Entries in Cambodia (6)


Cambodia Makes Denial of Khmer Rouge Atrocity a Crime

iStockphoto(PHNOM PENH, Cambodia) -- Cambodia's parliament approved a bill which makes denying the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge a crime, BBC News reports.

The Khmer Rouge was a Maoist regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975-1979. Lead by Saloth Sar, better known as Pol Pot, the regime killed 1.7 million people, a third of the country’s population through overwork, starvation or torture.

Prime Minister Hun Sen proposed the law in response to an opposition leader who blamed Vietnam for some of the deaths, and claimed one of the most infamous torture prisons was staged. The opposition leader denies making these remarks.

Critics are saying that the law, which was passed when the opposition party was mostly absent, is a tool to keep the opposition down leading up to the elections.

"It's a tool to try to intimidate the opposition but also to galvanize his side, to demonize the opposition as unfit to govern, and to show that he's in charge, to show the country that he can completely dominate the opposition - and make them squirm," Human Rights Watch's Asia director Brad Adams told BBC News.

Those found guilty of denying the Khmer Rouge’s crimes could face up to two years in prison.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


In Cambodia, Obama Hails 'Constructive' US-China Relationship

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(PHNOM PENH, Cambodia) -- President Obama on Tuesday said the United States and China have taken a “cooperative and constructive approach” to their relationship, as he came face to face with the rising economic power that his administration is trying to counter-balance in the region.

Meeting with outgoing Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit, Obama reiterated his commitment to working with China, despite the tenuous relationship between the two economic superpowers.

“It’s important that our two countries cooperate to build a more secure and prosperous future for the Asia Pacific region and for the world,” he said.  “As the two largest economies in the world, we have a special responsibility to lead the way in ensuring sustained and balanced growth, not only here in Asia but globally.”

In his first post-election meeting with a Chinese leader, Obama stressed that “we work to establish clear rules of the road internationally for trade and investment, which can increase prosperity and global growth.”

Obama cast an optimistic tone at what will likely be his last meeting with Wen.  The premier and Chinese President Hu Jintao are stepping down following China’s once-in-a-decade leadership changes.

Obama is paying the first visit by an American president to Cambodia, a country trying to emerge from its violent and repressive past.  The president arrived Monday night and went straight to what has been described as a “tense” meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen, the 60-year-old leader who has been in power since Ronald Reagan was in the White House.

The president devoted their private discussion entirely to pressing Hun Sen on human rights issues, calling for fair elections and the release of all political prisoners, according to Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes.

“He highlighted a set of issues that he was concerned about within Cambodia, in particular I would say the need for them to move towards elections that are fair and free, the need for an independent election commission associated with those elections, the need to allow for the release of political prisoners, and for opposition parties to be able to operate,” Rhodes said.  “He highlighted, for instance, one case of a radio broadcaster who’s been sentenced to many years in prison simply for something that they said on the radio.  He discussed the issue of land seizures, which have been a challenge for the people of Cambodia.”

“It’s necessary for us to continue to raise these issues directly with countries like Cambodia at the same time that we also foster positive examples that offer a better path so that people can see the results that come with reform,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Clinton to Meet Burma President Thein Sein in Cambodia 

Win McNamee/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet President Thein Sein at a business forum in Cambodia, the BBC reports.

The high-level meeting comes on the heels of the easing of restrictions on U.S. firms investing in Burma. Clinton will also introduce Sein to U.S. business leaders at the conference. She said Washington welcomed reforms in Burma, but the move did not signify U.S. satisfaction that the reforms are "complete or irreversible," says the BBC.

President Obama announced on Wednesday that U.S. companies would be allowed to conduct responsible business in Burma, as a reward to the government for its recent reforms and release of political prisoners.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cambodian Teen Chained to Pole for Playing Video Games

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Police in Cambodia are searching for the father who chained and locked his 13-year-old son by the neck to a telephone pole as a punishment because the teen skipped school to play online video games at an Internet cafe.

According to the UK Sun, the 40-year-old dad fled the scene after chaining the boy up. It took two hours before someone noticed him and called the cops to free him.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Khmer Rouge Trial for Cambodia’s 'Killing Fields' Gets Underway

Hemera/Thinkstock(PHNOM PENH, Cambodia) -- Thirty-three years after the end of the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror in Cambodia left more than a million people dead at the hands of the communist group, three of its former leaders will go on trial Monday.

Some 1.7 million people were either executed or died of starvation in Cambodia from 1975-1979 when the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge forced millions from Cambodia’s cities and tried to turn the country into an agrarian society.  Professionals and the well-educated were considered threats to the regime and were imprisoned, tortured and often slain and dumped into mass graves that became known as the killing fields.

Nuon Chea, the right-hand man of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, Khieu Samphan, the head of state during the group’s reign, and Ieng Sary, the Khmer Rouge’s foreign minister, face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.  The defendants are all in their 80s.

The U.N.-backed tribunal hearing has been moving at a snail’s pace. The judges on the panel were sworn in more than five years ago and the defendants have been in custody since 2007.  Pol Pot died in 1998.

Youk Chhang, the director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, tells the BBC the survivors of the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror want an explanation of why they killed fellow Cambodians.

Chhang says the trial is important because, “People just want to confirm that the Khmer Rouge leadership was guilty of crimes against their own population.”

“That’s going to be very important for the whole country to move beyond victimhood and develop,” he adds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ceasefire Collapses As Cambodian, Thai Troops Re-Engage

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SISAKET, Thailand) -- Just a day after Thai and Cambodian military officials had agreed to a ceasefire over a border dispute, reports from Thailand say Cambodian troops fired artillery onto Thai soil on Sunday.

A report from the Bangkok Post says Cambodian soldiers launched an attack targeted at the village of Chong Done Aow, and that Thai military officials confirmed fire was returned. The report says the battle is ongoing.

Military officials from both countries met Saturday to negotiate a temporary settlement in which no artillery fire would be exchanged and no further troops would be brought to the border which separates the two countries. The dispute is over the ancient Preah Vihear temple, which lies on the northern boundary of Cambodia and the southern border of Thailand.

Fighting over the temple has gone on for many years. According to a 1962 ruling by an international court, the temple belongs to Cambodia, although the main entrance to the structure is in Thai territory.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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