Today – eleven school, village and Rotary photos with notes added

In CategoryJohns blog

Eleven new photos added today.

Four photos with notes are inserted within the BLOG dated February 3 2012 ‘ Beaudesert Rotary to the schools…’

Four photos with notes have been added to the current end of “Nang’s Story” – see right for the index.

Three photos with notes have been added to the current end of ‘Rotary’.

Please browse and enjoy – and if you possibly can, please try to help us with a tax deductible donation. We spend every dollar carefully and tell you clearly how its spent.    John.


Garment factory protests escalate.

In CategoryJohns blog

300,000 people, mostly young work in the nations garment and shoe factories. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will have found several articles about conditions and faintings…. In this news item from the BBC (many other news outlets too) it explains how as 1000 workers were protesting their low wages (around $2 per day for a 12 hour day) when one man, possibly ‘Security’ fired a gun and wounded some of the women. Personally I doubt whether it would have been POLICE. Hired sucurity by the owner is much more likely. John.

EDIT INSERTED MARCH 4 2012. – please see PART two posted as a blog dated March 4 above. The probable gun man is arrested – THE CITY GOVERNOR is charged with the shooting! John.

Khmer Rouge Trials latest update.

In CategoryJohns blog

The Khmer Rouge Trials are continuing with the three old men (see several earlier blogs) who are still currently denying everything possible and giving ridiculous excuses for things they can’t deny – eg. “we emptied the towns and cities to hide the population from probable Vietnamese invasion.”

See a recent blog about photos taken in 1978 that have emerged from a US foreign correspondent. The photos may be used by the prosecution of the three leaders and the woman herself -Elizabeth Becker – might be called as a witness for the prosecution. The photos show what Pol Pot allowed her to Photograph – obviosly stage managed cheery workers who were infact Khmer Roge cadre dressed as villagers especially for the photos. There are also photos of empty Phnom penh Streets.

The voa link above and the separate article below are  really where, hopefully, these trials are ALL heading. Documents are being prepared for the Cambodian people so they can see confessions and apolologies and life sentences. The two articles are both about the Duch’s confession about his role in orgainising and torturing and killing some 12,000 or more in S21. He appealed his 19 year sentence but instead of a shorter sentence, he will now spend the rest of his life in jail. John.

Trials continue and we as yet have no new news on any possibility of cases 3 and 4. (see earlier blogs). John.

Former Khmer Rouge S-21 prison chief Kaing Guek Eav alias Duch (C) greets the court during his appeal hearing at the Court Room of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on the outskirts of Phnom Penh February 3, 2012. The United Nations backed tribunal on Friday rejected Duch’s appeal and increased his sentence to life imprisonment, according to international media. (Photo: Reuters)

Court Begins Reparations Campaign

Monday, 20 February 2012
Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer | Phnom Penh

“I acknowledge the responsibility, especially, torture and the killing.”

The Khmer Rouge tribunal has launched a campaign to raise public awareness of reparations it brings to victims of the infamous S-21 prison in central Phnom Penh.

The court has put together a document collecting a series of confessions and apologies made by the prison’s director, Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, during the UN-assisted court’s legal proceedings

“It is crucial to show Duch’s confession and responsibility to the victims,” said Neth Pheaktra, a spokesman for the court.

The supreme chamber of the Khmer Rouge tribunal has sentenced the 69-year-old prison director to life in jail and ordered a publication of the verdict and his apology as part of reparation.

The conclusion of the case marks the first final verdict the court has made during six years of work.

Three other top leaders – chief ideologue Noun Chea, former head of state Khieu Samphan, and foreign minister Ieng Sary – are on trial in a separate case. None of them has acknowledged responsibility for atrocities committed during the Khmer Rouge’s 1975-79 rule of Cambodia. An estimated 1.7 million people died during the period from starvation, disease, execution and overwork.

The 27-page document released by the tribunal shows Duch expressing remorse.

“I acknowledge the responsibility, especially, torture and the killing,” said the document referring to confession Duch made during his first trial in early 2009. The document is now available online on the court website.

Before the final verdict earlier this month, Duch originally had been sentenced to 35 years in prison by the Trial Chamber, and he was slated to serve about 19 years behind bars.

“His apology was just a small part of justice,” said Bou Meng, one of the few survivors of S-21.

However, Bou Meng said he is satisfied with the life sentence.

Chum Mey, another survivor, said few Cambodians have access to the Internet and that most victims will not have access to the tribunal’s new public document.

The court says it will increase its national outreach through more public screenings of the court’s proceedings.

Im Sophea, head of coordination of Victims Support Section, said the court is printing 10,000 copies of Duch’s confession and apologies to distribute locally and abroad


Khmer Rouge Trials – Two items of very special news.

In CategoryJohns blog

This is a REMARKABLE piece of almost forgotten history. Elizabeth Becker was a Foreign Correspondent for the Washington Post in 1978. She was invited to tour empty Phnom Penh and various Khmer Rouge sites by Pol Pot. She took photos. Now in 2012 Elizabeth is angry that the three remaining leaders are denying their crimes. She is in Phnom Penh right now and will very possibly be a prosecution witness. SHE HAS HER PHOTOS WITH HER…and not only will we get to see them but they will remain on permanent display in Phnom Penh.

This is today’s second piece of remarkable news. We will have to wait for an official response from the government but it is looking far more possible that caes 3 and possibly case 4 will go to court. Followers of the Trials and readers of this Blog will understand that although the ‘suspects’ names are confidential their identitity is confidentally assumed and one is a senior naval figure of the KR years who ordered the detention in S21 of Australian sailors who subsequently died in the Phnom Penh Killing Fields. Hun Sen’s  argument against any ‘extra ‘cases’ is that Duch – the boss of S21 and the 4 most senior laeders was and is enough (even one of them seems to have Dementia and so far will not stand trial but WILL remain in jail) …both cost wise and for ‘national stability’. The Khmer people living within Cambodia have few firm opinions on how far to go with these trials but the International Community is united in believing that at least cases 3 and 4 should AT LEAST go through the investigation stage. This is now looking more possible than before. Please read both these news items to stay in touch with Trial progress. John.


Beaudesert Rotary to the schools, clinic, Kratie and Phnom Penh!

In CategoryJohns blog

Eight Beaudesert Rotarians have just flown back to Australia. They were here for a week. They attended two Rotary meetings – Rotary Club of Phnom Penh Metro – a Rotaract meeting and project – then it was off to Prey Veng to see our villages, schools and progress with the clinic. We had a night in Kompong Cham and then two nights in Kratie. Back to Phnom Penh and a gathering of thoughts.

I’ll upload 53 photos in sections and add brief notes as we go. In context many of the photos are self explanatory. If you are a frequent visitor to this site you will see that most of the photos are the next stage in the evolution of someone’s life or school. Over the next few days I will insert most of the same photos into their relevant sections. eg. in this blog you will see photos of Nang so those photos will also be found in place in ‘Nang’s Story’. …. So here goes with the work combined with a holiday of The Rotary Club of Beaudesert. (NB an extra four photos were inserted today February 26 2012 – the places are noted as you go)

















































The seven photos above were taken last week at our schools in Chuor Ph’av village, Prey Veng Province. Soon they will be copied and placed in the right places in the sections indexed to your right. We have 1000 children over three schools. You can see 6 of our teachers receiving their salaries and gifts and Beaudesert Rotarians talking with our students…. well, not so much talking as smiling… our students will START to learn English in evening classes for the first time this year.

You can also see our builders, Lorn and his son, Lat, receiving money to continue building the clinic.


These two extra little phone photos of clinic progress were taken on February 1 2012 and I’ve added them to show the very latest progress.





One more phone photo – Val O’Callaghan and her friends in Australia heard that it can get slightly less than tropical on January evenings and nights. They sent over a case crammed with woollen hats and another with hand made blankets. They are intended for the children and were gven to the children. In this photos some of the teachers are having fun trying them on.

This photo of Linda from Beaudesert and Chanthou presenting our schools with shoes was taken on January 25 and added on February 26 2012

This photo was taken on January 25 2012 and added on February 26 2012 and shows our growing Clinic nestled next to the school.










Next, we have three very special photos. If you were to check the Donors page, you would find Fleurs name. I have known Fleur for 46 years. Sadly Fleur died in December, but we will remember her forever.. Beaudesert Rotarians stand near her plaque. ( The Rose Bruford reference is the London College we both attended – along with several very significant Donors).





















These next photos were taken in the largest of the local villages who attend our schools. We had a locally made lunch and walked around and saw in homes and since most of the Australians had been on FOUR previous occassions, it was a chance to catch up with old faces and growing children. Four of the photos are of Chanthou our number one helper in the villages giving thankyou gifts to the District leader Sau Ri, our policeman, our builders and the lady who looks after my home.



































The two photos that follow are almost like old favourites, except they are young! Chanthay who we watch grow in the village children section with Maigin, famous for being the daughter of the lady in the ‘Village Life’ section on hot coals after the birth of MAIGIN. The second photo is of Da (one of the three friends in the ‘Village Children’ section) and her little sister – Ra. Some readers may remember a baby who was actually dying from uncontrollable worms…. we treated Ra… this is RA!









Nang has an entire section to herself. I really suggest you read that section to put these two sad photos into context. As I write it is February 3 and later today I take her back to hospital… The fact that she is alive is our miracle.. As you will read in ‘Nangs Story’…she and our treatment of Nang has inspired the village and us to build the Clinic..









We change locations now. We got back in the bus and drove for 90 minutes to the village of Prey t’Baing where we find our newest school. We give them books and pay the teachers and enjoy the company of some wonderful villagers.




























This is the first year that we haven’t spent a night in the villages. For much of the year it is where I live but for most western people it is simply far too uncomfortable at night. A split bamboo floor to sleep on, one toilet in the village (mine) no shop selling western food, no glass, plumbing or electricity…all in all – too difficult…. so, we headed 90 minutes north to sleep the night in the riverside town of Kompong Cham. In the morning we headed two more hours north up the bank of the Mekong to the beautiful little town of Kratie, pronounced Kra CH-e … ‘e’ as in egg. Kompong Cham is on the west bank but leaving the town we crossed one of Cambodia’s two Mekong bridges to eventually find Kratie on the east bank. We arrived just before a great sunset:









Our real two day holiday started in Kratie. Three photos above are sunset over the Mekong from our rooms on the top floor of the Oudom Sambath Hotel. The two Rotarians looking at the view are Linda and Mark Jackson. Linda is the current President of The Rotary Club of Beaudesert and Mark is a Past President.

The photo to your left is added today February 26 2012 but taken at sunset in Kratie on January 26 2012 of Mark and Linda. The photo around a table is the following morning at breakfast.











A few kilometres north of Kratie town is one big hill in an otherwise flat landscape. It used to be called Golden Mountain but as the threat of the Khmer Rouge was looming, the monks in the thriving Wat on the summit changed the name to Phnom Sombok (Mount Sombok) in case the KR thought that ‘golden’ inferred wealth.

It is still a thriving Wat up hundreds of steps. Its a place of pilgrimmage especially at festival times. The first photo is our group pausing on the climb up. The second photo is just some of the 81 statues of monks.. The first few monks in the photo show partial construction and painting.




A little further up the East bank is the National Turtle Sanctuary.



… and close by is a small palm sugar operation. Well prepared this is surely one of the most delicious tastes in the world. It’s a MUCH better prepared version of the palm sugar we can get in Western Supermarkets.. It is soft, not grainy and tastes like fudge.. yummy. This photo shows the most crucial part of the process. The hot syrup is hand paddled until too thick to move!

The next photos are of Kampi Rapids Resort. Theres nothing like this in any western country I know. During every drier half of the year, platforms are built out a little way across part of the River. We rent a mat or mats (an area as in the photos.). paddle, swim and order food and drink. An area is rented by the hour.. We had a wonderfully carefree couple of hours. These places in Cambodia are packed with Khmer people at weekends and festival times:-



























Everything we saw in Kratie was somone’s favourite but the main reason for tourists coming to Kratie is to see the last few Iriwaddy Dolphins. Even though 4 of us had cameras we didn’t get a single photo of so much as a tail or nose. They surface very briefly to breathe. There are 50 in this fairly calm part of The Mekong but close to the rapids (above). We possibly saw ALL of them but no photos.. They are grey with a snub nose; they are 1.5 metres long and otherwise dolphin in appearance. Having said all that, we had a lovely peaceful hour silently drifting through this totally wild and unfenced stretch of river. Here are the photos minus dolphins:-














This photo is of John in one of the Dolphin boats on the Mekong at Kratie. Taken January 27 2012 and added February 26 2012.























On our return to Phnom Penh the next day we went to a project run by Rotaract members on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Rotaract is a young persons ROTARY and in this case they are linked to their senior club, The Rotary Club of Phnom Penh Metro. Most of them are residential students at ACE (Attitude Centre for Education in Phnom Penh). There is a paragraph on ACE in the Rotary section to the right of your screen. The young Rotaractors run English classes free of charge in a poor resettlement suburb of Phnom Penh. We talked with them – they talked to us and we, believe it or not, sang Incy-Wincy Spider for them – see the two animated photos!









































Some of our Australian Rotarians had to fly home but that left us with just enough to visit The Royal Palace:-










You can a photo of Mark next to a map showing The Khmer Empire as it was. It included almost all of Laos, most of Thailand and perhaps more recently significant, all of South Vietnam. It was in 1949 that France, the then colonial power GAVE South Vietnam, including Saigon, to Vietnam. As you can read elsewhere on ths site, it is now acknowledged by the USA that the Vietnam War had nothing to do with Communism – it was a civil war – South Vietnam or Khmer Krom (lower Cambodia) felt no bond with North Vietnam.

Thank you for getting this far in this Blog about The Rotary Club of Beaudesert’s fourth visit to Cambodia. Your options now are many – scroll down through all the Blogs – look to the right and start with the ‘About Us’ section or any of the childrens sections. John.




Faintings in the Garment factories – WHY?

In CategoryJohns blog

I have talked about the garment industry several times. (employs some 300,000 people at least and pays the lowest wages in South East Asia) Faintings are common and on the whole, factory owners plead innocent. All foreigners regard the factories as sheds of slave labour by default almost. There is no alternative job for the young people to earn money to send home to the Provinces.

This is a good article from an online publication called Global Voices. John.