Posts Tagged sam rainsy

Cambodia demand Bt69 million compensation over border clashes

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation

Cambodia has officially made its demand for more than US$2 million (Bt69 million) compensation from Thailand over damage following the clash between troops of both sides at Preah Vihear temple in April.
Phnom Penh presented its complaint to the Thai Foreign Ministry on Monday, saying the attack with heavy weapons by Thai troops against Cambodian territory near the Hindu temple on April 3 damaged a Cambodian market.

“A total of 246 stands within this market were completely destroyed, causing great hardship and misery to 319 Cambodian families who have lost their entire livelihood,” said a diplomatic note from Phnom Penh to Thailand.

“The material loss incurred on these families amounts to $ 2,150,500,” it said.

Cambodia demanded the Thai government take full responsibility for damage caused by the Thai soldiers and to appropriately compensate for the losses, it noted.

The border skirmish in April at the disputed area near the Preah Vihear temple killed three Thai and two Cambodian soldiers and injured many others. Phnom Penh has not demanded compensation for the loss of its troops.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said Thailand did not need to compensate Cambodia for the damage since the clash took place in Thai territory.

Thai troops fired to defend national sovereignty and maintain order in the area, he said.

The ministry would send a letter to Cambodia to reiterate Thailand’s position and insist the area belongs to Thailand, Tharit said.

The ministry’s legal affairs and treaties experts would consider whether Thailand will send a counter demand for compensation, he said.

The border dispute with Cambodia erupted last year as Thailand opposed Phnom Penh’s proposal to list the Hindu temple as a world heritage site.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 the Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia, but its surroundings have been claimed by both sides and have not yet been demarcated. The conflict sparked military clashes in October last year and again in April this year.


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Cambodian, Thai border talks end with no agreement

SIEM REAP, Cambodia (AFP) – - Cambodian and Thai defence ministers on Wednesday concluded border talks but said they could not agree to pull back troops from a tense territorial dispute near an ancient temple.

At least seven Thai and Cambodian troops have been killed in recent months in sporadic clashes between the neighbouring countries on disputed land around the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodian defence minister Tea Banh and his Thai counterpart Prawit Wongsuwan began this week’s talks by playing a round of golf in the northwestern tourist hub of Siem Reap on Tuesday.

The pair hailed progress by border negotiators from both countries, but Thailand’s Prawit told reporters after talks finished Wednesday that troops would remain in place until the border was demarcated.

“The issue of troop pullback… from the area near Preah Vihear temple depends on the negotiation related to border demarcation that has not been agreed yet,” Prawit told reporters in a joint press conference.

Tea Banh added that both countries were using all means possible to resolve the border dispute.

Troops from the two countries have been in a border standoff since tensions flared last July, when the cliff-top temple was awarded United Nations World Heritage status.

Ownership of the temple was awarded to Cambodia in 1962 but the two countries are in dispute over five square kilometres (two square miles) of land around it that has yet to be officially demarcated.


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Pol Pot ‘crueller than Gang of Four’

A former Khmer Rouge prison chief said regime leader Pol Pot was worse than China’s “Gang of Four” as he admitted further “cowardly” deeds at Cambodia’s United Nations-backed war crimes court on Thursday.

Duch – real name Kaing Guek Eav – is on trial for overseeing the torture and extermination of 15,000 people who passed through the regime’s Tuol Sleng prison, also known as S-21.

He told the tribunal that the regime’s hardline communist theory was worse than China’s cultural revolution, led by the so-called Gang of Four who orchestrated extremist social reforms over 10 years up to 1976.

“Pol Pot evacuated all the people from Phnom Penh city, smashed the former regime officials, smashed the capitalists, smashed the intellectuals. So only the peasant worker class remained,” Duch said.

The Khmer Rouge regime used the word “smashed” to refer to killing.

“This Gang of Four went one step forward, but Pol Pot went 10 steps forwards. Pol Pot’s theory was even crueller than the theory of this group of four,” Duch said.

Duch said his appointment as chairman of S-21 meant that his “duties became crimes against humanity by way of [overseeing] killing”, but said his early sympathy for the victims gave way to an instinct for self-preservation.

“I was compelled to go on,” he told the court.

“I was rather cowardly in that I did not contest but went on carrying out their orders and sometimes even exercised my power to ensure that myself and the lives of my family would be out of danger.”

Brought to justice

Earlier Duch told the court he knew the hardline communist regime would eventually be brought to justice.

He is charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and premeditated murder over the extermination of thousands of people between 1975 and 1979 at Tuol Sleng and the nearby “Killing Fields”.

However, he has denied prosecutors’ claims that he played a central role in the Khmer Rouge’s iron-fisted rule, and maintains he only tortured two people himself and never personally executed anyone.

Duch faces life in jail at the court, which does not have the power to impose the death penalty.

Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998 and many believe the UN-sponsored tribunal is the last chance to find justice for victims of the regime, which killed up to two million people.

The tribunal was formed in 2006 after nearly a decade of wrangling between the United Nations and the Cambodian government and is scheduled to try four other senior Khmer Rouge leaders.


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Sam Rainsy: What is the faith of Sam Rainsy party?

President Sam Rainsy

President Sam Rainsy

By Vireak In

President Sam Rainsy is full of joy and hope when he visited party supporters in Australia. This was just before the 2008 election, in a small gathering he pointed to everyone in the room, “if we win the election, we will need all of you”. The election has come and gone, what about the joy and hope?

Those who close to the president, know he has fought hard, may be too hard. The picture on the right hand side probably say a lot about how Sam Rainsy has lead the party through last year election. He pulls the load while his team parades a long.

In hindsight, we know that not the only factor. There were fraud and irregularities in the voting system and there were the 2008 Cambodian-Thai stand-off over the Preah Vihear Temple which were widely seen as a successful attempt of the ruling CPP to gain more support.

And there were media restriction, Sam Rainsy party and other minor parties have no access to media to explain their party policy.

Despite all of these, there were 1, 316, 714 voters put their trust on Sam Rainsy party compare to 3, 492, 374 voters for the CPP, which equate to 21.91% of the total voters.

1, 316, 714 Cambodian people fight against all odd so their voices can be heard, they want to tell the government that they want a better standard of living, they hate corruption and they want a free health care.

As long as 1, 316, 714 or more Cambodian people behind Sam Rainsy party, there is still joy and hope! To ensure we have real hope, not a fault hope. Sam Rainsy party needs to do more, Sam Rainsy party needs share the load.

There have been suggestions for all Sam Rainsy MP to take up the role as shadow minister, where senior MP take up more then one ministerial roles. As part of the of the Key performance indicator (KIP), each PM at least have one meeting per month with minister of their portfolio.

This will not only give MP the opportunity to have hand on experience, but it also allow MP to work closely with the current government, engage in a constructive way. The suggestion comes as more Sam Rainsy supporters worry about the faith of their party. Many see the suggestion as a step toward the right the direction, the next election is not too far a way and it is time for Sam Rainsy party to come together and look at ways to stimulate the party.

Sam Rainsy is the architecture and founder of Sam Rainsy party, he lead the party through many elections. No doubt, Sam Rainsy is the second largest party in country. Sam Rainsy used to enjoy financial support from within the country and abroad. But 13 years in opposition is a long time, some even start to predict the next election will be the last for Sam Rainsy, if there is no dramatic change in the current structure.

One supporter, only want to name as Kim said “Sam Rainsy party needs to look beyond opposition and start to believe that it can lead the country, once it has that mindset everything else will fall in places. With one Sam Rainsy, the party receieve 1, 316, 714 votes. Imagine 25 Sam Rainsy”. Kim was referring to 25 MP of the Sam Rainsy party. Maybe as Kim suggested, it is time for Sam Rainsy start to groom it MP!


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Canada closes embassies in Cambodia, Bosnia

Jennifer Ditchburn

OTTAWA – The Harper government is closing Canada’s embassies in Cambodia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, countries still struggling to recover from a violent past.

The announcements were made on the websites of embassies, with the same explanation on both: “The government of Canada continually monitors its representation abroad and periodically shifts resources to meet Canada’s needs in an ever-changing world.”

The government said the decision was taken “following a serious examination of Canada’s current diplomatic representation abroad.”

Four other missions have been closed since the Conservatives came to power, in Milan, Italy, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Fukuoka and Osaka, Japan.

The government noted that there has actually been a net increase of 25 missions in the past 15 years – most of them in the United States.

The Foreign Affairs Department said it will keep a humanitarian assistance office open in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

The country still has serious problems with crime, drugs and human rights violations. A UN-backed war crimes commission is grilling members of the Khmer Rouge regime for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people.

Canada sent peacekeepers to the region for a period in the early 1990s.

Sambo Chhom, executive director of the Canadian Cambodian Association of Ontario, said closing the embassy will have an adverse affect on the lives of Cambodians.

“The Cambodian government feels its being watched by the Canadian government. They wouldn’t do anything harsh while they’re there because they fear an international outcry,” Chhom said.

“Without the Canadian government there, the NGOs will have less contact with outside countries.”

Canadians travelling in Cambodia who need consular assistance will be directed to the Australian embassy.

Those who need help in Bosnia-Herzegovina are being directed to an Ottawa-based emergency number, or an office in Budapest, Hungary. A consulate is scheduled to be opened in Sarajevo in the future.

Canada set up an embassy in Sarajevo in 1996 after the bloody civil war there ended. About 40,000 Canadian troops served in the peacekeeping mission there between 1992-2004.

The government will remain a member of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which monitors the country’s progress at reaching some of the security and governance goals outlined in the peace agreement reached in 1995.

Some retired diplomats and other observers have criticized budget cuts to the Department of Foreign Affairs that began under the Liberals and continued under the Conservatives.

On Thursday, provincial trade ministers urged the federal government to increase its international profile in order to stimulate more trade and investment with Canada.

One of the Conservative government’s first acts in 2006 was to slash $11 million from the diplomacy budget, cash that allows representatives abroad to promote Canada.


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Cambodia’s New War

Heng Sinith / AP Photo

Heng Sinith / AP Photo

by Katrin Redfern

The Nobel-nominated opposition leader of Southeast Asia’s saddest, bloodiest country has brought a message for Hillary Clinton: Our democracy needs your help.

Cambodia is at war again. This time, the battles surround who will control resources—land, timber, fisheries, oil—with a corrupt elite taking over the nation’s emerging export economy, while international donors turn a blind eye and 14 million Cambodians suffer.

“Cambodia is a democracy on paper but in reality a dictatorship. Our party activists are murdered because they fight for justice—life is still cheap in Cambodia.”

A new American president, many Cambodians hope, might change all that. Sochua Mu, an opposition leader and founder of the women’s movement in Cambodia, recently returned to the U.S., lobbying Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to take a firmer line on democracy and human rights in her long-suffering country. “I needed to see the people in the new administration to urge them to re-assess U.S. foreign policy,” says Sochua in an interview with The Daily Beast. “Cambodia is a democracy on paper but in reality a dictatorship. Our party activists are murdered because they fight for justice—life is still cheap in Cambodia. Human trafficking, drug trafficking, land grabbing, and forced evictions are all carried out under the nose of the government.”

Sochua Mu’s story is uniquely Cambodian. Forced to flee for her life at 18 in the early 1970s as the Vietnam War spilled over the border, she left behind her parents, who vanished, as did one-quarter of the country’s population during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror. Sochua wound up in America, won a scholarship to the University of California at Berkeley, and worked as a counselor and translator for the Cambodian refugees who began to trickle over. She eventually became a U.S. citizen.

During the 1980s, she returned to Southeast Asia, organizing schooling for children and social services for women in the refugee camps set up by the U.N. on the border between Thailand and Cambodia. In 1989, she was finally allowed to re-enter her homeland, “a country in ruins.” “I would take my young children on walks in streets where I learned to bike, where I wandered with my childhood friends, where I went to school, all the years of joy, of happiness, of deep feelings of comfort came back to me,” she says. “I came back to help rebuild a nation. The war and genocide also changed my people. They have lost their sense of trust for each other, they have become hard inside and desperate for just daily survival.”

Sochua started the first women’s organization in Cambodia, Khemera, designed to help poor urban women earn a better living. She campaigned to include women’s rights and concerns into the country’s new constitution, drafted in 1993, and became involved in efforts to rescue girls caught in Cambodia’s thriving sex trade. In 1998, Sochua ran for election and won a seat in parliament, taking over the women’s affairs ministry, which had previously been run by men. In a country that considers women inferior, Sochua mobilized 25,000 female candidates to run for commune elections in 2002. It was a first for Cambodia, and 900 of them were elected.

She negotiated an agreement with Thailand that allowed Cambodian women trafficked as sex workers to return to their home country instead of being jailed. She pioneered the use of TV commercials to spread the word about trafficking to vulnerable populations. Her work in Cambodia also supports campaigns to end domestic violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS, as well as women’s workplace conditions. In 2005, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her work against sex trafficking of women.

Her position in high government put her in direct conflict with Cambodia’s long-ruling prime minister, Hun Sen. Rather than participate in the corruption she saw around her, Sochua Mu renounced the leadership and joined the primary opposition party in parliament. Last week, Sochua announced that she is considering legal action against the prime minister for allegedly using derogatory and threatening language against her in a speech he made last month during a visit to her parliamentary district. The speech, widely reported on Cambodian TV and other media, warned villagers not to seek help from members of the opposition party, but to approach the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, and allegedly referred to Sochua using a Khmer term cheung kland—a gangster or unruly person, which has an especially insulting connation for women.

Her most frequent public disagreement with Hun Sen surrounds what she sees as a failure to prevent people in her district from suffering loss of property and livelihoods at the hands of powerful investors, often with the backing of local authorities and the military. Most Cambodians still depend on small-scale agriculture, forest exploitation, and fishing for their livelihoods but, because of the country’s turbulent recent history, land ownership is generally undocumented and often contested. As a result, it is easy for the powerful to acquire land to develop. More than 150,000 Cambodians, according to Sochua, were victims of forced evictions and land-grabbing in 2007 alone. Studies have estimated that such concessions cover as much as one-third of the entire area of Cambodia.

“It is now common practice for powerful corporations and government officials to utilize armed forces to push citizens off their rightfully and legally held land,” says Sochua. “These evictions are often violent, with soldiers wielding guns, tear gas and Tasers and burning houses to the ground, while citizens are beaten, maimed and arrested.”

Cambodia’s economy relies on three principal sources of income: tourism, agriculture, and textiles. The United States is the largest overseas market for the latter. As former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Joseph Mussomeli put it, “Levi Strauss or the Gap could destroy this country on a whim.”

George W. Bush’s policy, as Sochua saw it, focused on military and security-centered aid. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. provided Cambodia $54 million last year and $700 million total since the agency opened an office in the country in 1992. Other international donors, meanwhile, have done little better in holding the Cambodian government accountable on human rights, preferring “closed-door diplomacy,” as she calls it, to public criticism. “This practice has yielded next to no reforms,” she says, “and donors continue to be satisfied with token actions taken by the government to give a façade to democracy and social justice.”

Even that oversight is at risk. Chevron discovered oil offshore several years ago, and the Cambodian government says it hopes to begin pumping oil in 2011. The IMF estimated last year that the country could earn as much as $1.7 billion from oil within 10 years of the date that pumping begins—a big deal for this poor country, which relies on donors for half of its annual budget, but also more money that won’t carry any accountability.

Some aid agencies have called for a moratorium on aid until basic governance and transparency frameworks are in place. Sochua says that won’t happen until there’s a new regime. “That can only happen when we have a real election that is free and fair,” she says. “The West should insist on that, otherwise all the aid they have poured into Cambodia will not work”.

Katrin Redfern is a writer and editor at The Indypendent in New York City.


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From the archive: Problem prince in uneasy alliance with Pol Pot

October 12, 1975: the symbolic head of state tells our correspondent of life in ‘year zero’ of the Khmer Rouge reign

William Shawcross

PRINCE SIHANOUK talked in the presence of a Khmer Rouge companion. He was sitting beneath a picture of himself accepting an AK-47 automatic rifle – the universal symbol of revolution – from the Khmer Rouge.

Since returning to Phnom Penh he has lived with his wife Monique in one of their old houses: “Food is brought to us every morning by the food service of the army. I have three little revolutionary cooks working for me and my aunt is teaching them cuisine. I sleep in the bed I once had made for my hero General de Gaulle. As I am very small, I am very comfortable. I just tell you this little detail for lady readers.”

Last month the Khmer Rouge agreed to let him back to Phnom Penh only after lengthy negotiations with his Chinese hosts and sponsors. Sihanouk was in Moscow in March 1970 when Marshal Lon Nol took over in a coup and he spent the next five years living in Peking.

He is something of a problem for Cambodia’s new communist rulers. His popularity in the countryside might be unsettling for them and he did once sentence them to death and secretly allow President Nixon to bomb the communist camps.

His talk gave some of the first clues about conditions in Phnom Penh since the Khmer Rouge marched into this city of 3m and emptied it of people. “The Khmer Rouge had to move them out because there was no meat, vegetables or rice,” he explains. “They had to be taken to the provinces the Khmer Rouge had liberated, where there was food for them.”

The dangers of epidemics and starvation on the forced march into the countryside he does not describe, but he believes Phnom Penh is now adjusting to its new reality.

Sihanouk confesses to an admiration for the speed with which the Khmer Rouge have radicalised the country and their plans for the capital: “Phnom Penh was a Sodom and Gomorrah under Lon Nol. Now it is spartan. No nightclubs, no bars, no taxi girls. Much calmer than before. There are no cars. Everyone walks on foot. We are creating a new society with one class, not one where some people die of overeating and others die of hunger.”

Asked if Cambodia, like North Vietnam, would demand US aid as reparations, he shouts: “We will never do so. Our blood is not to be commercialised. The US will have to pay for its crimes in the pages of history.”

“Before 1970 the free world used to call Sihanouk a dictator,” he says. “Now they are quite surprised. They don’t understand my role. Well, I’m like the Queen of England. I inspect schools and will receive ambassadors, etc, etc. That keeps me quite busy, you know. The ministers come and see me to ask my advice and give reports on their work.”

He was allowed to make one brief visit to the countryside. Asked about massacres, he says: “I was not there, but I do not think so. Fighting exists only in the minds of some ugly Cambodians in Thailand and Paris. They fight from their nightclubs.”

He still speaks, as when he was what he now calls “a playboy prince”, with wit, charm and enthusiasm that is often passion. Through his revolutionary ardour, loyally learnt in five courageous years in exile, the old jazz-playing film buff Sihanouk sometimes glitters a little sadly. Infuriated by a question about the fate of Lon Nol’s former cabinet ministers, he shouts again: “Why do you worry about these scum when so many good Cambodians have died? It’s not as if they were Marilyn Monroe or Rock Hudson.”

The impression Sihanouk conveys of his life in Phnom Penh, as the Khmer Rouge leaders wonder what to do with their old enemy, is a lonely one. A sad-eyed discontinued prince rattling around an empty palace in a scarred and empty capital. But he is extraordinarily resilient and persuasive and hopes his loyal, passionate nationalism alone may in time persuade his hosts that he can be used more effectively.

He wants to work for them so long as they need him: “I think they need me now. But I have told them that if the day comes when they no longer do so, I’ll be very happy to be quite free and live in my little house in France. I like the movies, you know. I shall be able to go to the movies.”

Prince Sihanouk was deposed six months after this interview. Pol Pot’s genocidal regime led to the death of more than 20% of Cambodia’s population. Sihanouk, now 86, returned as king in 1993 until his abdication in 2004


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Thai, Cambodian PMs discuss border clashes

Saturday, April 11, 2009

PATTAYA, Thailand — Deadly border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia were caused by a “misunderstanding” and will not harm ties, the Thai premier said Friday after meeting his counterpart.

Abhisit Vejjajiva and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen met on the sidelines of an Asian summit here, their first encounter since three Thai soldiers died in fierce gunbattles near an ancient temple one week ago.

“During our bilateral talks we discussed the latest incident,” Abhisit told a press conference after the meeting.

“It happened because of a misunderstanding. The incident will not affect our relations and we will use channels of communication if anything happens in future.”

Abhisit said he would also visit Cambodia on April 18 to meet King Norodom Sihamoni, Hun Sen and other senior officials.

Tensions flared last July when the cliff-top building was awarded United Nations World Heritage status and four people died in clashes the following October.

Ownership of the temple was awarded to Cambodia in 1962 but the two countries are in dispute over five square kilometres (two square miles) of land around the temple which has yet to be officially demarcated.

Abhisit said that he had also discussed cooperation on their overlapping maritime zones and talked about financial assistance to improve the road in Cambodia that links up their border.


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Thai PM hands over smuggled Cambodian artifacts to Hun Sen

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Friday handed over to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen one of the seven cross-border smuggled artifacts seized by the Thai authorities.

The hand-over ceremony was held before the opening of the 14th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits at the Royal Cliff Beach Hotel in Pattaya.

The seven artifacts are among the 50 intercepted by Thai customs officials in early 2000 as they were being smuggled from Cambodia across the border into Thailand.

Since then the authorities of both countries have closely coordinated this matter, taking into account the internal legal procedures of both countries.

Finally, on Feb. 24, 2009, the Thai cabinet adopted a resolution to restitute the seven artifacts to the government of Cambodia in accordance with an agreement signed between the two countries to combat against illicit trafficking and cross-border smuggling of movable cultural property and to restitute it to the country of origin which Thailand and Cambodia signed in 2000.



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Cambodia, Thailand say progress made in border talks


PHNOM PENH: Cambodian and Thai negotiators said Tuesday they had made progress in efforts to resolve a border stand-off near an ancient temple which last week flared into deadly gunbattles. phpvf9xjf

Three Thai troops were killed following clashes on Friday between the neighbouring countries over disputed land around the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple, the deadliest fighting for six months in a long-running feud.

Border officials from Thailand and Cambodia on Monday began meetings aimed at resolving their competing territorial claims, part of a process launched after an earlier clash in October killed four soldiers.

“We have made a good success,” Vasin Teeravechyan, chief Thai negotiator, told reporters at the conclusion of the two-day talks.

Negotiators said they would be able to make progress on demarcating the border near the temple when they had finished some technical work.

“We have signed on three documents which are basic documents that allow us to continue working on border demarcation,” said Var Kimhong, the chairman of Cambodia’s border committee.

But the two countries failed to reach agreement on the spelling of the temple in official documents.

The World Court gave ownership of the temple – which Thailand calls Phra Viharn – to Cambodia in 1962, but tensions flared last July when the cliff-top building was awarded United Nations World Heritage status.

The current dispute centres on five square kilometres of land around the temple which has yet to be officially demarcated. The most accessible entrance to the ruins is in Thailand.

The Cambodia-Thailand border has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of civil war in Cambodia.

Cambodian and Thai military officials have also met several times over the past few days to prevent fresh fighting.


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