Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mixed bag

Flags flying above Preah Vihear - the pride of a nation
A mixed bag of 'stuff' this morning. Tonight I will poke my head into Java Arts Cafe again for the Khmer Abroad, talk and slideshow by photographer Stephane Janin, who used to host the Popil Gallery in Phnom Penh and now lives in Washington, US, documenting the lives of the Khmer diaspora. You can get a good feel for his work by visiting his blog. On Monday, a new art exhibition will open at Reyum featuring the paintings of local artists Khun Sovanrith and Ven Savat. The Reyum Gallery near the National Museum provides a great opportunity for Khmer artists to expose their work to a wider public. Later this afternoon, the Olympic Stadium will play host to the 1-year anniversary celebrations for the award of World Heritage status to the temple of Preah Vihear. The place will be awash with the cream of the country's elite as well as top names like crooner Preap Savath and many more. Long rambling speeches, music, patriotic songs, dance, speeches from military leaders, fireworks, more speeches, expect the lot. It's on tv so I won't be there. Oh, and at 11am this morning, the PM has called for bell-ringing, drum-beating and banner-hanging to herald the actual time of the listing. And I'm told there will be traditional dancing at Preah Vihear too, well at Sraem, some 20kms away. An interesting snippet emerged yesterday when two Thai tourists were refused entry to Preah Vihear. In fact, Thai tourists have been banned from the temple until the conflict has been resolved, on the pretext that they might be spies. Finally, the Khmer Rouge trials took a backwards step yesterday when civil party witness Ly Hor gave a less-than-convincing display about his time at S-21. So much so that Duch claimed the man was already dead and challenged the witness testimony. Ly Hor said he was held at Tuol Sleng for one month but was sketchy in his recollection of his time there. It also called into some minor doubt the evidence provided by DC-Cam, whose officers have worked tirelessly for more than a decade to uncover the truth about the Khmer Rouge and presented much of the evidence for the tribunal.

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