February, 2012

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Posted by: | Posted on: February 25, 2012

CAMBODIAN MONK BRINGS HIS ACTIVISM TO MONTREAL’S KHMER COMMUNITY

Op-Ed: luonsovath.blogspot.com

“The more they stop me, the more I am strong and stand up. Again and again, more and more,” he said.

On Saturday, Sovath called on Canadians to support land activists and victims, not just with donations, but also through advocacy and petitions to the Canadian government. Sovath’s message of peaceful action resounded through the audience.

“Before, when I was small, I wanted to do something, but I was too scared and I felt alone, so I was discouraged and I lost hope,” said Sarom Om, a Khmer Canadian living in Montreal for 29 years. “If we see someone who stands up, who has confidence, that will help people who want to stand up and help and it will continue like that.”


REPORTED BY

Cambodian monk and human rights activist Venerable Loun Sovath speaks to the Khmer Canadian community at Wat Buddha Sodhara in Montreal. Photo by Heather Stilwell.

REPORTED ON February 25, 2012

Long ago in the foothills of the Himalayas, a young Prince Siddhartha left the safety of his palace and set off on a journey to overcome suffering. Upon realizing that the root of all suffering was greed, the newly enlightened Buddha dedicated his life to teaching compassion and sympathy to others.

More than 2,500 years later, a Cambodian monk is adding a modern twist to a journey of his own.

Venerable Loun Sovath maintains that Buddhism, human rights, and democracy are intertwined philosophies. He is an outspoken activist, documentary filmmaker, and poet – and earlier this month he boarded a plane to deliver his message of peace to Canada.

“It is very difficult working for human rights and democracy in Cambodia,” said Sovath in Montreal. “I came here because I want Khmer people in solidarity to help each other.”

Sovath is well known among Khmer Canadians, many of whom left Cambodia as early as 1975 to escape the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Last Saturday at Wat Buddha Sodhara in Saint Laurent, Sovath spoke to Montrealers about Buddhism, human rights issues in Cambodia, and a monk’s role in fighting injustice.

“I’ve never ever seen such an inspirational speech like this,” said event organizer Samnang Chuop. “People can listen to him talk for hours and hours.”

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Posted by: | Posted on: February 23, 2012

Help vote for Exile Cambodian-Americans to be invited to the white house

Exiles and ex-pats unite as a community to present images of an Americana they left behind. Half live outside the US by choice while the other half were forcibly returned. Each an American raised with the memories and distinct cultural identity of growing up Asian in America. We made this film as a community of people concerned with justice and invisibility because the issue of deportation is an Asian American issue.

Click this link to vote: http://www.whitehouse.gov/aapi/whats-your-story

Posted by: | Posted on: February 21, 2012

Voice from Cambodia: Khmer Traditional Wedding

Dear All,
I am back from India and adjusting to being back at work…..trying to think about how to present Bernoulli’s Principle to an English as Second Language class, when my own grasp of the concept is tenuous at best….should be an interesting week.

Loung is back from his “honeymoon” and although he is dead tired, he can only be described as looking smug…..he has been looking forward to being married for quite a while. He had asked me to come along on the honeymoon and I was not quick enough to control the look of dismay on my face at this invitation. Thankfully I was off in India so could decline the invitation. He didn’t understand my reticence, because as is the custom here, Khmer generally travel in crowds.

But back to the beginning…
I was quite proud of myself braving the market to buy the fabric for my outfit for Loung’s wedding. Row upon row of silk and lace made the choices somewhat difficult,(Photo 775) and I found it difficult not to be distracted by the ranks of gleaming white plastic pubises on which the ready-made blouses were displayed (Photo 776) but I finally settled on some lace and then had the lady at the stall model fabric for the skirt. She had an excellent eye for colour as the first length she chose was in fact the best match.

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Posted by: | Posted on: February 15, 2012

CAMBODIA: “O Khmer euy Khmer, chous ach knong srae”

Khmer expatriate Sophoan Seng, a master’s degree holder in political science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, currently Director of KEEN Investment Groups LTD and president of the Khmer Youth Association of Alberta, acknowledges that many people in Cambodia endorse the “filled stomach and stability” theory for different reasons.

“However,” Seng, a former Buddhist monk in Siemreap for more than a decade, writes, “Buddhists who have learned and experienced deep understanding of Buddha’s teachings, see that the highest goal of Buddhism is ‘liberty’, not the ‘four necessities’,” i.e., food, shelter, clothing, medicine.

His ideas are similar to those of another former monk, Heng Monychenda, who holds a master’s degree from Harvard and heads the nonprofit group, Buddhism for Development. Seng points to Buddha’s teaching that “liberty” or “Nama,” — referring to a person’s mind or spirit — and the “four necessities,” or “Rupa,” — referring to body or physical appearances — must be equalized and balanced. As Monychenda explains, “Nama-Rupa” means that mind and matter must go together. “Mind affects matter and matter affects the mind,” i.e., spiritual and economic development should not be separated into two separate realms, he says.

FOR PUBLICATION
AHRC-ETC-006-2012, February 15, 2012

An article by Dr. Gaffar Peang-Meth published by the Asian Human Rights Commission

CAMBODIA: “O Khmer euy Khmer, chous ach knong srae”

Something is changing within the Khmer nation.

Those storied Khmer characteristics – the broad smile; the gentle, peaceful compassionate nature – and the centuries-old traditions of “korup, bamreur, karpier, smoh trang” — “respect, serve, defend, be loyal (to leaders)” — passed down through generations seem to be taking a new course.

A photo floating on the Internet shows Khmer villagers–from youth to middle age–standing barefoot under the hot sun as their colorful sandals are arranged in an empty lot nearby to make up the Khmer word “Aphivath,” or “Development.” Their symbolic protest is directed at Khmer leaders and at those around the world who are sympathetic to the disenfranchisement of the poor in contemporary Cambodia.

Photos and videos of government abuse of citizens’ rights and of citizens’ responses have inundated the Internet. Some postings inform and educate. I recommend recent postings on the Website of Radio Free Asia (February 1, “More Arrests Follow Land Clash”).

The beatings of women and children by riot police are routine — and are routinely condemned by international and national rights groups. The too common sight of Khmer women with clothes torn or ripped off by police during peaceful protests is now replaced by the sight of women protesters taking off their clothes to highlight their protests as they face the police.

Going one step further, RFA posted on its website a photograph of a half-naked Khmer woman protester facing police in full riot gear. Her action was intended to highlight the plight of Cambodian villagers from the Borei Keila community, who were evicted by armed police from their homes, which were dismantled and the co-opted land given to Phan Imex Company for commercial development.

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Posted by: | Posted on: February 13, 2012

Cambodia – The Laziest Nation in the World

It is inspiring and hilarious after reading this article. I could not stop my thought on penning and criticizing this article.

Cambodia – The Laziest Nation in the World

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There is something to be said when it comes to the laziest nations in the world. Most publications associate laziness with what people do (or NOT do) in their spare time, after all duties have been taken care of. To me, that’s a fundamental mistake and doesn’t reflect on the laziness at all. People who bust their butts off so they can have some time for themselves are not lazy. True laziness comes to play when an entire nation can’t get the work – the necessary duties done because they can’t be bothered to get off their soft motorcycle seats. And this is why Cambodia is the laziest nation in the world. Everywhere you go, any time of day you will see hundreds of people of all ages idling in the streets, doing absolutely nothing just killing time by hanging loose. You will be wondering why they are all out here doing nothing. You will be asking yourself – shouldn’t these people be at work and kids at school? How can a nation sustain itself if nobody can be bothered to do any work? Those are all legitimate questions and anyone who pays attention will undoubtedly have them cross their minds upon their first visit to Cambodia.

Photo: Lazy Cambodian Youth Killing Time With Their Motorcycles Photo: Lazy Cambodian Youth Killing Time With Their Motorcycles

History of Cambodia – The Laziest Nation in the World

It comes as a striking contrast when one visits the temples of Angkor Archaeological Park and sees the megalomaniac structures Angkorian era civilization was capable of constructing. Could the laziest nation in the world built the world’s largest religious complex? Obviously, Cambodia a millennium ago was different from Cambodia today – aside from being a culture of violence, as Cambodians are as violent today as they have always been.

So Cambodians were definitely not lazy back then, back when the temples of Angkor were built, but what happened? That I guess is as difficult to explain as is the abrupt end to once powerful empire. Ancient Khmer rulers were on top of the game and controlled the region but then something happened and Angkor was abandoned. Everything about the Khmer people, everything – including their approach to work has changed. The end of Angkorian era was the end of decent Cambodia. The empire failed and so did the people. People who were once capable of building monumental structures are nowadays capable of nothing more than idling and doing absolutely a great deal of nothing. Unless verbally and physically abusing foreigners can be considered an activity. Luckily the former can be done from the comfort of their motorcycle seat…

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Posted by: | Posted on: February 12, 2012

Impressive movie clip from the Future Light Orphanage in Cambodia

I am very impressed by the humanitarian and philanthropic work of many non-Cambodian individuals in extending their compassionate hand and dedication for Cambodian children. For those foreign entities, their help generally becomes a good return on their investment of time and treasure as they help build the  foundation for this ravaged country by providing choices and opportunity for orphaned and vulnerable Khmer children and young adults. Among those entities, Mr. Rob, a Hawaii resident, has dedicated his time and energy for orphanage children in Cambodia, along with the group he founded, eGlobal Family. (www.eglobalfamily.org)  While serving in Cambodia his beloved wife of 31 years passed away suddenly in Hawaii and he was unable to be with  her during her last breathe ..this is sadness that is indescribable!

As I have concerned and learned a lot on philosophy of leadership, adversity and agony enable people to see the light of Enlightenment…this has happened with Mrs.Nuon, Phally (see video) who has turned all her past painful memory into humanitarian and philanthropy. She is reflective for many Cambodian people who have walked in the same path like her. However, there are many Cambodian people whose troubled lives experienced in this past tragedy have still deteriorated their present progress having often fallen into the trap of exploitation from others.