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Posted on on March 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


We would like to invite those based in Washington DC to “Mekong Days” –  CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food, IUCN, and the Goethe Institute have jointly organized during 22-27 March, 2013.
The week includes a number of panel discussions and talks with a focus on the recently released movie “Mekong” produced and directed by Douglas Varchol with funding support from CPWF, IUCN and Sida. To learn more about the film go to
Please see attached a flyer describing this exciting program of activities.
I would be really grateful if you could share this with your colleagues or those whom you think might be interested to attend.

“Mekong” examines the issues of hydropower development and its impact on Mekong citizens’ lives. Filmed in four countries, and produced in five languages, it includes footage of China’s Mekong [Lancang] dams, as well as on-site footage of the controversial Xayaburi dam in Laos.

The Mekong Region is a massive ecosystem that is the lifeline for more than 60 million people across six countries: Cambodia, China, Laos, Burma/Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

For the people in the Lower Mekong Basin, it provides more fish to more people than any other river in the world. With an estimated commercial value exceeding US$2 billion per year, it is the world’s most valuable inland fishery. At the same time, more than 140 dams are currently planned, under construction or commissioned for different rivers in the basin. If constructed, this will radically alter the basin’s hydrology, its ecology and, consequently, the lives of millions who depend upon it.

How can two seemingly opposite demands be met – sustainable development of a region and the rising demands for energy and economic growth?

The purpose of this project is to open up the debate on hydropower development in the region through the use of innovative communication tools.

The film examines the issues of hydropower development and its impact on Mekong citizens’ lives. It features stories of Mekong citizens up and down the river, from fishers on the Tonle Sap, activists still fighting at the Pak Mun dam in Thailand, to a vice minister from Laos convinced he can build the region’s most “river-transparent” dam. Filmed in four countries, and four languages, it includes footage of China’s Mekong [Lancang] dams, as well as on-site footage of the controversial Xayaburi dam in Laos.

This independent film was produced and directed by Douglas Varchol and funded by CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food, IUCN’s Mekong Water Dialogues, and Sida.

Michael Victor Communication Coordinator

CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food
Mobile International :  +94 773 950 713 (Sri Lanka)    M (Laos): +856-20-5552-6693
E :  S : michaelpenvictor
P.O. Box 2075, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Mekong Days March 22 – 26, 2013 in Washington DC:

Friday, March 22, 5:30 pm | Goethe-Institut, 812 7th St. NW

Opening ceremony for Mekong Days

Art works by Phan Thao Ngyuen (Vietnam), Lim Sokchanlina (Cambodia), Piyaporn Wongruang (Thailand). The US premiere of Mekong (director: Douglas Varchol) captures footage of China’s Mekong (Lancang) dams, as well as the controversial Xayaburi Dam in Laos. Followed by a reception hosted by the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Devel- opment, and a screening of Mekong, the Mother (director: Peter Degen) Tickets: $7

Sunday, March 24, 2 – 5 pm | Goethe-Institut

artists Give a Voice to Nature

Sound installation by Phan Thao Ngyuen (Vietnam).
Southeast Asian Student Documentary Film Award presentation with films by Panida Sanatem, Maiphone Phommachan (Laos), Narong Srisopap (Thailand), Chum Sophea (Cambodia) and more.
Followed by a discussion of the role of the arts in the perception of social and environ- mental issues.
rSVP:  rsvp at

Monday, March 25, 2 – 3:30 pm | Woodrow Wilson center, 1300 Pennsylvania ave. NW, 5th floor

Balancing act on the Mekong: Building Linkages for More

Sustainable hydropower Development

Film clips and panel discussion hosted by Jennifer L. Turner, Woodrow Wilson Center Panelists: Douglas Varchol, film director, Mekong
Robert Mather, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN); Michael Victor, CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food

rSVP:  cef at

Monday, March 25, 6:30 pm | Goethe-Institut
Whose river, Whose choice? hydropower, Governance and environment in the Mekong

Screening of the film Mekong, followed by a discussion.
Participants: Asterio Takesy, Ambassador from Micronesia; Felix Leinemann EU Delega- tion; Erik Stokstad, AAAS; Robert Mather, IUCN; Michael Victor.
rSVP:  rsvp at

Tuesday, March 26, 6:30 pm | goethe-Institut

Up the Yangtze

Screening of this film from China conveying the human dimension of the wrenching changes facing the world at large. Tickets: $7

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Posted on on November 19th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

President Obama’s First Stop in Asia Is in Thailand
The first nation on the itinerary for President Obama’s Asia trip is Thailand — America’s oldest friend on the continent, with diplomatic ties stretching back nearly 180 years.

President Obama arrives in Rangoon and becomes the first sitting president ever to visit Burma.

Today’s Schedule
All times are Eastern Standard Time (EST).

12:35 AM: The President meets with Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairman and General Secretary of the National League of Democracy

1:05 AM: The President and Aung San Suu Kyi deliver remarks

1:35 AM: The President meets and greets with United States Embassy personnel

2:45 AM: The President delivers remarks at the University of Yangon

3:50 AM: The President departs Rangoon, Burma en route Phnom Penh, Cambodia

5:40 AM: The President arrives Phnom Penh, Cambodia

5:45 AM: The President is welcomed by Prime Minister Han Sen of Cambodia

6:05 AM: The President meets with Prime Minister Han Sen of Cambodia

6:35 AM: The President is welcomed to the US-ASEAN leaders meeting

6:40 AM: The President attends the ASEAN-U.S. leaders meeting

8:30 AM: The President arrives at Diamond Island Convention Center and is welcomed to the East Asia Summit Dinner

8:35 AM: The President participates in the East Asia Summit Dinner

1:00 PM: Dr. Jill Biden joins Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus at the Pentagon to announce the naming of the Navy’s newest submarine

2:30 PM: The First Lady hosts the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards

5:00 PM: The Vice President and Dr. Biden host their annual Early Thanksgiving Dinner for Wounded Warriors and their families

9:00 PM: The President participates in the Trans-Pacific Partnership meeting

10:45 PM: The President meets with Prime Minister Noda of Japan on the margins of the East Asia Summit

11:45 PM: The President meets with Premier Wen Jiabao of China on the margins of the East Asia Summit


Posted on on July 2nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (


A national strategy for local development in Cambodia could bridge the rural-urban divide and bring the Southeast Asian country closer to achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to a report released today by the United Nations.

Beyond the Midpoint: Achieving the MDGs and by the Local Development Outlook on Cambodia, produced by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), is the first publication of its kind to provide a comprehensive overview of local development trends in Cambodia.

It shows that decentralization would allow local governments to respond more appropriately to the needs of local communities.

“A strong consensus is emerging that a new policy approach is needed, one that builds on local knowledge to tailor public policy to specific circumstances,” UN Resident Coordinator Douglas Broderick told some 340 people who attended the launch of the report.

Such an approach would help guide Cambodian decision-makers “harness local potential and exploit opportunities for economic diversification and development,” he said at the gathering, which drew Government officials, representatives of academia and civil society, and development partners.

The report’s release comes two months ahead of the MDG Summit to be convened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September in New York.

With the 2015 deadline to achieve the MDGs looming, Mr. Ban has been urging world leaders to try to accelerate progress towards achieving the eight development goals, which include targets for slashing poverty, boosting school enrolment rates, improving maternal health and increasing access to clean water and decent sanitation.


Posted on on May 23rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Fukuda pledges full support for planned ASEAN unified market.

By REIJI YOSHIDA, The Japan Times onlline, Staff writer, Friday, May 23, 2008.

Echoing his late father’s message more than three decades ago, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said Thursday that Japan will seek closer ties with Southeast Asian countries by supporting the planned creation of a single integrated market in the region.

In his speech to a symposium in Tokyo, Fukuda reconfirmed Japan’s support for the establishment of an economic community by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations by 2015, while noting Japan’s alliance with the United States will continue to provide security in the Asia-Pacific region.

Fukuda’s father, the late Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda, is best remembered for his Fukuda Doctrine of 1977, which declared to Southeast Asian countries that Japan would build closer ties with the region and never again become a military aggressor.

“My first promise to you is that Japan will emphatically support ASEAN’s efforts to realize a community,” Fukuda told the “The Future of Asia” symposium, which was attended by several leaders from Asian nations, including Thailand, Malaysia, Laos and Indonesia. “I am determined to cooperate with the efforts of ASEAN, which is aiming to establish the ASEAN Community by 2015,” he said.

Fukuda meanwhile argued that the security situation in Asia remains unstable, singling out North Korea as one example.

The Japan-U.S. military alliance thus helps stabilize the region and “serve as the cornerstone for Asian prosperity,” he argued. “The Japan-U.S. alliance is now much more than a means for ensuring the security of Japan; rather, it also serves as an instrument for the stability of Asia and the Pacific as a whole.”

The 1977 Fukuda Doctrine was warmly welcomed and is believed to have favorably altered the sentiment of ASEAN countries toward Japan.

At that time, memories of Japan’s wartime aggression were still fresh in the region, which saw Japan’s postwar rise into an economic powerhouse as a cause for concern.

Fukuda also pledged Thursday make Japan a “peace-fostering nation.”

He cited Japan’s Indian Ocean refueling support for U.S.-led antiterrorism operations in Afghanistan, the fight against terrorism and pirates in the Strait of Malacca, as well as Japan’s contributions to regional efforts to cope with natural disasters and the spread of avian influenza.


Posted on on April 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

EU aid chief says rising food prices risk African ‘humanitarian tsunami:’ As food riots sweep the developing world, the EU’s foreign aid chief has warned that sky-rocketing food price rises threaten a “humanitarian tsunami” in Africa, and has promised a boost in aid to support food security.

“A global food crisis is becoming apparent,” said EU humanitarian aid commissioner Louis Michel after a meeting with African Union Commission President Jean Ping, “less visible than the oil crisis, but with the potential effect of a real economic and humanitarian tsunami in Africa.”

By Leigh Phillips, April 9, 2008, the EUobserver, Brussels.

The commissioner said that the EU would boost emergency food aid from the European Development Funds from its current €650 million to €1.2 billion.

In recent weeks, food riots have swept the developing world as UN World Food Programme officials warn that a ‘perfect storm’ of poor harvests, rising fuel prices, the growth of biofuels and increased pressure from a growing middle class in China and India is rapidly increasing world hunger.

The last two days have seen food riots in Egypt over a doubling of the price of staple food items in the past year. Some 40 people died in similar riots in Cameroon in February, with violent demonstrations also recently taking place in Senegal, the Ivory Coast, and Mauritania.

Less deadly protests in the last week have also occurred in Cambodia, Indonesia, Mozambique, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Bolivia.

In the last week in Haiti, five people have been killed in riots over price rises for rice, beans and fruit, with protesters attempting to storm the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday (8 April), while UN staff in Jordan have gone on a one-day strike this week asking for a pay rise to deal with the 50 percent increase in prices.

Elsewhere, China, Vietnam, India and Pakistan are introducing restrictions on rice exports.

The UN’s undersecretary for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief co-ordinator, John Holmes, on Tuesday said that rising food prices are threatening political stability throughout the developing world.

“The security implications [of the food crisis] should also not be underestimated as food riots are already being reported across the globe,” said Mr Holmes, speaking at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development (DIHAD) Conference, according to the Guardian. “Current food price trends are likely to increase sharply both the incidence and depth of food insecurity,” he added.

Kanayo Nwanza, vice president of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said on Tuesday: “Escalating social unrest as we have seen in Cameroon, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and in Senegal could spread to other countries,” reports AFP.

African finance ministers met last week in Addis Ababa to consider the food crisis. In a statement, the ministers warned that food price rises “pose significant threats to Africa’s growth, peace and security.”

Last month, the head of the UN World Food Programme, Josette Sheeran, said that high oil prices, low food stocks, growing demand from China and the push for biofuels are causing a food crisis around the world.

“We are seeing a new face of hunger,” she said. “We are seeing more urban hunger than ever before. We are seeing food on the shelves but people being unable to afford it.”


Posted on on April 3rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

UN blunders with human rights logo resembling robes of the Dalai Lama.

By Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor, The Independent of London.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time – redesigning the UN logo to mark the 60th anniversary of the world’s most translated document, the UN Human Rights declaration.

After a long search for a new design, a South African artist was commissioned after the UN decided to ditch its blue and white logo in favour of one which the high commissioner for human rights, Louise Arbour, believed would have more resonance in the developing world.

The successful design was unveiled in December last year, when the UN launched a year-long promotion for the 60th anniversary, which is to culminate with ceremonies on 10 December. Nobody noticed any particular significance of the orange and amber logo, showing a person with outstretched arms. When the design was unveiled the artist, Yolande Mulke, said: “I think what the UN likes about it is the continuity of using the wreath device from the UN logo and the feeling of peace and welcoming that the man with his arms wide open projects.”

But four months later, after weeks of protests by the amber-robed Buddhist monks in Tibet as China prepares to hold the Beijing Olympics, the UN has been embarrassed by the logo’s distinctive colours which are also those favoured by the Dalai Lama, the symbol of Tibetan resistance. “It’s a complete accident, we had no idea that the colours were those of Tibet,” said a UN official. The problem for the UN – which recognises China as the ruler of Tibet – is that the logo has been chosen to replace the official UN Human Rights one not only throughout this year but on a permanent basis.

Susan Curran, a spokeswoman for Mrs Arbour, said no UN member state had complained about the logo. Chinese embassy officials in London did not return calls yesterday. But Ms Curran stressed that the decision was taken long ago and that there was “nothing specific” about the logo’s chosen colours. “The criteria were that we wanted to show colours that were grounded and indigenous,” she said.

The UN is enlisting artists, filmmakers and cartoonists to raise awareness of the human rights declaration under the slogan “Dignity and justice for all of us”. A website, has been set up to promote the campaign.

The Nobel peace prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for Mrs Arbour to be allowed to visit Tibet in order to “report to the international community the events which led to this international outcry for justice”. During the height of the protests last month, she urged China to allow peaceful protests in Lhasa.

However, Amnesty International has issued a strong criticism of the international community’s response, saying that unless Gordon Brown and other world leaders speak out strongly and in public, “they risk giving tacit endorsement to China’s repressive policies”.

China has kept up the pressure by accusing Tibetan groups of planning suicide attacks, and it announced the seizure of guns, bullets and explosives in some Tibetan monasteries. China’s Ministry of Public Security said it had arrested “key members” of an underground network in Lhasa working with foreign-based pro-Tibet independence groups to spark a “Tibet People’s Uprising Movement”.

“We now have sufficient evidence to prove that the Lhasa incident is part of the Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement organised by the Dalai clique,” a ministry spokesman, Wu Heping, told a Beijing news conference. “Its purpose is to create crisis in China by staging co-ordinated sabotage activities. To our knowledge, the next plan of the Tibet independence forces is to organise suicide squads to launch violent attacks.”

The accusation was swiftly denied by an aide to the Dalai Lama, who leads a government-in-exile in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala.

The US state department also weighed in. A spokesman said: “The Dalai Lama is a man of peace. There is absolutely no indication that he wants to do anything other than have a dialogue with China to discuss how to deal with some of the serious issues there.”

About 90 Tibetan exiles and monks protested yesterday in two waves in front of the Chinese embassy in Nepal, but they were quickly detained by Nepalese police who have stopped similar protests in the past few days.

The Dalai Lama, described as a “separatist” by Beijing, has upset China by deciding to make a brief stopover in Japan on the way to the US from India next week. “We have all along opposed him using any excuse or in any capacity going to any country to engage in separatist activities,” said a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu.


Blue and White might also be seen as the post World War II struggle of the Jewish people that eventually led to a free state. If now, 6o years later, the Gold and White is seen as a symbol of the struggling Buddhism, perhapse by the time of the 70’s celebration the turn will come for a Green And White coloring to honor an expected feredom effort in the Muslem World. What colors are there for the struggle of the African People – who knows, their time may also arrive   eventually.


Posted on on January 13th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Jan. 13, 2008, The Japan Times, Kyodo News: Japan to give ¥6 billion in aid to four Mekong River nations – Former Indo-China’s Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Japan will provide a combined ¥6 billion in aid to four nations in the Mekong River region for various projects, including the construction of two highways that will traverse the Indochina Peninsula, government sources said Saturday. Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura will pledge the official development assistance to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam at a meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday, the sources said.

The meeting, the first of its kind, will bring together Komura’s counterparts from Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos.

Japan wants to place emphasis on funneling ODA resources into the Mekong region, which has been lagging behind other Southeast Asian regions in economic development, they said. The aid is expected to help Japanese companies increase business activity in the Mekong.

The projects covered by the aid will include one to build two highways linking Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar that have been dubbed the “Indochina East-West Economic Corridors,” the sources said.

Japan plans to disburse ¥2.2 billion over the next three years to help the Mekong region build road transportation bases from which truck cargo can be shipped to various destinations, and to train local customs officials how to conduct proper customs procedures, they said.

Separately, Japan will provide ¥2.2 billion to help Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam build schools and power generation facilities for poor people in areas traversing the nations, the sources said.

Japan will also provide ¥1.7 billion to support Cambodian poverty-reduction efforts, the sources said.

Komura will hold bilateral talks with the foreign ministers of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos on Wednesday, and with the foreign ministers of Myanmar and Thailand on Thursday.