Thursday, February 17, 2011


Internet Freedom is critical for Democratic Development

By Carol A. Rodley, US Ambassador to Cambodia

Just over a year ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a global commitment to Internet Freedom. She has now addressed the issue again in a major speech on the subject. Based on the universal human rights framework, Internet Freedom – or as Secretary Clinton deemed--the freedom to connect--applies the freedoms of assembly, expression and association to cyberspace. Today, as we look around at world events, this commitment is more important than ever. By preserving these rights in the digital era, we preserve the promise and the possibility of the Internet as a platform for ideas, innovation, connection, and economic growth.

Against the backdrop of Egypt and the largest internet shutdown of our time, we have heard numerous calls to honor the freedom to connect, in particular to seek and share information over the Internet, from President Obama and Secretary Clinton as well as leaders around the world.

The Internet has become the public sphere of the 21st century—it is the global town square. Here in Cambodia, the government has repeatedly stated commitment to Internet freedom. Internet use in Cambodia has risen over 1700 percent in 10 years, with over 170,000 users now online. Internet cafes have sprouted up in all the major cities. And the fact that the Cambodian economy has grown so quickly during that same period is no coincidence. As people gain economic security they seek additional opportunities to connect with each other, and ensuring those opportunities are available will contribute to further growth.

Cambodians and people around the world come together every day on the Internet to connect to one another, sample a universe of news and information, or make their voices heard. And through this discourse, be it online or in person, new dimensions of debates that we have been having for centuries emerge: how best to govern, administer justice, pursue prosperity, and create the conditions for long-term progress, both within and across borders. The connectivity that the digital age fosters has only added new urgency to how we address these age-old issues. The choices governments make today will determine the face of the Internet in the future and they will not be easily made.

The choices we face are familiar, but the space in which we confront them is not. How do we protect: liberty and security? Transparency and confidentiality? Freedom of expression, while fostering tolerance and harmony?

First, too often liberty and security are seen as mutually exclusive, but we must have both to have either, both online and offline. We are reminded daily of both the promise and the peril of the information age. We must have enough security to enable our freedoms, but not so much as to endanger them. In the balance between liberty and security, the fulcrum is the rule of law. Our allegiance to it does not vanish in cyberspace. Neither does our commitment to civil liberties. The United States is equally determined to track and stop terrorists and criminal activity online and offline. In both spheres, we pursue this goal in accordance with our values. It is no secret that “security” is something invoked as a justification for limiting Internet freedom. Arresting bloggers, prying into the peaceful activities of citizens, and limiting or closing off access to information does not make a society more secure for the long term. Silencing ideas does not make them go away.

Second, we must protect both transparency and confidentiality. Transparency is critical. We can and should give citizens information about their governments. But confidentiality is also paramount. It protects the ability of organizations and governments to carry out their missions and best serve the public interest. Governments do have a higher standard to meet when invoking confidentiality, because they serve the public. But all governments require some degree of confidentiality when dealing with matters such as public safety and national security. For example, it would not be sensible to publish on the Internet details of sensitive negotiations between countries on how to locate and dispose of nuclear materials or how to combat the violence of drug trafficking networks.

Third, we must seek to protect free expression while at the same time fostering tolerance. Just like a town square, the Internet is home to every kind of speech: false, offensive, constructive and innovative. With an online population of more than 2 billion people that is rapidly growing, the diversity of speech online will only proliferate. As stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all people have the right to freedom of expression. The challenge is to support freedom of expression online while emphasizing the importance of tolerance, respectful discourse and peace. We believe the best way to do this is to promote more speech, not to limit it. Exposing and challenging offensive speech, rather than suppressing it, allows for public scrutiny and response. In the marketplace of ideas, those ideas with merit will become stronger and those without merit will in time fade away.

The principles of Internet freedom are rooted in the openness of the platform, the Internet should remain an engine of ideas, innovation, and economic growth. Open markets for new products and services catalyze entrepreneurship, innovation, and investment. We have seen the benefits of investment and innovation in the global Internet marketplace flow to those nations that make openness the hallmark of their Internet policy.

As we move forward and the universal town square of the Internet continues to flourish, we are confident that we can protect and advance the principles of liberty and security; transparency and confidentiality; and free speech and tolerance. Together they comprise the foundation of a free and open Internet.


17 February 2011



From 12 to 14 February, at night Thai troops conducted unusual military activities hurling hand grenades, firing B40 RPG, shelling 60mm and 81mm mortar rounds around their positions in the western section of Phnom Trap which escalated to a much more intense activities from 21:00 hours on 15 February to 05:00 hours on 16 February 2011, wounding Thai soldiers themselves as many rounds of grenade and munitions hit tree branches and fell inside Thai positions. Cambodian troops exercised utmost restraint and did not respond as Thai firings did not hit Cambodian positions.

Thailand provocation and a threat of an all-out war of aggression

Regardless of the explanations, those activities occurring during an agreed upon ceasefire between the Cambodian and Thai Armed Forces after 4 days of Thailand’s war of aggression, 4 – 7 February 2011 against Cambodia constitute a military provocation for which the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a statement saying that: “This violation of the ceasefire by the Thai Armed Forces clearly shows that the real intention behind Thailand’s insistence on resolving the matter BILATERALLY is to use its overwhelmingly superior military forces to take over Cambodian territory in the vicinity of the TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR.” However, Thai accusation that “Cambodian troops hurled a grenade into a Thai base” seriously injured Sgt Ratchaphon Seepanya of the 16th Infantry Division and the two sides’ exchange of small arms fire inflicting minor injuries to four more Thai troops was pure fabrication to slander the Cambodian troops as aggressors and happy-triggers feeding Thailand’s campaign of intoxication to damage the reputation of the Cambodian government on the international arena, and this could well be part of the scheme to launch an all-out aggression against Cambodia before 22 February 2011 in order to derail the convening of the meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers following the recommendation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). This is a strong possibility leaving Thailand’s stewardship to Abhisit Vejjajiva and Kasit Pyromya. Thailand has deployed more than 23,000 troops along with heavy weapons, heavy tanks, APC’s and long range artillery in the area facing the Temple of Preah Vihear and its vicinity.

Abhisit Vejjajiva must learn how to count properly, at least up to 3

On the political front, despite the claims by Kasit Pyromya and Abhisit Vejjajiva that Thailand won the New York round, many well seasoned Thai politicians including former Thai ambassador to the UN, Don Pramudwinai and international analysts acknowledged that the problem between Cambodia and Thailand is internationalized, now at the regional level under ASEAN, and if it is not resolved it will go international under the United Nations at a later date. Abhisit Vejjajiva and Kasit Pyromya are good at spinning the news and distorting the facts. They kept on insisting on “bilateral negotiations,” while the whole wide world is well aware of what the Security Council president Maria Luizia Ribeiro Viotti has said, and I quote: “The idea is to work in synergy with the regional efforts – and right now regional efforts are in full force – and resolve the situation peacefully and through effective dialogue.” Taking queue to the Council President, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, the current Asean chairman alluded to this challenge when he said ''the issue here is to extract a clear commitment from Thailand and Cambodia for a peaceful resolution'' indicating the ASEAN’s heavy involvement in the process of negotiations. Abhisit Vejjajiva will achieve absolutely nothing when he patronizes Cambodia by saying that “as the international community thinks the problem should be resolved through negotiation. Cambodia has no reason to refuse, and it should return to the talks.” Mr. Abhisit should do his job and let Cambodia do hers. I have no doubt, Cambodia will go to Jakarta. Not only that, had Abhisit Vejjajiva have learnt how to count properly, at least up to 3, he would have stopped bickering that it must be BILATERAL. If the word is so dear to him and considering his shortcoming in the matter of counting it is admissible for Abhisit Vejjajiva to say BILATERAL PLUS ASEAN.

Photo Bangkok Post Online, 16 February 2011

New caption: Abhisit Vejjajiva must learn how to count properly, at least up to 3

1, 2 and 3. This is three or two plus

A heavy involvement of ASEAN

As the reality sets in, the Abhisit government and Thai media voraciously attacked ASEAN and the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Marty Natalegwa in a combined and coordinated war of intimidation. The Bangkok Post Online Editorial published on 16 February under the title: “A chance for Asean to help” was not very kind to Foreign Minister Marty by saying: “This was music to the ears of Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, the current Asean chairman. He trailed the foreign ministers to New York, spoke at the brief Security Council session, and lobbied for the chance to head an international effort to mediate a solution to the Thai-Cambodian problem. And the thing that aggravated Thailand the most is that ''Asean will have to decide what are the best mechanisms to put in place to ensure the ceasefire will hold and that no more violence shall erupt,'' said international analysts, and these objectives could only be achieved with “heavy involvement of ASEAN”. Why? - It has become convincing to the international community that Thailand has been distorting the meaning of “bilateral negotiations,” far away from its normal international political activities seeking for the understanding between parties through peaceful means, and turning them into an instrument of coercion, bullying act, open military threat and war of aggression thinking that it can take the law in its own hands, which is critically uncivilized in the relations between two independent and sovereign nations. And for those reasons, Thailand’s overwhelmingly superior military forces compared to Cambodia and Thailand’s deployment of more than 23,000 troops along with a powerful war weapon at the border area are causes for great concern, seemingly requires to have (i) ASEAN peace keeping police to ensure the ceasefire will hold and that no more violence shall erupt, (ii) ASEAN participants in the negotiations for demarcation of the land boundary.

Aspiring to live peacefully with Thailand without sacrificing national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Royal Government of Cambodia, under the wise leadership of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, prime minister, has the foresight of seeking for the involvement of UNSC and ASEAN since 2008. It pays off after years of dedication and patience.

Prof. Pen Ngoeun

Senior advisor and member of the Academic Committee

Puthisastra University, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Former Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Business and Economics

At Pannasastra University of Cambodia,

Former Assistant Controller at Phibro Inc

A subsidiary of Citigroup Inc., New York City, USA, until 2000


Thailand Should not Fear or Avoid Multi-lateral mediation to Resolve Preah Vihear Conflict

Phnom Penh has asked the UN to ensure a 'permanent cease-fire' at Preah Vihear area specially the Temple of Preah Vihear which was listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008.

The Un Security Council, by calling for a "permanent ceasefire" between Thailand and Cambodia after a border dispute erupted into a small war last week around a Hindu temple, did just that.

Thus, irrespective of how the Thai government and media want to spin this issue, it is clear and evident, that the United Nations has taken a serious view of the conflict created by Thailand, and has given ASEAN, which convenes a meeting on 22 February, to have the first go at conflict mediation.

Last Sunday, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said his foreign minister would insist that the crisis be settled on a bilateral basis without outside intervention.

"Cambodia is calling for [intervention by] a third country, the UN and peacekeeping forces. Thailand will call for a return to bilateral talks on border conflict" he said.

The prime minister has laid the blame for the crisis on Unesco's decision to declare the temple ruins, the most celebrated example of ancient Khmer architecture outside of Cambodia's Angkor Wat, a world heritage site even though the land around it is supposedly disputed because of Thailand’s insistence on its own interpretation and unilateral, secret and internationally unrecognized map.

At the 35th meeting of the World Heritage Committee in July, Cambodia will be pushing for its Preah Vihear management plan, which also covers the area claimed by both countries.

For peace to prevail and for the ancient temple to be treated like a cultural heritage site in a sustainable manner, the international community should pay attention to Cambodia’s plea for multi-lateral mediation and reject outright, Thailand’s call for the Preah Vihear temple to be delisted or else Thailand will withdraw from Unesco.

These threats should not be entertained or even given any consideration by the international community and or the UNESCO as this is tantamount to blackmail and intimidation on the international community to abstain from intervening in the dispute, thus giving Thailand, the opportunity to annex the temple and claim it as its own.

This statement speaks of belligerent and deranged premier who has isolated or blinded by the spin pulled by his advisors and the pressure mounted on him by his one time allies, the PAD. The PAD is pushing for the military option.

And, when one side is pushing for a military option and at the same time, beefing up its armed forced on the conflict zone, not only with troops but also with heavy weaponry, the situation has become inherently dangerous and sufficient to precipitate an all out war with Cambodia.

At present, many see the issues related to Preah Vihear through the prism of territorial dispute, but they need to keep the borderline and world heritage issues separate. This, the Thais have failed miserably at doing.

If one follows the Thai press, like all of them-it is obviously pro-Thai to the maximum-as they say “The Truth is the first thing that gets killed in war.”

The conflict has led to the point that Cambodia asked for UN peace keeping forces and Thailand saying the matter is between Thailand and Cambodia.

Then Cambodia wants outside mediation, but Thailand wants bilateral or 2 way talks.

“With mediation, the problem becomes more complex,” said the Thai prime minister, Abhisit.

With those attitudes, the matter reached the UN’s Security Council. But again, the old saying on how the truth dies in war.

Even with pictures of Thai bull-dozers going about making a road in the Thai Cambodian disputed territory that sparked this series of clashes between Thailand and Cambodia-Thailand the intransigent Thai army claimed that Cambodia started the attack.

“Thailand has witness to the UN Security Council that Cambodia started the war,” said many Thai press like Thai Rath.

So the Thai press, like the True TV-just said this morning-right there after the UN Security Council meet that “UN calls for bilateral talks” meaning between Thailand and Cambodia.

But then BBC, a global level media outfit, just reported that the UN Security Council told ASEAN to mediate the Thai and Cambodia talks.

So what is it, bilateral like the Thai press says or is it ASEAN mediation being multilateral?

And what now? Cambodia said it will not talk bilateral with Thailand and Thailand says it will only talk with Cambodia bilaterally.

To top it off, the Thai prime minister, Abhisit, said earlier, quote: “No outside mediation needed.”

Thailand is a much larger country than Cambodia, economic wise, military wise, and population wise.

By bringing in such body as the UN or ASEAN-that takes away Thailand’s advantage-and place the mediation and negotiation in the hands of a body like the UN or ASEAN-which stands for equitable and on the same level solution seeking.

Not a single Thai press dares to ask just a simple question, and that is, if the Thai security apparatus is right-why would Prime Minister Hun Sen, be asking for UN and EU peace keeping forces on its border with Thailand?

The following is from BBC:

The UN Security Council has urged a permanent ceasefire between Cambodia and Thailand after deadly clashes in their disputed border area this month.

Four days of fighting left eight dead, displaced thousands and caused some damage to the World Heritage-listed Preah Vihear temple.

The council also backed mediation efforts by Asean, the regional grouping of south-east Asian nations.

The council’s president said there was “great concern” over the clashes.

Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti was speaking after after closed-door talks with the foreign ministers of Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia.

Thailand opposes UN mediation, saying it can settled by the two states.

But Cambodia has described itself as being at war with Thailand and has suggested the UN send peacekeepers to the disputed area.

The council, Ms Viotti said, “called on the two sides to display maximum restraint and avoid any action that may aggravate the situation”.

Indonesia, as the current president of Asean, has been leading mediation efforts.

In recent days, the guns have fallen quiet, but the situation at the border between the two countries remains extremely tense, the BBC”s Rachel Harvey reports.

The two heavily armed militaries are ranged against each other across a 4.6-sq km (1130 acres) stretch of disputed land. Accordingly, the presence of a third Party to mediate and to observe the buffer zone as requested by Cambodian Prime Minister is a Must since it will build a transparent process and mutual confidence, and more importantly to stop once and for all the trading of who instigates the fighting first. Now, the Ball is in the court of Thailand and the Latter should not be afraid of third Party if they do have the goodwill and true intention to build a lasting peace and good neighbor with Cambodia.

(By T. Mohan, a long term resident of Cambodia and political analyst)

Vietnam welcomes closure of minority refugee centre in Cambodia


Hanoi - Vietnam has welcomed the closure of a refugee centre for Vietnamese Montagnards in Cambodia, state media reported Thursday.

The Montagnards are a predominately Christian minority who have fled alleged political and religious persecution by Vietnamese authorities.

'The Vietnamese government highly values Cambodia's closure of its temporary camp in Phnom Penh for ethnic minority people of the Central Highlands of Vietnam,' the state-run newspaper Viet Nam News quoted Nguyen Phuong Nga, spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as saying.

In December, the Cambodian government ordered the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to close the Montagnard refugee centre by January 1, 2011, but subsequently agreed to an extension of the deadline to February 15 to allow time to resettle or repatriate those remaining at the centre.

According to news reports, 10 of the remaining 20 refugees at centre will be resettled in third countries. The remainer failed to get refugee status and will be deported to Vietnam.

An agreement between the UN, Cambodia and Vietnam has governed the processing of Montagnard refugees since 2005, stipulating that they must be held at the UN centre in Phnom Penh temporarily before being transferred to a third country or voluntarily returning to Vietnam.

Activists have raised concerns about the closure, saying that the Cambodian government will screen future Montagnard asylum seekers under a procedure that does not meet international standards.

'Ongoing government crackdowns in Vietnam against Montagnard Christians make it imperative for Cambodia not to deny Montagnards their basic right to seek safe asylum,' Human Rights Watch said. 'Cambodia should provide safe asylum for Montagnards fleeing Vietnam's Central Highlands even after it closes the centre.'

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cambodia to call for ASEAN border observers

PHNOM PENH : Cambodia said Wednesday it wanted regional observers to help impose a ceasefire on the tense border with Thailand after a request for UN peacekeepers was rebuffed earlier this week.

Cambodia n Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said he would ask for assistance from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to settle a row centred on a 900-year-old temple that erupted into four days of armed clashes earlier this month, leaving at least 10 people dead.

"I will request that ASEAN observers examine the ceasefire" in the border area, Hor Namhong told reporters in Phnom Penh after returning from a United Nations Security Council meeting on the matter in New York.

Hor Namhong and his Thai counterpart are both scheduled to attend an ASEAN meeting in Jakarta next Tuesday.

Both sides accused each other of fresh firing overnight.

Cambodia said in a statement that Thai troops had thrown grenades and fired machine guns and mortar rounds into Cambodia n territory, but that it had not retaliated.

Thai army spokesman Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd said "sporadic skirmishes" had taken place through the night until the early hours of Wednesday, with both sides using grenades and machine guns.

There were no reports of injuries.

The two neighbours are at odds over a border area near the Preah Vihear temple, an 11th-century clifftop ruin that belongs to Cambodia but whose designation as a World Heritage site sparked the ire of Thai nationalists.

Both countries blame each other for the crisis.

Cambodia has insisted on the need for third-party mediation, while Thailand has repeatedly said it wants to resolve the row bilaterally.

The Security Council on Monday urged both countries to establish a "permanent ceasefire" but did not endorse a Cambodia n request to deploy UN peacekeepers in the contested area.

It did, however, express support for mediation efforts by Indonesia, the current ASEAN chair.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that the Preah Vihear temple belonged to Cambodia , but both countries claim ownership of a 1.8-square-mile (4.6-square-kilometre) surrounding area.

- AFP /ls

17 February 2011



In a decision rendered on 16 February 2011, the Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia rejected Defence applications seeking the immediate release of the Accused Persons Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Thirith.

The Pre-Trial Chamber ordered the Accused Persons to remain in provisional detention until they were brought before the Trial Chamber in a decision without reasoning rendered on 13 January 2011. The Pre-Trial Chamber subsequently issued reasoning for the continued detention on 21 January 2011. Following the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber, the Accused Persons filed applications for their immediate release to the Trial Chamber. The Trial Chamber conducted an oral hearing related to the applications on 31 January 2011.

In its decision, the Trial Chamber found that the delay in issuing reasoning for the continued detention resulted in a breach of the Accused Persons’ rights, but that the nature of the remedy in consequence of this breach may be assessed at the end of the trial. Furthermore, the Trial Chamber found that continued detention is necessary to ensure the presence of the Accused Persons at trial.

The decision from the Trial Chamber can be downloaded from:

16 February 2011

Media Alert



Between 21 and 23 February 2011, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) will hold its 9th Plenary Session at the main courtroom of the ECCC.

The media are invited to attend the opening of the Plenary Session, which will commence at 09.00 a.m. on Monday 21 February at the main courtroom. Opening remarks will be made by the ECCC President, H.E. Kong Srim, and Plenary International Vice-President Judge Silvia Cartwright. Following the opening remarks, new reserve international Co-Investigating Judge Laurent KASPER-ANSERMET will take an oath. Media representatives who are interested in covering the opening are requested to arrive at the court by 8:30 am to ensure enough time for security check. Please kindly bring the ECCC media accreditation cards. The media will be asked to leave the courtroom immediately after the oath-taking ceremony.

A further Press Statement will be issued at the closing of the Plenary Session on Wednesday 23 February 2011.