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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Villagers Avoid Farming At Thai-Cambodian Border Amid Tense Situation

BANGKOK, Aug 11 (Bernama) --- The situation along Thai-Cambodian border became more tense Wednesday as villagers avoided farming at border areas, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported Wednesday.

The villagers fear that they could be captured by Cambodian troops following a recent opinion survey backing the government to push Cambodians out of the contested area near Preah Vihear temple.

Some villagers at Phoomsarol village in Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket province on the Cambodian border told reporters they were fearful regarding the tense situation and dared not work on their farms near the border area for fear that they could be captured by Cambodian troops.

Meanwhile, soldiers from the Suranaree Task Force and the 16th Infantry Regiment set up barricades using concrete tubes and barbed wires, to strictly control the entrance and exit road to Preah Vihear.

At Surin province, Thai and Cambodian troops were deployed along the border line particularly at the ancient Ta Muan Thom ruins, Phanom Dong Rak district.

Patrol units and soldiers were stationed at the entrance to the ruins round the clock but the situation was normal. The Thai army however has reportedly prepared a contingency plan in response to any incident.

Meanwhile, Chong Chom border market in Kab Cheng district became quiet as Cambodian villagers are fearful about crossing into Thai territory amid tensions building up.

According to TNA the uneasy situation arose after Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said in a recent interview that his government was not interested in joining Thailand to develop Preah Vihear temple, awarded to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice in 1962.

The Suan Dusit Poll of Rajabhat Suan Dusit University survey released Tuesday found that a majority of respondents supported the Thai government to push Cambodians out of the disputed area near Preah Vihear temple.

UNESCO named the temple a World Heritage site in 2008 after Cambodia applied for the status. UNESCO's World Heritage Commission during its meeting in Brazil on July 29 postponed reviewing the management plan proposed by Cambodia to its 2011 session to be held in Bahrain.
Preah Vihear temple is located atop a 1,722-foot escarpment in the Dangrek Mountains, about 150 miles north of the Cambodian capital. Reaching it by road is easiest from the Thai side of the border. The two countries are disputing a 4.6 sq km area near the temple.

-- BERNAMA
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Thai-Cambodian border talks postponed

Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to postpone indefinitely the 7th General Border Meeting (GBC) set for Aug 27-28 in Pattaya because of 'some important reasons,' defence spokesman Col Thanathip Sawangsaeng said on Wednesday.

The spokesman said Defence Minster Prawit Wongsuwon and his Cambodian counterpart Gen Tea Banh had agreed to the delay.

It was earlier reported that the postponement was made at the request of Cambodia because of an unfavourable atmosphere as a result of the conflict over the Preah Vihear temple.

Col Thanathip said the postponement was agreed on after Thailand, as the host, asked Cambodia whether it was ready for the meeting. Cambodia replied that documents to be signed at the meeting had not yet been properly prepared.

The spokesman said it was not the Preah Vihear conflict that forced the postponement.

The GBC meeting was originally intended for the two sides to sign agreements on border security cooperation over landmine disposals, suppression of drug smuggling and human trafficking, marine security and joint operations by police and soldiers along the border.

Col Thanathip said the GBC would not discuss border demarcation, since that is the responsibility of the Joint Boundary Committee of the foreign ministries of the two countries.

He said the situation along the Thai-Cambodian border was normal, so was the cross-border trade, and troops of both sides were in contact as usual.

The GBC is co-chaired by the defence ministers of the two countries. There are 18 members from each side, including the supreme commanders and heads of the three armed forces.

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Vietnam and Cambodia co-operate on drug control


The Vietnamese National Assembly supports exchanges and co-operation with Cambodia in drug control, said NA Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong.

Chairman Trong made the commitment while receiving the visiting delegation of the Cambodian National Committee for Drug Control headed by Deputy Prime Minister and the committee’s Chairman Ke Kim Yan in Hanoi on August 10.

NA Chairman Trong expressed his pleasure at the fine development of co-operation between the two countries in recent years, not only in the economy, trade and investment, but also in fighting crime and drugs.

He informed his guests that Vietnam has carried out many drastic measures to prevent and fight drugs by raising people’s awareness in the danger of drugs, building a strong legal system and developing the drug control programme into a national target programme to mobilise people power. However, he added, drug control was a long-lasting and tough fight which needs common efforts and close co-operation between nations, especially neighbouring ones like Vietnam and Cambodia.

Cambodian Deputy PM Ke Kim Yan expressed thanks to the Vietnamese Government and people for effective assistance in many fields, including drug control. The two sides also co-operated in ensuring political security and social order in the border areas between the two countries, he said.

He expressed his wish to learn from Vietnam’s experiences in national development and affirmed that Cambodia was ready to coordinate with Vietnamese relevant agencies and localities to fight drug evils.

The same day, the Cambodian delegation was received by Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong, who is also Chairman of the National Committee for AIDS, Drug and Prostitution Prevention and Control.

Deputy PM Trong briefed the Cambodian delegation about Vietnamese works in drug control and stressed that international co-operation, including co-ordination with Laos and Cambodia, contributed markedly to reduced trading of drugs across border.

In the area of treatment of drug addicts, Deputy PM Trong said Vietnam had, on a trial basis, used methadone medicine in detoxification in Ho Chi Minh City and Hai Phong city and got good results.

The Cambodian Deputy PM asked Vietnam to help Cambodia build a detoxification centre and share experiences in the treatment of drug addicts in the community and families, as well as train medical experts for Cambodia.

Also on August 10, the Cambodian guests met with Vietnamese Public Security Minister, General Le Hong Anh.

Minister Anh said that co-operation between the Public Security Ministry of Vietnam and the Interior Ministry of Cambodia has been boosted in line with the 1997 Agreement on Co-operation in Crime Prevention and Fighting and brought about practical results.

The Vietnamese minister expressed his hope that in the future the two sides would closely co-operate in protecting national security and building a common border of peace, friendship, stability and development. (VNA)


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Power through photos

LUNENBURG — Powerful photos line G. Ryan Ansin's studio walls — a pensive face peering from behind a hospital wall, a prosthetic leg showing a Cambodian child's visualization of fear side-by-side with sneakers in a star formation, an American child's visual depiction of fun.

The photos were taken by his students from Cambodia and Massachusetts; the students from Cambodia were patients at an amputee rehabilitation center and a sex trafficking rescue center.

The 23-year-old founder of EPHAS (Every Person Has A Story) Productions is on a plane to Rwanda today to start up an educational media arts program at Karambi High School and at a local hospital in Gitwe.

Mr. Ansin and his team will teach between 80 and 100 students the basics of digital photography in advance of the installation of a clean water system that will service more than 250,000 people in the Gitwe area.

The students will document the immediate and long-term health and cultural impacts clean water will bring to Gitwe's residents.

“They now have to walk 11.6 kilometers to a source of relatively clean water, a river, and then back again,” Mr. Ansin said.

After the workshop program is completed, Mr. Ansin and his students will be going on that 11.6 km walk, photographing and talking with people on the way.

Why photography?

Mr. Ansin, an internationally experienced photographer who has made videos for nonprofits, including Veterans International, Epic Arts, Rural Black Women's Rights and others, began making films as a 7-year-old at Fitchburg's Applewild School and then learned about photography at Lawrence Academy.

At 15, he was invited to join a trip to view the rehabilitation centers that the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundations started in Cambodia and Vietnam and found the work to which he has dedicated himself ever since.

He was asked to make a film of the trip, a film that was shown at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

“I took a year and a half off after high school and traveled the U.S., Cambodia and the Cayman Islands doing promotional videos for nonprofits, which were successful in raising money,” Mr. Ansin said.

After graduating from Emerson College, he went back to his roots in photography and started developing an educational media arts program with his past experiences in mind.

“I needed to make changes in the way I was helping. Here are these people being faced with a white male, another guy holding a big mike in their faces, telling them to move this way and asking questions through a translator; I didn't think it was an honest depiction of life in those villages,” he said.

So he decided to teach people to document their own experiences, to empower them to record their feelings with digital photography.

During his three weeks in Rwanda, students will first learn the basics of taking a photograph with a point-and-shoot digital camera.

“Then what I think of as the best part of the workshop, the students will be paired up and then sent out to find another person who has never taken a picture who they will teach. Afterward we go over the pictures together and usually find a few that are very good and they will proudly say ‘my student took that picture.' It helps them to gain confidence,” he said.

During the instruction period, a local artist/assistant is also learning how to run workshops. That assistant oversees the program, downloads pictures and sends them back to Mr. Ansin, who selects photos that best represent the location and puts them online for the public to view.

The pictures will eventually be sold at galleries in the United States for fundraising purposes. All of the proceeds will directly benefit the workshop location programs and the hosting organization.

In the Rwanda program, 75 percent of the funds will benefit the educational program to purchase additional equipment and continue instruction. The remaining 25 percent will be sent to Medical Missions for Children co-founder Andrew Kurban's 1For3 organization for a piping and purification water system for the area.

The Rwandan students can continue to access the program and use the equipment by donating their time to help new students.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, Mr. Ansin will begin to expand his school program with the help of author Loung Ung. Her two books, “First They Killed My Father” and “Lucky Child” are on the curriculum of 250 schools nationwide.

“When she is invited to speak at these and other schools she will be talking about our program. It's important to connect the hosting organizations like Veterans International and 1For3 back here.

“We hear about suicide bombings and atrocities on a daily basis, but it's not the only things that are happening in the developing world. I was lucky to be invited to Cambodia at a young age, and if I can give students here the same eye-opening experience without having to travel, well, it would help the hosting organizations become sustainable, and perhaps bring philanthropy to our kids at a young age,” Mr. Ansin said.

Mr. Ansin is planning a return trip to Cambodia later this year and will begin start-up programs to benefit reconstruction in Haiti, focus on gangs and teen violence in the Dominican Republic, schools/orphanages/soccer in Vietnam and rape in the Congo and Brazil, and a return trip to Rwanda scheduled for 2011.

“It's all about giving people a voice in their community,” Mr. Ansin said.
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