So many things have been going on since I took an extended vacation from blogging, but here are some of the Cambodian stories I’ve been following and wondering about:
- Rape on the Rise: The incidence of sexual violence appears to continue its meteoric rise in reporting; it seems that it is not only reporting on the rise, however – an entire culture of rape among urban elite males appears to increasingly be copied by immiserated peasants and connected thugs alike, nation-wide.
- Remember the Mekong, whose name, “Mother Ganges,” identifies it with another world-historic river-system also under attack? Yeah, so do a lot of other people, who saw it dry up this last dry season. Unfortunately the people who care are not the people making the decisions. If you’re curious about one of the upstream dams likely related to this current, ongoing catastrophe, read the discussion over at New Mandala on the Xiaowan Dam, where most of the real science is being discussed in an informal way.
- I’m thoroughly unsurprised that Cambodian officials prohibited a screening of the new film, Who Killed Chea Vichea? While I have yet to see this film, the title alone is enough to make the Cambodian judiciary and elites pissed off, for it points out that no credible suspects have yet been found. Meanwhile, on May Day, approximately 7,000 workers took to the streets of Phnom Penh.
- But I am surprised at some of the news out of the union movement in Cambodia lately. Rong Chhun appears to have been slowly sucked into the role of political opponent rather than labor dissident, and has been making a fuss over border posts lately, instead of issues of workers’ rights. That’s unfortunate, because Chhun has the capacity to be a leader of genuine change. The appeal of political diversions is greatest when workers’ advocacy and organization is weakest, or when individuals begin to burn out, but I hope he returns to the issues at the core of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association soon.
- Meanwhile, I was grieved to hear that FTUWKC leader Chea Mony was to resign his position as president of the union due to health (pulmonary) problems. The stress of that job must be killing him. But then, news suddenly that he’s been re-elected as president, followed immediately by a call to collect money to pay Mu Sochua’s recent fines. I’m very confused as to what is happening here, but I find the renewal of political party ties unfortunate, because I would hate to see the independent union movement co-opted by the political ambitions of individuals within any party.
- Meanwhile, although Rice exporters are increasing the scope of their ambition (Europe’s markets), the current drought is causing worry about the harvest.
- Go read about the catastrophe that was Bangkok a few months back somewhere; it’s important stuff, though I don’t have time to discuss it here. On the other hand, even though 80% of migrant workers in Thailand are from Burma, post-catastrophe raids have been primarily rounding up Cambodians (10% of the migrant worker population in Thailand).
- Slavery. flipping hell, can’t we end this now? Apparently not; there are more people enslaved today than at any previous point in history.