Archive for June 2012
The Outcome of the Second Meeting of the Cambodia-Thailand Joint Working Group (JWG) for the implementation of the ICJ’s order for provisional measures dated
18 July 2011
on 26-28June 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The Cambodian Joint Working Group (JWG-C) led by General Neang Phat, Secretary of State, Ministry of National Defense and Chairman of the JWG for the implementation of the ICJ’s order for provisional measures dated 18 July 2011 accompanied by representatives from the Office of the Council of Ministers, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ministry of National Defense, Ministry of Interior, Border Committee, Council of Jurists, Governor of Preah Vihear Province, Commander of Military Region 4, Commander of Intervention Division 3, representative from National Police held the second meeting with the Thai Counterpart led by Gen. Worapong Sanganetra, Joint Chief of Staff of Royal Thai Army on 27-28 June 2012. Both sides assigned their technical working group comprised of 7 members each to discuss the content of the record of discussion led by H.E. Mr. Suos Yara, Under Secretary of State of the Office of the Council of Ministers for Cambodian side and Gen. Nipat Thonglek, Director General of General Department of Policy and Planning and Lt. Gen. Voravit Darunchoo, Director of Department of Border Affairs for Thai side. It took 25 hours for this purpose. The meeting has agreed as follows:
1. The Second Meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG-2) was held on 26 – 28 June 2012 in Phnom Penhin a warm and friendly atmosphere, on the basis of equality, equity, and mutual benefits of both countries.
2. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the ICJ’s Order.
3. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to maintain and to promote long-standing peaceful co-existence between the peoples of the two countries and to prevent harmful activities which may adversely affect the PDZ.
4. Both sides have been working closely toward the progress of good cooperation based on the existing mechanisms. The aforementioned cooperation has contributed to sustainable peace at the border areas between the two countries, especially in the Provisional Demilitarized Zone (PDZ) as determined by the ICJ’s Order for Provisional Measures.
5. Both sides agreed to task CMAC and TMAC to discuss joint-demining plan in order to provide safety to the Joint Observers Team (JOT) and to facilitate the process of redeployment in the third week of July 2012 in Bangkok.
6. The redeployment should be carried out within 30 days under the inspection ofthe Joint Observers Team (JOT) after the completion of joint-demining by CMAC and TMAC in the required areas starting from the priority point A,B,C,D of the PDZ determined by ICJ.
7. Both sides acknowledged the progress of the work of the JWG and were pleased with the outcome of the Meeting.
8. The Third Meeting of the JWG shall be held in Thailand at a mutually agreed date.
AFP,28 June 2012
A labour rights group said Thursday it had found “deplorable” conditions at Apple suppliers in China, following a probe of several firms that make the US technology giant’s hugely popular products.
New York-based China Labor Watch said a four-month investigation of 10 suppliers to Apple in southern and eastern China uncovered violations of workers’ rights, including excessive overtime and hazardous work conditions.
“This investigation of 10 different Apple factories in China finds that harmful, damaging work environments characterised by illegally long hours for low levels of pay are widespread in Apple’s supply (chain),” it said.
The report was based on surveys and interviews of 620 workers, as well as first-hand observations by a team of six, including some who entered the factories undercover.
The lengthy report followed findings announced in March by the Fair Labor Association (FLA), which toured three Chinese suppliers with Apple’s consent and also reported on forced overtime and other problems.
China Labor Watch director Li Qiang urged the California-based company’s chief executive Tim Cook to make good on repeated pledges to improve.
“Apple should take the responsibility to change the poor working conditions of those workers,” Li told AFP.
Apple did not immediately respond to request for comment on the latest report, but Cook said in February that the company took ensuring good working conditions at its suppliers seriously and was constantly fixing problems.
Following the FLA report, Apple’s largest supplier, Taiwan’s Foxconn, also pledged to end workplace abuses at its factories in China, including overtime above the amount permitted by Chinese law.
Foxconn has come under scrutiny since 2010, following a spate of suicides and incidents of labour unrest at its Chinese plants.
At least 13 of its employees died in apparent suicides in 2010, with several more deaths last year.
China Labor Watch said other Apple suppliers had treated their staff worse than Foxconn, which has received the most attention.
“The labour rights violations at Foxconn also exist in virtually all other Apple supplier factories and in many cases are actually significantly more dire than Foxconn,” the report said.
The labour group found employees worked an average of between 100 and 130 hours of overtime a month at the 10 factories, well above China’s legal limit of 36 hours.
Low wages compelled workers to accept overtime and some factories did not properly compensate them for the hours, it said.
Working conditions in factories that produce cases for Apple products were especially poor, including exposure to loud noise and toxic chemicals, the report said.
Workers had little ability to push for better conditions because they did not know how independent unions functioned, it said. China only allows only one national trade union, which has links to the government.
Foxconn responded to the report on Thursday by saying it was committed to making changes following the FLA audit in March.
“The process of change in our company continues, and competitive wages, improved living conditions and the abolition of the use of dispatched workers by our company are some examples of this,” it said in a statement.
Another company named in the report, a unit of US-headquartered Jabil Circuit in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, denied some of the accusations, including no limits on overtime for some workers.
“Some of the things said by employees do not conform with the company’s situation. We abide by state regulations,” a personnel official, who declined to be named, told AFP.
Apple products are wildly popular in China, where the iPhone and iPad are particularly coveted by wealthy consumers.
China Labor Watch said more than 70 percent of the workers it surveyed did not own Apple products but would like to have at least one.
PHNOM PENH, June 28 (Xinhua) — Cambodia and Thailand have moved a step forward toward troop withdrawal from the disputed border area surrounding the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, said both sides’ officials on Thursday.
Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) and Thailand Mine Action Center (TMAC) will hold a talk in Bangkok in the third week of July this year to discuss measures and planning for a joint mine clearance in the Provisional Demilitarized Zone (PDZ) surrounding the temple ahead of troop withdrawal and observers deployment, according to a joint press release read by Gen. Neang Phat, secretary of state at Cambodia’s defense ministry, after the second meeting of Cambodia-Thailand Joint Working Group (JWG).
“The redeployment of military personnel from the PDZ will be implemented within 30 days after CMAC and TMAC have cleared mines in the PDZ,” said the joint press release, adding that the troop redeployment will be witnessed by a joint observer team.
“The meeting was held in a close and friendly atmosphere and concluded with good results,” Neang Phat said. “Both sides reiterated commitment to comply with the order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).”
Gen. Worapong Sanganetra, chief of joint staff at the Royal Thai Army, said that the meeting achieved “good results” and reflected “good cooperation between the two sides’ militaries”.
“We vowed to build close and mutual cooperation to find ways to solve the issues for the interests of the two countries and peoples,” he said in his closing remarks.
The JWG was established in last December to work toward complete troop pullout from the PDZ surrounding Preah Vihear temple in order to comply with the ICJ’s order dated on July 18, 2011.
The order said Cambodia and Thailand must immediately withdraw their military personnel from the PDZ and allow ASEAN observers to access to the zone to monitor ceasefire.
Cambodia and Thailand had border conflict just a week after the UNESCO approved Cambodia’s bid to have the Preah Vihear temple named a World Heritage Site on July 07, 2008, but Thailand claims the ownership of 4.6 square kilometers (1.8 square miles) of scrub next to the temple.
The conflict led to deadly armed clashes in February and April in 2011 during Thailand’s Democrat Party rule.
PHNOM PENH, June 28 (Xinhua) — The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) on Thursday commemorated the 61st anniversary of its birth, highlighting its significant roles in maintaining peace and political stability and in bringing remarkable development to the country since the fall of the Democratic Kampuchea regime in 1979.
The celebration was presided over by the party’s honorary president Heng Samrin, who is also the president of the National Assembly, and Prime Minister Hun Sen, the party’s vice-president.
The party’s president and head of the Senate, Chea Sim, failed to attend the event due to health problems.
“Under the leadership of the CPP, Cambodia is making a swift and energetic step on the path of development,” Heng Samrin told the gathering of about 13,000 supporters at the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district.
He said since the collapse of the Democratic Kampuchea regime in 1979, the CPP has led efforts to restore and reconstruct the country from scratch. To date, the party has scored various major achievements for the nation.
“Now, the country is full of peace, stability and sound economic development,” he said.
Meanwhile, Heng Samrin, on behalf of the CPP, reaffirmed that the party would continue to support the candidacy of Hun Sen for the post of Prime Minister for the fifth term, in which the general elections will be held in July next year.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power for 27 years.
The CPP, formerly known as the Khmer People’s Revolutionary Party, was founded on June 28, 1951, aimed at leading the struggle to win independence from the French colonialism at that time.
YANGON, June 28 (Xinhua) — Myanmar official media said on Thursday that a recent report by the U.S. government on human trafficking for 2012 indicated Myanmar’s progress in this regard.
Myanmar was put to Tier-2 watch list from Tier-3, the lowest level over the years.
The report acknowledged measures taken by Myanmar against human trafficking, such as setting up hotline to respond to public complaints and forming 16,589 community-based watch groups to guard against human trafficking, the New Light of Myanmar reported.
The report also includes Myanmar’s implementation of the plan on elimination of forced labor in cooperation with the International Labor Organization (ILO), legislation of new laws to deal with forced labor and efforts to protect its workers in Thailand, it said.
The country has been implementing a five-year plan on putting human trafficking under control.
Statistics show that Myanmar has taken action to thwart 2,328 human traffickers since 2006.
The U.S. government ranks the position by reviewing the efforts by nations in the fight against human trafficking after evaluating the lowest norm included in the provisions of the law on Protection of Victims against Human Trafficking-2010.
The Tier-3 in this year’s report includes 17 countries out of a total of 186 nations in the world. Financial sanctions will be imposed against them if they fail to show significant progress in 90 days.
Wednesday, Jun 27, 2012
BANGKOK – Laos has held its first ever gay pride event in what supporters hope is a sign of softening social values in the small communist country.
Although homosexuality is legal in Laos, it is frowned upon by many among the socially conservative nation of around six million people, and event organisers decided against holding a parade as is common at global pride events.
Instead around 100 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people gathered on a US embassy sports field in the capital Vientiane to watch performances relating to their marginalised position in society and sip beers provided by the capital’s handful of gay-friendly bars.
Organised by the embassy and local activists, the June 25 “Proud to be Us!” event also drew a senior government health representative, the US embassy said – a positive sign in one of the world’s few remaining communist countries.
“I think everyone involved realised that this event was just a first step, so there was no big agenda or set of specific issues we wanted to focus on,” Mike Pryor, the US embassy’s deputy public affairs officer, told AFP from Vientiane.
“The goal was to spread the message that LGBT people are valued and loved, and regardless of sexual orientation everyone should be treated with dignity and respect and be allowed to contribute fully to society,” he said.
Although they are rarely victims of violence, gay and transgender people in Laos face widespread discrimination and find it hard to find work in government or other high status sectors, leaving many in poorly paid jobs and the sex industry.
The US wants gay rights to be recognised as basic human rights, Pryor said, adding that the issue is high on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s agenda.
Laos is a land-locked mountainous nation where a bloody civil war ended in 1975, thrusting a communist government to power that has kept strict control over the country despite taking some steps towards economic liberalisation.
Homosexuality is widely accepted over the border in Thailand, although it is still taboo in neighbouring Myanmar which held its first gay pride event in May.
French actor Alain Delon (R) shakes hands with Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi next to France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (L)
Thursday, Jun 28, 2012
PARIS – Myanmar’s democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi wraps up her triumphant tour of Europe in France on Thursday, after being lauded during her visits as a model of peaceful resistance to dictatorship.
The Nobel Peace laureate – who spent almost two decades under house arrest for her freedom struggle – has been cheered by crowds and leaders on her five-nation tour, her first visit to Europe in a quarter-century.
In France, she was treated with honours normally reserved for a head of state, dining at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday with President Francois Hollande, who pledged support for her country’s transition towards democracy.
Myanmar was for decades ruled by an iron-fisted junta, but a reformist government under ex-general President Thein Sein has freed political prisoners and allowed Suu Kyi’s party back into mainstream politics.
Suu Kyi, 67, has in the past two weeks visited Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, Britain and now France, receiving rock star welcomes along the way.
The trip allowed her to finally give her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo, and to thank groups and institutions from the Rafto Foundation and Amnesty International to Oxford University for awards they have given her.
On Thursday she was to visit both houses of France’s parliament – the National Assembly and the Senate – and talk to students at the Sorbonne university in Paris.
She started the day with a 45-minute breakfast with former president Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in a Paris hotel.
On Wednesday, Suu Kyi received her 2004 honorary citizen of Paris certificate and was hailed by Mayor Bertrand Delanoe for her “tenacity” and “unshakeable faith” in her campaign for democracy in the country formerly called Burma.
Suu Kyi has enjoyed strong support among rights groups in France and was the subject of a 2011 French-English film biography, “The Lady”, directed by French filmmaker Luc Besson and starring Michelle Yeoh.
Suu Kyi also met Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and planted a tree in the ministry’s gardens.
“For us, you are the lady of human rights,” Fabius told her during the ceremony.
“We are just at the beginning of the road. We need to be extremely careful within the next three years,” Suu Kyi said at the ceremony, referring to parliamentary elections due in Myanmar in 2015.
On Tuesday, Hollande said France gave its full backing to the transition efforts in Myanmar, and said Paris was ready to welcome Thein Sein, who also received an invitation from former colonial ruler Britain last week.
Major Western powers have rolled back or suspended long-standing sanctions against Myanmar, a resource-rich but deeply impoverished country.
Suu Kyi has on her tour called for human rights-friendly investment.