Author: Araceli Palafox

CAMBODIA: Save the Journalists!

ARACELI PALAFOX WRITES- The death of Cambodian journalist Taing Try has once again placed Cambodia in an unfavorable spotlight. Earlier this month, Try was pronounced dead at 49 after taking a gunshot to his forehead while sitting in his car. Try was found in a forest in the Kratie Province  of Cambodia, where he and others were investigating and observing illegal logging. Try, a member of the Khmer Journalists for Democracy Association, was working on exposing the illegal trading of timber in order to bring to light to one of the many social and political injustices occurring in Cambodia....

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CAMBODIA: Democracy in (Radio) Waves

ARACELI PALAFOX WRITES- In September, there was a turn in media in Cambodia when Cambodia’s Center for Independent Media (CCIM) applied for radio and television licenses. If granted, CCIM would operate it’s Voice of Democracy (VOD) program through the Ministry of Information. VOD was established in 2003 under Cambodia’s Center for Human Rights with the belief that, “Every Body Well Informed and Educated, Every Body Developed.”As a non-governmental organization, VOD is crucial during election times because it promotes democratic governance by providing politically neutral news. Radio continues to be the number one way of reaching most Cambodians. Four out of five...

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CAMBODIA: Something’s Fishy About Cambodian Authorities

ARACELI PALAFOX WRITES – There’s something fishy about the recent murder of journalist Suon Chon, and it’s not his series of reports on illegal fishing. Earlier this month, The Phnom Penh Post reported the death of the forty-four year old Cambodian, who wrote for The Meakea Kampuchea Newspaper. It said Chon was confronted and beaten to death by local fishermen as he left his home in the Kampong Chang Province. Relatives, including his brother, were also beaten when they tried to save him. After throwing stones at Chon’s head and neck, the 10 suspects reportedly fled the scene, leaving Chon unconscious. Despite being rushed to the hospital, Chon died from his injuries. Cambodian authorities have yet to identify a motive for the murder. Police are split on whether it was triggered by Chon’s previous reporting on illegal fishing, though the connection seems to us at least plausible. Sources cited by The Post say Chon had explicitly mentioned a few fishermen in his reports, revealing their illicit actions. Police have identified four suspects from the murder, but the other six who were involved remain unidentified. In related news, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights and the Committee to Protect Journalists have raised concerns about Cambodia’s freedom of expression and, most importantly, freedom of the press. Chon is the twenty-fifth journalist who has been murdered and whose murder has not been properly...

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CAMBODIA: Lights, Camera, Oscar Nomination!

ARACELI PALAFOX WRITES – Amid political conflict and social uprising, Cambodia finds a sense of solidarity in the nation’s first Oscar nomination. Cambodian director Rithy Panh’s “The Missing Picture” is among the five final nominations in the “Best Foreign Language” film category. Panh’s “The Missing Picture” is a largely autobiographical work, telling the story of his family’s suffering during the Khmer Rouge genocide of 1970. In his film, Panh hunts for any surviving history of the genocide in the hopes of conveying both his story and that of many. The Khmer Rouge Genocide refers to when Cambodia was led by Pol Pot during the 1970s. He sought to reshape the nation, using an agricultural model similar to that used by the Chinese Communist Party under Mao Zedong. The attempted collectivization of peasants resulted in more than a million deaths due to execution or famine. Panh’s work uses detailed clay figures, narration, and any available footage to illustrate small glimpses of his childhood memories from the work camps. While Panh is not without previous recognition, this particular honor moves him differently. In his responses to the media he reiterates what this means for the Cambodian people, especially during such difficult times. The work has shown the true face of Cambodia and what its people are capable of. In Panh’s eyes, winning isn’t about beating the other finalists. It’s about bringing pride to his country through the art of...

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CAMBODIA: Cambodian National Rescue Party Breaks Free From CPP Control

ARACELI PALAFOX WRITES – With control over the nine television stations in the country, the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) continues to be the head puppet master of Cambodia. Its success in the July election reminded the people of Cambodia who’s hands pull the strings. Yet, this same election came with heated tension, bringing to light Cambodia’s flawed electoral system. However, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has pulled enough strings to allow its opposition party, the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), to have a voice by launching an online television station called CNRP TV on the CPP’s website. This past November, the CPP announced the station’s launch, stating its purpose was to give the CNRP a greater voice in national politics. CNRP TV aims to follow dialogues and agreements between both parties without promoting either. Whether this was intended to boost the CNRP’s confidence or merely give the CPP another thing to control remains questionable. How much room could the opposition have to speak out under the hands of the ruling government? From the outside it looks like an attempt to reduce any potential uprising from those opposing the CPP. In theory, CNRP TV could potentially bolster democracy in Cambodia. Though, in practice it’s not very convincing. If it wanted to truly balance political coverage, it should’ve given CNRP a license to televise independently instead of putting CNRP under its...

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