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Friday, March 09, 2007

Festival showcases Mekong region traditional artisans

The two-day festival will feature 14 artisans including eight from China, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia, besides six from Vietnam.

Visitors will have the opportunity to discover the similarities and specific features of the weaving traditions in the Mekong region.

On show will be tools to net fish made by the Lao people from Thailand, Kho Mu from Laos, Khmer from Cambodia and Vietnam, and other ethnic groups from Vietnam's southern Dong Thap province, baskets woven by Vietnamese people in Can Tho, and other bamboo products made by the Thai people living in Yunnan, China.

Children can also try their hand at several activities designed exclusively for them at this outdoor festival.

The event, organized jointly by the Culture Heritage Department and the Vietnam Ethnology Museum, will get technical support from the Center of Folk Life and Cultural Heritage of the US’s Smithsonian Institute, and financial support from the US’s Rockefeller Fund through the Thailand Royal Center of Human Studies.

It is a prelude to participation by Vietnamese artists in the 41st annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C, the US, in June this year. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival program, themed Mekong river: Connecting Cultures, will give an insight into the complex connections among ethnic groups, languages, and traditions of peoples living along the mighty river.

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Vietnam, Cambodia to boost cooperation in health care

VietNamNet Bridge - Vietnam and Cambodia have agreed to boost cooperation and exchange of experience in developing health care services, especially those for children. An agreement to this effect was signed in Phnom Penh on March 6 during a Cambodia visit by a delegation of Vietnam's Committee for Population, Family and Children led by its Chairwoman Le Thi Thu from March 5-9.

Thu and Ith Somheng, Cambodian Minister of Social Affairs and War Veterans, agreed to intensify and diversify their collaborative activities through the exchange of delegations and the training of management cadres relating to population, family and children.

The Vietnamese delegation then met Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who appreciated their visit and expressed his wish that the two sides would implement well their cooperation agreements.

The delegation will also visit several Cambodian localities to learn more about family planning and other related activities.

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Cambodia court sentences two Germans to prison for child sex abuse

The associated press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Two Germans who worked as English teachers in Cambodia were among five people sentenced Friday to prison terms for sexually abusing four Vietnamese girls, a crime that one of the girl's mothers was an accomplice to.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Karl Heinz Henning, 61, to 28 years in prison on charges of human trafficking and debauchery — a Cambodian legal term for sexual offenses against minors.

Police arrested Henning after they observed him bringing the girls, aged 10 to 14, to his Phnom Penh apartment. While police were searching the apartment, he tried to escape by jumping from his balcony to the ground, some four meters (13 feet) below, but crashed into a metal canopy and was arrested.

The court also handed a 12-year prison term to Thomas Sigwart Eugen, 42, on debauchery charges. Eugen was arrested after police saw him having sex with two of the girls on a videotape confiscated from Henning.

"The two Germans committed the crimes because they figured Cambodia is a poor country and that they could just use their dollars to buy sex to fulfill their urges," Judge Ke Sakhan said. "These are illegal acts Cambodia cannot tolerate."

Both men worked as private English teachers in Phnom Penh.

The Germans denied sexually abusing the girls during their trial March 1. Henning said the four girls had come to his house to learn English and computer skills from him.

A Vietnamese couple that acted as sex brokers for the Germans received 17-year prison terms each on charges of human trafficking. The couple worked with one of the girl's mothers, who was sentenced to 15 years in jail, also on human trafficking charges.

Phnom Penh's anti-human trafficking police arrested the two Germans in separate raids of their rented apartments in the capital, Phnom Penh, in August.

Eugen, speaking to reporters at the court Friday, said he was "quite shocked" by his prison sentence.

Child rights advocates say Cambodia's lax law enforcement has made it a destination for foreign pedophiles. However, police have recently stepped up action against offenders.

On Tuesday, the same court sentenced a Swiss man to 11 years in prison for sexually abusing a 12-year-old Cambodian girl.

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