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Monday, October 18, 2010

Hun Sen Accuses Sam Rainsy of Serving Foreign Interests

Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned the opposition party not to personalize a conflict against him and accused its leader of serving Thailand's interest.

The accusation came after 26 Sam Rainsy lawmakers filed a petition last week to summon the premier to explain on the alleged military training to Thai red shirt protesters inside Cambodia.

“Do not turn it into a conflict with Hun Sen,” Hun Sen said on Monday at a public forum. “[You] have a problem with the law. It’s a legal matter, but [you] have tried to turn it into a dispute against me.”

Sam Rainsy has been sentenced to 12 years in jail on charges of falsifying public documents, disinformation and destruction of border markers in Svay Rieng province.

“I never take a personal issue as a big one,” Sam Rainsy told VOA Khmer by phone from France. “I only file complaints against the Vietnamese in order to protect Cambodian territorial integrity. Cambodian people have fallen victims to the culture of impunity in the past 20 or 30 years. The powerful have a bad habit of killing people at will. I must work to end this impunity for the sake of people’s peace.”

Sam Rainsy announced last Saturday through a video conference to his supporters that he had filed complaints to the courts in the US, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands -- alleging Hun Sen of collusion in a number of violent incidents in Cambodia.

Sam Rainsy accused Hun Sen of being responsible for the 1997 grenade attack on the opposition rally; extrajudicial killings in the aftermath of the 1997 coup against it coalition partner Funcinpec; the killings of non-violent demonstrators and monks in 1998; and atrocities against civilians along the border during the civil war in the 1980s.

In September Sam Rainsy launched a campaign to mobilize international support to pressure the Cambodian government to bring him back into the country. But Hun Sen insists that the opposition leader must at least serve two third of his punishment.
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Conservation group urges action to save Angkor, other developing world cultural heritage sites

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - A U.S.-based foundation is urging concerted international action to preserve world-famed cultural heritage sites at risk of loss or damage, including Cambodia's ancient Angkor Wat temple complex, one of the great landmarks of Asia.

The Global Heritage Fund says in a report circulated Monday that "of the nearly 500 global heritage sites in the 100 poorest and emerging countries of the world ... over 200 are facing irreversible loss and damage today."

Among the other sites highlighted are Sumerian archaeological sites in southern Iraq it says that are subject to massive looting; the ancient city of Hasankeyf in Turkey that could be flooded by a new dam project; and Kashgar in western China, where old quarters face demolition under government plans to guard against earthquakes that will relocate over 50,000 people.

"The trend of loss is accelerating due to the simultaneous man-made threats of development pressures, unsustainable tourism, insufficient management, looting, and war and conflict," says the report, "Saving Our Vanishing Heritage: Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage."

The report says that visitors to Angkor Wat increased by 188 per cent from 840,000 in 2000 to 2.4 million in 2009. The temples were built when Angkorian kings ruled over much of Southeast Asia between the ninth and 14th centuries. After centuries of abandonment — and neglect in the 1970s during a civil war — they have emerged as Cambodia's leading tourist destination.

Visitors climbing over the ruins is causing "heavy deterioration of original Khmer stonework," the report warns. It adds that hotels and restaurants nearby are sapping region's aquifer, which has caused the famed Bayon temple's 54 towers to sink into the ground.

Tan Sambu, an official of the Apsara Authority — the Cambodian government office that oversees the temples — said it has issued guidelines for tourists, telling them not to touch carvings and statues. Earlier this year, South Korea provided $9.2 million to build a new road that will circle the temple complex and reduce traffic inside the heritage area.

"Of course when there are many tourists visiting, the deterioration of the original stonework at the temples can't be avoided, but our agency has tried to reduce the effects as much as possible," Tam Sambu said.

The Global Heritage Fund report calls for the preservation of heritage to be recognized as a global priority like combating climate change and biological diversity. It is due to will host a forum on the issue Tuesday at California's Stanford University.
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