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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

-21 babies 'smashed', Duch says

Written by Cheang Sokha and Georgia Wilkins

Duch acknowledges infants battered against tree trunks

FORMER Khmer Rouge jailer Kaing Guek Eav told Cambodia's war crimes court Monday that babies were slain under his supervision by being held by their legs and smashed against trees, as gruesomely depicted in paintings of the act on display at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum that now exists at the prison site.

"The horrendous images of those [babies] smashed against trees, yes, that was done by my subordinates," the top prison chief, known as Duch, said.

He said that he hadn't believed it was happening until he was shown the images and realised it was true.

"They were killed at [the Choeung Ek killing fields] and at S-21; it was done by my subordinates.... I am criminally responsible because it was under my supervision," he told judges.

Answering questions put to him by the prosecution about the regime's policies at Tuol Sleng, Duch said it was necessary for children who accompanied their parents to the prison also to be killed so as to prevent them from taking "revenge" on regime leaders in the future.

"My superior [former Minister of Defense] Son Sen said to me that there is no gain in keeping them, as they might take revenge on you," Duch said from the dock.

"You have to remember the class stance," he added.

Though acknowledging the "smashing" of babies against trees, Duch denied that they were thrown from the top floors of the prison's building.

"We have found documentation to suggest that babies were also brutally killed in Pursat province," Youk Chhang, the director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, said Monday.

"The only explanation that we can give was that the soldiers were children, too," he added.

Youk Chhang, whose centre began conducting research into the matter in 2004, said that there were few accounts of baby killings, as all other members of the family were usually slain as well, and there was "no one left to tell the story".

He said he was aware of one only woman who was thrown from the prison's top floors, but that babies were also thrown in the air and caught with bayonets, according to the centre's investigation.

Responding to questions from the deputy co-prosecutor, Tan Senarong, Duch said he did not know whether every child was photographed before being killed.

"I saw some of them being photographed, but the majority of them were not," he said.
"My main role was not to release anyone, so whether the prisoners were photographed or not, this was not my main concern."

Duch ‘rewriting' his story
Though Duch has repeatedly accepted responsibility for the actions of his subordinates, he still maintains that it was his unwavering dedication to the communist line that led him to such crimes.

"Duch has been able to rewrite his story and create an image of forgiveness. We need to understand the brutality," Youk Chhang said.

"We need to know what kind of orders made someone do this? Was he joyful to be fulfilling the orders of Angkar?" he added.
Duch apologised at his trial in late March, saying he accepted blame for the extermination of thousands of people at the prison, which served as the centre of the 1975-79 regime's security apparatus.

But he has denied prosecutors' claims that he played a central role in the Khmer Rouge and maintains he only tortured two people himself and never personally executed anyone.

He is charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, murder and torture, and faces life in prison if convicted by the court. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP
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PetroVietnam Seeks Oil Investment in Cambodia

This is a move that Yuon communist attempting to put pipe lines for stealing free gas from Cambodian people, be side stealing many other natural resources.

A Vietnamese petroleum company is seeking an investment opportunity in Cambodia's oil exploration, said a senior government official on Tuesday.

Pen Ngoeun, advisor to the Cambodian government said that Dinh La Thang, chairman of PetroVietnam, on Tuesday met with Sok An, deputy prime minister and minister of the Council of Ministers, expressing his company's interest in investing in oil exploration in Cambodia.

He said Sok An, in response, welcomed the move, but suggested more study and discussions be made with Cambodian National Petroleum Authority before making into any agreement.

Many international petroleum companies, including the U.S. Chevron Corp, Polytec, Medco, Kuwait Energy and CNOOC, expressed their interests in putting investments in the sector after this country had revealed to the public of its available national resources in oil and gas in its offshore in the Gulf of Thailand.

Ho Vichet, vice chairman of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority said last year that Cambodia's expectation of its first oil development before 2010 was unlikely due to the slow submission of a development plan by the U.S. giant Chevron Corp.

He said Cambodia permitted Chevron to exploit the country's offshore Block A, one of several blocks, to do more exploration and appraisal.

According to Vichet, Chevron operates the block A with a 55 percent interest, while Mitsui Oil Exploration holds a 30 percent and South Korea's GS Caltex a 15 percent stake.

Cambodia has earlier estimated its oil production would reach 400-600 million barrels, but have later turned down their estimates saying it was too early to speculate the outcome before a business gets started.
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Vietnam and Cambodia combat drug crime together

Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong assured Cambodia of stronger links to combat drug-related crimes during a meeting with the country’s senior narcotics squad in HCM City on June 9.

Trong told Ke Kim Yan, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and President of the National Committee for Drug Control, that the two countries should enhance their channels of information as well as provide each other with regular assistance in drug control, drug detox facilities, rehabilitation and in the management of former drug addicts.

“ Vietnam has recorded some achievements in the fight, including successful models of detoxification centres and community-based and voluntary detoxification, vocational training and job placements for former drug users,” said Trong.

In response, the Cambodian Deputy PM sounded satisfied with the assistance Vietnam was providing in the fight against drug lords. He said Cambodia was looking for more information and help from Vietnam to train up its drug squads and open drug detoxification centres as well as joint initiatives in the fight against cross-border drug crime.

The same day, Yan, who is leading the senior delegation from the Cambodian Committee for Drug Control met with senior Police officials from the Ministry of Public Security.

Major General Lam Minh Chien, Deputy General Director of the Police Department, briefed his guest on drug crimes in Vietnam, focusing on drug dealers and traffickers from overseas and the country’s experience of breaking and tracking down drug gangs.

He also shared Vietnam ’s experiences in raising the public’s awareness of the dangers of growing addictive plants and drug education in schools.

The Cambodian guests are scheduled to visit several detoxification centres in HCM City and leave Vietnam on June 12.

Vietnam to host high-level meeting on drug control

Vietnam will host a meeting of senior officials to discuss a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on drug control amongst countries in the Mekong Delta sub-region in 2010.

Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong on June 8 asked the Ministry of Public Security to work with the relevant ministries and departments, which are members of the National Committee for AIDS, Drug and Prostitution Prevention and Control, MOU member countries and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to prepare for the event.

Initiated by the UNODC, a cooperation framework among Greater Mekong sub-region countries was formed in 1993 with its first members including China , Myanmar , Thailand and Laos , to deal with the complex problem of drug production and use in the region.

Since joining the MOU in 1995, Vietnam has become an active member of the organisation. Thanks to joint co-operation mechanisms, Vietnam has also worked with other member countries to address common problems such as destroying poppy fields and developing other crops whilst cracking down on drug cartels.

Vietnam supports efforts to sustain peace in Sierra Leone

Viet Nam continues to support the efforts of Sierra Leone to sustain peace and stability, address the root causes of the conflict, promote national reconciliation and unity, and strengthen its international integration process.

At the June 8 meeting of the UN Security Council on “the situation in Sierra Leone, Ambassador Le Luong Minh, Permanent representative of Vietnam at the UNSC also called upon the UN, the Peacebuilding Commission, the AU, ECOWAS and the international community at large to continue to assist the Government of Sierra Leone in these endeavours.

The diplomat welcomed the signing of the April 2 Joint Communiqué in which the parties in Sierra Leone committed to a cessation of all acts of political intolerance and violence and agreed upon a bipartisan consensus on important national institutions and policies.

“We take positive note of the strengthened cooperation between Sierra Leone and the UN Country Team, the Peacebuilding Commission and other development partners to strengthen areas of focus and principles of national ownership, mutual accountability and sustained engagement as contained in the UN’s Peacebuilding Strategy for Sierra Leone and the Joint Vision of the UN Family for Sierra Leone,” he said.

While commending the efforts by the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) in carrying out its new mandate stipulated in Security Council resolution 1829 (2008), the Vietnamese ambassador said well-coordinated and integrated cooperation among UN agencies, regional organisations and international donors remains essential so as to ensure maximal use of resources, avoid duplication of work and help serve the best interests of Sierra Leone in each particular phase of development.

Gov’t religious affairs delegation visits Cambodia
The Chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, Nguyen The Doanh, is leading a senior-level delegation to Cambodia from June 8-12.

During a meeting with Minister of Cambodia’s Cults and Religious Affairs Min Khin, both parties informed each other of their positions on religion and shared experience in implementing religious policies in their respective countries.

They agreed that increased religious cooperation between the two countries will contribute to enhancing Vietnam and Cambodia ’s traditional relationship.

Minister Min Khin thanked the Vietnamese government and its people for their support and sacrifices during the fight against the Khmer Rouge atrocities in Cambodia .

He also spoke highly of the cooperation shown by the committee in helping Cambodia implement its religious policy to win the hearts of the people in every walk of life for peace and socio-economic development.

During his stay in Cambodia , Chairman Doanh and his delegation were received by Senate President Chea Sim, Chairman of the National Assembly Heng Samrin and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The delegation will also visit Battambang and Siem Reap provinces to study their religious activities.

President honours banking sector for wartime achievements

State President Nguyen Minh Triet has awarded two arms of the State Bank of Vietnam with the title “People’s Armed Forces Heroes” for their contributions during the past wars of resistance against American imperialists.

The awards ceremony was held for the Special Financial Service under the Central Committee for South Vietnam and the Special Fund in Hanoi on June 9.

The Special Fund (B29) was a special payment unit responsible for mobilizing sources of foreign currencies to support southern Vietnam and working out different ways of providing financial assistance to battlefields in the south before submitting them for approval by the Party’s Central Committee.

B29 also held responsibility for ensuring the supply of foreign currencies to the frontlines in any circumstances, protecting and converting its foreign reserves into different currencies in a way to avoid losses due to currency devaluation and resorting to every means to gain a higher interest to increase the State’s foreign reserves.

The Special Financial Service (N2638) was entrusted with receiving budget allocations and changing the money into other currencies such as those circulated under the Saigon regime and Cambodian Riels to fund underground organisations. N2638 also served as the Central Committee for South Vietnam ’s coffers in service of the prolonged war of resistance.

The two units operated for 10 years from 1965 to 1975 and made an enormous contribution to the final victory.

In his speech, State President Triet called on the banking sector to uphold patriotic traditions from the past to serve the country’s current national development.

On the occasion, the State Bank of Vietnam posthumously presented the Independence Order and the Labour Order to its former leaders for their long-term contributions to the system’s founding and development.

National ethnic minorities congress to open in 2010

A national congress of Vietnamese ethnic minorities will be held in the middle of May next year.

According to a plan approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on June 8, the congress aims to review ethnic affairs and affirm the Party and State’s consistent policy on ethnic and great national unity issues.

The event will honour the ethnic minorities’ great contributions to defending and building the country through different periods.

In preparation for the national congress, districts and provinces nationwide are to hold their congresses in the third and fourth quarters this year.

A steering committee will be set up with a Deputy Prime Minister acting as its head.


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Woman's long-haul trip to find dentist

By Andrew Ffrench »

PHOTOGRAPHER Alice Taylor got her fillings done in Cambodia after struggling to find an NHS dentist in Oxfordshire.

Ms Taylor, from Jericho, Oxford, travelled to Phnom Penh for her mother Anne’s 60th birthday party in April.

The 29-year-old decided to get her teeth done at the same time to save money, after a private dentist in Oxford quoted her £80 for a single filling.
Ms Taylor thought she needed two fillings but ended up with 10, leaving her with a total bill of $200 – about £125.

She estimated that she had made a saving of £675 on the possible £800 bill she could have faced from a dentist in the UK.

Ms Taylor said: “I think it’s a fabulous saving and it almost covered the cost of my return flight, which cost me about £700.

“I was going to Cambodia anyway for my mother’s birthday, so I thought I would get the dental treatment done at the same time.

“I visited two private dentists in Oxford last year and I wasn’t particularly happy with the treatment I received.

“I went to one dentist to have a crown put back in after it fell out, and the dentist put it back in after warning me it could fall out again.

“It did fall out two hours later, so I went to another dentist and had the tooth extracted, because that was the cheapest option.

“At the time, I rang round a few places looking for an NHS dentist but I couldn’t find one.

“It seems a bit random to go so far to get dental treatment, but if you’re travelling in south-east Asia, it’s good to know there are dentists who can treat you for a reasonable price.

“I’m a bit sceptical about dentists in England, so I’m no longer looking to sign up with an NHS dentist.”

Ms Taylor, who works at the jewellery store Nothing, in Oxford’s Covered Market, added: “My dog ate my last pair of glasses and I know opticians in the UK can be expensive, so I got some new glasses in Cambodia as well.”

She decided to get her fillings done in Cambodia after root canal treatment there cost her only $50 four years ago.

She added that four of the 10 white fillings were large fillings, while the other six were small, and did not require local anaesthetic.

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