Friday, July 18, 2008

Standoff continues on Thai-Cambodia border as Hun Sen weighs in (Lead)

By Puy Kea
PHNOM PENH, July 17 KYODO -- A standoff between hundreds of Cambodian and Thai troops along the two countries' disputed border continued for a third day Thursday as Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen sent his Thai counterpart a letter urging the withdrawal of Thai troops from what he claimed is Cambodian soil.
In his letter to Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, Hun Sen said Thai troops began encroaching on Cambodian territory Tuesday and have since then ''increased in number rather than withdrawing.'' ''The deteriorating situation is very bad for the relations between our two countries, and therefore, I would like to ask Your Excellency to take measures to ease the tensions and order the Thai troops to withdraw,'' he said. Hun Sen said he was pleased to hear that Samak has agreed to meet with Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh next Monday in Thailand 's Sakao Province to discuss the issue. Cambodian officials said Thursday that some 400 Thai troops are now on Cambodian territory, an increase of some 200 from Wednesday.
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said Cambodia has not increased its troops in the area but has other troops on standby in case any ''worse situation might erupt.'' He added, however, that Cambodian troops will not use force unless first attacked. Thailand insists it has no troops in Cambodia but only in an undemarcated area of the border near the Cambodia-controlled Preah Vihear temple, which has been at the center of a bitter 50-year dispute between the two countries.
July 17, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cambodia says Thai troops on its soil increase to about 200

By Puy Kea PHNOM PENH, July 16 KYODO
Cambodia on Wednesday claimed that more Thai troops entered its territory overnight, with the figure increasing from 170 late Tuesday to about 200 Wednesday morning. Information Minister Khieu Kanharith told a press conference that some 380 Cambodian soldiers are deployed in the same area, near the Preah Vihear temple that has been at the center of a bitter 50-year dispute on the Thai-Cambodian border. The government spokesman said the Cambodian side does not intend to resort to use of force, as it would be counterproductive for bilateral relations, and hopes the Thai side is of the same mind.
If Thailand were to launch a military attack, he said, it would be strongly condemned by the international community and such action would also damage the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which both countries are members. Cambodia will use all bilateral and diplomatic channels to avert fighting, he said, adding that representatives of two governments will soon meet in Thailand.
Cambodia claimed Tuesday that some 30 Thai soldiers had entered its territory in the vicinity of the temple -- just hours after Cambodian border authorities detained three Thais around 9 a.m. for illegally entering the temple, which is under Cambodian control. The three -- a Buddhist monk, a clergyman and a clergywoman -- were released later in the day and returned to Thailand. The ancient cliff-top temple was last week inscribed as a World Heritage site, capping seven years of efforts by Phnom Penh over Bangkok's objections. Thailand had occupied the area from 1949 when Cambodia was a French protectorate, but Cambodia won possession of the temple through an International Court of Justice ruling in 1962.
July 16, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


By Pancha Seila
Senior Political Analyst
Cambodian Peace Foundation

The “dispute” was created by Thailand’s vicious and orchestrated military invasion and occupation of the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara (or Preah Vihear) pagodaand its vicinity on July 15, 2008. 

The border between the two countries had been delimited by the works of the mixed franco-siamese commission on the delimitation of the boundary line under the 1904 Convention and 1908 Treaty between France, the protectorate power acting for Cambodian interests, and Siam. “In general, when two countries establish a frontier between them, one of the primary objects is to achieve stability and finality. This is impossible if the line so established can, at any moment, and on the basis of a continuously available process, be called in question, and its rectification claimed, whenever any inaccuracy by reference to a clause in the parent treaty is discovered.” (ICJ’s Reports of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders – Judgment of 15 June 1962)

Thailand cannot just draw its inspiration from the Nazis and fascists playbook, behaving the same manner as the Nazis and the Fascists had been doing during World War II, drew a UNILATERAL MAP including the Cambodian territory in the area of the Temple of Preah Vihear into Thai territory, and claimed that there is a “disputed area” between Cambodia and Thailand. Drawing a UNILATERAL MAP over an existing international map is the worst travesty and crime against humanity in international relations between two sovereign neighbours. With all the movements of Thai troops and formidable war equipments in the direction of the border with Cambodia in support of Thailand’s vicious and orchestrated military invasion and occupation of Keo Sikha Kiri Svara (or Preah Vihea) pagoda, the intention of Thailand is clear: Thailand relies on its military forces to intimidate Cambodia, to create a de-facto presence of Thailand with the invasion and occupation by Thai armed forces, and claim over the Cambodian territory in the area of Preah Vihear, which Thailand had invented the so-called “disputed area” in the first place as its first step of aggression against Cambodia.

Cambodia does not have dispute with Thailand. Cambodia has complaint against Thailand’s invasion and occupation of her territory by Thai troops. Cambodia has complaint against the Thai militarists, new Nazis and Fascists. Despite all known tricks and deceptions Thais would mount during the process of bilateral negotiations Cambodians would negotiate “patiently, calmly” in good faith with Thais to avoid war. 

H.E. Futrakul Virasakdi, in a Press Release posted on Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs webpage 14, October 2008 implied that Cambodia must respect Thai Constitution and Thai “constitutional democratic processes” when it comes to International Relations and negotiations between Cambodia and Thailand, which explains how the Administrative Court in Bangkok has the power to annul the 18 June Joint Communique between Cambodia and Thailand. 

Thailand government negotiators or Thailand military negotiators, up until now presented only lip services when they talk with their Cambodian counterparts at the negotiation table because Thai negotiators have to get back to Bangkok and ask for the approval of Thai parliament on any agreement reached at the negotiation table. Thai parliament may or may not endorse it. 
This is a known Thai “constitutional democratic processes” trick to show off their arrogance with respect to the Cambodians. They meant to say to the Thai people that the Cambodians want negotiations, we don’t, and we have the upper hand because we can say "agreed" or "not agreed" later, while Cambodian negotiators have agreed already.

How much longer Thailand would be able to deceive the world and the international community with its “burgeoning democracy” under which the internal squabbles of amazing dimension and proportion which last over six months to now with no end in sight would look like a veil to mask the realities of Thai territorial ambition over Cambodian lands along the Cambodian-Thai border, the realities of Thai military incursions and occupation of Cambodian territory, the realities of Thai flexing its military muscle against Cambodia many times having less military capabilities than Thailand. 

Up until now the international community seemed to fixate on the idea that Cambodia and Thailand are neighbours, which they are, that Cambodia and Thailand are brothers, which they are not. Had they were brothers, Thailand who is the big and strong brother would not have beaten up Cambodia who is the weaker brother. Had Thailand been known to be a bad brother who cannot behave, the international community would have changed its mind and would have stopped insisting that both Cambodia and Thailand must go on with bilateral talks, and would try to help Cambodia with different venues to check Thais’ territorial ambition over Cambodian territory and Cambodian historic monuments.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Court denies bail for ex-Khmer Rouge minister

The U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia dismissed Wednesday a bail request by former Khmer Rouge Cabinet minister Ieng Thirith. Presiding Judge Prak Kimsan said the request was denied to ensure her presence at trail, and protect her personal safety. Ieng Thirith, 76, made the appeal for bail May 21. She was minister of education and of social affairs during the Khmer Rouge reign from 1975 to 1979.
Ieng Thirith, who is the wife of former Khmer Rouge Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, was charged with crimes against humanity in November last year. Ieng Sary, 83, is also charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ieng Thirith was the third of the five Khmer Rouge leaders who are in detention awaiting trial whose appeals for release have been denied.
The court earlier dismissed appeals by Kaing Kek Ieu, known as Duch, chief of Tuol Sleng torture center and Nuon Chea, known as Brother No. 2. No decision has yet been rendered on Ieng Sary's appeal. Tribunal ECCC sources said Duch will be the first person to be tried, sometime in August or September. The trials of the others -- Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith and former head of state Kheiu Samphan -- are not expected before next year.
The Khmer Rouge regime is blamed for the deaths of at least 1.7 million Cambodians during their rule.
KyodoJuly 09, 2008

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Cambodian temple becomes World Heritage site over Thai objections

By Puy Kea
After seven years of efforts by the Cambodian government, the cliff-top temple of Preah Vihear on the border with Thailand was inscribed as a World Heritage site on Tuesday over Bangkok 's objections. The application received the unanimous approval of the 21 members of the World Heritage Committee, meeting in Quebec City , Canada , the government said in a statement. ''The inscription of the Sacred Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List is a matter very dear to the hearts of all Cambodians as it represents one of the great triumphs of Khmer civilization,'' said Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who headed a Cambodian delegation to the meeting.
The committee's approval followed two weeks of controversy surrounding the position of the Thai government concerning the proposed listing. The Khmer temple, built between the mid-10th century and early 12th century, sits atop a 600-meter cliff in the Dangrek Mountains on the Thai-Cambodian border. Cambodia won possession of it through the International Court of Justice in The Hague and regained it in 1962 from Thailand , which had occupied it from 1949 when Cambodia was a French protectorate.
Thailand had been hesitant to see the temple become a World Heritage site since the two countries have not yet arrived at a demarcation agreement on land around the ruins. Last month, Thailand and Cambodia signed a joint communique in which Thailand agreed to actively support World Heritage listing for the temple, after receiving assurances the move would not affect Thailand 's claims to territory around the temple.
In a sudden turnabout, however, the Thai government later the same month withdrew its support for the move following antigovernment protests demanding annulment of the endorsement. Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama subsequently traveled to Canada in a failed attempt to persuade the committee to postpone its vote. Welcoming the committee's decision Tuesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen released a statement calling it another source of pride for Cambodia .
It marks the second Cambodian site to be inscribed on the World Heritage List, following the famed temples of Angkor , inscribed as a World Heritage site in 1992. In addition, Cambodia 's classical dance was listed as a World Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2003.
KyodoJuly 08, 2008

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Former Khmer Rouge foreign minister appears in court for 1st time

Former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary appeared Monday in a U.N.-backed court to appeal for his release on bail, in what marked his first appearance in court and before the public since his arrest late last year. Ieng Sary appeared in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in front of five Cambodian and foreign judges and several hundred spectators, including Khmer Rouge victims and their relatives as well as dozens of local and foreign journalists. His lawyer Ang Udom told reporters earlier that Ieng Sary is innocent of the charges against him -- crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the bloody reign of the Khmer Rouge in the latter half of the 1970s. He also argued that the ECCC has no jurisdiction to investigate or prosecute Ieng Sary because the defendant was already prosecuted, tried, convicted and sentenced to death in absentia in 1979, only to later be amnestied by the government for breaking away from the Khmer Rouge and leading a mass defection in August 1996. But the prosecution argues that the ECCC is not bound by domestic pardons, even if validly granted, saying a national amnesty for international crimes like genocide and crimes against humanity cannot bar prosecution before an internationalized tribunal. Ieng Sary, 83, is one of the five suspects identified by the court set up to bring former Khmer Rouge leaders to trial for crimes committed during the 1975-1979 genocide in which at least 1.7 million Cambodians died. He was arrested in November along with his wife Ieng Thirith, who was a social affairs minister in the Khmer Rouge government. One week before their arrest, Ieng Sary told Kyodo News at his home in Phnom Penh that he had ''never ordered anyone killed'' during the reign of the Khmer Rouge and that he was merely in charge of foreign affairs.
Kyodo June 30, 2008