Antibes and Hilary and Roy King

In CategoryJohns blog

I have corrected the Donors page today. You will see a couple of blogs down about a wonderful visit from Eva and Roland who live in both Sweden and Antibes (Cote d’Azur, France. Antibes, through Hilary’s shows and entertainments in france have always been one of our very biggest helpers… one time – a Caterer at the Monaco Grand Priz, just along from Antibes donated a large sum and the children in Cambodia were wide eyed at the thought of racing cars through the streets.

Roland has just pointed out to me that neither Antibes nor Hilary and Roy are listed as Donors. I was amazed when I checked – sorry. I’ve added both Antibes and Hilary and Roy. If you look at the first ever real blog dated July 2 2011 you can see that it’s Hilary who orgaises shows for “Our Cambodian Family’ People from all around Antibes attend her shows and the money comes to us. A lot of Hilary’s money is in there too. I am also adding Mags Aldridge, Hilary’s number one helper. Its to Mags that I send new photos big enough to project…. If YOU dear reader of this want to fund raise some how for us and need 1mb photos then please email me on and I’ll send you what you need. John.

Diamond Island Bridge – dismantling.

In CategoryJohns blog

There is a Blog dated July this year (scroll down) about the disaster on this small bridge that killed 353 people.

The link above is about the dismantling of that bridge – started yesterday. There is nothing actually wrong or faulty with the bridge but there is now a new bridge on each side of it to carry people and traffic. Since the accident almost no one has been willing to use the fateful bridge…. so… yesterday work commenced to dismantle it. John.

Friends from Sweden. Amazing day. Great photos.

In CategoryJohns blog






On December 22 2011 friends from Sweden visited us. When they got to Phnom Penh, Roland and Eva phoned and asked ‘what do you need’?…… Well, with 1000 children in three schools and a Clinic underway – we need a lot. I met them part way to guide them through the dirt tracks – they were carrying in a car, 1000 excercise books and pens, text books, posters, balls….. a lot.

I took them to see ALL the children and the Clinic construction…The Clinic will serve several roles and is unique, certainly in South East Asia. It’s part of the school and will care for children, but also some 12 villages. The nurses (when we employ them) will also visit the villages to teach nutrition and hygeine. BUT perhaps the nurses most important initial role will be to intervene when there are early illness signs and liase with hospitals a long bus ride away. This is in no small part inspired by ‘Nang’s Story’ and Auntie’s unnecessary blindness (See the sections of this site)..

SO: today I have added 18 photos and notes, mostly to the ‘Schools’ section to your right and also ‘Nang’s Story’, ‘Helping This Way’ and ‘Village Life.’ As you can see there are just 3 photos in this Blog…… first turn to the end of the ‘Schools’ section. please enjoy. John.


Christmas Day in Cambodia

In CategoryJohns blog

It has been a very busy two weeks in our villages in Prey Veng Province, culminating 3 days ago with a visit from friends from Sweden.

Tomorrow I will add some 20 or more photos from their visit. You will also see the very first photos of the start of building our Clinic. The Clinic is based physically in our main school complex but will outreach to up to 12 villages, for both young and old. All the photos will be in the Blog and repeated in appropriate places within the website eg. alongside earlier photos of the same person. Merry Christmas everyone. John.

Ieng Thirith is NOT to be released

In CategoryJohns blog

This is an article from today’s VOA/khmer online. Yesterday I publishedan extensive article about the effects of the Tribunal on our villages. It is still only the three men who will stand trial – at least initially; Ieng Thirith will remain in detention to see if her condition improves enough to testify. I will alter yesterdays BLOG accordingly and the article that is within the Khmer Rouge section..(see index to your right)

Photo: VOA Khmer
Former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister Ieng Thirith sits at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, file photo.

“If the court releases Ieng Thirith, I will stand in front of the convoy bringing her out of detention.”

The Khmer Rouge tribunal said Tuesday it would not grant immediate release to jailed regime leader Ieng Thirith, who had been found mentally unfit to stand trial.

In a decision by the tribunal’s Supreme Court Chamber, an appeal by prosecutors to hold Ieng Thirith was granted.

“The Supreme Court Chamber found that the Trial Chamber must exhaust all available measures potentially capable of helping [Ieng Thirith] to become fit to stand trial,” the UN-backed court said in a statement.

The decision was made “in the light of the possibility, albeit slight, of a meaningful improvement in the mental health of the Accused.”

Medical experts told the court earlier this year Ieng Thirith’s mental state had deteriorated under Alzheimer’s disease and she could no longer remember her time as the regime’s social affairs minister.

“The Supreme Court Chamber concluded that the original ground for keeping the Accused in provisional detention, namely to ensure her presence during the proceedings, remains valid and relevant,” the court said.

The judges have requested additional treatment for Ieng Thirith “which may help improve her mental health to such extent that she becomes fit to stand trial,” the court said. “Such treatment is to be carried out in a hospital or other appropriate facility in Cambodia.”

Ieng Thirith would then be re-evaluated within six months to determine whether she is fit to stand trial, the court said. She will remain in detention at the tribunal until further arrangements for her treatment can be made.

The decision was welcomed by victims of the regime.

Chhum Mey, 79, who survived the Khmer Rouge torture center at Tuol Sleng, said she should be held by the court because she has been accused of mass killings.

“If the court releases Ieng Thirith, I will stand in front of the convoy bringing her out of detention,” said Chea Por Houy, 73, another survivor of the regime. “I’ll let the cars hit me, because I’m not afraid to die.”

The effect on village people of the complete denials of guilt by the most senior Khmer Rouge leaders – the villagers are angry and talk.

In CategoryJohns blog
John 13th December 2011
This article is added it to the end of the Khmer Rouge section (check through the index on the right of screen). I think it is significant in that 80% of Cambodian live in villages and KNOW these men are guilty…and the villagers TALK to each other. We reprint it here in the Blog in its entirety. John.
The effects of the Khmer Rouge War Crimes Tribunal on our villages in Kamchay Mear.
The photo is of Ming  (Auntie) who is around 90 years of age and has excellent mental faculties. The village and Auntie open up about the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnam War
I first arrived in Cambodia as a tourist in 2004 and visited Chuor Ph’av village in early 2005. Since that time no one has ever mentioned either the US bombing of much of Eastern Cambodia during the Vietnam War or even the Khmer Rouge until one week ago. (I am publishing this on December 13 2011) Indeed I was initially told a half truth – “You are the first white man anyone has met in this village in anyones memory.” said to me by Auntie in 2004. Auntie is around 90 years old now and blind (referred to frequently through this website.).. She now tells me – she doesn’t count angry soldiers with guns as people she has ‘met’.
The people of the villages listen to the news on radios. I now know that they have been fully aware of all the preparations and arguments and now the Khmer Rouge trials themselves –
Khmer Rouge Tribunal
First of all there was Comrade Duch the beaurocratic psychopath who ran the S21 torture and interroagtion prison from which, nightly, inmates were taken to the Killing Fields. In all Duch oversaw the murder of some 16,000 people during the KR four year reign. He admitted guilt but he repeatedly claimed that he was following strict orders from the leaders on pain of death if he refused. He was found guilty and is in prison…… SO,  then everyone waited for the trial of the ‘leaders’ – the obviously guilty ones.
Over the years many ‘leaders’ have of course died of old age – effectively leaving four of the most senior to stand trial. Recently the ‘First Lady’ of the regime, Ieng Thirith has been found to have what is probably Alzheimer’s disease and has been released.
(She is probably as guilty as the others and was Minister of Social Action in the Government of ‘Democratic Kampuchea’) EDIT DEC 14: MANY ARE RELIEVED THAT SHE REMAINS IN CUSTODY>
That leaves the three men.
Nuon Chea – Brother number two (Pol Pot was number one). He was regarded as Pol Pot’s deputy.
Kheu Samphan – President (although Pol Pot was above him)
Iieng Sery – Foreign Minister with the government of Democratic Kampuchea.
Our villagers and people across the country have listened intently as the three men have been accused. Brother number two first – accused of everything imaginable. and that he oversaw and demanded all the crimes we know of. Many are ready to testify that it was all done on the orders of the regime leaders.
So everyone waited for the initial defence responses from these three….. One by one the three old men simply angrily accused everyone else of committing the crimes they are accused of. They demanded apologies and asked to be released.
Brother number 2, Nuon Chea, claims he is COMPLETELY innocent and that it was ‘the Vietnamese and a few rogue elements in the Khmer Rouge who committed atrocities.’ He went on to claim that he loved Cambodia and that in fact he was a hero… As if to ‘ice the cake’ he added that monks would be his witness that he loved Cambodia…….
….. {several international commentators pointed out that it would be difficult to find any monks who survived the Khmer Rouge since most of them were murdered on the orders of these very men!!}
All three are saying the same sorts of things and saying that they new nothing of torture, rapes and forced marriages to soldiers, not to mention 2 million deaths.
Soon the forced evacuation of all cities will be addressed and surely they can’t deny that they ordered this (it was right at the beginning). Some of the worst things happened on these marches to the rural areas.. All hospitals had been emptied so of course, a great many died en route. It is probable that 1000s died in those first days and then as crops failed and the regime got harsher and harsher, 1000s died of starvation.
There have now been three weeks of initial statements from both prosecution and defence – leaving the nation, first in shock at their claims of innocence but now there is anger and some confusion.
The feeling of Khmer people seems to be, ‘how can they obviously believe that they are innocent?’
In Chuor Ph’av village
In the Kamchay Mear District of Prey Veng in South Eastern Cambodia, the older men and women – people over 40 – are TALKING for the first time since 1979.
Three weeks ago in our villages it was rice cutting time (harvesting) – hard work – all the daylight hours -. In the evening, people gathered and ate and drank rice wine – and talked and talked and talked.
The Khmer Rouge was supposedly all about an ‘Agrarian Revolution’ – a return to absolute farming basics… basically the Stone Age….. SO you might expect that dirt poor rice farmers in Prey Veng would be spared or even applauded… remember the Khmer Rouge were evacuating everyone to rural areas and were killing ALL ‘educated’ people.- but no – the villages suffered too. Firstly the soldiers AND the leaders  took everything they needed and wanted. Rape was the norm and forced marriage to KR soldiers, universal.
The house in which I stay was built in 1980 and is a poor replacemnt for the family home that the KR  dimantled, stole and took away along with ALL the family’s possessions. the soldiers ordered AUNTIE (photo) and Chanthou’s mother and 5 brothers and sisters of Chanthou (she was born in 1979) outside. Chanthou’s father (died in 2000) protested about now having no home, so the Khmer Rouge punished him by burying him up to his neck where his house once stood.
His wife and children were not allowed to approach him. Luckily that brigade was called away after one week and the family dug him out alive.
The brigade returned and were on their usual food hunt…. this meant they took ALL food and stock – all animals – leaving the village with nothing.. Chanthou’s mother hid three eggs in the mouths of three children. The soldiers were looking everywhere – the boy, Mao (now a policeman) started to choke and coughed up an egg. His mother (still alive today) was very lucky – she was taken away to prison but only for one week. People throughout Cambodia were routinely killed for similar offences.
BUT for the villages, particularly of Eastern Cambodia, this hadn’t been the beginning of their problems:
Vietnam War
In a straight line (by plane) the Vietnam border is 18 kilometres away; it’s rough terrain and at the time, jungle; no one normally crossed over.
During the Vietnam War (immediately prior to the KR years) the US government denied it ever made incursions into Cambodia and certainly strongly denied the US was dropping any bombs on Cambodian soil. Cambodia was not an enemy. Cambodia was a FRIEND.
HOWEVER, US action in Cambodia soon became known as Kissenger and Nixon’s ‘Secret War’.
The USA was to drop more bombs on Cambodia than they had dropped on Japan during the whole of World War 2.
Being so close to the border and fairly close to Saigon, Kamchay Mear suffered badly.
The people of Chuor Ph’av, led by Auntie,  told me, ‘The American soldiers came often and were looking for Vitnamese. Soon we had to hide pale skinned Cambodians because the Americans killed people with pale skin in our villages incase they were Vietnamese.” Auntie didn’t know how many were killed “because we had to keep moving but it must have been many’.
If that’s not bad enough, US bombs alone killed 500,000 innocent Cambodian civillians. Mao, the poliemen in the egg incident (above) showed me three places in two fields right by the house – one minute walk away – where bombs were dropped. (there is a map showing bomb sites in the Khmer Rouge section of the website).
Future of the Khmer Rouge TribunalThere is much concern in local and international media that more people should be tried for the Khmer Rouge atrocities – but it is looking unlikely.
So far, the effect of the tribunal, especially the opening salvos with the three leaders, is I think of great value already. People are talking and sharing and SOME justice will be done. As legal observers have suggested, Cambodia cannot help but learn something of good law and justice. The Cambodian justice system is well used to political influence in some legal decisions – there may be some element of that, but without doubt these three men are guilty and the fact that they are denying it is leading to very healthy discussions.
I’ve said it before, but it can be repeated -The Khmer Rouge methods resulted in the most successful selctive mass murder in the world’s history by selecting educated people to kill. You see, it had occurred to these leaders of the Khmer Rouge, quite rightly, that the greatest enemy of their political system was ‘opposition’ – and since they also wanted to return the nation to what was in essence, The Stone Age, killing educated people would solve all problems. The tribunal continues.

27 new photos embedded today within the sections

In CategoryJohns blog

These photos with stories are in the ‘Helping This Way’ section










The above photos along with two others are in the “helping This Way’ section and start to tell the story of planning for OUR CLINIC being built in the gap between the second school and the teachers house. The clinic will serve several needs. It will be a base for health Education and also a kind of triage home to determine who might be sick and if so….where to go for help.

There are a number of new photos in the ‘Village Children’ Section. These are some of them:










In ‘Village Life” there are several photos with stories – here are three of the photos:











Many people are particularly moved by’ Nang’s Story’.. This photo of her baby daughter is added today.






We’ve added this photo of John to the ‘Rotary’ section.

There are 14 photos in today’s blog out of the 27 embedded within the site in their appropriate places. We hope you enjoy them and maybe try to help us by clicking on Clee’s Help Me button and giving our villages a little help through PayPal. Thanks.





who attends prison appeals?

In CategoryJohns blog

This is further to an article that is already on the site about the terrible and
overcrowded state of Khmer prisons.

Remember that ‘prison’ is the only
form of punishment in Cambodia for people with no money.. No community
service, no probation etc etc –


December 8 2011

95% of inmates in Cambodian jails are prevented from attending any of
their appeal hearings because most of the jails don’t own transport
and no one has petrol. That is 22 of Cambodia’s jails; the other 4
jails are in Phnom Penh and that’s the 5% of prisoners who can get to

Cambodia 1965: a 56 minute documentary

In CategoryJohns blog
For young Khmer who don’t remember 1965 and for those who remember and find it impossible to tell young Khmer that Cambodia was “the Pearl of the Orient”.. THIS IS THE FILM TO WATCH. Many westerners reading this have been to Cambodia in recent years or seen recent photos – this film shows WEALTH, CARS and INDUSTRY. This is essential viewing.
The Khmer Rouge destroyed so much. US bombing was terrible (The US dropped more bombs on Cambodia than they dropped on Japan during WW2 and at the time denied to the UN that it was happening) but ALL the lasting damage was done by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. Cambodia is still trying to rebuild. Yesterday, today and for several more months, the three main Khmer Rouge leaders are on trial  – and denying guilt. This denial is having a profound effect in Cambodia – people everywhere are talking through their experiences. In a few days time I will write from OUR villages giving their experience of those disastrous years.