A little taste of what it’s like riding on the roads in Phnom Penh.
This is Olesia Plokhii’s, journalist at The Cambodia Daily, account of the murder of Chut Wutty and the days preceding it – read the full story here.
“The two remaining officers dragged their dead friend’s body to a nearby dwelling and then began searching in and around the car, making cellphone calls, whispering and huddling. They checked the woods where we had darted for cover. When they returned, one asked Bopha: “Where’s the gun, where did you put the gun?” We knew nothing about any gun, and we feared a frame-up. Time passed, and two more soldiers arrived. “Just kill them both,” Bopha heard one of them say. They talked about whether to move the car into the forest, out of sight. “They are going to rape us and kill us,” Bopha said. “I am going to faint.” Fear crippled me too. “Tell me if you hear them say it again, and we’ll run,” I finally said. “They’ll shoot us in the back,” she argued. “We’ll die running,” I told her. She nodded.”
Well, a few strange days…
Ate my first crickets. Yes, insect crickets.
Received this text from a friend only moments ago:
“Horrible Cambodia moment, just watched dead rigor mortis body pulled from river in Stung Meanchey. This place can be way too full on sometimes, right?”
And read this in the ‘Police Blotter’ section of the paper today:
‘Man kills neighbour with crossbow in revenge for eating his pet monkey’
Yeah, you read that right.
I see Pauline Hanson has been hired by ‘Today Tonight’ to do some ‘investigative journalism’.
At the moment Australia is the weirder of the two countries.
This morning I went from the brink of tears reading the Phnom Penh Post to insane rage reading The Age website.
Let’s look at the difference in headlines between Melbourne and Cambodia on the 17th of May shall we?
‘A FORMER student who is suing Geelong Grammar School says she decided to seek damages after she failed to qualify for her preferred university course.
Rose Ashton-Weir, 18, alleges Geelong Grammar gave her inadequate academic support, particularly in maths.‘
I want to strangle the mother and daughter pair, Ashton-Weir, while they are forced to watch art house films whose content includes the harm of puppies and kittens.
Teenage girl shot dead in Kratie land eviction – Phnom Penh Post
Warning – Link contains photograph of murdered teenager, Heng Chantha. This sickening photograph greeted me as I picked up the paper this morning.
‘A 14-year-old girl was shot dead this morning by heavily armed officials who opened fire on a group of about 1,000 families they were sent to evict in Kratie province, military police have confirmed.‘
“I have been living in that area for about seven years already, now they come to take my house and give the land to the company. They were very cruel to shoot on villagers like we are animals,” she said.
And then this for good measure:
‘The U.N. envoy, Surya Subedi, said Friday that Cambodia’s system of land concessions appears riddled with problems, including low transparency and minimal consultation with affected communities. Subedi is due to make a formal report on the issue later this year to the U.N. Human Rights Council.‘
I can’t wait to hear/read the eternal UN catch phrase ‘express concern’.
Wutty was accompanied by two Cambodia Daily journalists when he was murdered. One of the journalists was an expat from Canada. These words were spoken by Cambodian military police immediately after the slaying of environmental activist Wutty.
“Just kill them both,” said the Cambodian military police officer.
Or if that isn’t enough, how about trying this one – Cambodia’s journalists still ‘at risk’ when pushed. By the Phnom Penh Post.
Environmental activist Chut Wutty reportedly shot dead at police checkpoint after refusing to hand over evidence of illegal logging. Read the full article on The Guardian here.
At times I believe there is no hope for this country. It’s not just this one incident. It’s the numerous incidents that go unpunished, not only by local authorities but also international aid agencies and human rights organisations. Frustration boils over. Spineless organisations ‘investigating’ with no change, results or accountability.
The white linen on his bed hides nothing. Each time he walks into his room he can’t help but notice the brown sweat marks soaked into the pillow cases and numerous yellow stains dotted across the sheets left by open football wounds.
In fact he doesn’t necessarily like his room at all. It is small and pokey. The bed head is covered with varied marks where children have removed stickers of their favourite cartoon characters. The curtains are covered in an awful floral arrangement and aren’t thick enough to keep the morning light from penetrating.
It’s the dry season. At night a mounted fan pushes warm air over him which only exasperates his eye problems. Each night he carefully inspects the layer of filth oozing over his contact lenses. It disgusts him. He can only imagine what is in the air. He can smell it. It sticks to him.
A friend who recently returned to New York visited a doctor after several weeks of chest pain. The doctor was shocked at his condition “It is astounding; it’s almost if you’ve been living above an open sewer.”
He moved uneasily in his chair as he recalled it now.
Reaching for the self prescribed eye drops, he squeezed two drops in each eye. The solution ran down his cheeks until it caught the corners of his mouth. He refused to wear glasses. In the afternoon heat they slid down his sweaty nose annoying him immensely. He hated feeling the grime on this face as he pushed them back into position.
After washing his face he stared in the mirror for a long time. There were more grey hairs. He looked tired in the afternoon heat. His face was red and the rings around his eyes made him look older than his thirty years.
It was hard to concentrate in the heat. This week especially he had caught himself staring at the monitor not really aware of what he was meant to be doing. A stand alone fan gently blew against him during the day. Again, this only exasperated his eye problems.
The only thing that seemed to revitalise him was evening exercise. In the cool of the night he ran a 5km path mapped through the city centre. Each night he passed familiar faces, gently raising a hand in friendly recognition. He had lost 6kg since January and was as fit as he had ever been. The family below his apartment made exaggerated running motions as he hastily declined the stairs in his running gear.
He often wondered what the neighbours thought of him.
The rotation of women from his apartment amused them. His balcony was the perfect size to entertain. Some nights he’d cook while others he’d order in. The commotion on the street was a welcome topic of conversation if things weren’t going too well. He’d usually play blues through his speakers as empty wine bottles gathered on the floor around them.
He was in a much better place after a messy and painful visit from an ex-girlfriend. Recently he had even surprised himself by telling an attractive young woman they should no longer see each other as he thought she was ‘trouble’. Years ago that wouldn’t have happened. Years ago he would’ve welcomed the drama. He was no longer in the mood for games, just someone to share his time with, someone relaxed.
Dating was fun and came easily to him. He was affable and found it easy to make new friends. He was often told he was handsome but thought that was more a product of his nature than his physical appearance. Doubt crept into his mind constantly but he had new methods in keeping these feelings at bay.
In his spare time he was reading and writing less. This caused him some concern especially as he had just been accepted into a Masters of Creative Writing. He wasn’t entirely sure if he would undertake the course. Academia didn’t appeal to him and the thought of analysing his writing was a turn off. He just wanted to write. Paying thousands of dollars to critique himself seemed unnecessary, especially as he could work and earn a decent wage.
Volunteering in Cambodia had been a life changing experience in many ways. Horizons he had no idea existed opened ahead of him and he was feeling buoyed by the opportunities.
An absolutely fantastic video about Friends-International by a KSL in Utah, featuring Gustav who I worked with closely during the Laos cookbook launch ‘From Honeybees to Pepperwood’.
Another day, another life saved.
Well, not by me. I sit here and program, watch Twitter and occasionally post on Facebook.
I’m surprised at how much I’ve come to appreciate the Friends-International programs. As I’ve said all along, I’ve not come from a development background so it’s all been new to me.
I feel I can’t use that line any longer. I’ve been here since October 2010 (hopefully not a lifer!) and have a firm grasp on the development community and have begun streaming the live feed of the Khmer Rouge trials at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodian. Next thing I’ll be photographed leading children onto a plane bound for Australia…
Anywho, this video is of a partnership program for the protection of children between those mentioned in the title. I’ve posted it because it includes my good mate Luke who is doing a fantastic job here at Friends. We’re all very lucky to work here, it’s a fantastic organisation. It really, really is. Kool aid anyone? It won’t hurt, you’ll just feel very, very sleepy. That’s it, let the darkness take you.
Oh, and keep your eye out for the first of the many Friends websites I’m project managing. Online very, very soon…
And while you’re at it, turn up your volume and check out the song to the right. I think I’m in love.
There are four defendants in Case 002:
The four defendants were initially indicted and ordered to be sent for trial in a Closing Order issued by the Co-Investigating Judges on 15 September 2010. Following appeals from all four defendants, the Pre-Trial Chamber confirmed and partially amended the indictments and ordered the case to be sent for trial on 13 January 2011.
The defendants are indicted on charges of crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and genocide.
The trial commenced with the start of the initial hearing on 27 June 2011. The opening statements in the trial commenced on 21 November 2011.