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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cambodians remember Khmer Rouge victims, demand end to delays in justice

Victims who are waiting for justice in Choeung Ek prison of Cambodia

Khmer Rouge leaders Khieve Sam phan and Nuon Chea

CHOEUNG EK, Cambodia: Some 300 Cambodians held a memorial service Tuesday for victims of the Khmer Rouge communist regime that ruled the country in the 1970s and demanded an end to the delay in the start of U.N.-backed genocide trials.

The commemoration — organized by the main opposition Sam Rainsy Party at the Choeung Ek "killing field" just outside the capital Phnom Penh — was led by 32 Buddhist monks, who marked the 32nd anniversary of the Khmer Rouge taking power in Cambodia.

The communist movement came to power on April 17, 1975 after defeating a U.S.-backed Cambodian government in a bloody civil war.

It implemented radical policies that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people from starvation, disease, overwork and execution.

The Khmer Rouge was driven from power by a Vietnamese invasion in 1979 and finally collapsed eight years ago. But none of its leaders has ever been brought to trial.

"How long do we have to wait? Where is justice? Year after year has passed, so please put them on trial since my eyes are still open and able to see," 62-year-old Chan Kim Suong said, adding that her husband and son were executed by the Khmer Rouge.

She and two other women, who addressed the crowd through a microphone about their losses, urged a U.N.-backed genocide tribunal to convene trials for former Khmer Rouge leaders.

The tribunal was created last year following a 2003 pact between Cambodia and the United Nations. But trials, which had been expected to begin sometime this year, have been delayed by disputes over procedural rules and, most recently, a demand by local lawyers for legal fees from foreign lawyers wishing to take part in the tribunal.

Attending Tuesday's event, Sam Rainsy, the opposition leader, blamed the Cambodian government for creating "one excuse after another" to delay the trials.

Looking at hundreds of skulls of Khmer Rouge victims stored in a concrete memorial at the Choeung Ek mass grave site, about 16 kilometers (10 miles) south of Phnom Penh, Sam Rainsy said: "When we look at those skulls, it seems they are staring back at us with a cry for help in finding justice for them."

"But I do not think the current leaders want to see the tribunal move ahead. They want to let remaining Khmer Rouge leaders die one by one until no one is left, so that the tribunal would finally collapse," he added.

Various human rights groups have also accused the Cambodian government of foot-dragging, which the government has repeatedly dismissed.

The tribunal's foreign judges have said they will not meet with their Cambodian counterparts on April 30 as scheduled, if the Cambodian Bar Association does not reconsider the US$4,900 (€3,610) legal fee it plans to impose on each foreign lawyer wanting to practice at the tribunal.
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CAMBODIA: Information Minister welcomes new political party

In Cambodia, another political party has been launched to contest next year's much anticipated national polls. Social activist Kem Sokha has announced the formation of the Human Rights Party. But it's still the ruling Cambodian People's Party which is set to further consolidate its power in the 2008 vote.

Presenter/Interviewer: Linda LoPresti
Speakers: Khieu Kanharith,Cambodia's Information Minister

KANHARITH: In Cambodia, anybody can form a political party and that's why I think this new political party would add more diversity to the democratic horizon in Cambodia.

LOPRESTI: So it's a good thing.

KANHARITH: The more the better.

LOPRESTI: Ken Sokha is highly regarded, both within Cambodia and internationally. He is the head of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights. He says he's going to step down to form this party and he's also a dissident who has gained some international recognition. He says he hopes to win about 30 seats in the 123-seat parliament in the national elections next year. What do you think?

KANHARITH: When you form a political party, you expect to win some seats but it depends on your ability to conduct your campaign, your ability to gather support from the masses.

LOPRESTI: Alot of Cambodia's opposition parties, like the Sam Rainsy Party, like the Human Rights Party, many of them have one thing in common which is that they seem to be united in their calls for a greater crackdown on corruption. Even the US ambassador to Cambodia, Joseph Mussomeli has been quoted as saying that corruption is a major problem in Cambodian politics. What does the ruling party intend to do about this.

KANHARITH: You know before everyone talked about democracy, now they're talking about corruption. But the problem is not so simple. In Cambodia, the ruling party has taken alot of measures to fight corruption that's why you have some high officials who have been demoted because you can't find any argument to win the hearts and mind of the people, it's the current catch phrase of the day.

LOPRESTI: But I would think that given you have national elections coming up next year, the ruling party would want to make it a focus of its election campaign.

KANHARITH: For the ruling party it's not just corruption. First of all what the people want is to impove their living conditions. Two, for the young people they want that the corrupt people be removed or some legal action be taken. Up to now more than 60 judges and attorneys were disciplined, so they can see that alot of steps have been taken. Sure we don't have a law against corruption. But that doesn't mean that the government stays idle. Alot of concrete measures have been taken.

LOPRESTI: But even so isn't it concerning that the US ambassador to Cambodia is publicly putting himself out there as saying that corruption is a problem. I mean I can understand that you have opposition parties which have a vested political interest but in saying so, but when you've got high international officials.

KANHARITH: It's not so simple. If you want to fight corruption you must have some law. We have already finished the draft on corruption but we must pass first the penal code. Right now the national assembly is examining the civil code already.
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LOPRESTI: Just on another matter, the Khmer Rouge trials. There appear to be constant delays in getting these trials up and running. There now appears to be a conflict of interest between the international judges and the Cambodian Bar Association over money, over lawyers' fees. Government opponents have accused your party of fanning the flames of delay because of the damaging political fallout from testimonies of the Khmer Rouge leaders.

KANHARITH: First of all I can say that the Khmer Rouge trials was the Khmer's idea, Cambodian idea, this idea was proposed first in 1992.

LOPRESTI: It's now 2007.

KANHARITH: In fact in 1996 second time, and only after that, after the Khmer Rouge was dismantled in 1998 and after 2000 only then everybody tried to push ahead on this. Now you have one or two months delay and everybody blames Cambodian government. It's unfair, it's involved in that because you have this conflicting offer about the freeze between the lawyers it's already had that. For us the sooner the better.

LOPRESTI: Now during that time, during the Khmer Rouge time you were editor of the Kampuchea newspaper, and a decade later you lost that position and you were actually detained yourself in 1990. Can you tell us about that?

KANHARITH: In Cambodia, you must form a political party to run the elections, that's why some of my friends decided to set up a political party, and because some of my friends they had been arrested and because I knew them that's why.

LOPRESTI: So by association, you were arrested by association?

KANHARITH: Some conservative groups, that's why they tried to demote me and cast me aside.

LOPRESTI: And during that time that you were detained I understand you carried a copy of the book "Shogun" with you?

KANHARITH: Yes, I spent five years to translate this book.

LOPRESTI: And what is it about that book that touched you obviously, that had an impact on you?

KANHARITH: After my friend was arrested I thought that maybe it was my turn and I think that maybe I would be arrested.

LOPRESTI: So you thought you were going to be arrested as well?

KANHARITH: That's right, I think that after there might be some interrogation, long interrogation, I might be detained I don't know how many months or years, that's why I bring this book "Shogun", and after that I feel that for maybe Cambodians, they had Vietnamese, they had the Thai, because they always think that the Thai or the Vietnamese destroy the Khmer party, but they never asked the question why, that's why when I read "Shogun" I want to show that you that there might be also the other civilisations, other people who have a strong point. That's why I translate this book just to make my companions understand that when we talk about Cambodia be proud, but sometimes we only look at the past, we never look at the future. This book it's just to say that you have to try to combine the best of your side with the best of the other side.
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Learning from George McGovern and Earl Browder

Special from Hawaii Free Press
By Andrew Walden, 4/16/2007 8:37:23 AM

“Do we sit on the sidelines and watch a population slaughtered, or do we marshal military force and put an end to it?” -- Senator George McGovern, August 21, 1978

The “it” McGovern wanted U.S. troops to put an end to was the killing of millions of Cambodians in the late 1970s by the communist Pol Pot dictatorship. Three-and-a-half years after congressional Democrats made that slaughter possible by cutting off all U.S. aid to anti-communist forces with their so-called December, 1974 “Foreign Assistance Act”, their leader McGovern had made a complete reversal and was suddenly calling for a new U.S. war in Southeast Asia.

Why is this little-remembered footnote in history relevant today? Congressional Democrats’ March vote for phased withdrawal from Iraq is a replay of McGovern’s treacherous 35-year-old script with McGovern consulting from the sidelines. Last November, the sixty-two members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, led by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) sat down with McGovern to work out a strategy for withdrawal from Iraq. Those discussions led to the mis-named “Iraq Accountability Act”, now heading for a veto from President Bush after passing the House and the Senate in March.

With Congressional Democrats, and a few Republicans, dancing to McGovern’s tune, it might behoove them to break out of their December, 1974 mind frame and take a look to August of 1978—forty-four months down McGovern’s Southeast Asia timeline.

Passage of the December, 1974 “Foreign Assistance Act”, had lead quickly to the collapse of anti-communist forces in Cambodia on April 17, 1975, and in South Vietnam on April 30, 1975. This marked the end of the US war, but the killing was just beginning. The communist forces controlling Vietnam are credited with the killing of 1.8 million people (not counting war casualties) as they warred to take power from 1945 to 1987. In Cambodia anybody appearing ‘educated’ was killed and the cities were emptied. Thousands starved or were beaten to death in slave labor camps. Pol Pot’s death toll is estimated at 2 to 3 million killed between 1975 and 1978.

Needless to say, McGovern’s August, 1978 turnabout raised many eyebrows. The Wall Street Journal wrote August 23 of that year:

“There is a truly mind-boggling quality to a statement like this. Nearly 20 years ago, American liberals came to power in this country exhorting us to take a more vigorous and expansive view of our role as leader of the free world. They came complete with a theory of counterinsurgency, ‘winning the hearts and minds of the people.’ When the then-existing government of South Vietnam failed to fully adopt this prescription, they blithely arranged its overthrow. Upon discovering the price of the commitment thereby sealed, they set about toppling the American President, who inherited the aftermath of the coup. Not content when American troops were finally withdrawn, they set about slashing, on the grounds that the South Vietnamese government was ‘immoral,’ the aid funds it needed to maintain any pro-Western presence in Indochina. Now, having finished the task of destroying that presence, they are shocked and dismayed by the news of the grim and brutal world that resulted.”

It would be pleasing to write about an anti-American war Senator who finally saw the light. But McGovern was not actually flip-flopping. He was consistently representing the interests of what he described in an August 25, 1978 speech on the Senate floor as, “Ho Chi Minh’s popularly-based revolution for independence in Vietnam.”

Pol Pot’s genocidal brutality was well-known. The New York Times had denounced the new Cambodian dictatorship as early as July, 1975. McGovern’s call for US-led international military intervention against Pol Pot did not come at the beginning or even in the middle of the genocide, it only came as his comrades in Hanoi prepared to capture Phnom Penh and replace Pol Pot with communists loyal to Vietnam and the Soviet Union.

Dripping with sarcasm, the Washington Star editorialized on August 23, 1978:

“Presumably the senator’s theory is that except for American influence, Cambodia might have been controlled by the kind of ‘popularly supported revolution’ that is now rearranging things in Vietnam. If boatloads of refugees fleeing Cambodia can be found floating side by side with boatloads of refugees fleeing Vietnam, that’s a coincidence. Naturally there would be former lackeys of the Americans who would try to get out of doing their share in building the new Vietnam.

“The senator’s faith in the Hanoi regime is central to his thinking about the rest of Southeast Asia. …To have Cambodians fighting Vietnamese makes people of the McGovern point of view readier to wax indignant about human rights in Cambodia.

“… (This) just shows how well Senator McGovern knows the difference between repressive totalitarian communists and popularly supported people’s democracies that may have to slap a wrist once in a while.

“We hope this clears up any misunderstandings about Senator McGovern’s consistency as a thinker in the foreign policy area. And we are glad he noticed what’s been going on in Cambodia.”

In 1974 it was easy for Democrats to serve America’s enemies. Vietnamese communists had limited territorial ambitions and no matter what happened on Southeast Asian battlefields, their Soviet overlords were kept in stalemate by American nuclear weapons. Their physical combat operations never reached American soil.

This is not 1974. Democrat gains in the November, 2006 elections were called, “…an obvious victory for the Iranian nation" by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As the Progressive Caucus prepared to sit down with McGovern, al-Qaeda in Iraq promised, “We will not rest from our Jihad until we are under the olive trees of Rumieh and we have destroyed the dirty black house -- which is called the White House."

These threats are underlined by the ongoing jihadi war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and over a dozen other countries, the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the September 11, 2001 attacks, and numerous terror attacks claiming hundreds of lives going back to the Iranian hostage crisis which began November 4, 1979—just over a year after McGovern called for the US to lead an invasion of Cambodia.

McGovern’s parroting of the Hanoi line echoes that of a less-well-known servant of foreign communism, Earl Browder. As General Secretary and Chairman of the Communist Party, USA (CPUSA) from 1932 to 1945 Browder led his socialist slaves in a series of “mind-boggling” reversals. The CPUSA’s intense anti-fascist propaganda activity focused on the events in Europe suddenly became anti-war agitation on August 23, 1939--the day the Hitler-Stalin pact was signed.

Browder again whipsawed his party on June 22, 1941 as Hitler broke his pact and invaded the Soviet Union. Communists who, for the last 22 months, had been fervent anti-war activists suddenly supported US entry into the war. They joined the military and the diplomatic corps and worked within the unions to maximize war production by blocking strikes.

The CPUSA even dissolved itself in 1944 into the Communist Political Association. As a result of communist support of the war effort, World War Two did not face significant organized domestic anti-war propaganda or agitation. The party again sharply reversed, reverting to true pro-Soviet, anti-American form after the Soviet capture of Berlin on April 30, 1945. At each reversal of policy, hundreds of communists resigned from the party, many of whom eventually made their way into the American cultural elites. Browder himself was stripped of all party position in 1945 and soon tossed out of the then-re-founded CPUSA.

It is neither useful nor accurate to label as communist McGovern, or his modern-day allies in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Nonetheless, his life contains many parallels to the political life of the CPUSA. McGovern volunteered for the Air Force serving with distinction in North Africa and Italy. His first entry into politics was to campaign for the pro-Soviet Progressive Party ticket in 1948.

The CPUSA endorsed Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry A. Wallace and communists were thick in the ranks and leadership of the campaign which garnered only 3% of the vote.

McGovern was elected delegate to the Progressives’ first national convention. Four years later McGovern joined the Democrat Party where he eventually made his mark as a US senator serving, “Ho Chi Minh’s popularly-based revolution….” McGovern and his ilk are better understood as favoring an America submissive to “progressive,” “enlightened” foreign powers with which they share a utopian ideological affinity.

What will it take for those opposed to American victory in Iraq to wake up? The jihadis are not a progressive force. Today’s anti-war leftists are motivated not to strengthen jihad but to weaken America in order that “progressives” around the world might once again have their day.

This key element of the “progressive’ value system must be recognized by writers working to defeat them. The examples of McGovern and Browder provide an answer: a reversal will require the jihadi threat to “progressivism” to outweigh the American threat.

Jihadis have a long history of co-opting allies and then turning around to eat them alive. Somewhere—perhaps, as in the 1930s, in the streets of Europe—“progressives” may come to see the Islamic fascists as more threatening than America.

As that point arrives, even without a centralized CPUSA or Soviet Union to lead them, many anti-war leftists can be led to change their tune, declare a truce with America and, as in WW2, join the war against the fascists.

Until then, Americans will need to continue rhetorical combat in a domestic political war with those “progressives” amongst us who believe that America is more dangerous than jihad.
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US: Notorious Cambodian Police Chief in US for Counter-Terror Talks at FBI

Top story: the top criminal Mafia of Cambodia will meet FBI on April 19 for the first time to discuss counterterrorism.
State Department Should Cancel Hok Lundy’s Visa

(Washington, DC, April 16, 2007) – The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on April 19 is scheduled to host Cambodia’s national police chief for discussions on counterterrorism, even though Hok Lundy has been implicated in what the FBI itself has classified as a terrorist act, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch called on the US State Department to cancel his visa. The FBI invited Lundy to Washington for talks on bilateral counterterrorism cooperation.

“Hok Lundy’s alleged involvement in political violence and organized crime in Cambodia means that the FBI should be investigating him, not hosting him,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Aside from his boss, Prime Minister Hun Sen, there is hardly anyone in Cambodia who has shown more contempt for the rule of law than Hok Lundy.”

Lundy has been implicated in a number of serious human rights abuses. According to information Human Rights Watch has shared with the US government, Lundy was part of a conspiracy to carry out a grenade attack on opposition leader Sam Rainsy in March 1997, in which 16 people were killed and more than 150 injured. The FBI officially classified the grenade attack as a terrorist act.

During the July 1997 coup, in which forces loyal to then co-Prime Minister Sen ousted then co-Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh, Lundy commanded battalions loyal to Sen that were implicated in extrajudicial killings. More than 100 opposition party members and supporters were the victims of extrajudicial killings, and dozens of opposition supporters fled into exile.

Human Rights Watch’s investigations support allegations that Lundy ordered the extrajudicial killing of the deputy Minister of Interior Ho Sok, a senior Ranariddh loyalist, shortly after the coup. Sok was shot just down the hall from Lundy’s office in the Ministry of Interior compound. The official explanation was that unknown armed persons forced their way into the heavily guarded compound, shot Sok, and then successfully fled. Lundy was never investigated for the killing.

Lundy has also been implicated in drug trafficking, the return of refugees to countries where they faced persecution, and human trafficking. Two US Drug Enforcement Agency officials and a former US ambassador to Cambodia have confirmed to Human Rights Watch that the US government is aware of Lundy’s involvement in drug trafficking.




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Genares - Seminars for Hoteliers in Cambodia and Laos

Apr 16, 2007 -- /prbuzz/ -- Following their successful seminars in Vietnam in November 2006, TRG International and Genares Asia are organising further seminars in Cambodia and Laos to introduce the countries’ hoteliers to a solution that can help them achieve their targets.

During the seminars, the first of which will take place in Phnom Penh on 24 April 2007, Mr Brinley Waddell (Business Development Director of Genares) will provide participants with insights into GenaRes and how to maximise their global exposure, and consequently increase their room bookings and reservations through the usage of the GenaRes solution.

GenaRes, developed by GenaRes Worldwide Reservation Services Ltd, is a system that helps hoteliers connect with more than 100 major travel websites and 600,000 travel agents. Users of GenaRes can seamlessly access its central reservation system, providing real-time hotel reservation rates, availability and online booking capabilities to website visitors. It also lets them manage room inventory across all distribution channels, easily upload new rate plans, change availability, modify property descriptions and upload property pictures.

TRG International's General Director, Mr. Rick Yvanovich, said: "With our professional regional support, I believe that Genares is a cost-effective solution for the region's hoteliers to raise their global exposure, net more clients and increase their room occupation rates."

Mr Yvanovich also revealed that TRG is building a hotel reservations portal to support GenaRes users. He told us: "From 2007, hotels using Genares will benefit from worldwide exposure via the TRG hotel portal, an online reservations site for Southeast Asian hotels aimed at tour operators, travel agents and independent travellers."
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