A Cambodia-based conservationist recently described Virachey National Park as a place littered with the bodies of NGOs that tried to save it. Even the mighty World Bank is counted among the casualties. When the Bank pulled out in 2008, the wildlife conservation groups grabbed some of their dead and wounded from the forests and hopped on the last helicopters out.
On Wednesday, Nuon Chea emerged from his holding cell, as Marie Guiraud underlined, not to express his sympathy and apologies for the suffering victims of the barbarous policies he defined, but to lead the court to endorse the quite inaccurate fact that the U.S. government was a major architect of atrocities inflicted on the Cambodian people throughout the early 1970s.
Every year millions of people around the world are forcibly displaced from their land, homes and livelihoods to make way for large-scale development projects. Most often those who are forced to sacrifice their place on Earth for both public and private interests are amongst the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. They are thus the least equipped to cope with the challenges of physical, economic and social displacement and are as a result most often thrust into even deeper poverty and social exclusion. For development institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which finance many displacement-causing projects in the name of fighting poverty, this problem poses an uneasy contradiction.
Cambodia’s escalating post-election and labor tensions have so far led to two tragic shooting deaths and numerous injuries. Peaceful protests have escalated into rock-throwing and scuffling with police who suppress demonstrations with tear gas, water cannons, batons, rubber bullets and even live ammunition. While excessive use of force and firearms by police must be condemned, demonstrators must learn three compelling reasons for remaining peaceful even in the face of provocation.
In the story “Rice-Exports Alliance Rejects EU Accusations” (December 23), I was quoted as saying that “some of our rice millers take rice and hire Vietnamese millers to mill it and then bring it back to Cambodia for export.”
There can be no excuse for lies and deceit in any organization seeking the generosity of kind, caring people to assist innocent victims of suffering or abuse. Somaly Mam must answer the questions raised (October 12-13 “Secrets and Lies”). She must exercise her right to defend herself, and if she cannot do that, to try to explain herself.
Taking his letter dated 18 July (“Cambodia Should Block U.S. Imports Due to Rights Concerns”) at face value rather than the tongue-in-cheek reposte that it is clearly intended to be, it must be said that Phnom Penh resident Allen Myers makes a reasonable and principled point in suggesting that Cambodia has every right to hold the U.S. to account when it comes to human rights—as indeed the U.S. does with Cambodia.
Until the past week, Cambodia’s national election, which will be held on July 28, looked utterly unexciting. The CPP of the increasingly autocratic Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled the country in various positions, for nearly three decades, seemed destined to win an almost total victory. The CPP, which has increased its share of parliamentary seats in each of the past three elections, had used various autocratic tools to ensure that the elections bore no resemblance to free and fair polls.
The article, “Trade Visit Shows Other Side of U.S.-Cambodia Ties,” (July 16, page 1) would lead most average Cambodians to question whether the U.S. means what it says on human rights violation issues.
On the walls of the news room and broadcast studio of a pro-government TV station in Phnom Penh, a warning sign clearly reads: "Banned from broadcasting: Stories on human rights and land disputes."
Numerous studies by multilateral agencies, academic institutions, businesses and governmental internal reviews have all come to the same basic conclusion: Cambodia’s educational system needs immediate and serious attention. There has been great progress in the past years, starting from almost nothing in the early 1980s, but much more attention is needed now.
For almost a decade, Cambodia has achieved remarkable economic growth of almost 10 percent per year. After the global economic crisis in 2008 to 2009, Cambodia’s gross domestic product reached a four-year high of 7.2 percent in 2012, driven mainly by strong consumption, tourism, agriculture and higher inflows of direct investment according to the Asian Development Bank.
Prime Minister Hun Sen’s recent demand that the government pass a law against the denial of Khmer Rouge crimes, piqued my interest here in France.
Following the turmoil on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter in the aftermath of the Surya Subedi “ambush,” when students protested against the work of the U.N. human rights envoy to Cambodia, I can’ help but give my opinion as a fellow Cambodian. To some extent, I believe, human rights are a Western concept created by Westerners to ensure Western domination.
In 2013, Argentina will be celebrating 30 years since democracy was restored. The country is at present strengthening different aspects of human rights in a way that is being followed and observed with attention by the international community.
Regarding Monday’s article “Sugar Firm Staff Protest Over Unpaid Wages” (page 19) it was speculated that our company, Kamadhenu Ventures (Cambodia) Ltd. (KVCL), has run into financial difficulties.
Among the many arguments in favor of the European Union’s position in the May 29 letter to the editor “E.U. not insensitive to human rights abuse on land concessions” (page 26), what was not mentioned was that many of these concessions appear to be impoverishing the very vulnerable rural people that the E.U. is trying to assist through its development support.
It is stating the obvious to say that traffic congestion in Phnom Penh is approaching a crisis. Will Phnom Penh be another Bangkok or Jakarta? Both reached gridlock before being forced to tackle the problem. Or might Phnom Penh be able to avoid the inevitable in the same way that it has gone from having almost no landline phones to having one of the most extensive mobile phone networks in the region? With road infrastructure becoming overwhelmed with vehicles, how will the country cope with this challenge in the future? Will the rise of car ownership be counterbalanced by rising fuel prices and, yet, increasing pollution and smog?
The decision by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to repatriate two 10th century statues to Cambodia comes at an important time as Cambodia continues its struggle to reclaim its cultural heritage.
I refer to this weekend’s article “UN Official Tells Government Not to Be Defensive on Rights Record.” The article reports on a meeting convened jointly between the Cambodian Human Rights Committee and the local U.N. Human Rights Office (OHCHR) on Friday, which addressed the preparation for Cambodia’s next human rights review by the U.N. Human Right Council 2014.