmyra palms and banyan trees.

The assimilation of Indic concepts stimulated the Khmer people. It was a time of civilizational efflorescence where new traditions and ideas were adopted. The ruling dynasties were Hinduized. Cambodia adopted Indic traditions of administration, aesthetics, architecture, calendar, court ceremony, economy, jurisprudence, literature, religion, statecraft and theater. The Dharma Shastras, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Saivite Tamil hymns left their imprint. The Khmer alphabet was derived from the Pallava grantha script. The Cambodian new year coincided with the start of the Hindu solar calendar.
The Khmer empire reached its zenith in the 12th century CE. It annexed neighboring states and controlled mainland South East Asia. It dominated the South China Sea. In 1181 CE, Jayavarman VII adopted Mahayana Buddhism and commissioned the construction of the Bayon in near by Angkor Thom dedicated to the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshwara. The Mongol army invaded soon thereafter. Kampuchea was able to buy them off with its enormous wealth. But its military prowess had begun to decline.

Change and Cataclysm: The unceasing military campaigns and the expensive program of temple building and public works led to a fiscal deficit. The increased taxation drained the peasant population. Deforestation linked to increased rice cultivation and construction undermined the irrigated agriculture economy. It silted the man-made water ways and disrupted the complex irrigation system. The land witnessed an ecological and infrastructure breakdown. The elaborate court ceremony centered on the Brahmanic concept of the God King or Deva Raja had exhausted its capacity to provide meaning to a tired people.
The Khmer populace adopted the simplicity of Theravada/Hinayana or southern Buddhism in 1295 CE under Indravarman III. Sinhalese influence was felt at a time when Sri Lanka itself had come under attack from Magha of Kalinga. The Pali canon supplanted the Sanskrit texts. Buddhist iconography was retrofitted into parts of Angkor Wat at a subsequent date. Sri Lanka helped transform Cambodia into a Theravada Buddhist land. Was this loss of Hindu civilizational momentum due to the disruption of trade and intellectual links with India given the Turkic invasions of the Indian south? Or was it due to the start of the gradual Islamization of the ports of Sumatra and peninsula Malaya on account of Bengali, Gujarati and Arab traders in the aftermath of the Chola decimation of the Sri Vijaya maritime confederacy? Or were there other factors at play? Had Hinduism lost the capacity to renew itself in changed South East Asian circumstances?
What is clear however is that this civilizational shift coincided with Cambodia’s period of terminal decline. The dark ages had commenced. The Thai in the west and the Vietnamese in the east annexed large swathes of Kampuchean territory. The Thai annexed the present North East Thailand and Laos. Thailand, unlike Cambodia, had become a vibrant power with its adoption of Theravada Buddhism in the 13th century CE once again under Sinhalese influence.
While the Thai also assimilated the Hinduized Khmer classicism, they continued with their incursions, plunder and annexation of Khmer territory. The Thai state sacked the Cambodian capitals in 1432 and 1594. Tens of thousands of Khmer peasants, scholars and artists were marched back to Thailand as slaves.
The Vietnamese meanwhile expanded southwards to incorporate what it today the southern half of Vietnam and the Mekong Delta, originally Khmer. The much reduced Khmers became pawns in a Thai-Vietnamese chess game. Thailand and Vietnam agreed to a joint suzerainty of Cambodia in 1845.

Cambodia was relegated to a backwater. It continues to be overshadowed by its two more powerful neighbors whose policies helped define its sad history in the 1970s and 1980s when millions perished. The Khmer often retreat into an anti-Vietnamese and anti-Thai zenophobia as witnessed in the recent emotive dispute over control of the classical-era Saivite Hindu Khmer temple of Preah Vihear on the Thai border.

One only hopes that the 700 year period of decline will reverse itself and Cambodia were to reclaim its past grandeur and enlightenment. May Vishnu of Angkor Wat revive that deeply fractured and traumatized land.

 

Cambodia's National Deficits, International Loans and Borrowings top about $5.5-Billiion from B.E.2537 A.D.1993 to DEC 31, B.E.2556 A.D.2012

Khmer children will pay for these loans.
Tue the 2nd Waxing Moon of Citta BE2557, April 1, AD2014 Year of the Snake
Courtesy Thmeythmey

 

Cambodia: Public Letter Urging an Immediate Investigation into the Disappearance of Khem Sophath

Mon the 9th Waning Moon of Phagguṇa BE2557, March 23, AD2014 Year of the Snake
Courtesy HRW
Khem Sophath

March 23, 2014 - We, the undersigned civil society groups, express our deep concern over the disappearance of Khem Sophath, a 16-year-old boy missing since the violent crackdown by Cambodian security forces against striking garment workers on 3 January 2014 near the Canadia Industrial area on Veng Sreng road, Phnom Penh. We call on the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) to take all appropriate measures to immediately, thoroughly and impartially investigate Khem Sophath’s disappearance and inform his family of his fate or whereabouts.

The crackdown, which started on 2 January 2014, resulted in at least four people killed, dozens injured and 23 workers and human rights defenders arrested. Khem Sophath was last seen on the morning of 3 January 2014 lying on the ground on Veng Sreng road with blood pouring from what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his chest. More than two months later, his whereabouts remain unknown.

The RGC acceded to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICCPED) on 27 June 2013 and is therefore legally bound by the terms of that treaty. Under Article 2 of the ICCPED, an enforced disappearance occurs if a person has been deprived of his or her liberty in any form by a State agent or person acting with the support or acquiescence of the State and, subsequently, the State refuses to acknowledge the deprivation or conceals the person’s whereabouts.

On the day of the shooting a friend and co-worker saw Khem Sophath on the ground with a serious wound to his chest. As bystanders tried to aid him, Khem Sophath was heard urging them not to help but to save themselves, saying he “would not survive.” At the time, shots were still being fired at civilians. Those who tried to help him went into hiding, including the main eyewitness, who had himself been shot and did not receive medical treatment until later that day.

Considering the witness’s report and Khem Sophath’s unknown whereabouts in the context of the arbitrary killings and arrests carried out by Cambodian security forces that day, there are reasonable grounds to believe that Khem Sophath might have been subjected to an enforced disappearance. However, to date, the authorities have denied any knowledge of his fate or whereabouts and neglected to conduct any investigation.

Enforced disappearances violate numerous human rights including: the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; the right to liberty and security of the person; the right to a family life; the right to a fair and public trial; and, in the event that the disappeared person is killed, the right to life.

The ICCPED, beyond prohibiting enforced disappearances, creates an obligation for the State to take appropriate measures to investigate situations where there are reasonable grounds to believe that an enforced disappearance has occurred and to bring those responsible to justice, whether or not a formal complaint has been lodged.[1] Furthermore, the State shall “take all appropriate measures to search for, locate and release disappeared persons and, in the event of death, to locate, respect and return their remains.”[2]

However, the RGC has thus far failed to properly investigate Khem Sophath’s disappearance or the excessive use of force by state security forces. On the contrary, on 7 January 2014, Brigadier General Kheng Tito stated that any investigation would focus on “inciters” rather than the military police.[3] So far, no results of any investigation have been made public. In addition, on 06 February 2014, the same General told VOA Khmer that Khem Sophath had not been located among those arrested – something rights groups and journalists knew weeks previously – and encouraged his family to lodge a complaint to the courts.[4]

The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) have carried out their own investigations as to Khem Sophath’s whereabouts, but have so far been unable to locate him. His family now presumes him dead.

In compliance with its obligations under the ICCPED, the RGC should immediately conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the possibility that Khem Sophath was subjected to an enforced disappearance. Additionally, family members have the right to know the truth regarding the circumstances of the enforced disappearance, the progress and results of the investigation and the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person.[5] If it is found that Khem Sophath is a victim of enforced disappearance the ICCPED makes it clear that those suspected of criminal responsibility must be held to account. Additionally, victims have the right to reparations, including: prompt, fair and adequate compensation; restitution; rehabilitation; restoration of dignity and reputation; and guarantees of non-repetition such as recognition by RGC of the competence of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances to receive and consider communications from or on behalf of victims and other states parties.

This public letter has been endorsed by the following 54 Cambodian & international civil society groups:
1. Amnesty International
2. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
3. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
4. Banteay Srey
5. Boeung Kak Lake Community (BKL)
6. Borei Keila Community (BK)
7. Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC)
8. CamASEAN Youth’s Future (CamASEAN)
9. Cambodia’s Independent Civil-Servants Association (CICA)
10. Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU)
11. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
12. Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM)
13. Cambodian Confederation Unions (CCU)
14. Cambodian Domestic Worker Network (CDWN)
15. Cambodian Food and Service Worker Federation (CFSWF)
16. Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC)
17. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
18. Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA)
19. Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC)
20. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
21. Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation (CTSWF)
22. Cambodian Worker Center for Development (CWCD)
23. Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)
24. Civil Rights Defenders
25. Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Domestic Unions (C.CAWDU)
26. Coalition of Cambodian Employee Workers of Industry and Service Union (CEWISU)
27. Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC)
28. Committee to Promote Women in Politics (CPWP)
29. Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC)
30. Community Peace-Building Network (CPN)
31. Equitable Cambodia (EC)
32. Farmer Development Association (FDA)
33. Farmers Association for Peace and Development (FAPD)
34. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)
35. Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF)
36. Human Rights Watch
37. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
38. Independent Monk Network for Social Justice (IMNSJ)
39. IndustriALL Global Union
40. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
41. International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
42. Labour Behind the Label
43. LICADHO Canada
44. Messenger Band (MB)
45. Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia (NICFEC)
46. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
47. Solidarity Center
48. The Cambodian Committee for Women (CAMBOW)
49. The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW)
50. Thmar Kol Community
51. UNI Global Union
52. UNISON
53. War on Want
54. Worker Rights Consortium (WRC)

 

ការពារ​ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋជាកាតព្វកិច្ច​ដំបូង​របស់​រដ្ឋាភិបាល
មិនមែនដើម្បីត្រួតជីវិតរបស់ពួកលោក​ទេ។

Sat the 15th Full Moon of Phagguṇa BE2557, March 15, AD2014 Year of the Snake

 

International Women’s Day 2014: Equality for women is progress for all

Tue the 11th Waxing Moon of Phagguṇa BE2557, March 11, AD2014 Year of the Snake
Courtesy the United Nations

The event reflects on the achievements and challenges in addressing the needs and priorities of women and girls in implementing the MDGs and in the formulation of the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

Participants include: Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General; John W. Ashe, President of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly; Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women; and, Andrea Nunez, Vice President of the World YWCA Board.

 

Ahead of International Women’s Day, UN asks men to ‘stand up and deliver’ on human rights for all

Fri the 8th Waxing Moon of Phagguṇa BE2557, March 7, AD2014 Year of the Snake
Courtesy the United Nations
Courtesy UN Photo/Evan Schneider

7 March 2014 – On the eve of International Women’s Day, the United Nations has launched the “He for She” campaign urging men to stand up for the rights of their mothers, sisters and daughters, while top UN officials stressed that human rights for girls and women are not a dream but a duty of all.

“Throughout the world, discrimination against women and girls is rampant, and in some cases getting worse. But we also know equality for women is progress for all,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, quoting the theme of this year’s observation.

He also appealed to men and boys of the world: join us, “Where men and women have equal rights, societies prosper.”

With this in mind, the UN at a special Headquarters event today launched the “He for She” campaign urging men and boys to take a stand. Today’s launch features video clips of prominent men urging support for gender equality, including Mr. Ban, Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu and actor Antonio Banderas.

“I commend those of you [men and boys] who have spoken out and stand with women and girls, as you know women hold half of the sky. We call on all men also, stand up and hold up half of their part of the sky,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women told participants after jokingly telling them, “This is a celebration, so don’t look so serious.”

Courtesy UN Photo/UN Women/World Bank

“I think that it is important that women celebrate themselves, but also it is important that they don’t only speak to each other, preach to the converted, that women go out there and we win more allies for our struggle,” Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka stressed in a new interview with UN News Services.

Next year will mark 20th anniversary of the landmark World Conference on Women. The Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, adopted unanimously by 189 countries, is considered the key global policy document on gender equality, addressing critical areas such as women and poverty, violence against women and the human rights of women.

Former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who also participated in today’s event, played an instrumental role in Beijing, where she uttered the famous quote, “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”

Today, in a play, she said: “Just as women’s rights are human rights, women’s progress is human progress.” She added that despite the achievements, no country in the world has achieved full participation of women in society, and this remains the “great unfinished business of the 21th century.”

The next year will also be crucial as it marks the target date for the achievement of the global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which contain specific benchmarks for gender equality.

Countries are also working toward the adoption of global development agenda beyond 2015.

“As we begin crafting a new development agenda for the post-2015 era, we can celebrate the world’s recognition that gender equality and women’s empowerment must be at the heart of sustainable development,” said John Ashe, President of this year’s General Assembly.

He added that women and girls take their rightful places in the new development paradigm not only because it is critical for development, “but because equality is their right”, and stressed the importance of addressing root causes of gender inequality.

Mr. Ashe also highlighted the importance of ensuring women’s right to sexual and reproductive health.

Mr. Ban, who returned to New York earlier today from Sierra Leone, met yesterday in London with Fahma Mohammad, part of the Integrate Bristol campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM) supported by The Guardian newspaper. Mr. Ban had pledged to support her efforts.

“Women’s rights, women’s empowerment, and gender equality are essential components of this conversation – including reproductive rights and ending violence against women,” Mr. Ban said.

In his speech, the Secretary-General also noted that gender equality and women’s empowerment have been a top priority for him since taking office in 2007.

“Today, the top humanitarian official of the United Nations [Valerie Amos], our top development official [Helen Clark], the head of peacebuilding support and the head of peacekeeping support [Ameera Haq], the heads of human rights [Navi Pillay], disarmament [Angela Kane], the Joint OPCW-UN Mission on the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons [Sigrid Kaag], and the World Food Programme [Ertharin Cousin] – not to mention my own Chief of Staff [Susana Malcorra] – are all women,” Mr. Ban said.

Andrea Nunez, Vice President of the World YWCA Board, also participated in today’s discussion.

The event was held in the UN’s Trusteeship Council which features a carving of a woman with outstretched arms letting a bird free meant to symbolize an unlimited flight to greater heights.

 

UN expert hails agreements for electoral reform in Cambodia

Thu the 7th Waxing Moon of Phagguṇa BE2557, March 6, AD2014 Year of the Snake
Courtesy Xinhua

Phnom Penh, March 6 Xinhua -- The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia Surya P. Subedi on Thursday greeted a five-point agreement reached by the two main political parties currently represented in Cambodia's Parliament to launch concrete electoral reforms.

He further welcomed the lifting of a ban on demonstration imposed on Jan. 4 after two violent protests left four protesters dead and 21 others still detained.

"I welcome the agreements reached by the Joint Committee composed of members of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to proceed, among other things, on two concrete measures for electoral reform-- to review the voter registry and to elaborate a draft law on the financing of political parties," he said in a statement released by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Office to Cambodia.

"I hope with cautious optimism that progress toward the remaining unresolved issues would soon be made between the two parties," Subedi said.

Political row between the Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling CPP and the Sam Rainsy's opposition CNRP has persisted since the July election results showed that the CPP won 68 parliamentary seats against 55 seats for the CNRP.

Claiming serious ballot-rigging during the poll, the CNRP refused to accept the outcome and has boycotted parliament and held many protests to demand the resignation of Hun Sen and a re- election.

Hun Sen has said that he would neither step down nor call a re-vote.

 

U.S. State Department's 2013 Annual Human Rights Report on Vietnam

Thu the 13rd Waning Moon of Māgha BE2557, February 27, AD2014 Year of the Snake
Courtesy USDoS

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is an authoritarian state ruled by a single party, the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), led by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, and President Truong Tan Sang. The most recent National Assembly elections, held in 2011, were neither free nor fair. Authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. Security forces committed human rights abuses.The most significant human rights problems in the country continued to be severe government restrictions on citizens’ political rights, particularly their right to change their government; increased measures to limit citizens’ civil liberties; and corruption in the judicial system and police.Specific human rights abuses included continued police mistreatment of suspects during arrest and detention, including the use of lethal force as well as austere prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention for political activities; and denial of the right to a fair and expeditious trial. Political influence, endemic corruption, and inefficiency continued to distort the judicial system significantly. The government limited freedoms of speech and press and suppressed dissent; increasingly restricted internet freedom; reportedly continued to be involved in attacks against websites containing criticism; maintained surveillance of dissidents; and continued to limit privacy rights and freedoms of assembly, association, and movement. Although authorities allowed more than 100 new places of worship to register, hundreds of others remained unable to register, and citizens who tried to exercise their right to freedom of religion continued to be subject to harassment, differing interpretations and applications of the law, and inconsistent legal protection, especially at provincial and village levels. Police corruption persisted. The government maintained its prohibition of independent human rights organizations. Violence and discrimination against women as well as trafficking in persons of men, women, and children continued, as did gender-based sex selection and sexual exploitation of children. Although societal discrimination based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV/AIDS status persisted, a lively public debate about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights took place, and LGBT persons were generally tolerated. The government maintained limits on workers’ rights to form and join independent unions and did not enforce safe and healthy working conditions adequately. Child labor persisted.The government inconsistently took steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed abuses, and police officers sometimes acted with impunity. Read Report on Vietnam

 

Cambodia: Echoes of Fascism

Fri the 7th Waxing Moon of Māgha BE2557, February 7, AD2014 Year of the Snake
Courtesy TNI

Those who had hoped that Hun Sen's surprise near-loss in the flawed elections last July would lead to a more accommodating stance have been sadly disappointed. The man who has dominated Cambodia and her people for almost three decades still holds an iron grip. The United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC)’s mandate to conduct “free and fair general elections” in 1993 has proved largely irrelevant over time to the politics on the ground. Cambodian human rights bloggers have even recently raised the specter of a sinister “Third Hand” formed to maintain that iron grip.
Read more

 

Viet Nam Review - 18th Session of Universal Periodic Review

Thu the 7th Waxing Moon of Māgha BE2557, February 6, AD2014 Year of the Snake
Courtesy the UN

Original version

English version

LIST OF SPEAKERS
H.E. Mr. Ha Kim Ngoc, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs – Head of Delegation (Introduction)
Norway, Mr. Erling Hoem
Oman, Mr. Yousef Al Amri
Pakistan, Mr. Afaq Ahmad
Thailand, Mr. Thani Thongphankdi
Poland, Mr. Jerzy Baurski
Portugal, Ms. Manuela Teixeira Pinto
Republic of Korea, Mr. Choi Seok-Young
Republic of Moldova, Ms. Olga Bogdan
Hungary, MS. Ellen Van Thiel
Russian Federation, Ms. Anastasia Bagdatieva
Senegal, Mr. Mouhamadou Dia
Serbia, Mr. Aleksandar Tomic
Singapore, Mr. Steven Pang
Slovakia, Mr. Fedor Rosocha
Slovenia, Ms. Spela Kosir
South Sudan, Mr. Ramadan Tombe
Spain, Mr. Victorio Redondo
Sri Lanka, Mr. Ravinatha Aryasinha

 

Poem narrating about Khmer hero Oknha Son Kuy

Sat the 2nd Waxing Moon of Māgha BE2557, February 1, AD2014 Year of the Snake
Courtesy Savona Yuthpung
តើលោកឧកញ៉ា សឺន គុយ ជានរណា?

លោកឧកញ៉ា សឺន គុយ បានប្ដូរសិរិសារបស់លោកក្នុងបុព្វហេតុ
ដោះដូរយកសិទ្ធិសេរីភាពប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរក្រោមនិងរក្សា
ទីវត្តអារាមទាំងអស់ព្រោះលោកយល់ឃើញថាដរាបណាមាន
វត្តដរាបនោះវប្បធម៍អក្សរសាស្រ្ដខ្មែរនៅកម្ពុជាក្រោម
មិនសូន្យនោះឡើយ។

To learn more about Khmer hero Oknha Son Kuy

 

 

Cambodia Review - 18th Session of Universal Periodic Review

Tue the 13th Waning Moon of Phussa BE2557, January 28, AD2014 Year of the Snake
Courtesy the UN

Original version

English version

LIST OF SPEAKERS
H.E. Mr. Mak Sambath, Vice Chair of the National Human Rights Committee - Head of Delegation (Introduction)
Slovenia, Mr. Matjaz Kovacic
Spain, Mr. Vicente Cacho
Sri Lanka, Mr. Ravinatha Aryasinha
State of Palestine, Ms. Nada Tarbush
Sweden, Ms. Irina Schoulgin Nyoni
Switzerland, Mr. Alexandre Fasel
Indonesia, Mr.. Triyono Wibowo
Timor-Leste, Mr. Marcino Da Silva
Tunisia, Mr. Slim Ghariani
Turkmenistan, Mr. Esen Aydogdyev
United Kingdom, Mr. Bob Last
United States of America, Mr. David Sullivane
Uruguay, Mr. Patricio Silva
Uzbekistan, Mr. Javohir Nurmetov
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Mr. Edgardo Toro
Viet Nam, Mr. Thanh Nguyen
Algeria, Mr. Antar Hassani
Angola, Mr. Andre Kitoko

This is the second time that Cambodia comes under a UPR review and the last one takes place in 2009.

 

សេចក្តីថ្លែងការណ៍របស់សហគមន៍ខ្មែរកម្ពុជាក្រោមទៅក្រសួងការបរទេសកម្ពុជា ស្តីពី ការមិនទទួលខុសត្រូវចំពោះព្រះសង្ឃ និងប្រជាាស្រ្ត ខ្មែរកម្ពុជាក្រោម

KKC Statement to the Cambodian Foreign Affairs on Irresponsibility upon Khmer Krom Buddhist monks and people

Wed the 7th Waning Moon of Phussa BE2557, January 22, AD2014 Year of the Snake

Read page 2 Khmer

Read page 2 English

Khmer Krom leader, KKC president and former Senator Thach Setha leads a delegation of Khmer Buddhist monks and NGOs to meet with MoFA State Secretary Ouch Borith late last year, 2013

 

Vietnam: Communist Party Tightens Grip

Increase in Political Trials, New Repressive Legislation Offset Positive Steps

Courtesy HRW
Wed the 7th Waning Moon of Phussa BE2557, January 22, AD2014 Year of the Snake

Escalating repression is putting the Vietnamese government on a collision course with an increasingly politically aware and active population. Foreign governments should use all diplomatic means to pressure Vietnam to listen to the voices of the country’s people, who are demanding an end to old-style one-party rule. Brad Adams, Asia director

New York – Activists were increasingly targeted by the Vietnamese authorities in 2013, worsening a trend of politically motivated convictions against peaceful critics, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2014.

“Escalating repression is putting the Vietnamese government on a collision course with an increasingly politically aware and active population,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Foreign governments should use all diplomatic means to pressure Vietnam to listen to the voices of the country’s people, who are demanding an end to old-style one-party rule.”

In the 667-page World Report 2014, its 24th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. Syria’s widespread killings of civilians elicited horror but few steps by world leaders to stop it, Human Rights Watch said. A reinvigorated doctrine of “responsibility to protect” seems to have prevented some mass atrocities in Africa. Majorities in power in Egypt and other countries have suppressed dissent and minority rights. And Edward Snowden’s revelations about US surveillance programs reverberated around the globe.

On November 28, the National Assembly adopted an amended Vietnamese constitution that disappointed those hoping for significant reforms, instead strengthening Communist Party political domination. The Communist Party has presided over a one-party state since the country was unified in 1975.

Human rights provisions in the constitution were watered down with loopholes that allow the state to criminalize even peaceful expression, association, and assembly.

While it maintained its monopoly on state power in 2013, the party faces growing public discontent over slowing economic growth, widespread corruption, and a lack of basic freedoms. Denial of rights and endemic official corruption are widely seen as stifling Vietnam’s political and economic progress.

At the end of 2013, Human Rights Watch estimated that Vietnam is holding some 150-200 known people in detention because of the exercise of their fundamental human rights, including lowland Vietnamese and upland ethnic minority prisoners, some of whom were detained at least in part in connection with their religious activities. The total included at least 63 political prisoners convicted by politically controlled courts in 2013, an increase over the roughly 40 sentenced in 2012, which in turn exceeded the numbers sentenced in 2011 and 2010. The government has consistently used vague penal code provisions to convict these peaceful critics.

Dialing back digital, religious freedom
Enhancing already extensive government powers to punish and otherwise deter digital freedom, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on September 1, 2013, put into force Decree 72, which contains provisions legalizing content-filtering and censorship, and outlawing vaguely defined “prohibited acts.”

In January 2013, the prime minister put Decree 92 into effect, further extending controls on religious groups via inclusion of onerous requirements for official permission to practice religious belief and vague prohibitions on religious worship that effectively allow the authorities to selectively prohibit any religious activities they dislike. In its enforcement actions, the government monitors, harasses, and sometimes violently cracks down on religious groups that operate outside of official, government-registered and government-controlled religious institutions.

Positive moves in 2013 included the signing of the Convention Against Torture. The government has pledged that this will be ratified within a year. The National Assembly decriminalized same-sex marriage, though disappointed campaigners by failing to legalize it.

“Instead of putting its critics in prison, the Vietnamese government should engage with their ideas, and accept that one-party states should be consigned to the dustbins of history,” Adams said.

 

Report: World's 85 richest control nearly half the global wealth

Oxfam International says world elite bend laws in their favor, helping funnel massive amounts of money to the very few
Courtesy Al Jazeera
Mon the 5th Waning Moon of Phussa BE2557, January 20, AD2014 Year of the Snake
The yacht of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovitch, the Eclipse, is seen on Sept. 4, 2013 near the Nice harbor in the French riviera. The Eclipse is the world's second largest private yacht.Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images

The world's elite have rigged laws in their own favor, undermining democracy and creating a chasm of inequality across the globe, international organization Oxfam said in advance of the annual get-together of the world's most powerful at Davos, Switzerland.

Inequality has run so out of control, that the 85 richest people on the planet own "almost half of the world's wealth," Oxfam said in a new report on widening disparities between the rich and poor.

The report exposes the "pernicious impact" of growing inequality that helps "the richest undermine democratic processes and drive policies that promote their interests at the expense of everyone else," the statement said.

Inequality has emerged as a major concern in countries around the world, with President Barack Obama prioritizing a push to narrow the wealth gap in his second term.

But the wealth gap in America is still growing. And the problem seems likely to worsen as the International Labor Organization, the U.N. labor agency, reported (PDF) Monday that 201.8 million people around the world were unemployed in 2013 — an increase of 4.9 million from the previous year.

In China, the new government there has cracked down on perks and privileges of the elite, and Germany seems set to adopt a new minimum wage.

The World Economic Forum (WEF), which organizes the Davos conference, warned last week that the growing gulf between the rich and the poor represents the biggest global risk in 2014.

"The chronic gap between the incomes of the richest and poorest citizens is seen as the risk that is most likely to cause serious damage globally in the coming decade," the WEF said.

But many of the corporate giants and world leaders set to confer at Davos, a posh ski resort tucked on the eastern reaches of Switzerland near Liechtenstein, are implicitly pointed at by Oxfam.

Among the report's many shocking statistics about wealth and inequality: the world’s wealthiest 1 percent have $110 trillion in assets, 65 times the wealth of the poorest 50 percent of the world's population. The richest 85 people in the world have as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent, according to the report.

Oxfam goes on to blame specific practices that lead to a "rigging (of) the system," where money is funneled almost exclusively to the already-wealthy.

"Policies successfully imposed by the rich in recent decades include financial deregulation, tax havens and secrecy, anti-competitive business practice, lower tax rates on high incomes and investments and cuts or underinvestment in public services for the majority," Oxfam said.

Still, the speakers at Davos this year will train their brains on this thorny issue.

In the forefront will be Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Sydney has just taken on the G20 presidency, and in a speech on Thursday Abbot is expected to tackle the rich and poor gap issue, with the fight against tax havens and evasion firmly on target.

In the report, Oxfam said that "since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 of the 30 countries for which data are available, meaning that in many places the rich not only get more money but also pay less tax on it."

Read Oxfam's full report

 

EU Calls for International Probe Into Election

Sun the 4th Waning Moon of Phussa BE2557, January 19, AD2014 Year of the Snake

In the strongest international reaction to the contested result of July's national election yet, the European Parliament passed a resolution on Thursday calling on Prime Minister Hun Sen's government to conduit an independent, internationally led investigation of the election and the killing of five garment factory protesters earlier this month.

The resolution by the Parliament of the European Union (EU) - Cambodia's single large largest aid donor - comes partner after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a draft spending bill on Wednesday that would cut some aid to Cambodia unless similar demands regarding the flawed election are met.

Adopted by Some 740 members of the European Parliament on Thursday, the resolution urges the government to "Recognize the legitimate role played by the political opposition in contributing to Cambodia's overall economic and political development," and to implement reforms in the judiciary as well as the electoral process, PARTICULARLY the voting list and free access to media.

"The European Parliament calls on the Cambodian Government to accept an independent, assisted investigation into allegations internationally of vote fraud and other irregularities around the July 2013 elections," the resolution states.
Legal Action against NIPA President Sam Rainsy and Vice President Kem Sokha, as well as union leaders, who were questioned over alleged their role in the recent garment worker protests, should be dropped, the Parliament said.
Extending condolences to the families of the garment workers protesting who were shot dead and wounded by military policy on PoSenchey district's Veng Sreng Street, the European Parliament condemned "the disproportionation and excessive use of power by security forces."

"The European Parliament urges the Cambodian authorities to investigate thoroughly and hold to account those responsible for deaths and injuries," the resolution reads.

In a total of 17 points, the European Parliament urged that the 23 people "unjustly arrested this” falling on the strike and protests be freed that the government ban on freedom of assembly be "immediately revoked."

Mu Sochua, opposition lawmaker NIPA-elect, welcomed the resolution on Friday. "[The resolution] recognizes that there is a problem. The resolution gets down to the root causes of the conflict that has become a crisis," She Said, adding that year independent investigation into the election results with international participation was key to ending the political deadlock.

"The truth about the elections has to be revealed as well as the people responsible for the killings. How many lives-have to be wasted before we can exercise our freedom and our liberty?" She Abebooks web sites.

As about 50 percent of all shoes and garments produced in Cambodia are exported to the EU, the resolution places economic pressure on Mr. Hun Sen's government to comply with the Parliament's demands for independent investigations.

Tep Nytha, Secretary-General of the government's National Election Committee (NEC), said the European Parliament was free to have its opinion regarding Cambodian politics and the conduit of the country's elections, all purpose irregularities has already been "solved."

"The NEC just implements its work based on the law, and the NEC election solved the complaints already," Mr. Nytha maintained.
Reform of the electoral process or any investigations of the result of July's vote could only be decided by the government, he added.

"If there is an amendment of any law, the NEC will respect the law."
In seven separate motions for the resolution on Cambodia Submitted by respective parts in the European Parliament on Tuesday, odd harsher language used to describe the was status in Cambodia.

The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats said that the July 28 election was "neither free nor fair" as Mr. Hun Sen's ruling CPP-long controlled "all election-related institutions, concluding the National Election Committee and Constitutional Council, both, of All which failed seriously to address all credible allegations of vote fraud and other election complaints. "

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group said it believed that the "Hun Sen Government, all which is facing a serious problem of legitimacy, should either accept an independent investigation into the recent election irregularities and their impact on the election results, or organizes new elections. "

Independent political analyst Kem Ley said that the recent action by the U.S. and the EU play a significant resolution would role in finding a solution to the current political situation.

"That the international community stands united and puts pressure on the government is very significant to make a change, because the voices of the victims are always ignored, goal international the community gives a lot of aid and that's significant very for the government,"
Mr . Ley said. Courtesy the Cambodia Daily January 18, B.E.2557 A.D.2014

 

សេចក្តីថ្លែងការណ៍​របស់​សាស្រ្តាចារ្យ​ សុរិយា ប្រាសាទ ​ស៊ូប៊ែរឌី​ អ្នករាយការណ៍ពិសេសនៃអង្គការសហប្រជាជាតិ​ ស្តីពី កម្ពុជា

Statement of UN SR Prof. Surya P. Subedi on Cambodia

Thu the 1st Waning Moon of Phussa BE2557, January 16, AD2014 Year of the Snake

Read Full SR Statement on Cambodia

Read Full SR Statement on Cambodia in Khmer


Open Letter of U.S. and Canadian retail and fashion industries to Hun Sen

Wed the15th Waxing Moon of Phussa BE2557, January 15, AD2014 Year of the Snake
Click on image to view large letter

 

ជំ​នួប​រវាងហ៊ុន​ សែន និងលោក សូរិយា ប្រាសាទ ស៊ូប៊ែរឌី
អ្នករាយការណ៍ពិសេសអង្គការសហប្រជាជាតិ (អ.ស.ប.)

SURYA Subedi on meet with Hun Sen

Courtesy the Phnom Penh Post
Wed the15th Waxing Moon of Phussa BE2557, January 15, AD2014 Year of the Snake
Professor Surya Subedi, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, joins State of Play just after his meeting with Hun Sen to discuss the ongoing political deadlock in Cambodia following the most violent government crackdown in the Kingdom in more than a decade.

 

Human Rights Are For Everyone

Mon the13th Waxing Moon of Phussa BE2557, January 13, AD2014 Year of the Snake

 

Khmer Krom NGOs request Hun Sen to raise Khmer
Krom issues with visiting VN PM Nguyen Tan Dung

Sun the12th Waxing Moon of Phussa BE2557, January 12, AD2014 Year of the Snake

 

កងពលតូច ៩១១ មានប្រវត្តិដ៏កាចសាហាវមុនពេលរោងចក្រកាត់ដេរធ្វើកូដកម្ម‏

Brigade 911 Had Brutal History Before Garment Factory Strike

Courtes HRW
Fri the10th Waxing Moon of Phussa BE2557, January 10, AD2014 Year of the Snake
Will the government authorize an independent investigation that follows responsibility wherever the trail leads, even if it points to the military leadership or the government? Sadly, this is unlikely. While impunity flourishes among the Cambodian leadership, a willingness to address it is nowhere in sight. Full Text

 

កម្ពុជា: អ្នកជាប់ឃុំនៅក្នុងការបង្រ្កាបបានបដិសេធសិទិ្ធ

Cambodia: Detainees in Crackdown Denied Rights

Free Peaceful Activists, Ensure Access to Lawyers, Medical Care
Fri the10th Waxing Moon of Phussa BE2557, January 10, AD2014 Year of the Snake
New York – The Cambodian authorities should protect the rights of 23 people arrested after a violent crackdown by security forces on striking garment workers in Phnom Penh on January 2- 3, 2014, Human Rights Watch said today. Authorities detained the group incommunicado and without medical care at the remote CC3 prison at Trapeang Phlong in Kampong Cham province near the border with Vietnam. Full Text

 

Cambodia to be reviewed by the Human Rights Council on 28 January 2014

Fri the10th Waxing Moon of Phussa BE2557, January 10, AD2014 Year of the Snake

Human Rights Council in Geneva

Cambodia will be reviewed once again by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on 28 January (and not 5 February as previously arranged). The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves the periodic review of the human rights situation in all UN Member States. It takes place every four years. Cambodia was first reviewed on 1 December 2009. The review led to the adoption of 91 recommendations proposed by States to Cambodia to improve its human rights record. Cambodia accepted all recommendations. During the second review, the Human Rights Council will focus on the status of implementation of these recommendations.

 

Sign the Petition to End the Military Crackdown of Peaceful Protest in Cambodia

Mon the 6th Waxing Moon of Phussa BE2557, January 6, AD2014 Year of the Snake

Sign an online petition now

Watch Crackdown in action: Democracy Unraveling

Video courtesy the Phnom Penh Post

 

KKC Statement on the Barbaric Act of the Cambodian Government committed on the Buddhist monks and Demonstrators

Fri the 3rd Waxing Moon of Phussa BE2557, January 3, AD2014 Year of the Snake