Monday, November 12, 2007

Camkids charity show

On Thursday 13 December, well-known UK comedian and tv presenter Al Murray, 'The Pub Landlord' (and CamKids Patron) will host a special variety show at his pub of choice in aid of CamKids at the George IV Function Room, 185 Chiswick High Road, London W4. All money raised will be used to benefit orphaned, abandoned and poor children in Cambodia. Tickets cost £25 and doors open at 7.30. Other acts will be added to the line up in the next few weeks but tickets are strictly limited to 250 and you need to be quick to get one. Contact Camkids here at their blog and to find out more about their valuable work. The Cambodian Children’s Charity (‘CamKids’) is a development and relief organisation, dedicated to providing direct aid to poor children in Cambodia. Their principal objective is to help children in Cambodia who are either poor or whose parents are not there for them: orphans, street children, children living in poor rural areas and children affected by natural disasters, such as flood or famine. More at their website.

Newsy bits...2 more arrests this morning as the net closes around the former Khmer Rouge leaders still alive and living in freedom. Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith are the newly-arrested captives, to add to the detention of Duch and Nuon Chea, ahead of the long-awaited Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Read more about Ieng Thirith, the sole woman expected to be charged with crimes against humanity, in the Comments section.
The brand spanking new Angkor National Museum was officially opened by the PM, Hun Sen, today in Siem Reap. I want to visit the new museum as soon as possible, to see whether its more a museum or a shopping mall which has been the speculation prior to today's unveiling. The cost of the museum was $15-million, with a Thai business interest holding a 30-year concession for the museum. With an entrance fee of $12 for foreigners, compared to Phnom Penh's National Museum admission fee of $3, it had better be good! Or more likely is that the National Museum's fee will suddenly shoot up. Watch this space.
The temple of Preah Vihear was out of bounds for a day on Saturday. Although the details are sketchy, the police closed the road following a dispute over land ownership, though it was re-opened again Sunday. If the Cambodian authorities are serious about making the temple much easier to access on the Cambodian side, they can't afford incidents like this to re-occur.


Andy said...

Cambodia: Ieng Thirith: A Pioneer Among Female Leaders Of The Khmer Rouge

Former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary's wife Ieng Thirith

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA: Ieng Thirith, part of the small circle of French-educated intellectuals who formed the leadership of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, has become the first woman detained by a genocide tribunal seeking justice for the group's atrocities.

Social affairs minister under the Khmer Rouge, Ieng Thirith was arrested Monday (12 Nov) with her husband, Ieng Sary, the deputy prime minister and foreign minister of the communist regime blamed for the death of some 1.7
million people in the late 1970s.

Deeply entwined in the group's leadership, she was the sister-in-law of Pol Pot, the top Khmer Rouge leader who died in 1998. Her sister, Khieu Ponnary, Pol Pot's first wife, died in 2003.

Her birth date is uncertain, though according to a document filed by tribunal prosecutors, she was born in Battambang province in northwestern Cambodia around 1932.

Given the name Khieu Thirith, she was the daughter of a provincial judge, allowing her and her sister lives of relative privilege. She adopted Ieng Sary's surname when they married, as students, in Paris in the 1950s.

Ieng Thirith was among the first Cambodian women to achieve academic prominence, graduating in English literature in Paris, then working as a professor after returning to Cambodia in 1957. Three years later she founded
a private English school in the capital Phnom Penh.

But at the same time she was a member of an underground circle of Cambodian leftists, and she followed her husband into the jungle to flee government
repression in 1965. The communist movement then became a guerrilla force that triumphed over the pro-American government in 1975, putting Pol Pot and
the Khmer Rouge into power.

As minister of social affairs, Ieng Thirith toured Cambodia's northwestern region in 1976 to investigate health conditions, which she reported _accurately _ were disastrous.

Reportedly "shocked" by what she saw during her trip, she told Pol Pot that "foreign agents were infiltrating our ranks" to undermine the revolution,
according to research done by the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an independent organization that gathers evidence of Khmer Rouge atrocities. The center is not connected with the tribunal.

Based on Ieng Thirith's report, Pol Pot ordered a purge of Khmer Rouge cadres in the northwest whom he considered enemies of the revolution _ one of several bloody episodes reflecting the regime's extreme paranoia and inability to recognize the problems its own policies were causing, according
to the documentation center.

Those purged were arrested and taken to the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison in Phnom Penh, according to the prosecutors' filing to the tribunal, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

Up to 16,000 alleged enemies of the regime were tortured then executed at the prison. Only about a dozen detainees are thought to have survived the prison ordeal.

Ieng Thirith's participation included the "planning, direction, coordination and ordering of widespread purges ... and the unlawful killing or murder of
staff members from within the Ministry of Social Affairs," the prosecutors claimed.

After the ouster of the regime in 1979, the Khmer Rouge continued to fight from the countryside.

Ieng Sary defected to the government in 1996, effectively prompting the movement's complete downfall two years later. Since his surrender, Ieng Sary and his wife have lived quietly in Phnom Penh.

Cambodian newspapers recently questioned the state of Ieng Thirith's mental health, reporting that she showed signs of dementia _ a condition that could ensure she is considered unfit to stand trial. (By KER MUNTHIT/ AP)

Copyright © 2007 Sinchew-i Sdn Bhd. All rights reserved.

Andy said...

Beyond the law no more

Today's arrest of leng Sary for crimes of the Khmer Rouge is notable, since he has been indicted for genocide before - and let off

By Tom Fawthrop
The Guardian Unlimited (UK)

He had been Pol Pot's foreign minister and deputy prime minister. He was China's most trusted contact among the inner circle of the genocidal regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975-79. But at 5.30am on Monday November 12, international law and justice finally caught up with him at his luxury mansion in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

Cambodian police, acting on an arrest warrant from the jointly run Cambodian-UN Khmer Rouge tribunal (officially known by the acronym ECCC), arrested the 77-year-old Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith, the former minister for education in a regime that abolished schooling as well as money.

Asia's first genocide tribunal, that has frequently been bogged down by legal disputes and budgetary problems, is now close to finalising indictments against the five surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime, with four now in custody and one more expected to be arrested in the next few weeks.

According to a July 18 filing by prosecutors to the tribunal's judges, Ieng Sary, "promoted, instigated, facilitated, encouraged and/or condoned the perpetration of the crimes" when the Khmer Rouge held power.

It said there was evidence of Ieng Sary's participation in planning, directing and co-ordinating the Khmer Rouge "policies of forcible transfer, forced labour and unlawful killings".

However, the accused has denied all responsibility for the estimated 1.7 million deaths under the Khmer Rouge and claims that as a foreign minister he was not fully in the loop. In fact documents show that he ranked third in the Khmer Rouge hierarchy from 1975-77, with Nuon Chea, who has already been detained, ranking second.

His arrest is of great importance to the credibility of the Khmer Rouge tribunal. Many Cambodians and feared and international commentators predicted that Ieng Sary would be the one leader who would never be brought to justice, for a variety of reasons.

First, he is the only one who had previously been indicted for genocide, together with Pol Pot, immediately after the Vietnamese army toppled the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979.

leng Sary and Pol Pot were indicted for genocide by the Vietnamese-backed "People's tribunal", tried in absentia and sentenced to death.

The verdicts of the 1979 Phnom Penh tribunal were written off by western governments as "communist propaganda" to provide legitimacy for the newly established anti-Pol Pot government known as the Heng Samrin regime, backed by the former Soviet Union. Pol Pot died in 1998.

In 1996, leng Sary led a breakaway Khmer Rouge faction that greatly contributed to the eventual defeat of the insurgency. The Cambodian government pushed through an amnesty resolution as a reward, backed by parliament. That led to the king signing a pardon that lifted the death sentence and released leng Sary from the verdicts handed down by the 1979 tribunal. In addition, he was gifted with a diplomatic passport, without holding any official position.

In spite of his endorsement of the "killing fields" regime, leng Sary has enjoyed a very long and lavish immunity from prosecution. He enjoyed VIP status as Pol Pot's foreign minister at the UN during the 1980s. Washington's powerful lobby in the UN and arm-twisting of their client states worked a diplomatic miracle by extending UN recognition to a government that no longer existed, after being booted out of power in 1979.

His other great supporter has been China, who provided almost unlimited arms, bullets and tanks to the regime both when it was in power and long afterwards, as the Khmer Rouge continued for another 20 years to try and shoot their way back into power.

Cambodian human rights groups, knowing China feared embarrassing disclosures about their complicity with a murderous regime, feared Beijing would block a trial ever taking place. If the tribunal did go ahead, they were convinced that China would certainly protect leng Sary from prosecution.

During the 1980s, Ieng Sary was the favoured conduit for Chinese funds and he collected at least a million dollars a year from Beijing's embassy in Bangkok from 1979-1990. He also travelled on a Chinese passport.

Prime minister Hun Sen, probably at the behest of China, made several public comments that Ieng Sary should not be prosecuted at a time when aid from Beijing was rapidly increasing in the late 1990s.

Not surprising then, that so many believed that Ieng Sary could never be prosecuted, and it could all be justified with the convenient legal argument that no man can be tried twice.

But in an interview with the Phnom Penh Post in 1996, Hun Sen, an astute politician, explained that he had ensured the amnesty for Ieng Sary was carefully drafted - "the amnesty only covered his previous conviction. It did not give him immunity from prosecution at a future trial for his role in the genocide."

Given the importance of Ieng Sary, his detention can be counted as a diplomatic as well as a legal triumph for the ECCC.

The fourth suspect to be detained, Ieng Thirith, was the sister-in-law of the late Pol Pot: her sister, Khieu Ponnary, was his first wife. The remaining suspect to be arrested is Khieu Samphan.

Now the stage is more or less set for the trial to begin. After such a long and laborious prologue, all parties need to expedite the process and ensure that justice is served before these old men and women die or the tribunal's funds run out.