Journalist | Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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By Mech Dara and Alex Consiglio
The Cambodia Daily

Just one day after being arrested, a Cambodian-American man was on Thursday sentenced to two years imprisonment for publicly displaying a banner declaring himself the new leader of Cambodia following the death Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Im Vannak convicted Han Visot, 51, of incitement, incitement to discriminate, and insults against public officials.

“The municipal court sentences Han Visot to two years in jail,” Judge Vannak said.

Mr. Visot was arrested Wednesday outside the Royal Palace holding a banner that claimed Prime Minister Hun Sen, along with his wife, eldest son and Interior Minister Sar Kheng, had died and that he was to be the country’s new leader.

“I wrote it because god told me to,” Mr. Visot said in the courthouse hallway before his speedy trial Thursday. “God wants me to be the leader of Cambodia because I am the only one that can talk to him and understand his message.”

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Eang Naim, who leads the community fishery in charge of monitoring the six communes that can access Be Prammuoy Lake, treks toward the lake with a fellow community watchman. (Alex Consiglio/The Cambodia Daily)
Eang Naim, who leads the community fishery in charge of monitoring the six communes that can access Be Prammuoy Lake, treks toward the lake with a fellow community watchman. (Alex Consiglio/The Cambodia Daily)

By Alex Consiglio and Phorn Bopha
The Cambodia Daily

BE PRAMMUOY LAKE, Kompong Cham province – Khan Thea, a subsistence fisherman who lives and works along this sprawling, 7,000-hectare lake fed by the Mekong River, was not having a good day on the water.

Struggling to net even a single fish, he finally resorted to a dangerous—and illegal—technique: fishing with electric current.

He and his wife, Chab Chroeb, say they don’t want to fish illegally, but they are too poor not to, especially now that the fish stocks in Be Prammuoy Lake have been seriously depleted by large-scale illegal fishing in the Mekong.

With help from Ms. Chroeb, Mr. Thea, 40, loaded a car battery and a small transformer onto his cracked boat, wired the battery and transformer to two metal rods taped to bamboo sticks, and dipped the electrified rods into the water, hoping to collect the stunned fish as they floated to the surface. But even after he had discharged an electric current into the lake for several seconds, sending up a froth of bubbles, no fish emerged.

“Before if you went in the water you would step on fish,” said Ms. Chroeb, 37, docking her canoe and resigning herself to cooking a meager dinner of foraged mushrooms that night, rather than the fish she had been hoping would feed her family of seven.

“Now they are all gone.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen abolished Cambodia’s system of commercial fishing lots in 2012, a major policy change intended to conserve fish stocks and give local subsistence fishermen a better shot at making a living.

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Muon Sokmean at a relative’s wedding in 2012. (Courtesy of Pok Heam)
Muon Sokmean at a relative’s wedding in 2012. (Courtesy of Pok Heam)

By Mech Dara and Alex Consiglio
The Cambodia Daily

Muon Sokmean, a 29-year-old garment worker, scrambled off Veng Sreng Street on January 3 with military police in violent pursuit, brandishing their batons.

What had been a militant protest for a $160 minimum wage in the garment sector—with many protesters lobbing rocks and crude Molotov cocktails at military police—had devolved into a pitched battle on one of Phnom Penh’s main industrial boulevards.

“I saw military police chase him into my restaurant and beat him with batons,” said Vy, 32, the owner of a restaurant on Veng Sreng Street, who declined to give her full name Monday for fear of her personal safety.

“They kept kicking him once he fell down. He was really severely beaten,” said Vy.

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Braden Scopie, Josh Ramoo's 7-year-old son who built a connection with Yatim in the weeks before his death, in the room Yatim renovated. (Alex Consiglio/Toronto Star)
Braden Scopie, Josh Ramoo’s 7-year-old son who built a connection with Yatim in the weeks before his death, in the room Yatim renovated. (Alex Consiglio/Toronto Star)

By Alex Consiglio
The Toronto Star

The last time Sammy Yatim awoke it was to the rapid, excited knocks of his new 7-year-old friend banging on his bedroom door.

Braden Scopie wanted to play with him – cards or video games, maybe even take him to the corner store for a treat.

Yatim, who was gunned down by Toronto police early Saturday while brandishing a knife on an empty streetcar, had been living with Scopie and his dad, Josh Ramoo, in the last weeks of his short life.

The 18-year-old had left his home in June after disagreements with his father over smoking pot and not having a steady job, friends say. He was struggling to live independently and get his life on track.

Some friends remember Yatim, who moved here from Syria five years ago, as hard-working and bound for a health-care management program at George Brown College in September. Others say he had fallen in with the wrong crowd and was always armed with a knife.

“He had a lot of motivation, ” Ramoo, 23, said Monday, showing the Star the room in his Toronto apartment that Yatim had renovated. “He wanted to be on his own and make something of himself.”

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Nasira Fazli, 31, was found in her home on Torr Lane, near Kingston Rd. E and Salem Rd. S, with obvious signs of trauma on July 19, 2013. Her husband, Feraidon Mohammad Imbrahem, also 31, was taken into custody from the scene and has since been charged with second-degree murder. This is their son, Yasin Wafa, 17-months-old.Alex Consiglio/Toronto Star
The Fazli’s son Yasin Wafa, 17-months-old, at his grandparents’ home. // Alex Consiglio/Toronto Star

By Alex Consiglio
The Toronto Star

Every night, little Yasin Wafa scurries over to his grandparents’ front door, hoping his mom will be picking him up as she used to.

For the past week, she hasn’t come. Nasira Fazli, 31, was brutally stabbed dead last Friday in her Ajax home.

Her husband, Feraidon Mohammad Imbrahem, 31, is charged with second-degree murder. He was arrested without incident Friday at their home and was remanded into custody Saturday. He will return to court Aug. 6.

Yasin, 17 months old, had just started calling Nasira Fazli “ma-ma” days before she was murdered, his grandmother says, adding he now cries for “ma-ma” when being put to bed.

“Everybody is crying, crying, ” says Shahla Fazli, surrounded by pictures of her dead daughter at her Pickering home. Yasin is nearby, in his aunt Sharipa Fazli’s arms, snuggling his face into her shoulder.

Shahla Fazli spreads some pictures out on the floor. In some, Nasira Fazli is smiling next to her husband, but his eyes in the images have been scratched and poked out by her brothers.

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