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Old 06-20-2006, 02:16 PM
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ngythanh ngythanh is offline
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Default For Vietnamese Boat People in Cambodia (Cont'd)

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For Vietnamese Boat People in Cambodia,
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(Contíd from above notes)


At dawn on the river that flows south from the lake, small boats with tiny domed shelters drift down the glittering water with their nets for a while, then paddle back up against the current before drifting back. The afternoons aboard Mr. Men's boat are slow and peaceful, as his wife brews tea at the foot of the family's Buddhist altar and passing fishermen stop by to share news. But like the others who live here, Mr. Men is prepared in a moment to untether his home and flee farther from the shore, or even down the length of the lake and along the Mekong River to the no man's land along the border with Vietnam. As many as half a million ethnic Vietnamese live in Cambodia, but with Vietnam a historical enemy and occasional invader, they are widely feared and resented, and are a routine target for the country's political demagogues. As the Indochina war spread to Cambodia in 1970, the government of Prime Minister Lon Nol began a wave of killings of Vietnamese, causing thousands to flee the country. When the Communist Khmer Rouge ruled from 1975 to 1979, causing the deaths of more than a million people, Vietnamese became targets again.

Seven years ago this village, with some 1,500 people, was the scene of one of Cambodia's worst recent massacres. Out of the dark, boatloads of Khmer Rouge fighters attacked with machetes and rifles, killing 33 people and wounding 19. Most of the victims, many of them children, were killed in a floating video parlor. More recently, Vietnamese boat people who cluster along the river's edge in Phnom Penh, the capital, have been evicted as part of a political power play. When fighting flares, as it did during a coup in 1997 or in a late-night firefight in Phnom Penh last month, they are the first to flee for safety. Perhaps there is resentment among Cambodians that a foreign population dominates the great lake at the center of their country. Tonle Sap is the heartbeat of Cambodia, a living, throbbing organ that reshapes itself with the seasons and forms the natural core of the country's agriculture. The river that flows south from it, also called Tonle Sap, reverses its course during every monsoon season, causing the lake to overflow into the surrounding countryside.

If Cambodians fear that their country may someday be swallowed by Vietnam, that fear could find inspiration in the huge cage beneath Mr. Men's houseboat, teeming with the riches of their lake. Mr. Men is a broker, gathering the catch of his fellow fishermen and selling it on periodic trips south to Phnom Penh for export to Hong Kong, where elephant fish are an expensive delicacy. Elephant fish are hard to find in the restaurants of the nearest city, Siem Reap. But Mr. Men's long afternoons in his hammock, as he waits for his deliveries, do not seem conducive to introspection or metaphors. His philosophy, as he expressed it, is simple: "We do what we can to make a living." If he has an ambition, it lies with his twin 6-year-old daughters, who are learning to read and write in both Vietnamese and Cambodian. His hope for them, he said, is to go to school, to study hard, to find a job on land. (Source: Seth Mydans, The New York Times ©12-30-2000)





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Old 06-21-2006, 01:59 AM
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Default Re: For Vietnamese Boat People in Cambodia (Cont'd)

Thank you for telling me something that my parent did NOT tell me.
I am following up your serial with full attention. Please tell me if I can contribute anything (time, some money?)
If you have plan to go there to do anything for people, I would like to sign up for 10 days at Chong Kneas, for social activities. Please let me know ahead of time so I could reserve my vacations and book the airticket.
Thank you.

Ngoc-Son
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