Kamboçya'dan Türkiye'de büyükelçilik açma kararı

TBMM (AA) – TBMM Dışişleri Komisyonu Başkanı Volkan Bozkır, Kamboçya'nın, Ankara'da büyükelçilik açma kararı aldığını ve bununla ilgili planlamayı başlattığını bildirdi.

Bozkır, resmi ziyaret kapsamında Türkiye'ye gelen Kamboçya Dışişleri ve Uluslararası İşbirliği Kıdemli Bakanı Prak Sokhonn ile Mecliste bir araya geldi.

Görüşmede konuşan Bozkır, Kamboçya Dışişleri Bakanı Sokhonn'u Türkiye'de ağırlamaktan duyduğu memnuniyeti dile getirdi.

Bozkır, ziyaretin, Kamboçya'dan Türkiye'ye dışişleri bakanı düzeyinde gerçekleştirilen ilk ziyaret olduğunu belirtti.

Kamboçya Halk Partisinin, ülkede yapılan son seçimi büyük bir çoğunlukla kazandığını aktaran Bozkır, Kamboçya'daki seçimlerin, ülkede demokrasinin gelişmesi için önemli bir adım olmasını temenni etti.

Bozkır, Kamboçya ile ilişkilere büyük önem veren Türkiye'nin, 2013'te başkent Phnom Penh'de büyükelçiliğini açtığını hatırlattı.

Büyükelçilik vasıtasıyla ikili ilişkilerde önemli mesafeler katedildiğini belirten Bozkır, "Memnuniyetle duyduk ki Kamboçya da Ankara'da büyükelçilik açma yolunda karar almış ve bununla ilgili planlamayı başlatmış vaziyette." dedi.

2020'de Kamboçya-Türkiye diplomatik ilişkilerinin 50. yılının kutlanacağına işaret eden Bozkır, konuya ilişkin önemli organizasyonların şimdiden planlanmaya başlandığını kaydetti.

Görüşmede, TBMM Dışişleri Komisyonu üyeleri de hazır bulundu.

Cambodia, human rights office reach new deal

By Lauren Crothers

PHNOM PENH (AA) – Cambodia’s government has reached an agreement with the Phnom Penh arm of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) after a nearly year-long impasse.

The new memorandum of understanding underlines a provision about “non-interference” in Cambodia’s affairs and will formally come into effect once it is signed by the High Commissioner in Geneva, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, to whom it has been sent.

On Tuesday, the ministry of foreign affairs released a statement saying that the government has “consented” to the OHCHR’s presence in Cambodia since 1993 and the new MOU grants it a further two years of operation “based on mutual respect and non-interference”.

“The purpose of the said MoU signed on 19 December 2016 is to declare the parties’ intention to cooperate in implementation of a technical cooperation program in the field of human rights and to establish a framework for cooperation on the basis of purposes and principles stipulated in the Charter of the United Nations, particularly its article 2 [paragraph 7] which underlines ‘Nothing contained in the present charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state,’” the ministry said.

The last MoU expired nearly a year ago, and the office was warned that it would have to shutter if a new deal was not reached by a deadline that is just under two weeks away.

It was not the first time the office fell afoul of the government, either.

In 2011, Christophe Peschoux — who headed the office before country representative Wan-Hea Lee’s acting predecessor, James Heenan — left Cambodia after Prime Minister Hun Sen called for his ouster.

Peschoux had been outspoken on a number of issues, including the deportation of two Thai red-shirt activists, as well as a defamation case brought against an opposition lawmaker by Hun Sen.

In an email from Geneva on Wednesday, OHCHR media officer Elizabeth Throssell said the “promotion and protection of human rights” was at the core of the mission in Cambodia, “and so the agreement reached involves no compromise on our mandate”.

Political analyst Ou Virak told Anadolu Agency that he felt there was “a minor concession from both sides” to get the deal drawn up, but that ultimately, “these minor changes in the language won’t have any impact on the OHCHR.”

What could impact its work, he said, “is the nature of pressure in general, to accommodate the government even more, and be reluctant to say things when they should”.

An OHCHR statement issued Wednesday said that the MoU is the result of negotiations and the wording agreed upon reflects the importance of the charter “both for us and the specific importance attached to it by the Cambodian government”.

“We welcome the fact that we were able to reach this agreement and look forward to continuing or cooperation with the Cambodian government to foster the promotion and protection of human rights in Cambodia,” it said.

New film explores architect’s footprint on Cambodia

By Lauren Crothers

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AA) – Every evening, as the day draws on to “golden hour” in Phnom Penh, hundreds of people flock to the national stadium in the heart of the city.

It’s there, on a 300,000-square-meter tract of land, that they find some respite from the world beyond and its traffic-choked streets.

On the grass banks that flank the stadium, people gather and chat, eat snacks, read books, listen to music. Around the bleachers and on the track people exercise and play tennis, soccer or boules. Children leap from a diving board into the pool.

Wide-open spaces are important elements in any big city, and Phnom Penh is no different.

This one, commissioned by the late King Norodom Sihanouk and completed in 1964, was his and architect Vann Molyvann’s gift to its people and its continued use to this day makes it something of the beating heart of the city.

“Building this stadium wasn’t easy, but it was really the high point of my life, as it was for King Sihanouk” Molyvann says in The Man Who Built Cambodia, a documentary about his life that premiered in Phnom Penh on Friday night.

The 37-minute-long film pays tribute to the work of Molyvann, who was trained in Paris and brought to Cambodia a Le Corbusier-inspired love of brutalism combined with a nod to the country’s Angkorian heritage.

His prolific career as Cambodia’s leading architect and the capital’s urban planner saw him add many strings to his bow, with much of his work completed in the post-independence “golden age” of modern Cambodia.

Molyvann was behind the capital’s Independence Monument, Senate and other government buildings, as well as the Chaktomuk Theatre on the riverfront and a development of 100 houses near the airport.

Still, to this day, the National Stadium is perhaps Molyvann’s most oft-used and beloved piece of work.

Remarkably, however, it was not the 1970s’ civil war or Khmer Rouge regime that posed the greatest threat to Molyvann’s architectural epoch.

Instead, it’s been the post-regime destruction of some of his key works — coupled with a rapidly developing capital — that has endangered his legacy.

In 1994, the National Theatre was gutted by a fire, but promises to restore it were reneged upon and it was torn down.

That same decade, a supposed renovation project on Molyvann’s Grey Building left it completely unrecognizable.

Eight years ago, his Council of Ministers building was also demolished and replaced with an imposing, Chinese-designed structure.

According to Vann’s daughter, Delphine, high-story developments directly abutting one side of the stadium, now obscuring it from view, are helping destroy “a whole way of life”.

Now in his 90s, age has slowed Molyvann down. He’s wistful and nostalgic, but not bitter. We see him looking frail; using walking sticks to help him shuffle around.

He is reflective about his life’s work — about how he would methodically visit a site, find the bearings for the south and the east, take note of the prevailing winds and consider how his structures would work best in symbiosis with the landscape — all part of an effort to create something that “provokes” the imagination, he says in the film.

But asked how he feels about what has happened to his buildings and spaces over the past few years, the elderly architect looks solemn.

“Powerless,” he says.

“It’s the complete, visceral attack on him and his works,” says Darryl Collins, co-author of Building Cambodia: New Khmer Architecture, of the destruction of Molyvann’s projects.

“And the shock of seeing them destroyed in front of his eyes, sometimes literally, and I don’t think any artist or architect or mastercraftsman of any stature who put so much into Cambodia as he has… it’s more than anyone can stand.”

It’s to this end that Molyvann implores in the film for members of the Cambodian diaspora to return to the country and help restore it to architectural greatness once more.

Christopher Rompre, the film’s director, told Anadolu Agency on Saturday that he hopes the documentary will be seen by young Cambodians and inspire “a new generation of young, creative people to launch this renewal in a political and cultural sense”.

“What I love about it is it’s a critical documentary without having to be too critical. For the most part, it celebrates a period in Cambodia that was amazing and innovative — and the comparison creates itself,” he said.

Speaking to the audience after last night’s screening, architect and Khmer architecture tour guide Virak Roeun said he feels the sense of urgency to carry the torch passed on by his idol.

“The 1960s was a really great age of modern architecture,” he said. “I want to see another movement in Cambodia. It’s about time.”

Cambodia opposition appeals for int’l embassies’ help

By Lauren Crothers

PHNOM PENH (AA) – Opposition party MPs pushed ahead with plans to submit open letters to a number of embassies around Phnom Penh on Monday despite a series of blockades set up on the road to their headquarters that snarled traffic in the capital for several hours.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party’s (CNRP) Deputy Director-General of Public Affairs, Kem Monovithya, had announced on social media yesterday that plans for a march through Phnom Penh would proceed “despite City hall objection”, but come nightfall the barricades had started going up.

They were erected along National Road 2 on Sunday night; a key arterial route in and out of the city, and home to the CNRP’s headquarters. By early Monday morning, the blockade choked the roads feeding into that point, causing tailbacks through parts of the southern end of the city for several kilometers (miles).

The aim of the march was to deliver letters to some of the embassies representing the countries that signed the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement, which effectively ended 20 years of bloodshed in Cambodia and paved the way for United Nations-backed elections in 1993, as well as ASEAN-member embassies.

The CNRP claims that Cambodia’s ruling party has not upheld the values of the accord.

Outside the CNRP offices, where deputy leader Kem Sokha has been holed up for weeks to avoid being hauled off to court in a prostitution case that critics say is politically motivated, supporters and monks gathered.

Beyond the three-strong sets of barricades, lawmakers Mu Sochua, Ho Vann and Long Botta abandoned plans to try and reach their office and forged ahead with delivering the letters.

“What is important is why it was delivered today, because tomorrow is the [Association of Southeast Asian Nations – ASEAN] summit in Laos,” Sochua told Anadolu Agency by phone Monday.

“We call on the ASEAN members to take up the discussion of the political situation in Cambodia and the use of power.”

According to a copy of the letter, “leaders from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party have gravely violated the will of the Cambodian people, as defined by the Constitution, as well as the fundamental principles enshrined in the Paris Peace Agreement, through the increasingly inhumane abuse of power and suppression of public and personal freedoms.”

The letter added that “manipulation” of the country’s judicial system has seen human rights defenders, opposition members and land activists penalized.

The delivery of the letters to the embassies of Australia, the U.S., the U.K., Russia, France, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia on Monday comes against a backdrop of mounting tensions in Cambodia’s political and social landscape.

CNRP leader Sam Rainsy has been in self-imposed exile since late last year in a bid to avoid imprisonment for a years-old defamation case. Sokha remains sequestered away, and the prostitution trial is scheduled to begin Friday.

Four human rights defenders and an election official are also behind bars awaiting a bribery trial for assisting the woman in that case, who is actually Sokha’s alleged mistress.

On Monday, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak referred Anadolu Agency questions about the blockades to municipal spokesman Mean Chanyada, who could not be reached for comment.

Chanyada was quoted by The Cambodia Daily newspaper as having said on Sunday that City Hall had banned the CNRP from holding a march.