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Cablegate: Experience Engaging Diaspora Communities

VZCZCXYZ0011
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPF #0721 2680921
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 250921Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1218

UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 000721

SIPDIS

STATE PLEASE PASS TO S/P AND S/GPI MARY KAREN WALKER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL EINV EAID SCUL SMIG OIIP
SUBJECT: EXPERIENCE ENGAGING DIASPORA COMMUNITIES

REF: STATE 86401

1. This cable provides input requested in reftel for the
Secretary's Global Partnership Initiative.

2. Between the years of 1975-1985, approximately 130,000
Cambodian refuges were resettled in the United States after
fleeing the Khmer Rouge regime. Since then, it is estimated
that the number has grown to over half a million. Cambodian
communities are concentrated in Long Beach, California,
Lowell, Massachusetts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Seattle,
Washington.

3. Given the relative newness of the Cambodian diaspora,
there are few official connections between the diasporan
community and the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC). The
connections are mainly kinship in nature, and include some
financial support in the form of remittances from family
members living abroad. Due to the brutal circumstances of
their escape and resettlement, many Cambodian Americans have
had a difficult time adjusting to their new lives and face
economic hardships. There is currently little long-term
investment in Cambodia from the diaspora community as a
result.

4. After years of conflict, the United Nations Transitional
Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) was set up from 1992-1993 in
order to implement the Paris Peace Accords of 1991. UNTAC's
many goals included the restoration of peace and execution of
free and fair elections. Elections were held in 1993, and
the new government proceeded to draft and approve a
constitution. Given the shortage of educated Cambodians
after the Khmer Rouge era, diasporans were encouraged to
return to Cambodia to assume roles within the new government.
Many Cambodian Americans are active within both the ruling
and opposition parties.

5. As Cambodia continues to develop, cultural outreach is
emerging. Last year, the rock opera "Where Elephants Weep,"
was brought from Lowell, MA and performed in Phnom Penh to
sold-out crowds. The rock opera included performances from
both native Cambodians and Cambodian Americans. The
Ambassador will visit Cambodian American community leaders,
professionals and students in Long Beach, CA in December at
the invitation of the Cambodian Culture and Arts Association
(CCAA). The CCAA is interested in partnering with the
Embassy to "promote democracy, leverage economic growth,
stimulate poverty reduction, eliminate corruption, and much
more."

6. Te Embassy regularly interacts with the Cambodian
diaspora in the Long Beach area. The focus is primarily on
promoting arts and educational exchanges between the
community in California and their counterparts in Phnom Penh.
The Embassy is also in contact with the Cambodian community
in Silver Spring, MD in an effort to involve it in the
installation and display of Angkorian bronze artifacts at the
Sackler gallery in May of 2010.

7. The Embassy also engages the small Cambodian Cham Muslim
diaspora communities in Olympia, WA and Santa Ana, CA.
Embassy officers have met with the communities, visited
worksites in the U.S., and participated in mosque openings
and events in Cambodia funded by the diasporan Cham
communities.

8. Point of contact for future reference and follow-up is
PAO John E. Johnson at Johnsonje@state.gov.
RODLEY

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