March 19, 2009

Pt 1: Bashir Makhtal - Bashir Makhtal was in an open court room in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa today. He's a dual Ethiopian and Canadian citizen and he's spent more than two years in an Ethiopian prison as a domestic terror suspect. Mr. Makhtal was picked up along the border between Kenya and Somalia in December, 2006. He was then forced onto a rendition flight and flown illegally across international borders, eventually landing in an Ethiopian prison cell. He was not allowed to see Canadian consular officials for more than a year and a half. And he did not actually meet his Ethiopian lawyer until about two months ago.

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Pt 2: Khmer Rouge Survivor - From the street outside, the Angkor Restaurant in Toronto's east end looks like any of the city's many other Thai restaurants. Step inside, though and the picture starts to change. For one thing, even though Thai gets top billing on the sign outside, Angkor is actually Toronto's first and only Cambodian restaurant. And its walls hint at the remarkable life story of its owner, Chandaramony Eang ... Chandra for short.

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Pt 3: Chandra Eang (cont'd) - In our last half hour, Anna Maria spoke to Chandra Eang. He's a Canadian, originally from Cambodia who survived four years in Pol Pot's infamous killing fields. He came to Canada in 1985, and now owns Angkor Restaurant, Toronto's first and only Cambodian restaurant. But his heart and his mind often drift back to Cambodia where he runs a charity called Cambodian Restoration Projects.

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It's Thursday March 19th.

Former U.S. President George Bush told reporters in Calgary that he plans on writing a book about the 12 toughest decisions he made in office.

Currently, bookstores can't decide if the book should be categorized as biography, humour, fiction or true crime.

This is the Current.

Bashir Makhtal - McGuffin

Bashir Makhtal was in an open court room in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa today. He's a dual Ethiopian and Canadian citizen and he's spent more than two years in an Ethiopian prison as a domestic terror suspect. Mr. Makhtal was picked up along the border between Kenya and Somalia in December, 2006. He was then forced onto a rendition flight and flown illegally across international borders, eventually landing in an Ethiopian prison cell. He was not allowed to see Canadian consular officials for more than a year and a half. And he did not actually meet his Ethiopian lawyer until about two months ago.

Ethiopia accuses Mr. Makhtal of being a key figure in the Ogaden National Liberation Front, ONLF, a rebel group that is fighting for more autonomy or outright secession from Ethiopia. Ethiopia considers the ONLF a terrorist organization. But it is not on the terror watch list in Canada or the United States.

David McGuffin is following Bashir Makhtal's trial. He is CBC's Africa correspondent and he was at the court house in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Bashir Makhtal - Cousin and Lawyer

Said Maktal is Bashir Makhtal's cousin. They were raised in the same house in Somalia. And Said Maktal has been leading efforts in Canada to get his cousin out of Ethiopia. Said Maktal was in Toronto this morning.

Lorne Waldman is Bashir Makhtal's lawyer in Canada.

Bashir Makhtal Trial: Baird

John Baird has taken an active interest in Bashir Makhtal's case. He's Canada's Federal Transport Minister. He represents the riding of Ottawa West-Nepean, a riding with a large Somali community. And he says the Federal Government has told the Ethiopian Government that it expects Mr. Makhtal to be treated fairly.
The minister is travelling today and was unavailable to be interviewed. He did, however, speak to this issue at a press conference on Tuesday. We aired a clip from this conference.

 

Khmer Rouge Survivor - Chandra Eang

From the street outside, the Angkor Restaurant in Toronto's east end looks like any of the city's many other Thai restaurants. Step inside, though and the picture starts to change. For one thing, even though Thai gets top billing on the sign outside, Angkor is actually Toronto's first and only Cambodian restaurant. And its walls hint at the remarkable life story of its owner, Chandaramony Eang ... Chandra for short.

Chandra Eang survived four years in Cambodia's killing fields, the forced labour camps run by Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s. He came to Canada in 1985. But Cambodia has always beckoned. Seven years ago Mr. Eang started a charity that is now called the Cambodian Restoration Projects. Its aim: to provide clean drinking water, food and housing for the country's impoverished people, and to help clear the millions of landmines that still dot Cambodia's landscape.

Three decades later, the legacy of the Khmer Rouge still hangs over Cambodia. And the long-delayed Khmer Rouge Genocide Tribunal, which is supported by the United Nations, is starting up its first trial. This summer, Chandra Eang plans to go back to Cambodia to start a seed project in Battambang which as he pointed out on the map in his restaurant, is where he spent four years in the killing fields. Anna Maria sat down with him a few days ago to talk about his life.

 

Chandra Eang (cont'd)

In our last half hour, Anna Maria spoke to Chandra Eang. He's a Canadian, originally from Cambodia who survived four years in Pol Pot's infamous killing fields. He came to Canada in 1985, and now owns Angkor Restaurant, Toronto's first and only Cambodian restaurant. But his heart and his mind often drift back to Cambodia where he runs a charity called Cambodian Restoration Projects.

As you heard earlier, he told us about his years in a slave labour camp and his harrowing escape through a minefield to neighbouring Thailand. He spent five years at a United Nations refugee camp there before coming to Canada. And that's where they picked up the rest of their conversation.

Chandra Eang is the owner of Angkor Restaurant in Toronto and the founder of Cambodian Restoration Projects. He plans to travel back to Cambodia this summer to launch a new seed project. He hopes to begin building a village that will house 600 people next year.

Music Bridge

Artist: Mike Oldfield
Cut: Cd 16, "Good News"
Cd: "The Killing Fields Soundtrack"
Label: Virgin
Spine: CDVM 2328

Letters

Thursday is mail day here at The Current. And to help sift through your thoughts, Anna Maria was joined by this week's Friday Host, Joseph Boyden. He's a Giller-Award-winning author and a member of the environmental group Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. And he'll be steering the ship tomorrow for The Current's special program on World Water Day.

Cancer Drugs: Last week, CBC Reporter Joan Weeks brought us the story of Hector Hinkley. He's a 40-year-old married father of three who lives in Port Hawkesbury in Cape Breton. Hector Hinkley was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer almost two years ago and he relies on a take-home chemotherapy drug called Temodol. It's an expensive drug about a hundred dollars a pill. And Hector needs to take about 25 pills every month.

The province covered the drug for six months. And his private insurance covered another month's worth. But now both those options have run out and Hector is having to choose between taking the drugs and providing for his family. And he's not the only person struggling to pay for expensive take-home cancer drugs. We shared other stories our listeners sent us.

Tug of War: Last week The Current spoke with Justice Harvey Brownstone about his new book "Tug of War: A Judge's Verdict on Separation, Custody Battles, and the Bitter Realities of Family Court." That conversation prompted many of you to write in with your own personal stories. We have withheld all names from these letters for privacy reasons.

And before we wrapped up today we read a letter that we got this week from Garry Wright of Thornhill, Ontario who had a contest in the 70's at his work to come up with a postal code slogan. That letter piqued our curiosity, so we decided to give Garry Wright a call.

And we'd love to hear your own slogans for our postal code. So send us your thoughts and we'll reveal the winning slogan next Thursday. Or if you have a favorite postal code slogan from your own address, let us know.

 

Last Word - Fall

Earlier this morning we heard from Chandra Eang about his four years in Pol Pot's notorious killing fields in Cambodia. He's now planning to go back to Cambodia to try to help the country re-build from that terrible period in its history. We ended the program today with a report filed by the Reuters newswire on April 16th, 1975 ... the day Cambodia's capital, Phnom Phenh, fell to the Khmer Rouge ... and the day life for many Cambodians changed forever.

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