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Cambodia : Will The Cambodia National Rescue Party Be Banned?

A recent crackdown
Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) supporters are taking part in a campaign rally prior to the 2017 national commune elections in Chork Village, Tboung Khmum Province, Cambodia. Photo copyright John Brown 2017.

 

A recent crackdown by the ruling defacto government, the Cambodian People’s Party has alarmed the UN, governments and human rights observers around the world.  With former CNRP president Sam Rainsy living in France after resigning from the party due to what most observers cite as politically motivated court convictions, the man who replaced him as party chief, Kem Sokha, was arrested in the dark of night at his home in Phnom Penh and whisked away to the notorious CC3 prison in Tboung Khmum province. He was charged with treason and faces between 15 and 30 years in prison.

Things weren’t much better for press freedom as The Cambodia Daily, an English language newspaper, was forced to close.  It was charged with tax violations despite the fact that no audit was ever carried out.  Further, Radio Free Asia and Voice of America were told by the government to cease operations in Cambodia as well.

Those whose job was to strengthen democracy took a hit when the NGO National Democratic Institute was kicked out of the Kingdom, and environmentalists didn’t fare much better as Mother Nature, an environmental NGO was dissolved while Equitable Cambodia, a land rights NGO, was temporarily suspended.

Although the  UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights is legally binding in Cambodia by virtue of article 31 of the Cambodian Constitution, nearly all the articles laid out are currently being violated.

In May of this year, the results of a public opinion poll commissioned by the CPP was leaked to media and indicated that support for the party hovered around 35%.  In other words, the rulers knew they were going to lose the upcoming 2018 national election and had two choices, reform or repress.

The CNRP, supported by such people as in the photograph above may well be relegated to the trash heap of history, but surely the CPP is in decline and is experiencing the painful realization that it is on its way out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thailand : Not Your Typical Refugee Photo But A Refugee Nonetheless

In the photograph above, a ethnic Kayan (Karen) “big ear” refugee woman from Burma takes a moment to rest her head on a block of wood on the porch of her home in Ban Nai Soi, Thailand.

I posted it to mark World Refugee Day.  It’s observed every year on June 20th. 

The Karen people left Burma (Myanmar) to flee war atrocities.  After this photograph was taken, Mae Hong Son Mayor Direk Konkleeb disbanded this village in order to consolidate 3 tribes into one encampment, thereby making it more convenient for tourists to visit them.  The people are considered a tourist attraction in Thailand.

I was a bit shocked at what I saw at this camp.  I went alone on a songtiaw for about a dollar rather than join a typical tourist group.  I arrived at 7:30 am and paid no admission since the “ticket office” was closed.  Tourist mini-vans begin arriving around 11:00 am ($25 USD at the time).  Once the tourists got there, many barked orders to the “big ear” and “longneck” people living there.  One woman said, “Come out of your house and stand here!”.

As for me, I drank coffee with the people in this village early in the morning and since many of the folks spoke English, got to know them before I pulled out my camera.  I found out that most of them wanted to go home but didn’t dare as the ethnic Kayan people were being persecuted there.  Many ethnic Kayan women wanted to take their rings off from around their necks and go live a normal life in a developed country (I’m still in contact with a woman who did just that).

If you want to know more about this situation as it was then, read the photographers note on this page.  If you buy a ticket to go “see” these people, you are enriching the tour companies that view these encampments as nothing more that human zoos IMHO.  My advice to you is JUST DON’T GO!

Wars and violent conflict create refugees.  Corruption leading to poverty of the masses also creates what are known as economic refugees.  Let’s do what we can for them.

This photograph was taken on March 15th, 2006.  It has never been published or licensed.

Thailand : Boredom At The Bus Station In Pai

Two gentleman await the bus in Pai, Thailand.  Although Pai is a unique Southeast Asian destination, it is saturated with tourists.  If you want to get away from it all, Pai is not the place for you.

This photograph was taken in February, 2006.  It has never been published or licensed.

Cambodia : Reclining Buddha In Tbong Khmum Province, Cambodia

The distorted face of a large reclining Buddha statue is reflected in a large silver bowl at a Buddhist Temple in Tboung Khmum Province, Cambodia.   Tboung Khmum Province is Cambodia’s newest province after being carved out of Kampong Cham Province.  Most political observers say it gerrymandering by the ruling Cambodia People’s Party to benefit the rulers before commune and national elections.

The photograph was taken April 7th, 2016.  It has never been published or licensed.

 

Thailand : Celebrating King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 78th Birthday Chiang Mai

A Buddhist monk is holding a silver bowl as he marches in a procession to mark the 78th birthday of King Rama lX (Bhumibol Adulyadej) in Chiang Mai Thailand.  The King died on October  3rd, 2016 at the age of 88 and was the world’s longest-reigning monarch after seven decades on the throne.  On October 26th he will be cremated more than a year after his death.

This ceremony was attended by more than 1000 orange robed Theravada Buddhist monks in the Tha Phae Gate area in the old city section of town.

The photograph was taken on December 5th, 2005.   It has never been published or licensed.

Thailand : Horse Racing In Korat, (Nakon Ratchasima)

A thoroughbred racehorse and mounted jockey pass stands filled with spectators evaluating the race participants in Korat, (Nakon Ratchasima), Thailand.

The Belmont Stakes takes place tomorrow at Belmont Park in Belmont, New York.  It’s not the only place that hosts horse racing however.  In Thailand, a racetrack in Korat, (Nakon Ratchasima) fills with roughly 10,000 fans on certain Saturdays.  The crowd is predominantly composed of men but the day I attended, about 10 women were there too!

If you go to this event, you may be the only foreigner on the scene but a tote board updated by hand will display all to information an equine inclined individual might need.

The photograph above was taken on May 21st, 2006.  It has never been published or licensed.

Thailand : A Tuk Tuk On A Rainy Night In Khorat, (Nakon Ratchashima)

An opaque tuk-tuk window splattered with raindrops displays a Carabao energy drink logo on a city street in Khorat, (Nakon Ratchashima) Thailand.

The photograph above was taken my seat in a tuk tuk late at night in Chiang Rai, Thailand.  I’ve seen hundreds of photographs shot from the back seat of this mode of transportation and I wanted to try something different.

This photograph was taken on May 18th, 2006.  It has never been published or licensed.