Cambodian Community Press Release

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The cultural diversity in the Bay Area makes it one of the best places to live in the world. Cambodian-Americans are certainly significant pieces of that cultural tapestry. The preservation of the Cambodian culture is, therefore, vital. It is paramount not only to the collective community, but also to the Cambodian community, and the individual Cambodians themselves.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Cambodian New Year 2014 - San Jose Bay Area

Cambodian New Year 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Napredak Hall
770 Montague Expwy
San Jose, CA 95131

Cultural Dance Performance
3-5 PM

Social Dance

Cambodian Star Vocal Soda Nita & Andy Song
Live Band

City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs
Alliance for California Traditional Arts
Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Silicon Valley Creates
Farrington Foundation


Monday, July 30, 2012

Echoes of the Royal Court - San Jose, California


Contact: Leslie Kim (650) 814-7300, leslieakim at

Echoes of the Royal Court is a special performance of classical Cambodian dance and music that will be at the Mexican Heritage Theater in the Mexican Heritage Plaza, School of Arts and Culture 1700 Alum Rock, San Jose, CA 95116 at 3pm on Sunday, September 2, 2012. Tickets are $10, to reserve your seat please contact, 408 829-8072. For more information please visit,

The Cambodian Cultural Dance Troupe of San Jose, California under the artistic direction of Ms. Savary Dean and the Ho Chan Ensemble, a pin peat percussion group from Long Beach, California will present dances and music originally performed for the Royal Court in Cambodia. The blessing dance, Robam Chun Por and Robam Buong Suong Yakon will be followed by a special performance of Robam Hanuman and Sovan Macha with Ms. Charya Burt and Mr. Sara Pheng dancing. Bophal lokai will introduce the youngest members of the Cambodian Cultural Dance Troupe before the Ho Chan Ensemble does a special presentation of classical Cambodian pin peat music. Robam Plert, the Fan Dance will be the elegant conclusion of the program.

Echoes of the Royal Court brings to San Jose the classical Cambodian dance and music of Ms. Savary Dean and Mr. Ho Chan, both artists who trained in Cambodia before fleeing the Khmer Rouge. Ms. Dean brings her art to San Jose in memory of her teachers who perished in Cambodia. Echoes of the Royal Court features musicians of the Ho Chan Ensemble with their classical pin peat drums and reed instruments, the Cambodian Cultural Dance Troupe and Ms. Charya Burt and Mr. Sara Pheng as Hanuman, the Monkey King.

Echoes of the Royal Courts tells a part of the story of the Reamker, the Khmer or Cambodian adaptation of the Ramayana. This classical dance and music tells the story of Hanuman, the brave monkey with his band of loyal monkeys building a bridge to Nirvana and meeting Sovan Macha, the golden mermaid and her band of sparking mermaids. It is a timeless story of long ago.

Echoes of the Royal Court is made possible with the support of: The Alliance for California Traditional Arts, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs and the Arts Council Silicon Valley in partnership with the county of Santa Clara and the California Arts Council. Tax deductible donations can be made to the Cambodian American Resource Agency, inc., a 501c3 non profit organization dedicated to preserving the traditions and culture of the Cambodian people.

Leslie Kim
(650) 852-0449

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Khmer New Year 2012 at Watt Khmer San Jose

The Cambodian New Year Celebration


By the Calendar, The Cambodian New Year, year of DRAGON, will begin on Thursday the 12th of April 2012

in the San Jose Cambodian Temple located at:

2751 MERVYN’S WAY, SAN JOSE, CA 95127 - (408) 770-9171

1)- Thursday, April 12th, 2012 Beginning of the NEW YEAR

2)- Friday, April 13th, 2012 This day is called MAHASANGRAN

3)- Saturday, April 14th, 2012 This day is called VANABAT

4)- Sunday, April 15th, 2012 This day is called LOEUNGSAK

1)- Thursday, April 12th, 2012

8:00AM - 12:00AM Homage, taking precepts, offering food to Monks.

1:00PM - 4:00PM Mound up the sand.

4:00PM - 6:00PM Homage, taking precept & Parrida.

2)- Friday, April 13th, 2012 (VANABAT)

8:00AM - 12:00AM Morning schedule as in Thursday.

1:30PM - 3:00PM Mound up the sand.

3)- Saturday, April 14th, 2012

8:00AM - 12:00AM Morning schedule as in Thursday.

1:20PM - 4:00PM Resolving to be CHOLAMONICHITIYA.

Monks recite JAYANTO & Sprinkle Holy Water over the CHOLAMONICHETIYA

4)- Sunday, April 15th, 2012

8:00AM - 12:00AM Schedule for the BUDDHISM.

1:00PM - 4:00PM Getting all participants & MONKS in front of Senasanack, homage to CHOLAMO….,

4:00PM - 6:00PM raising CHOLAM to be normal sand, Bathing the Buddha’s RELIC, Sprinkle Holy Water over the Monk’s hand and all old women-men, pardoning to the Three GEM, All Monks recite PAHOUTEVEAR and Bangsokaul for inaugurating THE NEW YEAR CELEBRATION.


February 1st, 2012

From the desk of The San Jose Cambodian Buddhist Society.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cambodian New Year Festival 2012 - San Jose, California

The Cambodian-American community of Santa Clara County will celebrate its
27th Annual Cultural New Year,
Year of the Dragon,
Saturday, April 14th, 2012 (3pm to midnight)
at the
Unify Event Center
765 Story Road, San Jose, CA 95122
(Behind Walmart)

We will be sponsoring this event for a fun evening of excitement. The celebration of "Khmer New Year" is a symbol to remind us of our culture and heritage. The Cambodian New Year Festival showcases the richness of Cambodian life in our community. The treasured folk culture and history of Cambodia delight the senses in colorful display of art, music, and dance.

This year, Cambodian New Year Festival 2012 Committee lead by Miss Davy Chea and, will bring us two parts of events. Part-I will feature Khmer Classical Dance & Folk Dances and Traditional Games. Part-II, the social dance, will feature Angkorwat Band and Ms Pinaly.

For more information
Please contact Miss Davy Chea at 408.667.4015

For Posters

Download Khmer New Year 2012 Poster

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bay Area Cambodians seek justice in homeland

By John Boudreau

Sophany Bay's three young children died in her arms, one after the other, during Cambodia's genocide. Sarem Neou lost her two daughters to starvation and disease; her mother was dragged to death by a horse after she was suspected of stealing food for one of the girls; and her husband died after learning of the horrific deaths of his children. Kelvin So's brother, a surgeon, was one of thousands of professionals executed by Khmer Rouge soldiers.

Collectively, the three survivors lost hundreds of relatives -- aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews -- during the reign of terror from 1975 to 1979 in Cambodia when an estimated 1.7 million people died, about a quarter of the small Southeast Asian country's population.

Sophany Bay, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime, holds a photograph of her daughter Lilavodey "Pomme" Bay, who was killed by the regime when she was six months old, in 1975, by an injection of an unknown substance, at the Wat Khemara Rangsey Temple, in San Jose, Calif. on November 12, 2011. Bay is returning to Cambodia to witness the second trial of Khmer Rouge leaders. (LiPo Ching/Mercury News). ( LiPo Ching )

Now Bay, So and Neou are among 45 Cambodian-Americans -- including six from the Bay Area -- who will get the opportunity to see justice done. When opening arguments start Monday in Phnom Penh in a trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders charged with crimes against humanity, Bay and Neou will be sitting in the gallery alongside other witnesses to genocide. They and the other Cambodian-Americans are being legally represented in the trial and might provide testimony.

"I want to see justice before I die," said Bay, 66, a San Jose mental health counselor. "I want to see those killers and ask them, 'Why? Why did they kill so many people? Who stood behind the killing fields?' Before I die, I want justice."

Leaders' second trial

The United Nations-backed tribunal, the second prosecution of Khmer Rouge leaders, is simultaneously a criminal and civil proceeding that could last more than two years. Its mandate is to try leaders responsible for the killing of hundreds of thousands of Cambodians. Civil claimants seek reparations, perhaps a permanent memorial in Cambodia, and the chance to face those who unleashed ineffable brutality on their lives.

The defendants in what the tribunal calls Case 002 are Ieng Sary, who was foreign minister; Khieu Samphan, a former head of state; and Nuon Chea, known as Brother Number Two. A fourth defendant, Ieng Thirith, 79, the former minister of social welfare and wife of Ieng Sary, suffers from dementia and last week was declared unfit to be tried and ordered freed from detention by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. The regime's top leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998. In the first trial, Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for the torture and death of at least 14,000 people in Tuol Sleng prison.

"I am very glad the international court is bringing those people to justice," said So, a 63-year-old Milpitas resident. "But it's late. They are old. Why should these people have had a better life?"

Some survivors are ignoring the tribunal, said Leakhena Nou, a medical sociologist at Cal State Long Beach who led an effort to document the stories of those in the United States. "It's a way of coping. It's also a very Buddhist, almost fatalistic response to something that is almost incomprehensible."

Mass executions

The Khmer Rouge took control in 1975 after the war in next-door Vietnam spread to Cambodia. Khmer Rouge leaders evacuated cities and banned modern technology to create an agrarian culture to purify the nation as a foundation for a new Communist society. This included killing countless Cambodians, particularly the educated.

When Khmer Rouge soldiers committed mass executions, they would play loud music to cover the screams of those being beaten to death, recalled Neou, a schoolteacher who was in Paris on a scholarship when Pol Pot took over the country April 17, 1975. Unable to bear the thought of her children and husband facing these horrors while she remained safe in France, Neou returned to her homeland in January 1976 and was placed in a work camp.

Those who survived did so because of luck, cunning, faith and a fierce drive to live, the survivors say.

"I don't know if I am strong or weak," said Neou, 71. "But I have a willpower."

The police inspector

So, whose position as a national police inspector should have led to his quick execution, was beaten with an ax handle during an interrogation by two soldiers who did not believe his claims of being a law student, which he had been. He finally confessed to being a police inspector, but used a formal term not understood by the soldiers, who most likely were illiterate. It saved his life.

Bay's husband, Sarit Bay, a military officer, was being trained in the United States when the Khmer Rouge charged through Phnom Penh, shooting off guns and ordering everyone out of the city and into the countryside. Sophany Bay, who had close ties to the deposed Lon Nol government, left with her three young children and few supplies. She spotted her sister-in-law, whose husband was a provincial governor, and other relatives but could not reach them because of the crush of people. She learned later they were all killed. Some were beaten to death and some, even small children, had their throats cut with palm tree branches.

With little food and no shelter from the rain, her infant daughter, nicknamed Pomme, fell severely ill. One day Bay carried her five miles to an infirmary, where a soldier injected a lethal substance into the baby's head.

"Instead of saving her, he killed her," she recalled, her body shaking at the memory.

Bay, also a schoolteacher, was forced to do hard labor for up to 13 hours a day. Her other two children were constantly interrogated and beaten by soldiers in futile attempts to get them to reveal the identity of their father. The boy, 6, died silently in her arms late one night, while her 5-year-old daughter "talked until the last minute," Bay said. "She asked me to go and look for my husband."

"They killed my whole family," she said. "Nobody is alive, only me and my husband."

Family wiped out

Neou, who now lives in Silver Spring, Md., didn't learn about the death of her family until after Vietnamese soldiers invaded Cambodia, ending the reign of the Khmer Rouge. She had emigrated to the United States, joining her brother in San Jose. One day a letter from a relative arrived, telling her that just about everyone in her family was dead.

"I jump up and down," she recalled of that fall day in 1980. "It seemed like my head was hitting the ceiling. I jumped and ran around the apartment. I scream and run around."

Even though they were deposed by Vietnamese forces in 1979, Khmer Rouge leaders remained free from prosecution for decades. Wrangling between the tribunal and the Cambodian government, which includes former members of the Khmer Rouge, has dampened enthusiasm for the trial among many Cambodians in the United States and Cambodia. Those with Khmer Rouge ties include Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was a low-ranking Khmer Rouge member decades ago before joining the government created by Vietnam while Cambodia was under Vietnamese military occupation.

More trials in doubt

The international prosecutor for the tribunal wants to bring at least two more cases against former leaders of the regime, but the Cambodian government, which has been accused of tampering with the process, has resisted. Observers say the government fears current political leaders could be affected.

"They see these four defendants as the ultimate defendants," said Nushin Sarkarati, an attorney with the San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability, a nonprofit organization representing Cambodian-Americans before the tribunal. "Their argument is anyone else is not really a senior leader for the Khmer Rouge. This is an absurd notion."

Neou, undeterred, is ready to do what she can to implicate the former Khmer Rouge leaders. She said she was an eyewitness to the power once wielded by some of those now on trial. After she had returned to Phnom Penh from France, Neou saw Ieng and Khieu up close. Ieng showed up in a black car. "He came in a car like Al Capone's," she said. "He was happy."

Khieu was "dressed like Viet Cong" in the black pajama-like pants worn by Vietnamese Communist guerrillas as he addressed the new arrivals: "We wish for you to find happiness in this new society."

Contact John Boudreau at 408-278-3496.


In America: Approximately 157,500 Cambodians resettled in the United States from 1975 to 1994, the vast majority as refugees. An estimated 12,000 live in the Bay Area. Many still suffer serious mental health problems from being tortured and witnessing killings of their family members.

Legal rights: In 2009, researcher Leakhena Nou, a medical sociologist at Cal State Long Beach, began documenting the stories of genocide survivors in the United States and founded the Applied Social Research Institute of Cambodia ( She discovered that Cambodian-Americans had legal rights to offer testimony and have legal representation at the tribunal proceedings.

The lawyers: The San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability, a nonprofit that specializes in seeking reparations from perpetrators of war crimes and human rights violations, is representing 45 Cambodian-Americans, including six from the Bay Area, in the second United Nations-backed Khmer Rouge genocide trial in Phnom Penh.

Mixed reaction: "A good number of Cambodian-Americans choose not to pay attention (to the tribunal)," said Daryn Reicherter, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine who treats many Cambodian émigrés in San Jose. "It's too upsetting. They don't want to reopen memories. And there are people who are totally involved and really hang on it and get updates from Cambodian news sources. I rarely get a perspective from someone who is in between."

Source: Staff reporting

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Thursday, November 10, 2011


Dear Community Leader:

In collaboration with the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, the Human
Rights Center, The Institute for International Studies, and International and Area Studies, the Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies Program will be hosting a symposium at Berkeley on November 19, 2011 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords.

The symposium will look at present day Cambodia, 20 years after this historic agreement. It brings together key “history makers”, academics and researchers, policy analysts, and rights advocates to discuss critical issues facing present day Cambodia in four critical areas, namely law and democracy, economic development and human security, human rights, and the role of diasporas in peace and democracy building and national reconstruction.

We hope that you can join us in this important convening.

Professor Khatharya Um
Conference Chair
University of California, Berkeley


On October 23, 1991, a comprehensive political settlement, also known as the Paris Peace Agreement, was signed and endorsed by eighteen countries. It brought an end to the decade-long war in Cambodia, and paved the way for the 1993 UN endorsed elections in Cambodia.

The last two decades since the end of war have witnessed the nation's valiant post-genocide and post-war struggle to rebuild communities and institutions, economic liberalization and growth, a burgeoning civil society, and proliferation of rights discourse. They have also seen the resurgence of conflict, widening class disparity, and persisting challenge with key reforms, accountability and governance.

This convening marks the 20th anniversary of the Paris Agreement. It brings together key "history makers," academics and researchers, policy analysts, and rights advocates to discuss present day Cambodia, twenty years after the peace settlement. Topics include law and democracy, economic development and human security, human rights and transitional justice, and the role of diasporas in peace building and national reconstruction.


Ambassador Richard Solomon
Ambassador Solomon is President of the United States Institute of Peace. He was Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (1989-1992) during which time he negotiated the Cambodia peace treaty, the first United Nations "Permanent Five" peacemaking agreement. He previously served as a senior staff member of the National Security Council.

Dr. Surya Subedi
Professor Subedi is United Nations Special Rapporteur For Human Rights in Cambodia and a Member of the Advisory Group on Human Rights to the British Secretary of State For Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He is Professor of Law at the University of Leeds.

Mr. Brad Adams
Mr. Adams is Executive Director of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division. He worked in Cambodia for five years as the senior lawyer for the Cambodia field office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and legal advisor to the Cambodian parliament.

Ms. Heather Ryan
Ms. Ryan was the Monitor for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal with the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Mr. Joel Brinkley
Mr. Brinkley is Professor of Journalism at Stanford University and author of Cambodia's Curse. He was a New York Times reporter, editor and Pulitzer Prize winning foreign correspondent.

Ms. Devi Leiper O'Malley
Ms. Leiper O'Malley is Program Associate for Asia and Oceania for the Global Fund for Women and Founding Executive Council Member of the Devata Giving Circle.

Mr. Van Sar
Mr. Van Sar is a founding member of the Khmer Alliance Foundation

Mr. Tung Yap
Mr. Yap was President of Cambodian Americans for Human Rights and Democracy

Mr. Hann So
Mr. So is Founder of Khmer Conscience, and Co-founder of the Khmer Institute of Democracy, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

WHEN: November 19, 2011 -8:30a-5: 30p

WHERE: The Home Room, International House, 2299 Piedmont Avenue, Berkeley, CA

Co-Sponsored by: The University of California, Berkeley Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, Center For Southeast Asian Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies/International and Area Studies, Institute For International Studies, The Human Rights Center, The International House.

For more information, please contact Professor Khatharya Um at This event is free to the public.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sophiline Cheam Shapiro's Cambodia's Khmer Arts Ensemble will be performing at Cal Performances in Berkeley

Sophiline Cheam Shapiro's
Cambodia's Khmer Arts Ensemble
will be performing at Cal Performances in Berkeley

on Sunday, October 2nd (3 pm).

Ticket prices range from $20 - $52 and
tickets are 1/2 price for youth under the age of 16. I am asking for
your assistance with information on how to inform the Cambodian
community in Northern California about this event.
Here is a link to our event web page:

Please feel free to email or call using the contact information listed below.

Thank you,

-- Susan Pfeifer
Advertising/Promotions Manager
Cal Performances
UC Berkeley
101 Zellerbach Hall #4800
Berkeley, CA 94720-4800
Ph: 510.642.3499
Fax: 510.643.6715
Visit us on the web at:

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