A Change of Guard

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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

MP's trip to US not an attempt to escape prosecution: SRP

Written by Meas Sokchea
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Phnom Penh Post

A SAM Rainsy Party spokesman said Monday that lawmaker Ho Vann's decision to leave Cambodia was not made out of fear that he would be prosecuted for defamation and disinformation.

Yim Sovann told the Post that Ho Vann (pictured), who flew to the US on Friday, had planned to leave the country long before his parliamentary immunity was stripped by the National Assembly on June 22.

"He did not flee," Yim Sovann said. "There is nothing to be scared of."

He said Ho Vann would visit family in the US before travelling to Italy for a conference hosted by the UN Development Programme.

"I will also fly to participate in that mission," Yim Sovann said, adding that he did not know when Ho Vann would return to Cambodia.

Ho Vann has been sued for defamation and disinformation by 22 senior army officials who charged that he denigrated the quality of academic degrees they received from a Vietnamese military institute in an interview with a local newspaper. Ho Vann has said he was misquoted by the newspaper.

Senior Cambodian People's Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Monday that Ho Vann would have his immunity restored if the court found him not guilty of defamation and disinformation.

Mu Sochua still abroad
Mu Sochua, the other SRP lawmaker whose parliamentary immunity also was stripped by the National Assembly on June 22, travelled to the US that same day. She told the Post that she would return to Cambodia on July 6.

Mu Sochua faces defamation charges stemming from a speech given by Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 4 in Kampot province. She filed a defamation lawsuit against the premier, alleging that he had defamed her in the speech. Hun Sen then filed a defamation suit against her, arguing that she had defamed him by saying the comments in the speech about an unnamed woman referred to her.

Lawyers skirmish over who should be called to disciplinary council

Written by Meas Sokchea
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Phnom Penh Post

Attorney for Mu Sochua says complaint against him is politically motivated and his accuser, Hun Sen's attorney, should appear before the bar.

THE two parties involved in a high-profile Bar Association complaint squared off Sunday over who should be required to appear before the association's disciplinary council.

Kong Sam Onn (pictured), the lawyer for opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua, was found guilty of violating articles 4, 6 and 15 of the Bar Association rules earlier this month and has been summoned to face the disciplinary council on July 7, the association announced last week.

But the embattled attorney on Sunday said the person who brought the complaint, Hun Sen's attorney Ky Tech, should also be required to explain the details of his case before the council.

Politically motivated
Kong Sam Onn dismissed the Bar Association's decision as politically motivated and said he had not erred while representing opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua, whose defamation suit against Hun Sen is at the root of the dispute.

"This is a general issue. It is not a defamation case. It is a matter between an attorney and his client. I don't know how else to describe this except to say that it is also a political issue as well," Kong Sam Onn said Sunday.

But Ky Tech said he had no obligation to appear before the Bar Association because he had not been accused of any wrongdoing.

"The law does not say that the plaintiff must appear before the disciplinary council. As I understand the Bar Association procedures, if the council had found anything wrong in accusations against the defendant, then they would address them with the defendant," Ky Tech said.

He added that so far the council had not asked him to appear.

Evidence is sufficient
Suon Visal, general secretary of the Bar Association, said Monday that the council was allowed to summon Ky Tech, but that it had already heard enough evidence to reach a decision in the Kong Sam Onn case.


But he added that his absence could, under certain circumstances, weaken the evidence submitted in the complaint.

"According to procedure, when someone sues another person, the plaintiff appears in court to clarify issues of evidence," Suon Visal said. "If not, the case could be weakened."

He added: "If the complaint does not include enough evidence of wrongdoing, the court must rely on testimony by the plaintiff to determine the case," Suon Visal said.

He also dismissed any suggestion that the Bar Association was under political pressure and said the council's actions in the case were in strict accordance with the law.

Cambodia's oil wealth must benefit community: senior economist

ABC Radio Australia

One of the Cambodian government's most senior economists has warned the country must turn its emerging oil and gas wealth into community benefits - or risk social uprising.

Companies such as Chevron and BHP Biliton are exploring in Cambodia, and oil alone is estimated to be worth billions of dollars once drilling begins. But critics have warned that Cambodia may succumb to the so-called "oil curse' - where poor countries misuse the sudden wealth from the resources.

Dr Hang Chuon Naron, is the Vice Chairman of the Supreme National Economic Council of Cambodia AND Secretary General at the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Presenter: Liam Cochrane
Speakers: Dr Hang Chuon Naron, Vice Chairman of the Supreme National Economic Council of Cambodia AND Secretary General at the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Takhmao explosion injures two

Written by Vong Sokheng
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Phnom Penh Post

Blast near Hun Sen's house causes no fatalities: Cabinet.

AN EXPLOSION near the Kandal province residence of Prime Minister Hun Sen injured two military officials Sunday night, one of them seriously, according to a press release issued by the prime minister's Cabinet.

The reported injury count could not be independently verified, and the site remained closed to reporters and rights group workers who attempted to access it Monday.

The statement said the explosion occurred after a military truck loaded with ammunition caught fire at 7:30pm.

Residents on Sunday reported hearing a series of explosions that lasted between 10 and 15 minutes. Chea Savath, a monitor for the rights group Adhoc who went down to the site, said he heard reports from residents that the series of explosions was punctuated with nine loud blasts that sounded like "heavy bombs".

He said rights group officials and others were not allowed direct access to the site, adding that Adhoc had no choice but to take the government's word on the number of injuries.

"The incident is related to national security. Therefore, all of the authorities have tried to keep silent," Chea Savath said.

He added: "I think there were not many serious casualties. I think it just made several hundred villagers afraid and shocked."

The Cabinet statement said: "After the fire was completely put out, following a detailed report to Prime Minister Hun Sen, he authorised the Cabinet to report this regrettable incident to the public."

Heng Ratana, director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), said CMAC teams had cooperated with local authorities and soldiers to rid the site of pieces of ammunition that had not detonated during the series of explosions.

He said villagers, living two kilometres from the premier's residence in Takhmao town, did not report any casualties.

"It is safe now," Heng Ratana said.

Second Khmer Rouge victim talks

Chum Mey in court
Chum Mey cried as he told the tribunal about how he was tortured

The second of three living survivors from the Tuol Sleng detention centre run by the Khmer Rouge has told a Cambodia tribunal how he was tortured.

Former mechanic Chum Mey, 63, told the United Nations-backed war crimes court that his toenails were torn out and he was subjected to electric shocks.

He said he was tortured repeatedly for 12 days and nights.

His testimony follows that of another survivor, the painter Van Nath, in the trial of prison director Comrade Duch.

Chum Mey told the tribunal he had been working at a sewing machine factory in 1978 when he was brought to Tuol Sleng to be tortured on suspicion of espionage.

"While I was walking inside I said (to a guard), 'Brother, please look after my family.' Then the person kicked me on to the ground," he said, adding the man swore at him and told him he would be "smashed".

Chum Mey told judges he was photographed, stripped and handcuffed before being taken to his interrogators.

"They asked me to tell them the truth - how many of us joined the KGB and CIA," Chum Mey said, referring to the Soviet and United States intelligence agencies.

"I told them I did not know any CIA or KGB. Truly, I did not know those terms."

"I kept responding that I didn't know anything about the CIA and KGB, but they used a pliers and twisted off my toenail," he said.

"I confessed that I had joined the CIA and KGB but it was a lie. I said it because I was so badly beaten."

Chum Mey's torture stopped once his captors realised he was able to fix cars - and they put him to work mending machinery.

Van Nath

On Monday, fellow survivor Van Nath described how hunger had driven him to eat insects, and said he had also eaten the food beside corpses of starved fellow prisoners.

Photographs of some of the prisoners executed at Tuol Sleng
Maoist regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975-1979
Founded and led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998
Abolished religion, schools and currency in a bid to create agrarian utopia
Up to two million people thought to have died from starvation, overwork or execution

About 15,000 people were detained at Tuol Sleng in the late 1970s, but only seven are thought to have survived - three of whom are still alive today.

The tribunal has already heard plenty from Comrade Duch himself - as well as a number of expert witnesses.

"The conditions were so inhumane and the food was so little," Van Nath told the tribunal, as he broke down in tears. "I even thought eating human flesh would be a good meal."

Comrade Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, is accused of overseeing the torture and extermination of prisoners at the jail.

Earlier in his trial, the 66-year-old admitted responsibility for his role as governor of the jail, and begged forgiveness from his victims.

But he also insisted that he did not hold a senior role in the regime, and that he had had little choice but to work there.

Four other former Khmer Rouge leaders are currently in detention at the court, and are expected to face trial in 2010.

Cambodian PM to visit France in July

PHNOM PENH, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Tuesday that he will visit France on July 13 to strengthen the bilateral cooperation.

"We will be absent from the country for a short period of time because I will visit France and I also will meet with French President late afternoon on July 13 if the schedule is not changed," he told a University graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh.

"I will be invited to join a ceremony of French Army March on July 14," he said, adding that he will attend his son's graduation ceremony in an army school in France.

France played a key role for Paris Peace Accord for Cambodia in1991. France also provides funds to Cambodia in several projects, including rule of law, good governance, and agricultural and health improvement.

France colonized Cambodia from 1863 to 1953.

Editor: Zhang Xiang

National Bank of Cambodia chooses Oracle Flexcube as banking platform

Oracle Financial Services Software, a majority-owned subsidiary of Oracle, announced that National Bank of Cambodia has selected Oracle Flexcube as the banking platform for its operations.

As the regulator, National Bank of Cambodia plays an important role in the design and implementation of the financial sector development program for the Kingdom of Cambodia.

National Bank of Cambodia`s implementation of a new, integrated core banking system is viewed as a critical componenet of the development program and has the ongoing support of the Asian Development Bank.

Oracle Flexcube will help automate National Bank of Cambodia`s current processes for operations across deposits, loans, foreign exchange, money markets securities, funds transfer and asset management.

The project includes two local partners; interFlex will provide National Bank of Cambodia with environmental software and implementation services for the core banking implementation. Neeka part of the Thakral Group of companies, will provide the hardware infrastructure and support services for the project.

Shares of the company declined Rs 19.7, or 1.53%, to trade at Rs 1,265.00. The total volume of shares traded was 2,541.00 at the BSE (12.51 p.m., Tuesday).

Former Cambodian king to return to homeland for visit in July

Earth Times

Phnom Penh - Cambodia's former king Norodom Sihanouk (pictured) will return to his homeland for a two-month visit after being successfully treated for cancer in Beijing, according to a handwritten message on his personal website. The 86-year-old retired monarch said he would return to Cambodia in July to stay at a royal residence in the northern city of Siem Reap.

"Between July 9 and September 2009 I shall have the honor and the joy to live in Cambodia among my beloved relatives," he said.

But Sihanouk said he would have to return to Beijing after two months to continue his medical treatment.

He announced last week that he had beaten a third bout of cancer after his Chinese doctors successfully treated him for B-cell lymphoma, which attacks blood cells crucial to the body's immune system.

Sihanouk abdicated and was replaced by his son Norodom Sihamoni in 2004, but the king-father remains an important figure in Cambodian politics.

He was appointed king by Cambodia's French rulers in 1941, but in 1955 Sihanouk abandoned the throne to become prime minister.

After being overthrown in a military coup in 1970, Sihanouk sided with the Maoist Khmer Rouge, who came to power in 1975 and oversaw the deaths of up to 2 million people until Vietnam invaded in 1979.

He was forced out of office again and remained virtually imprisoned in the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh during most of the Khmer Rouge's rule.

Sihanouk returned to the throne in 1993, but frequently traveled to Beijing for treatment for a range of illnesses.

Hun Sen warned that one Cambodian soldier will fight against five Thai soldiers

Source: Deum Ampil newspaper
Reported in English by Khmerization

Prime Minister Hun Sen (pictured) has reiterated again during a graduation ceremony at the Institute of Education on the morning of Tuesday 30th June that Cambodia does not want a war with Thailand regarding the Preah Vihear conflict, but Cambodia reserves the rights to self-defence should Thailand continues to violate Cambodian sovereignty.

Deum Ampil newspaper quoted Mr. Hun Sen as saying that he had told Mr. Suthep Tausuban, the visiting Thai Deputy PM, that he has to keep his ealier comments that the Preah Vihear issue is off the agenda in their meeting.

According to Deum Ampil, Mr. Hun Sen had also warned Thailand not to use force against Cambodia. Mr. Hun Sen was quoted as saying that even if Thailand has more than 300,000 troops and Cambodia has just more than 100,000 troops, experiences in Iraq has seen American troops got bogged down in a quagmire. Mr. Hun Sen said: "So, I have told the Thai Defence Minister that if Thailand wants to fight a war with Cambodia, Thailand has to use 3-5 soldiers against one Cambodia soldier or 30,000-50,000 Thai soldiers against 10,000 battle-hardened Cambodian soldiers."

Military analysts estimated that Thailand has more than 301,000 regulars plus about 200,000 reservists equipped with 315 jet fighters, over 180 helicopters, 360 main battle tanks, 460 light tanks, 1150 armoured personnel carriers, 650 heavy artilleries, 240 anti-aircraft artilleries, one aircraft carrier and around 240 navy ships.

On the ather hand, Cambodia has only about 140,000 troops, with a few battle tanks, a few small naval vessels, a few old jet fighters, a few anti-aircraft artilleries, a few field artilleries and a few helicopters.

“The new UN special envoy for human rights to Cambodia is in connivance with Hun Sen government

Statement from Cambodian Action Committee Justice and

Equality (CACJE)

(Official Translation in English)

June 30, 2009


The new UN special envoy for human rights to Cambodia is in connivance with puppet Tribunal,the Puppet Assembly and the Vietnamese Puppet Hun Sen government to bury the truth concerning the human rights violation in Cambodia

The special gifts that Hun Sen government, the Vietnamese Puppet was giving to Mr. Surya Subedi, the new UN special envoy for human rights to Cambodia during his first official visit to Cambodia are:

1. The lift of Parliamentary immunity of representatives Mr. Mu Sochua and Mr. Ho Vann of the opposition Party by the Assembly of pirates, Assembly of ghosts and Vietnamese Puppet Assembly.

2. The sentence handed down by the Phnom Penh municipal court, the Vietnamese puppet Court, which had fined and sentenced Mr. Hang Chakra, the editor-in-chief of The Khmer Machas Srok newspaper to a year's imprisonment.


Chuon Chou-ngy said: “Therefore, when they held the hearing, they speed up [the process] to hand out the sentence. Even without the presence of my client [Hang Chankra] and my request to delay the case, they didn’t agree to it.”

On the legal process used by the Phnom Penh municipal court to sentence Hang Chakra to one year in jail and fined him 9 million riels ($2,25), Am Sam Ath said: “We can see that it can seriously affect the rights of journalists to express their opinion.”

Am Sam Ath added that this is an intimidation on journalists and a restriction on the freedom rights of journalists. The court action was taken to set an example to all other newspapers that are still undecided about whether to express their opinions or not.

Am Sam Ath said: “Therefore, the Appeal court must think about Mr. Hang Chakra’s case. The information law should be considered first before the criminal code is used.”

Judge of the Phnom Penh municipal court and justice ministry officials could not be reached to explain about the legality of this court decision and sentence.

On 26 June, Hang Chakra was sentenced following a lawsuit brought up by the government lawyer. He was accused of publishing false information and defamation after his newspaper reported a number of articles in April and May. These articles accused a number of government officials around deputy-PM Sok An of corruption.

An alliance of Civil Society organizations and the Cambodian Club of Journalists issued two separate statements to express their concerns on the press freedom in Cambodia, they were also disappointed that the court did not use the newly-adopted information law in this case.
The threat of the Vietnamese puppet government obliging Co-Prosecutor Mr. Robert Petit of the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) to resign.

4. The use of the Police and the armed forces of the Vietnamese authority to rig up workers and demonstrators in Phnom Penh.

All the above proves quite well the flagrant violation of human rights of the Vietnamese puppet government against its own people. All the above was also a gift to the new UN special envoy for human rights to Cambodia.

It would be better for Mr. Surya Subedi to learn the experience of his predecessor Yash Ghai.

The soft approach of Mr. Surya Subedi of leveling no direct criticism of the Vietnamese puppet Cambodian government's human rights violation is an expression of cowardice of Mr. Surya Subedi. This would tarnish the reputation of the UN which represents the hope of Cambodia people.

By not speaking out the truth Mr. Surya Subedi, not only is afraid of losing his job for being forced to resign as did Mr. Yash Ghai, in fact, is hiding the truth about the flagrant violation of human rights in Cambodia, consequently, encouraging the Vietnamese puppet government to arrest, sue, and eliminate Cambodian democrats and nationalists.



Chief of Mission


Khmer-Thai borders tense despite talks between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai Deputy PM

Thai military trucks were seen travelling towards the borders at Preah Vihear on Friday 26th.

Source: everyday.com
Reported in English by Khmerization

The Khmer-Thai borders in Preah Vihear areas remain tense as both sides were ordered to be on high alert as they continue to bring more reinforcements to the areas, despite talks between the Cambodian PM and the Thai Deputy PM on the weekend, reports everyday.com.

According to a Cambodian front line military officer based at Phnom Trop, the military situations near the Preah Vihear temple were very tense as both sides had deployed many layers of troops along the borders in the areas.

The same officer said that Cambodian troops are under strict orders to show the utmost restraint and only allow to shoot if Thai troops cross the borders into Cambodian territories. The officer said that Cambodian soldiers will not shoot first if Thai troops do not cross into Cambodian territories.

Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva recently had re-ignited border tensions when he proposed to Unesco to de-list the Preah Vihear temple which has just been listed as a world heritage site on 7th July, 2008..

The Deum Ampil newspaper reported that Unesco had concluded a meeting in Spain without considering a Thai proposal for the de-registration of the Preah Vihear temple. The newspaper also said that Unesco did not even allow the Thai delegates to submit the proposal to the meeting and they were not allowed to make any speech to the conference delegates.

Ho Vann left for America

Mr. Ho Vann talked to the media in front of the National Assembly immediately after his parliamentary immunity was lifted.

Source: everyday.com
Reported by Khmerization

Mr. Ho Vann, an MP from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) who was stripped of his parliamentary immunity along with Mrs. Mu Sochua on 22nd June, had left for America on Friday 26th, reports everyday.com.

Everyday.com quoted Mr. Yim Sovan, the SRP spokesman, as saying that Mr. Ho Vann travelled to America to visit family members and to meet with party activists in the United States. Mr. Yim Sovann told the Cambodia Daily that Mr. Ho Vann's trip to the United States was not related to the lifting of his parliamentary immunity.

Mr. Ho Vann was stripped of his parliamentary immunity on Monday 22nd June on charges of defaming 22 military officers when he allegedly criticised their academic qualifications awarded by a Vietnamese military institute. Mrs. Mu Sochua was stripped of her immunity on charges of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Mr. Yim Sovan said Mr. Ho Vann was on a trip to visit family members and in his capacity as a member of parliament he will not run away from his birth country of Cambodia. However, Mr. Yim Sovann did not say when Mr. Ho Vann will return to Cambodia.

Mr. Ho Vann had left Cambodia for America just one week after he was stripped of his parliamentary immunity. Mrs. Mu Sochua had left Cambodia on the same day when her immunity was lifted but she insisted that it was a pre-planned trip and that she will return to face the charges levelled against her.

Two Thais arrested for hunting inside Cambodian territory

Source: everyday.com
Reported in English by Khmerization

Two Thai men, appeared to be hunters, were arrested by Cambodian border soldiers inside Khmer territory on Thursday in Battambang province, reports everyday.com.

The two were arrested on the morning of 25th June at Chrork Chakriya Point in Ta Tork commune of Samlaut district in Battambang province.

Col. Yon Roeun, commanding officer of Border Unit 502, said the two, Mr. Surak Dej Bunman, age 26 and Mr. Channen, age 27, were sent to the headquarter of Border Protection Unit for further investigation and questioning.

Maj. Gen. Bun Seng, Deputy Commander of Cambodia's Military Region 5, said that the two were arrested because they have crossed to hunt illegally inside Cambodian territory. He said that he had informed the Thai side to come and resolve the issue peacefully in the spirit of neighbourly friendship.

Communities celebrate heritage at Asian Festival

Diverse groups honor traditions

From left, Maureen Sourivong, 16, and Linda Namthavong, 15, both of Worcester, prepare for a fashion show dressed in traditional Laotian mountain costumes. (T&G Staff Photos / STEVE LANAVA)

Malisa Chanthavangso, 6, of Sturbridge, a member of the Laotian Community Center of Worcester, performs a traditional Laotian folk dance yesterday at the sixth annual Asian Festival.
Enlarge photo
Crystal Zhao, 8, of Worcester, left, is served vegan Asian food items from Jane Gao and Joanne Ngo, right, of the Buddha Hut Restaurant of Worcester. The Asian Festival featured food and traditional dances from Bhutan, Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Laos, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and India.
Enlarge photo

WORCESTER — With his mother and brother, Run Toun fled a war-wrought Cambodia 26 years ago and moved to Worcester. Unlike other Cambodians who came here, Mr. Toun didn’t change his first name (pronounced “Roon”) to something more American.

“They asked me, ‘Why don’t you change your name?’ ” he said. “I love my name. I don’t want to change it.”

He feels the same way about the rest of his culture. Mr. Toun was at the Asian Festival at the Italian-American Cultural Center on Mulberry Street yesterday, showing Cambodian objects he brought from his home. Plenty of non-Asian visitors stopped to look, but the displays were really for someone else.

“We try to teach the children everything we can,” said Mr. Toun, who has two daughters, 9 and 13. “They’re Cambodian, but they’re young, they’re born here. They don’t know.”

Ten countries were represented at the festival: Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Korea, Japan, Laos, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

“When people talk about Asian, they think Chinese. We want people to know we are very diverse,” said Thuha Le, executive director of the Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts.

Local residents who hail from Asian countries served traditional food and displayed art and artifacts at the festival; others danced and played instruments in colorful costumes on stage. More than 3,000 people attended.

Organizers hold the festival, now in its sixth year, so Asian children born in the United States can learn where their parents come from.

“That’s our purpose,” Ms. Le said. “If we’re not doing this, the kids won’t know. It brings the generations together.”

Sophit Chansignavong sat behind a table full of Thai objects she keeps in her home, including dolls of a man and woman dancing and a woodwind instrument called a kaen, which her husband plays. She held the long thin pipes to her face and demonstrated.

“Because America is a melting country, everyone who comes here becomes American,” said Ms. Chansignavong, who came to Worcester from Thailand 30 years ago.

Cambodian dance blossoms in book by Chatfield man

By Tom Weber
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

ST. CHARLES -- For Paul Cravath, Cambodia conjures up images of beauty and death.

Cravath, a native of Chatfield, arrived in Cambodia during the 1975 war that is the subject of the film, "The Killing Fields," to conduct research on traditional Cambodian dance theater.

Paul Cravath

Talk tonight

Paul Cravath will talk about his book, "Earth in Flower," and traditional Cambodian dance theater at 7 tonight at the St. Charles Community Center, 830 Whitewater Ave., St. Charles. Admission is free.

Despite the war and death raging around him, he was able to document and preserve the history of the artform, and has now published a book, "Earth in Flower," about Cambodian dance drama.

"I arrived 11 days after the siege of the city (Phnom Penh) started," Cravath recalled. He was one of the few westerners in the city, and managed to get himself, and his research materials, out before the Khmer Rouge genocide began in April 1975.

Cravath graduated from Chosen Valley High School in 1962 and from Luther College in 1966. He went to India as a Fulbright tutor, spent some time in Tokyo, and along the way became interested in Asian theater traditions.

"I had never taken a theater or drama class," he said. But after earning a master of fine arts degree from Tulane University, Cravath went to the University of Hawaii to study Asian theater. While he was a graduate student in Hawaii, he had the opportunity to go to Cambodia and observe, first-hand, not only the royal dance company and training school, but also the violence of a country torn by a vicious war.

These days, Cambodia has been out of the news almost as long as Cravath's dissertation languished before being published.

"I'm really glad the book is published, because it was a doctoral dissertation that lived under my bed for 20 years," said Cravath, who will give a presentation about Cambodian dance drama tonight in St. Charles.

The book, which is intended primarily as a scholarly reference, is regarded as the major English-language source on Cambodian dance.

"In my talk, I'll talk about the book and how it was written, being in Cambodia in 1975, and I'll talk about the artform itself, what it looks like," he said.

Cravath has been a professor of drama at Leeward Community College in Honolulu for 20 years. He returns each year to southeastern Minnesota to visit family and enjoy the summer weather.

"Minnesota in the summer is very, very beautiful," he said. "I can't come in the winter because I'm teaching -- and it's so cold here."

HDMB Targets To Operate Bank In Cambodia By July 31

KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 (Bernama) -- Hwang-DBS (Malaysia) Bhd (HDMB) is a step closer towards operating a commercial bank in Cambodia.

HDMB said Cambodia's Minister of Commerce had on June 26 issued a certificate of incorporation of HwangDBS Commercial Bank Plc (HDCB) which is effective from June 19, 2009.

As required by the National Bank of Cambodia, HDCB targets to start operations in Cambodia by July 31, subject to a final licence to be issued by the National Bank, HDMB said in announcement on Bursa Malaysia.

HDCB is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the HDMB and will operate as a commercial bank in Cambodia.

Currently, HDCB has an issued and paid-up capital of US$2 comprising two ordinary shares of par value US$1 each.

The issued and paid-up capital of HDCB will be increased to US$20 million, comprising 20 million ordinary shares of par value US$1 each, all to be issued to HDMB before the start of business operations.

Column: Answering "Where did the Hmong come from?"

By Yer T. Yang
Wausau Daily Herald

Knowing where the Hmong people came from is a question that is still a mystery even to the Hmong people themselves. Why? Well, the Hmong didn't have any written history. Some say the Hmong people came from Mongolia because it has "mong" in it. Others say the Hmong people came from China because we share similar cultural rituals like ancestor worship and a clan-like social system.

For many centuries, the Hmong form of history was embedded in folktales, myth and legend stories, funeral rituals and other religious ceremonies that were passed down from one generation to the next. How vague, huh? I agree. Many Hmong parents and children today are completely oblivious to what make them Hmong.

On the other hand, some of these same parents and children are trying to reconnect themselves with their history and cultural practices. Some parents grasp at whatever essence that is left of their Hmongness, a survival mechanism that has allowed the Hmong people to endure for centuries despite integration and assimilation pressures. Can a people preserve a culture in its authentic form? Perhaps, depending on your level of determination to preserve your cultural heritage and how important it is to you and your family.

For many years, as an adolescent, I searched high and low for traces of my origin -- the Hmong origin. My historical knowledge went as far as Laos, the country in which I was born. Where exactly in Laos? Which village? Which city? Who knows? I don't know, even to this day. Worse yet, I am an orphan -- clearly, my parents aren't around to tell me where I was born exactly, not even as specific as a "next to a giant tree."

All my extended relatives really couldn't recall where they were born either, especially those born in Laos. Even if they did, it was not something that was written down on an official paper the way we have it here in America. Most Hmong individuals learn of their birthplaces through word of mouth from their parents and grandparents. That is fine by my book; better something than nothing, wouldn't you say?

Whenever I was asked, I would start out by saying something like this, "I was born on a very high mountain in a house next to a big tree. This is when the moon was high, and the sky was cleared. It was during a harvesting season." I would laugh out loud because I really didn't know where I was born. Like all Hmong who put their birth city and country on paper, I was born in Xiangkhoang, Laos. I really didn't know why we all chose this place to be our birthplace. Now, I know why and don't really mind saying out in the open that I was born in Xiangkhoang, Laos, because I was there and it was a beautiful and breathtaking place. Though ravaged by the Vietnam War, it was still one of the wonders of the world. That is where the Plain of Jars is situated. I thank my family for choosing such a fine province, either intentionally or by default. I now proudly claim it as my birthplace, even though I really don't know where I was born.

Yer T. Yang is an educator and a freelance writer who lives in Sheboygan. She will contribute occasional columns on Hmong culture and social issues. She can be contacted at yertyang@gmail.com.

Pol Pot paintings saved my life, S-21 survivor says

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By Ek Madra

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - A survivor of the Khmer Rouge's notorious Tuol Sleng prison wept at the trial of his torturer Monday and called for justice for the 1.7 million Cambodians who died under Pol Pot's tyrannical regime.

In a harrowing account of his detention at the S-21 interrogation center, where more than 14,000 people died, artist Vann Nath said his life was only spared because chief torturer Duch liked his paintings of "Brother Number One," Pol Pot.

"I survived because Duch felt good when he walked into my workshop," Nath said in his testimony against the ailing chief of the S-21 prison, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav.

"My suffering cannot be erased -- the memories keep haunting me," said Nath, who lost two children to Pol Pot's 1975-1979 "killing fields" reign of terror.

With no death penalty in Cambodia, Duch faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted by the joint U.N.-Cambodian tribunal on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and homicide.

Duch has admitted his part in the deaths but maintains he was only following orders.

His trial is the first of five Pol Pot cadres indicted by the tribunal. The others are "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, former President Khieu Samphan, and ex-foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife, all of whom have denied knowledge of the atrocities.

Pol Pot, the architect of the ultra-Maoist revolution, died in 1998 near the Thai-Cambodia border.


Nath said he was beaten, electrocuted and left on the brink of starvation by Duch and his guards. He gave a graphic account of the barbaric acts of torture, which included the removal of fingernails and simulated drowning.

"Our legs were shackled, we were so hungry we ate any insects we could grab and were beaten by the guards," said Nath, who was one of only seven people to survive the prison.

"I heard prisoners scream, I heard sounds and voices of the mothers who cried when security guards tried to take their babies away. The suffering was so bad."

Nath, who was the first Khmer Rouge survivor to appear before the tribunal, said he wanted to tell the world about the horrors of the regime and sought justice for the people who died of execution, disease, starvation and exhaustion.

"Now I have the ability to testify before this chamber. This is my privilege, this is my honor," he told the court. "I do not want anything more than justice."

(Editing by Martin Petty and Sanjeev Miglani)

Cambodia, Bahrain to sign joint agreement of diplomatic establishment

PHNOM PENH, June 29 (Xinhua) -- The Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Bahrain will sign a joint communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations to expand the cooperation between a country in South East Asia and a country in the Middle East, a Cambodian official said on Monday.

Hor Nam Hong, Cambodia's deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, and his Bahraini counterpart will sign the joint communiqué of creating the official diplomatic ties, said Koy Khong, under secretary of state and spokesman for Cambodia's Foreign Ministry.

"It is the first time for the two countries to mend the diplomatic ties," he said, adding that in future the two countries will expand cooperation on tourism, investment, trade, and economy.

According to a press release from the Cambodian Foreign Ministry, Hor is to join the first ASEAN-Gulf Cooperation Council Ministerial Meeting, to be held from June 29 to 30, in Manama, Bahrain.

At the meeting, "we will talk about the cooperation on the global economic and financial crisis, combating terrorism, poverty reduction, sustainable development and economy," Koy Khong said.

The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Gulf group includes Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

Editor: Wang Guanqun

Monday, 29 June 2009

Details of Hun Sen talks with Thai Deputy PM under wraps

Monday, 29 June 2009
Phnom Penh Post

Tensions remain high along Thai-Cambodian border: officials.

PRIME Minister Hun Sen met privately with a Thai deputy prime minister and minister of defence on Saturday, but both Cambodian and Thai officials remain tight-lipped about the substance of the discussions.

Hun Sen's wife, Bun Rany, cooked lunch for Suthep Thaugsuban and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon at their residence in southern Kandal province, Suthep said Saturday after returning to Thailand. Tensions have recently escalated over the UNESCO listing of an ancient temple.

Hun Sen said in advance of the meeting that he would not discuss Thailand's decision to challenge UNESCO's listing of Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage site.

Abhisit said earlier this month that he would contest the July 2008 inscription during the annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Seville, Spain.

"I will only welcome an explanation about their withdrawal from Cambodian territory," Hun Sen said on Friday.

Upon his return to Bangkok, Suthep declined to reveal details of Saturday's unofficial talks but told Thai media that the two countries should move past the tension caused by previous border clashes.

"We should let bygones be bygones, forget the nightmare of the past and look forward to a positive future for both countries," he said.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said he had no information about the lunch, calling it a "private meeting".

Officials said Sunday that the high-level talks had not lowered tension along the border.

"People left here ... because Thai soldiers were doing military exercises on their land," said Peuy Saroeun, the deputy governor of Anlong Veng district in Oddar Meanchey province.


Editor to appeal sentence

Written by Sam Rith and Sebastian Stragio
Monday, 29 June 2009
Phnom Penh Post

Hang Chakra verdict threatens press freedoms, journalists say.

An attorney for opposition-aligned newspaper editor Hang Chakra (pictured) said Sunday that they would appeal a Phnom Penh Municipal Court ruling last week that found him guilty of spreading disinformation, a decision that has prompted a storm of protest from local journalists and media organisations.

In a hearing Friday, Judge Din Sivuthy found Khmer Machas Srok News editor Hang Chakra, 55, guilty under the UNTAC Criminal Code for a series of articles he published in April and May accusing officials working under Deputy Prime Minsiter Sok An of corruption. The court then sentenced him to one year in prison and fined him 9,000,000 riels (US$2,167).

"I will file the complaint to the Appeal Court as soon as possible. I will ask the [Appeal] Court to release my client," said Hang Chakra's lawyer Choung Chou Ngy.

"My client has not received any justice. The court focused mostly on punishing him rather than finding out the truth of the accusations."

Choung Chou Ngy said Hang Chakra was incarcerated at Prey Sar prison, adding that he was to meet with his client today to plan his appeal.

Meanwhile, the jailing of Hang Chakra has been roundly condemned by local journalists, who have decried the decision to prosecute defamation cases under the UNTAC Criminal Code rather than the Kingdom's more liberal 1995 Press Law.

Under the Press Law, publishing false information carries a fine of up to 5 million riels, but under the UNTAC law offenders face prison terms of between six months and three years and a fine of up to 10 million riels.

"[The courts] have never implemented the Press Law in the case of journalists.... They accuse them only of defamation, incitement or insults," said Dam Sith, the publisher and editor-in-chief of the opposition-aligned daily newspaper Moneaksekar Khmer.

Dam Sith, who was detained in Prey Sar prison for a week in June 2008 for reprinting controversial comments made by opposition leader Sam Rainsy, described the arrest and detention of Hang Chakra as a "threat" to journalists who do not toe the government's line.

Sam Rithy Doung Hak, deputy director of the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists, said the Hang Chakra ruling was a case of "deja vu", drawing parallels with a similar crackdown in 2005.

"The government is taking action against whoever it considers to be its critics. It is part of the whole package of the drift towards dictatorship," he said.

Criticism from journalists
The Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) and the Cambodia Watchdog Council also issued statements over the weekend slamming the court's decision.

However, government lawyer Suong Chanthan said he was pleased with the outcome and defended the court's decision to prosecute Hang Chakra under the UNTAC law, saying Hang Chakra had published many "false" articles, in addition to the two - printed on April 5 and May 2 this year - referenced in this case.

But other critics said the prosecution took place on shaky legal ground. Moeun Chhean Nariddh, director of the Cambodia Institute for Media Studies and veteran journalist, said the Press Law was clear in stating that no other law could be used to prosecute journalists.

"The Press Law must supersede the UNTAC Law," he said, though he added that the courts were vulnerable to abuse.

"The government still does not understand what freedom of press and freedom of expression are in a real democracy. The government knows it can do anything," he said.

A view from the outside

Monday, 29 June 2009
Phnom Penh Post

Former resistance fighter Abdul Gaffar Peang-Meth talks about his past and Cambodia's state of affairs in the post-Khmer Rouge era.
Abdul Gaffar Peang-Meth, once a resistance fighter during the 1980s, now teaches at the University of Guam.

Educated in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, Abdul Gaffar Peang-Meth returned to Cambodia in 1980 to join the Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF) - one of the three factions resisting the Vietnamese occupation during the 1980s. After unsuccessfully running for election with the Liberal Democratic Party in 1993, he returned to academic life and now teaches political science at the University of Guam. In an interview with the Post, he reflects on his time in the resistance and the current state of Cambodian politics.

Many of your old colleagues from the Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF) are still living in Cambodia today. What made you decide to leave the country permanently?
"Permanently" is an eternity, contrary to what Lord Buddha teaches: There's no such thing. Cambodians should live in Cambodia, and I respect the different reasons my ex-KPNLF colleagues have made to do so. My heart goes out to those who have no choice but to endure oppression. Whether under the Khmer monarchy, the Khmer Republic or the KPNLF, I believe unless a person is permitted and encouraged to think freely and critically, to innovate, to develop to his or her full potential, no endeavor s/he is involved in, whether commercial or political, is going to succeed. I don't see Phnom Penh's sky as hospitable to my way of thinking. Anyone can help the nation from anywhere.


From your vantage point overseas, how do you see the current trajectory of Cambodia's development?
There's no question that Cambodia today, with more roads, bridges, modern buildings, is more appealing than under the Khmer Rouge. But the rich get richer while nearly half of the population lives below the poverty level, and many live off the city's dumping grounds. The current regime's disdainful lack of good governance hurts the people most, and points to one direction: an authoritarian one-party rule legitimised by elections, which the international community had dubbed below international standard, but foreign donors let pass. How many fewer threats, how much less intimidation make the elections "more free and fair"? Does a government that sells natural resources for private gain, evicts the weak and underprivileged from their homes and land for development by the wealthy, employs lawsuits against its citizens and lifts the immunity of lawmakers whose words and opinions aren't in agreement with it, represent progress toward a more democratic future? A chief executive who holds executive, legislative, and judicial powers is a tyrant and an oppressor.

How do you perceive the role of the international community in Cambodia?
The role of the international community and the donor countries should be to ensure the implementation of the 1991 Paris Accords on Cambodia - in which the world invested $2 billion. It's their failure to implement the stipulations in the accords that has led to Cambodia's current situation. They cannot hope to build a sustainable economy and a democratic system in Cambodia by turning a blind eye to abuses of power and rampant corruption, when by so doing the current one-party rule is allowed to become further entrenched.

Do you think the Khmer Rouge tribunal - in light of corruption allegations - can bring justice to Cambodian survivors of the KR regime?
There cannot be justice, nor national reconciliation and healing, when responsibility for the brutality visited upon an estimated 1.7 million victims is assigned to only five officials while several thousand other perpetrators are walking free today. Unless the victims are satisfied that the accused have been accorded their due, the KRT is just a sham and talk of judicial corruption is a distraction. Some Cambodians have challenged the world community to establish a witness protection program to allow living witnesses to appear and talk freely and without fear.

You come from a Cham family that was closely involved in Democrat Party politics in pre-revolutionary Cambodia. How did this experience inform your political views?
My father socialised me politically beginning in my elementary school days to democratic principles and concepts. He introduced me to some figures in the Democratic Party such as Pach Chhoeun and Svay So. I read the Pracheatheptei (Democrat) newspaper, attended political campaign rallies. Personal and national experiences also shaped my political views. When my parents' financial fortunes crumbled, our house was sold to then Siem Reap governor Dap Chhuon, who allowed us to stay in the lower level of the house.

But Dap Chhuon, who was implicated in a plot with South Vietnamese officers against the royal government, was shot and killed and Lon Nol's soldiers surrounded the house, placing us under house arrest. The morning after, our residence was searched. Old copies of the Pracheatheptei and a copy of the Pracheachon (The People) newspaper in the house were confiscated, and we were instructed to read only the ruling party's Sangkum newspaper. That experience has affected me throughout my life.

What led you to support Lon Nol's Khmer Republican Regime during the early 1970s?
Being Cambodian-born of Cham descent has caused me to be particularly sensitive to the regional Vietnamisation and annexation of territories by Vietnam. When the Communist Vietnamese forces occupied some 3,500 square kilometres of Khmer soil from the northeast down to the sea in the south as sanctuary from the war with the free South Vietnamese and their American allies, Cambodia's neutrality was violated and my support for those who rose up against the Vietnamese forces on Khmer soil was natural. It may have been foolish for a Khmer David to confront the Vietnamese Goliath at a time when the Americans were looking for a way to disengage, but opting to trade national territorial sovereignty and territorial integrity because the political wind appeared to favour the Communists was not in the nation's interest. Khmers who stood opposed to the Vietnamese occupying forces espoused republican ideals. In March 1970 many who took on the republican cause, many who gave their lives in that struggle, did so not because of personal allegiance to [coup leaders] Lon Nol or [Prince] Sirik Matak, but because they believed in democratic principles.

Whatever happened to the "republican era"? Life evolves, political pendulums swing. There is no history, someone said, only interpreters of historical events. For different reasons, old supporters of republicanism have been silent. But there are young Khmers today who believe in the republican ideals, appreciate and recognise the work of those who have died for human integrity and republicanism. Some young Khmers have picked up the flag of republicanism and are moving forward. I supported the republican ideals and still do.

Why did you join the KPNLF after the fall of the Khmer Rouge?
I seek a meaningful life through serving a cause in which I believe. The KPNLF was created in 1979 to oppose the Maoist Khmer Rouge's return to power and to oblige the Vietnamese to withdraw from Khmer land. After the collapse of the Khmer Republic in 1975 and news of death and destruction by the Khmer Rouge emerged, I and a group of Khmer nationalists in America's East Coast formed an anti-Khmer Rouge committee. I wrote articles, translated articles into Khmer and English and mimeographed the bulletins for distribution. The bulletin, called Conscience, became Cambodian Appeal and after the KPNLF was proclaimed, I joined the group in the field, followed by some colleagues.


Looking at the Preah Vihear Conflict in the Light of History


Reading the English-language press in Bangkok one is frequently surprised by the lack of objective reporting regarding the dispute over the Preah Vihear temple.

As a matter of fact, this Thai press is immensely unbalanced and will even go as far as to say that the Cambodians are the true troublemakers as well as the first to shoot.

A personal fondness I have for truth as well as the friendship I have for Cambodia both urge me to clarify some historic points between these two countries.

Toward the end of the ninth century people coming from Southern China started to establish themselves inside the Khmer Empire to the north of the Dangrek mountain range. They would be known as the Siamese and later on, the Thais.

They progressively strengthened themselves until the area they inhabited became the Thai Kingdom of Ayuthaya.

This Kingdom would destroy Angkor in two waves: Once in 1351 and another time in 1431, each time deporting a large part of the Khmer population and imposing its sovereignty over Cambodia, from which it annexed entire provinces in the years to come.

Like an "Atlantis in waiting," swallowed to the northwest by Siam and to the east by Vietnam, Cambodia was on its way to complete extinction.

Aware of the situation, King Ang Duong solicited in 1853 the intervention of France, which was at that time ruled by Napoleon III.

The Siamese were informed of the alliance about to be made between France and Cambodia and succeeded in making it fail. But in 1863, King Norodom eventually signed a protectorate treaty with France.

The English influence was strong in Siam, but the Franco-British agreement of July 14, 1884 had already recognized the Mekong Basin as a French-owned zone. This would not prevent the Siamese from cutting off the basin and advancing toward Laos.

In 1893, the French had had enough of these gradual advances and sent their warships up the Menam River to Bangkok. France thus blocked any trade from reaching the shores, which obliged the Siamese court to renounce all of their claims to the left bank of the Mekong River. Meanwhile, France kept the provinces of Chantaboun and Paknam as hostages. Some French naval troops occupied these regions until the Convention of 1904 gave back the Province of Koh Kong and Steung Treng to Cambodia. Other areas included Melou Prei and Tonle Repou, which were left by Siam to Laos and finally given back to Cambodia by France.

The Convention of 1904 led to the Treaty of 1907, which was drawn up by France and Siam, where in exchange for the return of the provinces of Trat, Chantaboun and the territory of Dan Sai, which is in the current province of Loei, King Chulalongkorn of Siam (Rama V) left the provinces of Battambang, Sisophon and Siem Reap to France, who gave them back to Cambodia.

When King Sisowath was finally able to go to Angkor and repossess a land that had always been undoubtedly Khmer, he declared that this was the biggest glory of his reign.

But the Siamese would not give up.

Taking advantage of the French defeat against Germany during World War II, the Siamese immediately violated the pact of non-aggression signed with France on June 12, 1940.

The Thai Prime Minister, Field Marshall Phibun Songkhram, organized a series of nationalist and anti-French demonstrations in Bangkok. Then, the border disputes multiplied in number along the banks of the Mekong. During daytime, the Thai air force, superior in number, bombed Vientiane, Sisophon and Battambang without any objection from abroad. The French air force attempted to strike back, but the damage inflicted was minimal.

In December 1940, Thailand then occupied the provinces of Pak-Lay and Bassac. At the beginning of January 1941, Bangkok men launched an offensive on Laos and Cambodia. The Franco-Indochinese resistance was in place, but the majority of the military units were overwhelmed by the better-equipped Thai forces (20 French tanks vs. 134 Thai tanks.)

The Thais quickly occupied Laos.

However, French resistance in Cambodia was more resilient. By Jan 16, France launched a large counter attack led by the 5th REI (a regiment belonging to the French Foreign Legion) on the villages of Yang Dang Khum and Phum Preav, where the fiercest fighting of the war took place.

The French counterattack was blocked and ended in a retreat, but the Thais could no longer pursue the French forces as their tanks had been nailed to the ground by the French anti-tank canons. For lack of means, these very canons had been pulled by buffaloes to the battlefield.

As the ground situation was critical for France, Admiral Decoux gave the green light to execute an operation against the Thai Navy. The order was given to the available French navy to attack the Gulf of Thailand. On the morning of Jan 17, 1941, "the Provisional Group" (a force assembled for that very occasion) attacked the Thai Navy at Koh Chang. Although the Thai ships were far superior in number, the operation of the French navy managed to bring home a comprehensive victory.

After the battle, a large part of the Thai navy was destroyed. But on January 24, the final air battle took place while a Thai air raid attacked Siem Reap Airport.

Japan intervened quickly in the conflict in favor of the Thais and imposed an armistice followed by a peace treaty causing France to relinquish the Cambodian provinces of Battambang, Siem Reap as well as the Lao provinces of Champassak and Sayaburi on May 9. These territories were more than 50,000 km squared in size and inhabited by 420,000 people.

These territories annexed from Cambodia were, however, handed back by Thailand on November 1947 under international pressure (Treaty of Washington).

But from 1953, although Cambodia had only just achieved its independence from France, Thai troops invaded Preah Vihear and hoisted their national flag above the temple. Nine years later in 1962, the clever mind of then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk paved the way for obtaining an international decision at the International Court of Justice in The Hague and the Thais were obliged to retreat from the Khmer temple.

Unfortunately, the respite would be short lived: War broke out shortly after and Preah Vihear was again in the mix, the temple being occupied by successive armies fighting each other.

A little while after the defeat of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, Thailand was submerged with Cambodian refugees and, to show to the world that it couldn't cope without international aid Thailand planned what could be considered a staged atrocity.

On the morning of Friday June 8, 1979, 110 trucks parked in front of the Nong Chan Refugee Camp, which housed tens of thousands of Cambodian refugees.

Thai officials told the refugees that they were going to be transferred to another, better equipped camp. In reality, these survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide were being sent back to hell.

Far away from Nong Chan, the site of Preah Vihear had been chosen with a precise goal: To seek revenge for the loss of the temple in 1962. With a high cliff covered in jungle and thousands of land mines laid around the temple, the outcome of the forced expulsion of those thousands of Cambodian refugees could be guessed easily.

The unfortunate refugees were taken out of the trucks under the constant threat of weapons. Horrible scenes took place. All night long, truckloads after truckload of Cambodians were pushed – after first being despoiled of all their possessions – like livestock between two rows of soldiers through a narrow passage. The soldiers used their weapons as sticks and shot at those who refused to file down the narrow passage.

Terrorized by the thought of stepping on one of the many mines, laid previously there by the Khmer Rouge, the refugees desperately attempted to stay on the track. But the Thais continuously pushed more refugees along the path and people were forced to walk through the minefields.

Both thirsty and hungry, the survivors of this atrocity needed three days to cross the immense mine field filled with decaying corpses and injured victims squirming in pain.

One estimates that over 45,000 Cambodians were forced out of Thailand in this manner. For several days, the refugees were transported into hell by a huge number of trucks that dumped them at Preah Vihear. It is still impossible to evaluate the number of casualties from this expulsion, as the Khmer Rouge who waited to greet the refugees did not keep records.

All too often this awful page of history is ignored, one retains only this "Amazing Thailand" image in today's tourist brochures.

The wrongdoings of the Thais against the Khmers should be remembered, not to set the two populations against each other but so that justice can at last be achieved.

Let it be said that Cambodians don't attack anyone. They know too well that the balance of power is not in their favor. Still they vow to defend their country through courage and determination-they have no other choice.

But Thailand has too many internal political problems not to try and exploit the myth of a "sacred national alliance" against its barbaric neighbors, and the deaths of the past will change nothing in it.

This historical tragedy is unfortunately far from over and there is no happy ending in sight.

The Americans dislike Prime Minister Hun Sen too much to pressure their Thai partners into a peaceful solution. And it is unlikely that the French will send their warships against Bangkok again...

Pierre-Yves Clais was a former UN peacekeeper in Cambodia (1992). He currently owns Terre Rouge Lodge with his wife in the Ratanakiri.