Archive for May 16th, 2012

May 16, 2012

Cambodia: Security forces kill teenage girl during in Mass Eviction ‎

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Phnom Penh:  Wednesday 16 May 2012

Security forces in Cambodia have killed a teenage girl during a clash with villagers armed with axes and crossbows in the latest of a series of violent evictions aimed at clearing land for development.

Reports said that during a clash between up to 400 soldiers and police and villagers in Kratie province in the east of the country, a 15-year-old girl was badly injured. She subsequently died of her injuries in hospital, according to the Associated Press.

Provincial official Sar Chamrong said government forces had secured the area and were hunting for five accused ringleaders who had escaped. He claimed the protesters were trying to set up a self-governing zone outside of the law. Authorities say the land is owned by the government, but villagers say the previously state-owned land already has been awarded to a Russian company.

Cambodia’s system of land concessions, which campaigners say is riddled with corruption, became an international issue and the focus of a UN inquiry last month, following the killing of a high profile environmental activist. Under intense pressure, Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a directive a week ago suspending new concessions to private companies and ordering a review of existing ones. The move was announced during a visit by a UN human rights envoy.

The envoy’s visit followed the killing last month of 46-year-old Chut Wutty, who headed the National Resources Protection Group and had exposed a series of logging scandals involving corrupt officials. He was shot dead by security forces as he escorted journalists from a local newspaper to investigate alleged illegal activities in Koh Kong province. After an altercation with military police, he was killed by an officer. Police initially claimed the officer subsequently shot himself in a fit of remorse.

The killing of the father-of-two stunned activists in Cambodia and beyond. Few believe the police’s explanation for his death and as more details have emerged, the story has looked increasingly unlikely. The EU and UN have called for an independent inquiry.

Chut Wutty’s wife, Sam Chanthy, told The Independent she did not believe what she had been told. “After my husband’s death, I’ve had fear and worry about the safety of my children and myself,” she said. “My husband used to be the main bread-winner for the family, but after he’s gone I don’t know what it’ll be like. It’ll be very difficult for me to bring up two daughters and one son alone.”

She added: “On the day when I was told of my husband’s death, I was very shocked as if something pierced through my chest and my heart was taken away from me. He died on his mission to save the country.”

Chut Wutty was killed while travelling in the Cardamom Mountains in the country’s south-west. He and the reporters from The Cambodia Daily had apparently stopped to take photographs when they were approached by armed men who demanded they delete their cameras’ memory cards. A report subsequently published in the newspaper said that after a protracted argument, the activist was shot while sitting in his car.

The two female reporters who then ran for cover and say they did not see who did the shooting, said two shots were fired. When they returned to the vehicle they saw the body of a military policeman, later identified as In Rattana, sprawled next to the car. The women tried first-aid to save Mr Wutty but the armed men did nothing to help.

“Despite the lack of clarity about what exactly happened, we are very concerned that the killing of Mr Wutty marks the latest and most lethal in a series of gun attacks on human rights defenders in Cambodia,” Rupert  Colville, a spokesman for the UN human rights office, told reporters in Geneva. “We urge the royal government to ensure that a full civilian judicial investigation proceeds speedily and with the utmost probity and independence.”

Campaigners in Cambodia have picked apart the explanations of the circumstances surrounding the shooting of Mr Wutty, on April 26. Police initially said the activist was killed in an exchange of gunfire but later said he had been killed by In Rattana, a military police officer who then shot himself.

But when campaigners pointed out that In Rattana had suffered two gunshot injuries – unlikely in a suicide – a third explanation was offered; namely that after In Rattana shot the activist, one of the other men, a guard employed by a private logging firm, Timbergreen, had rushed forward to try and take the gun from him. As he did so, it accidentally fired twice, striking In Rattana in the chest. According to police, the private guard, Ran Boroth, employed by the company Mr Wutty was investigating, has now been charged with involuntary homicide.

Police have since declared their investigation complete. Spokesman Tith Sothea told reporters in Phnom Penh: “We have shown the truth to the public. So our work is closed for now.”

Campaigners, unimpressed with the pronouncements of the authorities, say the killing of Mr Wutty was the latest in a series of attacks, threats and killings of activists, among them labour-rights campaigner Chea Vichea, who was assassinated in 2004. Mr Wutty had himself received a number of death threats but refused to give up his work highlighting illegal logging, in particular in the Prey Lang forest in the centre of Cambodia. Private logging and agricultural companies, local and foreign, are said to control around 10m acres of land in the country.

Ou Virak, director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, which has investigated Mr Wutty killing, said activists faced both physical and legal threats as they went about their work. “Illegal deforestation is very lucrative. There are huge interests at stake,” he said. “There’s no doubt that those involved [in illegal logging] have links to the government. These people are always connected.”

A 2007 report by the group Global Witness highlighted what it said was a network that linked those involved in illegal logging with the police and military and senior politicians. “Cambodia is run by a kleptocratic elite that generates much of its wealth via the seizure of public assets, particularly natural resources,” the report concluded.

Megan MacInnes of Global Witness said of Mr Wutty’s death: “Sadly there is a long and well-documented history of activists trying to protect Cambodia’s [resources] being attacked and dying. This is not the first.”

The area in which Mr Wutty was killed is currently being cleared by Timbergreen, a private company registered in Cambodia, to make way for two dams to produce hydroelectricity. Construction of the Lower Russey Chrum dams is being carried out two Chinese state-owned firms. Mr Wutty had alleged the company was breaching its licence and cutting trees outside of the area it was permitted to do so.

Timbergreen owners have denied the allegations. The company’s majority shareholder, Khieu Sarsileap, said that the firm only cleared a few logs in the areas it has been given permission to work in. “We are clearing logs only in the reservoir, and even in the reservoir itself, we can’t finish it up; we have to do it fast because we have a contract,” she said.

“In Chut Wutty’s case, I am sorry that it happened to him, but my company wasn’t in any way involved in that. Illegal logging is a problem happening throughout the country, and if anybody who is involved in illegal trading of woods or timber tells you that they are from Timbergreen, they are only lying to you.”

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May 16, 2012

Deeply delicious: West Scranton woman makes Egg Rolls just as she learned in native Laos

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/lifestyles-people/deeply-delicious-west-scranton-woman-makes-egg-rolls-just-as-she-learned-in-native-laos-1.1315535

By Josh McAuliffe (Staff Writer)
Published: May 16, 2012

Champy Bouttavong left her native Laos more than three decades ago.

But, all these years later, the West Scranton resident is still preparing many of the dishes she learned to make as a young girl growing up in the Southeast Asian country.

Some have become especially popular among her family and friends, like her Laotian Egg Rolls, the winning entry in this week’s Local Flavor: Recipes We Love contest. Mrs. Bouttavong received a $100 gift certificate from Rossi’s ShurSave Market in Old Forge.

Like a lot of things that are made from scratch, the Egg Rolls are a bit on the time-consuming side. So, Mrs. Bouttavong only makes them every so often, and always in bulk.

Jason Farmer / Staff Photographer West Scranton resident Champy Bouttavong was this week’s Local Flavor: Recipes We Love winner, thanks to her Laotian Egg Rolls recipe, which she brought over with her from her native Laos.

“Sometimes, I make two or three hundred,” she said. “I make them for special occasions, birthday parties, weddings. Sometimes people at work ask me.”

For instance, her boss asked her to make them for a Fourth of July party he was throwing. They were a huge hit, even with her boss’s wife, who had never been a fan of egg rolls.

“She really liked them,” Mrs. Bouttavong said.

To start off, she soaks some rice noodles in warm water for 20 minutes, then cooks them in boiling water for two to three minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl she mixes chopped shrimp or ground pork with finely shredded carrots, Napa cabbage, onions and potatoes, along with eggs. Then to that she adds salt, sugar and black pepper, then the rice noodles.

After everything has mixed together really well, she lets it sit for 10 minutes. From there, she spoons the mixture on spring roll shells, then neatly folds them up.

Once all the spring rolls are filled and rolled, they go into a deep fryer, where they cook for 10 to 12 minutes in oil (Mrs. Bouttavong prefers corn oil) heated to 350 degrees F. When they’re done, they should have a tantalizing golden-brown sheen.

“You need to do them in a deep fryer,” Mrs. Bouttavong said. “It cooks everything evenly in the shell.”

Mrs. Bouttavong always serves the Egg Rolls with a spicy dipping sauce made with chiles, lime juice, garlic and fish sauce.

The Egg Rolls freeze well. It’s best to reheat them in the oven or toaster oven, because they’ll lose their crunchiness in the microwave, Mrs. Bouttavong said.

On a recent afternoon, she made a typically enormous batch, half with pork and half with shrimp. Both versions were phenomenal. The filling had loads of flavor, the shell was perfectly crisp, and the hot sauce was a terrific complement. Eating 10 in a single sitting was an easy task.

Mrs. Bouttavong was about 8 years old when she first learned to cook at her home in the Laotian capital of Vientiane. By the time she and her family arrived in the United States in 1979, she had acquired an extensive array of great recipes, from papaya salad to fried rice to a whole bunch of seafood dishes, which she usually serves with sticky rice and some type of hot sauce.

She also makes large dumplings she stuffs with egg and, in an untraditional twist, Italian hot sausage. From time to time, she does the Egg Rolls that way, too. You could call it a Northeast Pennsylvania take on a Laotian classic.

Contact the writer: jmcauliffe@timesshamrock.com, @FeaturesTT on Twitter.

Champy Bouttavong’s Laotian Egg Rolls

  • 1 pound uncooked chopped shrimp or ground pork
  • 2 to 3 medium carrots
  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage
  • 3 medium onions
  • 3 small white potatoes
  • 3 packs from 10.56-ounce eight-pack Goldensmell vermicelli rice noodles
  • 1 25-pack Wei-Chaun spring roll shells
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Soak rice noodles in warm water for 20 minutes, then cook in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, then drain.

In a large bowl, add chopped shrimp or ground pork. After finely shredding the carrots, cabbage, onions and potatoes, add to bowl, along with eggs. Add seasonings and noodles, then mix together well. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Spoon mixture on spring roll shells and fold according to spring roll package directions.

Fill deep fryer halfway with corn oil and heat to 350 degrees F. Fry egg rolls for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Winestein says

Riesling may be the best choice for southeast Asian food. Go with semi-dry if the food is spicy.

May 16, 2012

Historic collection of books on the history of Vietnam and Laos’ special relationship during the period 1930-2007

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.pattayamail.com/news/historic-collection-of-books-unveiled-in-laos-12695

Tuesday, 15 May 2012 By  NNT

The Commission for Information and Training under the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party Central Committee held a ceremony in Vientiane on May 10 to launch a collection of books on the history of Vietnam and Laos’ special relationship during the period 1930-2007.

Speaking at the event, Vice President of Laos Bunnhang Volachit said the collection provides valuable documentation on the history of the bilateral ties between Vietnam and Laos. It was first initiated by President Ho Chi Minh and President Kaysone Phomvihane and fostered by later generations of Party and State leaders and the peoples of both countries.

The relationship has become a shining example of international relations, he said, adding that both countries continue to protect and promote their special relationship and comprehensive cooperation. The collection includes various works, including the History of Vietnam-Laos and Laos-Vietnam Special Relationship (1930 to 2007); Party and State Documents; Chronicles of Events; Memoirs; a Pictorial Book and a documentary film entitled ‘The Epic of Vietnam-Laos Relationship’.

The books summarise, in an objective and vivid manner, an important period in the special relationship between the two Parties and two States. It also reflects the aspirations of officials, soldiers and the peoples of both countries. Vietnamese Ambassador to Laos Ta Minh Chau said he believes that this historical collection, plus the activities to celebrate the Vietnam-Laos Year of Solidarity and Friendship 2012, will deepen bilateral ties and raise the traditional friendship and special solidarity that lies between Vietnam and Laos to a new level.

He stated that the Vietnamese Party, State and people are always grateful to Laos for its whole-hearted support and will do their utmost to foster the special friendship that lies between the two nations.

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