Archive for May 2009
AP/ 29 May 2009
Yangon – Lawyers for Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi expressed optimism about her case after the only witness allowed to testify for the defense addressed the court in her trial on charges of violating house arrest.
Closing arguments in a case that could send the Nobel Peace laureate to prison for five years are set to be heard on Monday. The defence has argued that there is no legal basis for the charge that Ms Suu Kyi had violated the terms of her house arrest when an uninvited American swam secretly to her home.
Ms Suu Kyi’s supporters fear that she may be found guilty because the courts are under the influence of the ruling junta and usually mete out harsh punishment for political dissidents.
But one of Ms Suu Kyi’s lawyers, Nyan Win, said on Thursday night he was ‘very confident of victory if the trial is carried out according to law.’ The court was in recess on Friday.
The trial has drawn outrage from the international community and Suu Kyi’s local supporters, who worry that the military junta has found an excuse to keep her detained through next year’s elections. Her party won the last elections in 1990 but was not allowed to take power by the military, which has run the country since 1962.
Ms Suu Kyi’s defence team acknowledges that 53-year-old John W. Yettaw swam to and entered her lakeside home, where he stayed for two days. They argue, however, that it was the duty of government guards outside her closely watched house to prevent any intruders.
Yettaw was taken to Ms Suu Kyi’s residence on Thursday, accompanied by dozens of police, to re-enact before court officials how he entered and left her compound, said state-run newspapers on Friday, which also published photos of the re-enactment.
Mr Kyi Win, the defence witness who is a legal expert and a member of Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, highlighted what appears to be the defense’s main argument, that the charge against Suu Kyi is unlawful. The meeting’s closing statement on Thursday made no direct demand for Ms Suu Kyi’s immediate release.
But Jan Kohout, deputy prime minister of the Czech Republic and the meeting’s co-chairman, said that ‘we are still deeply concerned over Ms Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention and (urge) that she should be released immediately.’
Myanmar Deputy Foreign Minister Maung Myint said it was inappropriate for the meeting to take up Suu Kyi’s cases, because it breached the region’s traditional policy of noninterference in each other’s affairs
AP/ 29 May 2009
Hanoi – The United States government has doubled its funding for dealing with the environmental and health consequences of its wartime use in Vietnam of the toxic herbicide Agent Orange, the embassy said Friday.
President Barack Obama recently signed a bill increasing the funding from $3 million (S$4 million) to $6 million, embassy officials said. Most of the money is being used in Danang, where US troops used to mix and store Agent Orange at an Air Force base before loading it onto planes.
During the Vietnam war, which ended in 1975, the US sprayed more than 20 million gallons (75 million litres) of Agent Orange and other herbicides across the country to strip Vietnamese guerrillas of ground cover and kill their crops.
Agent Orange contains dioxin, a highly toxic substance that remains in soil and sediment for years and poses a serious health threat to anyone who touches it.
Vietnam believes as many as 4 million people have suffered serious health problems from the herbicide, such as cancer, spina bifida and other birth defects. The US says the actual number is probably far lower and that further scientific study is needed to understand the health impact. US and Vietnam only began working together in 2007 to address the consequences of Agent Orange after years of disagreement.
The embassy said in a statement that one third of the $6 million is being used for health programs to serve people in the Danang area. The rest will be used to remove dioxin from the soil and sediment near Danang airport.
Friday’s People’s Army newspaper quoted Lai Minh Hien, a Vietnamese environmental official in charge of Agent Orange issues, as saying that Vietnam needs additional 1 trillion dong (S$82 million) to clean up dioxin in Danang as well as at former U.S. air bases in Bien Hoa and Phu Cat. -
AFP/ 29 May 2009
Bangkok – A Thai woman was sentenced to 18 years in jail on Friday for trafficking women from her hometown to Italy, where they were forced to work in prostitution, court officials said.
The Thai Criminal Court found Kularb Thongmisri, 42, guilty of procuring three woman from an impoverished part of Si Sa Ket province in northeast Thailand to work in the Italian sex industry three years ago.
The victims, aged 42, 40 and 31, were lured to Europe by Kularb with the promise of well-paid jobs as house maids. But she made them pay an advance sum of 500,000 baht (S$21,000) each for travel costs.
After arriving in Milan via Vienna in February 2006, the women were forced to work as prostitutes until Italian police smashed the racket and repatriated them to Thailand in August 2006, the court said.
Kularb was arrested in Si Sa Ket in July 2007 after she returned from Italy. She was also ordered by the court to pay the three women a total of US$43,500 (S$63,000) in compensation.
AP/29 May 2009
Kuala Lumpur - It soon could be a crime for Malaysian men to call their wives ugly, a women’s rights group and a news report said on Thursday.
The governmental Women’s Development Department plans to ask Parliament to ban ‘emotional violence’ against women, who currently have legal protection against physical assault only, The Star newspaper reported.
Women’s groups told the department that husbands who ‘demonstrate a pattern of causing mental and psychological damage’ should face counseling, fines and jail terms, Ivy Josiah, director of the Women’s Aid Organisation, told The Associated Press.
Offenders include a husband who ‘tells his wife she is ugly or humiliates her until she feels emotionally pressured,’ the government department’s head, Noorul Ainur Mohamad Nur, said during a conference on violence against women, the newspaper reported.
Ms Noorul said there was a need to criminalise emotional abuse because it could deeply scar a woman’s dignity and self-confidence, the report said.
There were no immediate details about when Parliament would discuss the plan.
About 90 per cent of some 800 women who called the Women’s Aid Organisation for help last year reported being psychologically abused, though some were also physically assaulted, Ms Josiah said.
A government representative said Ms Noorul and other officials familiar with the plan could not immediately be contacted on Thursday.
AFP/ 28 May 2009
Phnom Penh- Myanmar’s deputy foreign minister on Thursday rejected Asian and European ‘pressure and interference’ over the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, saying it was neither a political nor a human rights issue.
Speaking at a meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and EU ministers in the Cambodian capital, Maung Myint said the charges against the pro-democracy icon were an ‘internal legal issue’.
‘It is not political, it is not a human rights issue. So we don’t accept pressure and interference from abroad,’ the Myanmar official told his counterparts. ‘I expect that the excellencies from abroad, especially the EU, can understand more about Myanmar,’ he said.
The minister’s remarks on live video appeared to have been accidentally broadcast to reporters at the press centre outside the closed-door meetings.
Aung San Suu Kyi faces up to five years in jail on charges of breaching her house arrest after an eccentric American man swam to her lakeside house in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city.
The statement, one of the strongest yet from the military regime, came as Asean and European ministers opened talks in Phnom Penh with pledges to boost ties with the Myanmar issue looming in the background.
Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong had said in a speech that the meetings would ‘mark another milestone for expanding and deepening’ relations between Asean and the EU.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen echoed his sentiments during the opening ceremony, but officials indicated Myanmar would likely take up much of the agenda.
Asked what the message would be to Myanmar, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, whose country is the current ASEAN chair, said: ‘I think you will see in the joint statement (at the end of the day).
AFP/ 28 May 2009
Phnom Penh- Talks between South-east Asian and European ministers opened in the Cambodian capital on Thursday with pledges to boost ties, but Myanmar’s controversial trial of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi loomed over proceedings.
Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said in a speech that the meetings would ‘mark another milestone for expanding and deepening’ relations of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) and European Union (EU).
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen echoed his sentiments during the opening ceremony, but officials however indicated Myanmar would likely take up much of the agenda.
Asked what the message would be to Myanmar, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, whose country is the current Asean chair, said: ‘I think you will see in the joint statement (at the end of the day).’ Asean ministers in an informal meeting on Wednesday confronted Myanmar on its treatment of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who is on trial for violating her house arrest after an American man swam to her lakeside home.
The group traditionally refrains from interfering in the internal affairs of its members, but issued a rare rebuke to Myanmar last week over the detention of the Nobel peace prize winner.
‘The discussion in the room back there was that it (the issue of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners)… affects Asean’s image and Asean’s collective interests,’ Asean chief Surin Pitsuwan said late on Wednesday.
Myanmar’s rights abuses, along with North Korea’s recent nuclear test, dominated much of the agenda earlier this week during similar meetings between Asian and EU ministers in Vietnam.
They issued a statement in Hanoi calling for the release of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Myanmar.
The meetings in Phnom Penh were also set to cover issues ranging from the global financial crisis to energy and food security.
Ms Aung San Suu Kyi has been in detention for 13 of the past 19 years since her National League for Democracy party won a landslide victory in 1990 polls but was not allowed to take power.
TheStar/ 28 May 2009
Shah Alam – A Malaysian university student who was sexually assaulted in her hostel six months ago is suing Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) for negligence. The 21-year-old girl, a second-year Hotel and Tourism Management student, filed the suit at the Sessions Court here on Tuesday. In her suit, she said that the university failed to prevent unauthorised persons from intruding into the hostel, and had failed to take necessary measures for the safety and security of students. She said she was not only hurt physically but emotionally too, and suffered from post-trauma stress disorder. The student is seeking aggravated, exemplary, general and special damages. Her counsel, Mr Mohamed Hanipa Maidin, said the incident took place at 5am on Nov 28 when the student was taking a bath in the common bathroom of the hostel. He said a naked man suddenly knocked and forced his way into the bathroom. ‘Athough the girl screamed for help, none of the students came to her aid as they were still sleeping, and there were no security guards around too,’ he told a press conference called by Shah Alam MP Khalid Abdul Samad. Mr Mohamed Hanipa said the man pushed the girl and inserted a finger into her private parts. He said the student managed to escape before the other students came to her aid. Mr Khalid said the victim’s mother asked for his help on Dec 26. He said they wrote a letter to UiTM on Jan 28 on behalf of the girl to get an explanation but did not receive any reply.
Reuters-AP/ 27 May 2009
Yangon – The Myanmar authorities have officially lifted the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, but she remains in detention until her trial on charges of breaking that order is over.
Police Brigadier General Myint Thein read the order to Ms Suu Kyi at her prison house in Yangon’s Central Insein Prison on Tuesday. Confirming this, Nyan Win, one of her lawyers, told reporters after Tuesday’s session: ‘The house arrest has been lifted, but she is still under detention. I don’t know whether to be happy or sorry,’ he said.
Ms Suu Kyi, one of more than 2,000 political prisoners in Myanmar, has been incarcerated for more than 13 of the past 19 years. Most of it has been spent at her lakeside Yangon home under police guard, her mail intercepted and visitors restricted.
The trial against Ms Suu Kyi continued on Tuesday for the seventh day, at which some diplomats, local private and Yangon-based foreign reporters were allowed in again for observation. The Nobel laureate faces up to five years in jail if convicted for allowing an American intruder to stay at her home for two days in early May.
In her first testimony at the trial, Ms Suu Kyi on Tuesday denied any prior knowledge of John Yettaw’s plans. The 53-year-old American arrived at her home on May 4 after swimming across the adjacent Inya Lake.
‘I just allowed him to stay for a while,’ she said. Yettaw, who says he dreamt that Ms Suu Kyi’s life was in danger, left before midnight the next day, she said.
Asked by Judge Thaung Nyunt if she reported him to authorities, Ms Suu Kyi replied: ‘No, I did not.’ Her lawyers say she allowed him to stay for humanitarian reasons after he complained of leg cramps from the swim.
Earlier, the Myanmar authorities offered their latest justification for the trial, widely condemned as a sham to keep the National League for Democracy (NLD) leader in detention during elections next year.
Police Brigadier General Myint Thein said they had considered freeing Ms Suu Kyi before Yettaw stayed at her home and she ‘talked to him and provided him with food and clothes’. ‘These things infringed on existing law and we unavoidably and regretfully had to take legal action against her,’ he told a group of diplomats and journalists.
Asian and European (ASEM) foreign ministers meeting in Hanoi ‘called for the early release of those under detention and the lifting of restrictions placed on political parties’.
AFP/ 27 May 2009
Yangon – The trial of Aung San Suu Kyi was due to continue Wednesday as US President Barack Obama urged Myanmar to immediately free the pro-democracy icon, describing her hearing as a ‘show trial’. The Nobel Peace Prize winner testified for the first time at her trial on Tuesday, telling the court that she did not violate the terms of her house arrest by offering shelter to a US man who swam to her lakeside home.
In Washington, Mr Obama called on Myanmar’s military rulers to ‘immediately and unconditionally’ release the 63-year-old democracy leader ‘Aung San Suu Kyi’s continued detention, isolation, and show trial based on spurious charges cast serious doubt on the Burmese regime’s willingness to be a responsible member of the international community,’ he said in a statement.
‘It is time for the Burmese government to drop all charges against Aung San Suu Kyi and unconditionally release her and her fellow political prisoners,’ Mr Obama said, referring to Myanmar’s leaders using the country’s former name.
The case has drawn widespread international condemnation of the country’s iron-fisted military junta.
Aung San Suu Kyi testified at the maximum security Insein Prison in Yangon Tuesday that she had not breached the restriction order keeping her at her residence, according to reporters and diplomats present at the hearing.
The long-standing figurehead of Myanmar’s opposition movement, Aung San Suu Kyi faces up to five years in jail if convicted. She has been under house arrest or in jail for 13 of the last 19 years, including the last six.
She said the first she knew of the bizarre visit by American army veteran John Yettaw was when her assistant woke her up at around dawn on May 4 to tell her that a man had arrived at the house.
The junta is also trying Yettaw and two female aides who live with Aung San Suu Kyi in her house. Yettaw has said he swam across a lake to the house to warn her of a vision he had that she would be assassinated.
Critics accuse Myanmar’s junta of trumping up the charges in a bid to keep Aung San Suu Kyi locked up during elections due in 2010. Her party won the country’s last elections, in 1990, but was never allowed to take power.
In a surprise development, Myanmar authorities informed Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday morning that her six-year period of house arrest was officially over – although she still remains in detention at the prison, her party said. ‘We don’t know whether we should be happy or sad, because she is still in detention on these charges,’ said Nyan Win, spokesman for the National League for Democracy (NLD).
By Kok Sap- 26 May 2009
It’s disturbed to watch video clips made by reporters and non government organizations highlighted on forced prostitution starting from age 4 and up. It’s known that kids were sold for merely $200 to well connected and protected brothels.
Revealed evidences: Hun Sen personally links to human & drug trafficking and prostitution rings.
In Cambodia as a Buddhist country, it’s not only unacceptable but condemned the prostitution business. However; all brothel operators are usually in connection with government high rank individuals with name recognition.
As the 99th Anniversary of the International Women’s Day on 8th March 2009 celebrated at Chattamouk on 6/3/2009 in theme “Women’s Participation in Economic Development and Social Affairs” in equal share under aliased Neary Rattanak III, Mr. Hun Sen claimed his plan has encouraged women’s participation in leadership and decision making at the sub-national levels, evidenced by the appointment of women as deputy governors in the municipalities, provinces, districts and khans while the number of women participation in commune councils has also increased significantly, a 30% increase, female members of the parliament increased by 22% in 2008, female members of the commune councils increased by 15% in 2007, and CPP’s female members in commune councils represent 60% increase between 2002 and 2007.
He gloated,” the join efforts with high sense of patience and responsibility of the leadership of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and relevant institutions in solving various issues aiming to promote the capacity, ability and increase the opportunity of women to participate intensively in the development process, preventing domestic violence and sexual exploitation, are the reflection of strong will of the Royal Government in implementing the national policies, laws, and especially the international conventions on the “elimination in all forms of discrimination against women”.
Cambodia’s economy is expected to shrink this year due to a slowdown in garment exports and a drop in tourist numbers. Other hand, one of the country’s secretaries of state Chou Bun Eng, says the financial crisis will lead more women and girls to look for ‘riskier jobs’ hinted sex industry. Cambodia expects an increase in prostitution and human trafficking as the unemployment rate climbs during the economic downturn.
Many female factory workers forced to return home after being laid-off are among those thought to be at risk of sexual exploitation. Currently on World Bank record, Cambodia has 1% (140,000) of AIDS infected of total population. This is unknown how many are women and children.
The root of human trafficking and organized crime in Cambodia is rooted deeply in Hun Sen proximity.
The primary culprit was General Hok Lundy, Cambodia’s notorious police chief and close ally of Hands-on Hun Sen who has died at the age of 58 in a helicopter crash. A four-star general and member of the politburo of the ruling CPP (Cambodian People’s party), Hok Lundy was a man who inspired fear not only in opposition ranks, but also in members of his own party.
Born in Svay Rieng to Viet parentage linked to Viet Cong sleeper cell, Hun Sen appointed him national police chief, reporting directly to the prime minister not Mr. Sar Kheng, his nominal boss as minister for the interior nor the Phnom Penh municipal chief Chea Sophara.
It’s known in the aftermath of a bloody power struggle in 1997 between partners in the coalition government, many royalist generals were captured and killed in cold blood by Hok Lundy who played a key part in these mopping-up operations and extrajudicial executions. A FUNCINPEC (sihanoukist) party minister, Ho Sok, was detained at the interior ministry and shot dead by a police unit there in spite of Mr. Sar Kheng who had ordered the police to ensure Ho Sok’s safety.
Yet the police supremo and security chief was not only responsible for murdering Ho Sok, but also the union leader Chea Vichea and film star Piseth Pilika, in revelations to the French magazine L’Express. These accounts were later confirmed by General Heng Pov, the arch critic and former Phnom Penh police chief who was stripped and imprisoned by trumped up charges per Hun Sen direct order.
Also General Hok Lundy was known to foreign diplomats as a “thug”. The police chief, who was normally no fan of demonstrators, had permitted anti-Thai protestors to run riot, attacking Thai-owned properties all over Phnom Penh. This reputation was further enhanced by his role in the burning of the Thai embassy in January 2003.
In the aftermath of this violence he persuaded Mr.Hun Sen to sack the capital’s popular governor, his arch-rival Chea Sophara, as a scapegoat.
No surprise that Hun Sen sided with his police chief, as Hok Lundy had already married his daughter off to one of Hun Sen’s sons. That’s consolidating close family ties among Cambodia’s clannish ruling elite.
In February 2006, the US State Department’s human trafficking office specifically cited Hok Lundy’s alleged involvement in human trafficking as grounds for denying him a visa. That decision was linked to a brothel raid in December 2004, after which Hok Lundy reportedly ordered the release within hours of several traffickers, before an investigation could be conducted.
General Hok Lundy was also implicated in drug trafficking, the return of refugees to countries where they faced persecution and human trafficking. Two US Drug Enforcement Agency officials and a former unnamed US ambassador to Cambodia confirmed to Human Rights Watch that the US government was aware of Hok Lundy’s involvement in drug trafficking.
Above bring our attention to Cambodia Constitution Article 46 states:
• The commerce of human beings, exploitation by prostitution and obscenity which affect the reputation of women shall be prohibited.
• A woman shall not lose her job because of pregnancy. Women shall have the right to take maternity leave with full pay and with no loss of seniority or other social benefits.
• The State and society shall provide opportunities to women, especially to those living in rural areas without adequate social support, so they can get employment, medical care, and send their children to school, and to have decent living conditions.
Given no matter how loud the Union leaders protested, yet he shamelessly boasted the bogus achievements and prostituted himself as a leader to protect his thug ministers. Cambodia is recorded as the country filled with majority as women. They received unequal pay and respect in work environment. State educational system failed to retain and educate young girls and women. With the increase rate of uneducated and unskilled women, the Women’s Affairs Ministry skillfully cooked the number and managed to have Hun Sen to lie to the public on records.
In the face of the world scrutiny and women outrage year after year, laws said one thing while the Handyman Hun Sen did other thing. Yet the women suffer more in any which way in this male chauvinistic government.
To the eyes, the Women’s Affairs Ministry is under the Grande Dame Française Eung Kanthaphavy, a turned coat, gained a lot of praises as she dances to Mr. Hun Sen’s Rectangular Strategy-phase II, which is crafted by Hun Sen on the back of current Royal palace occupant to draw annual donations from generous foreign donors to enrich his handful entrenched ministers personal coffer.
To prove points, let’s look at some examples so we can validate how sincere Hun Sen and his cohorts seeing women rights eyes to eyes.
Sadly not long ago, due to inept in leadership and core ethics of health professionalism, a pregnant woman was refused service and care because her husband had no $25 to pay officials upfront. She was left to die in disgrace. In universal medical practice, medic shall not refuse care but save life no matter what economic condition the patient is in. This is a double murder and criminal charge for that staff. But it’s unlikely the Grande Dame Eung would move a finger.
I wonder how many more women had to die from abuse of power before the women’s affairs ministry will do something to stop that.
In democratic and political form, recently one of the few women in National Assembly was verbally attacked publically over the radio and press outlets. Because of her difference in political belief and affiliation, she’s degraded and dehumanized with pervasive insults. No respect for her at all.
Supposedly, per constitution, this MP ’s deemed protection and respect as not only a citizen but a rightful parliamentarian. Regardless Mr.Hun Sen blatantly disregarded her constitutionality as a minority-women rights and his duty as the whole Cambodia leader.
In individual sexuality orientation, Mr.Hun Sen , indeed, dehumanized his adopted daughter because of her sexuality preference. He had not only belittled but castrated her in public address over the radio broadcast. As a parent and a mature man, he heartlessly humiliated and degraded her to muse the crowd.
His examples in practice is surely put conscionable people in doubts how serious and sincere in his keynote address to women. His unbecoming conduct concerned not only Cambodian women but the entire gender. In personal level what Hun Sen said in Conference are unsubstantive.
As long as Hun Sen remains in power, women in Cambodia will remain at the bottom social strata. What he said to get votes and did are two different things.
Remember, once was a liar will die a liar?
Until this day, the outcry over anti-corruption laws impasses and the growth of human trafficking and sex exploitation in country seemed escape Hun Sen eye entirely as he lied to the women in attendance of this staged conference in the faces.