Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cracking down

Cambodia's PM has told his ministries and police chiefs to crack down on violent youth gangs who are causing havoc in the cities and countryside. I haven't seen much evidence of these gangs myself, until last night. Whilst the city was in boisterous mood with pockets of the Preah Vihear 1-year celebrations breaking out all over, I witnessed what appeared to be an unprovoked and cowardly attack on a teenager riding his moto along Sothearos Boulevard, in front of the colourful water-fountains. The traffic was snarled and at a standstill when at least half a dozen youths jumped off their motos and started punching and kicking a single youth, who was knocked from his moto and onto the ground. The assault lasted only a few seconds but I saw at least two of the youths using their unbuckled belts to inflict blows. As quickly as it had started, it was over, the youths jumped on their motos and sped away, cheering and giving each other high-fives. It was clear that the attackers knew each other, whether they knew the victim, I don't know but it was a sober reminder that youths and violence make common bedfellows in whatever city you find yourself in. I welcome any moves, however strong-armed they may be, to nip this in the bud.
Instead of watching the Preah Vihear celebrations on television last night, with a massive rally from the Olympic Stadium being beamed across the country, I went to watch a slideshow and talk, Khmer Abroad by photographer Stephane Janin at Java Arts Cafe. Janin moved from Phnom Penh to live in Washington, USA, a couple of years ago and has been documenting the ordinary, everyday lives of the Khmer diaspora in Washington, Lowell and Long Beach ever since. His blog has much of his work available to view. He intends to continue his work for another year before moving to France and beginning the same project there too.

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