Radio for Peace, Democracy and Human Rights
A documentation by Dr Hansjoerg Biener
peace radio site
© PD Dr Hansjoerg Biener
created 0107, updated 0601
Comments and contributions are welcome. Material may be re-printed but a complimentary copy of the publication is expected.

Cambodia
 
UNICEF Radio 2005
High quality mp3 files for broadcasters to download free of charge at
www.unicef.org/videoaudio/video_unicef_radio.html
PGM_007: Protecting Children - Landmines 
* 14-year-old Cambodian boy talks about stepping on a landmine and losing his legs
Let us know what you think!  radio@unicef.org

Although the Cambodian government originally tried to keep the country out of the Vietnam-War, Cambodia also became a battlefield. On April 17, 1975 the Khmer Rouge captured the capital Phnom Penh. The terror regime of Pol Pot is said to have cost the lives of some 1.5 Mio people. In 1979 a Vietnamese intervention overthrew the government and the Pol Pot guerilla re-entered into a guerilla war.
Because of its recent history Cambodia has been the target area of many international broadcasters as well as clandestine broadcasting from guerilla groups and opposing parties. Currently, although there is much partisan broadcasting there also is a counter balance of independent broadcasting both from domestic broadcasters and reknowned international broadcasters like Radio Australia and Radio France Internationale.
In the annual worldwide index of press freedom published by Reporters Without Borders in October 2004, Cambodia was listed as no. 109 of 167 countries surveyed.

1992-1993 Radio UNTAC
According to a treaty signed in October 1991 in Paris, the United Nations took over the running of the country to prepare free and democratic elections and a reconciliatory process. As part of this process the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) also operated a radio station.
Radio UNTAC went on the air on 30 July 1992. Because of the shattered broadcasting infrastructure in Cambodia, the UN used the remaining medium wave transmitter in Phnom Penh and established smaller medium wave facilities in three regional centres. For one year, one and a half hours daily were also broadcast by the Thai megawatt medium wave transmitter of the Voice of Free Asia, a joint operation of Radio Thailand and the Voice of America. In the election month of Mai 1993 the Cambodian transmitters of Radio UNTAC covered the country with 15 h of programmes daily. The UN closed down their radio service on 23 September 1993 and handed the facilities over to the elected government.
Although 90 per cent of the voters went to the polls, the result of the 3 Mrd USD UN effort remained mixed, because the loosing party of Hun-sen did not concede defeat. So the situation did remain unstable. Nonetheless, compared with the situation one or two decades ago, the situation did improve.


In a more recent development two opposition groups have bought air time on international short wave broadcasting stations. In February 2001 the opposition Sam Rainsy Party started a weekly 60 minute Voice of Justice from a short wave station "located in a democratic country not very far from Cambodia". The SRP had been denied access to airwaves inside Cambodia where loyalists of current Cambodian Prime Min Hun Sen control state radio and TV. In May 2001 an ethnic Khmer now living in the US started a weekly Voice of Khmer Krom Radio addressing Khmer communities in South Vietnam and Cambodia.
 
FM 102 FM 102,  P.O. Box 497, Phnom Penh, Cambodia 
http://www.forum.org.kh/~wmc/RadioFM102/radio.htm 

Women’s Media Centre of Cambodia is a Phnom Penh-based independent non-profit organisation that uses the media to promote social change in Cambodian society. It was founded on International Women’s Day in 1993 by five Cambodian women following the UN-sponsored national elections held that year. The stated goals of the Women’s Media Centre are: 1) to raise awareness of social issues from the unique perspective of Cambodian women; 2) to improve the status of women by promoting socially conscious TV, radio and video programmes; 3) to increase women’s participation in mainstream media.
To this end, the Women’s Media Centre: 1) produces weekly TV programmes from its own studio that are broadcast at peak times on Cambodia’s three largest TV channels; 2) launched its own radio station “FM 102” in 1999 whose 10,000 watt FM signal reaches 60% of Cambodia’s population with 16 hours per day of educational and socially informative programming; 3) employs a staff of more than 40 women at its purpose-built studio complex in Phnom Penh. Audience research commissioned by the Danish Institute for Human Rights in 2003 found “FM 102” to be the most listened to radio station in Cambodia. The Centre has just been nominated for this year’s One World Broadcasting Trust Special Award for Development Media.
On 2 May 2004, a new weekly call-in show for young people made its debute on Phnom Penh radio station “FM 102”. Produced by the Women's Media Centre of Cambodia and funded by the UK's BBC World Service Trust, Os Tos Mhong! (“COOL!” in English) is broadcast live every Sunday from 0800 to 0900 h local time. Hosted by 24-year old Try Vannak and 22-year old Phorn Phasoka , the programme is meant to be a space where young people can voice their opinions and ask questions about the things that are important in their lives. Each week, the show will focus on a particular topic complementing calls with advice and information to young people on personal, health and education issues of interest to them.
 

2005 Crackdown on independent media
In what may be the most severe assault on dissent in Cambodia in years, Prime Minister Hun Sen launched a crackdown on government critics, ordering the arrests of a prominent radio station director and several other civil society leaders, report the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) and Human Rights Watch.
The crackdown began during Hun Sen's visit to Vietnam on 10-12 October 2005, where he signed a border agreement with Vietnamese authorities. On 11 October, police officers arrested Mom Sonando, director of Beehive Radio FM 105, on defamation charges. Beehive Radio, which broadcasts on 105 FM, is a prime source for Cambodians to hear Radio Free Asia, the Voice of America, and other international broadcasters. The statopm had aired an interview with a France-based Cambodian dissident who suggested that the border treaty allowed Vietnam to control Cambodian lands. Sonando, 64, is currently being held at the Preysor Detention Center outside Phnom Penh, reports SEAPA. He was questioned for two hours at Phnom Penh Municipality Court on 11 October. Sonando is the third journalist to face government-initiated lawsuits in recent months, notes SEAPA. Following his arrest, many of Cambodia's leading human rights advocates, trade union activists and opposition party members have fled the country or gone into hiding.
After his visit to Vietnam, Hun Sen threatened to prosecute anyone who alleges that he or the Cambodian
government had "sold land" to Vietnam. He called such statements "acts of treason." Authorities have since arrested Rong Chhun, a member of the Cambodia Watchdog Council, a non-governmental organisation that has criticised the border agreement. No arrest warrant was produced, but he was charged with defamation and incitement under articles 60 and 63 of the Cambodian penal code. Under this law, individuals can be detained for up to six months pending trial, with no opportunity for posting bail. If convicted, Rong Chhun could be jailed for up to five years for incitement and one year for defamation, and be fined up to US$2,500.
Charges have also been laid against other members of the Cambodia Watchdog Council, including Chea
Mony, President of the Free Trade Union Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Ea Channa, representative of the Student's Movement for Democracy, and Men Nath, president of the Civil Servants Association.
Visit these links:
- SEAPA: http://www.seapabkk.org/newdesign/newsdetail.php?No=402
- Human Rights Watch: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/10/18/cambod11892.htm
- Text of Hun Sen's Speech Defending Border Agreement:
http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/10/18/cambod11891.htm
- Bee Hive Radio: http://www.sbk.com.kh
- Radio Free Asia: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/politics/cambodia_sonando/
- Freedom House Report on Cambodia:
http://www.freedomhouse.org/research/freeworld/2004/countryratings/cambodia.htm
- IFEX Alerts on Cambodia: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/146/
 
 

Radio station chief freed but still facing charges
Reporters Without Borders welcomed the release of  Mam Sonando, head of radio station Sombok Khmum (Ruche FM 105), two human rights activists, Kem Sokha and Pa Nguon Teang, and trade unionist Rong Chhun, but called on prime minister Hun Sen to drop defamation charges again them that could bring year-long jail
sentences. The organisation said an interview done about a border dispute by Mam Sonando, whose health deteriorated in prison, had not slandered the prime minister and that the journalist had simply been doing his job. The radio station is one of the country's few independent ones.
The four men were greeted by a crowd of about 100 well-wishers as they emerged from Prey Sar prison, near Phnom Penh, soon after a city court had released them on bail at Hun Sen's request. The prime minister acted after a meeting with visiting US assistant secretary of state Christopher Hill.  A government official said the move was "a present for Mr Hill to mark the opening of the new US  embassy" in Phnom Penh.  The US had criticised the arrest of the four.
Mam Sonando was arrested at his home on 11 October 2005, 20 days after broadcasting an interview with Sean Pengse, head of the French-based Cambodia Borders Committee, which opposes handing the
islands of Phu Quoc and Krachakses to Vietnam.  Hun Sen had said he would sue anyone who dared to suggest he was giving away Cambodian territory. (Reporters Without Borders Press release 17 January 2006)

Dr. Hansjörg Biener
c/o  Lehrstuhl Evangelische Religionspädagogik der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg,
Regensburger Str. 160, DE-90478 Nürnberg

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