Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Thai across to Cambodia soild could mean INVASION

Cambodian soldiers are deployed in the Preah Vihaer temple compound, 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 16, 2008. Thailand and Cambodia moved on Wednesday to ratchet down tensions on their border where hundreds of troops face each other over a disputed ancient temple. Senior Thai and Cambodian officials were trying to negotiate an end to the stand-off, triggered by Thai protests against the the listing of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site earlier this month, Thailand's Supreme Commander, Boonsrang Niumpradit, told Reuters.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian soldiers stand guard in Preah Vihaer temple compound, 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 16, 2008. Thailand and Cambodia moved on Wednesday to ratchet down tensions on their border where hundreds of troops face each other over a disputed ancient temple. Senior Thai and Cambodian officials were trying to negotiate an end to the stand-off, triggered by Thai protests against the the listing of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site earlier this month, Thailand's Supreme Commander, Boonsrang Niumpradit, told Reuters.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian Army soldiers patrol near the Preah Vihear temple, in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Wednesday, July 16, 2008. Cambodian officials said more Thai troops crossed into their country's territory Wednesday in the second day of alleged incursions amid tensions over disputed border land near the historic temple.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Thai army soldier stands inside a Cambodian Buddhist temple near the Preah Vihear temple, in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Wednesday, July 16, 2008. Cambodian officials said more Thai troops crossed into their country's territory Wednesday in the second day of alleged incursions amid tensions over disputed border land near the historic Preah Vihear temple.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian man watches a soldier from Thailand (R) in the Preah Vihaer temple compound 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 16, 2008. Thailand and Cambodia moved on Wednesday to ratchet down tensions on their border where hundreds of troops face each other over a disputed ancient temple. Senior Thai and Cambodian officials were trying to negotiate an end to the stand-off, triggered by Thai protests against the the listing of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site earlier this month, Thailand's Supreme Commander, Boonsrang Niumpradit, told Reuters.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Thai soldiers rest in the Preah Vihaer temple compound, 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 16, 2008. Thailand and Cambodia moved on Wednesday to ratchet down tensions on their border where hundreds of troops face each other over a disputed ancient temple. Senior Thai and Cambodian officials were trying to negotiate an end to the stand-off, triggered by Thai protests against the the listing of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site earlier this month, Thailand's Supreme Commander, Boonsrang Niumpradit, told Reuters.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian soldiers (L and 2nd R) hold radios as they stand guard over a group of soldiers from Thailand (background and R) in the Preah Vihaer temple compound, 245km north of Phnom Penh, July 16, 2008. Thailand and Cambodia moved on Wednesday to ratchet down tensions on their border where hundreds of troops face each other over a disputed ancient temple. Senior Thai and Cambodian officials were trying to negotiate an end to the stand-off, triggered by Thai protests against the the listing of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site earlier this month, Thailand's Supreme Commander, Boonsrang Niumpradit, told Reuters.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A Cambodian soldier (R) takes a photo of Thai soldiers on his cellphone at the Cekakiri Svarak pagoda in the Preah Vihaer temple compound near the Cambodian-Thai border, 245km (142 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 16, 2008. Thailand and Cambodia moved on Wednesday to ratchet down tensions on their border where hundreds of troops face each other over a disputed ancient temple. Senior Thai and Cambodian officials were trying to negotiate an end to the stand-off, triggered by Thai protests against the the listing of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site earlier this month, Thailand's Supreme Commander, Boonsrang Niumpradit, told Reuters.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian Army soldiers walk as they guard near Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Wednesday, July 16, 2008. Cambodian officials said more Thai troops crossed into their country's territory Wednesday in the second day of alleged incursions amid tensions over disputed border land near a historic temple.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian Army soldiers guard the entrance of the Preah Vihear temple, in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Wednesday, July 16, 2008. Cambodian officials said more Thai troops crossed into their country's territory Wednesday in the second day of alleged incursions amid tensions over disputed border land near the historic temple.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian troops at the Preah Vihear temple. More than 200 Thai troops have assembled on the Cambodian border amid escalating tensions over an ancient temple at the centre of a territorial dispute(AFP/File/Tang Chhin Sothy)

Crossing the line


Heng Chivoan; Moeung Sonn, president the Khmer Civilization Foundation, holds up a map showing the Cambodian-Thai border around Preah Vihear temple. Officials on both sides of the line are calling for calm after an apparent incursion by Thai soldiers into Cambodia near the disputed 11th-century World Heritage Site.
The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Kay Kimsong
Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Senior Cambodian officials are calling for calm a day after Thai soldiers crossed the border near Preah Vihear temple amid a growing ownership row over territory surrounding the 11th-century Hindu ruins, which last week were designated a World Heritage Site.

Nearly 600 Thai and Cambodian troops remain at a Buddhist pagoda on the Cambodian side of the border, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith told reporters Wednesday, adding however, that tensions had lowered since the Thai troops first breached the border.

"We've called for both sides to be calm. There are no tanks or guns pointed at each other," he said, adding that a joint committee had been formed to resolve how the Thai soldiers should be withdrawn.

"We are not considering this a Thai military invasion because we want to solve the situation peacefully," Khieu Kanharith said, explaining that Prime Minister Hun Sen had ordered that no force be used against the Thais.

The incident is the latest flare-up over Preah Vihear, which some Thais claim belongs to Thailand, despite a 1962 ruling by the World Court in favor of Cambodia's sovereignty.

The border around the temple, however, remains disputed, and Khieu Kanharith said demarcation talks would be held after the Thai soldiers had left Cambodian soil.

Thailand had repeatedly opposed Cambodia's efforts to have the temple listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site until this year, when Preah Vihear was successfully inscribed on July 7.

The designation sparked jubilant celebrations across Phnom Penh, but in Thailand, bruised nationalism remains unappeased, and the government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is suffering from the fallout.

On July 10, Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama stepped down after the Constitutional Court ruled that he had acted illegally in signing an agreement supporting Cambodia’s bid to have Preah Vihear temple listed as a World Heritage Site without the permission of parliament.

Thai nationalists have vowed to continue protesting over the temple, with some groups saying they would storm Preah Vihear.

Moeung Sonn, president of the Khmer Civilization Foundation, which was established as the most recent tensions over the temple rose, demanded that the Thai government compensate any villagers around the temple for damage caused by Thai soldiers to their property.

He also called for the withdrawal of the Thai troops.

Thailand calls for talks to resolve Cambodia temple dispute

The World Court ruled in 1962 that the Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia


UN cultural agency has granted World Heritage status to the ancient Hindu temple

Cambodian soldiers guard the border with Thailand in Preah Vihear province

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodia backed off from talk of a Thai incursion Wednesday as troops from both sides held positions on the border near an ancient Hindu temple at the centre of a territorial dispute.

Officials from both countries moved to resolve the disagreement peacefully a day after Cambodia said troops from Thailand had entered the country.

About 200 Thai troops and 380 Cambodian soldiers Wednesday were stationed at a Buddhist pagoda on the slope of a mountain leading to the ruins of the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple.

Asked if the incident amounted to a Thai invasion, Cambodia's government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said, "I think it's better to say this is some kind of misunderstanding," noting that the soldiers were interacting peacefully.

"The Thai and Cambodian soldiers stayed together overnight at the pagoda," Kanharith told reporters.

Cambodian officials claimed soldiers began crossing the border on Tuesday after three Thai protesters were arrested for jumping an immigration checkpoint to reach the temple.

Thailand denies the trespass and insists the soldiers are patrolling on its side of the border.

Although Kanharith said late Tuesday that the Thai soldiers were detained at the pagoda, he later insisted they were free to leave, saying he was "optimistic" that the Thai troops would soon withdraw.

In Bangkok, the Thai army commander, General Anupong Paojinda, said he had ordered the troops to refrain from using force and said the two countries should settle their differences through talks.

"There should be negotiations between the two countries. The problem has been unaddressed for a long time because there has been no demarcation of the border yet," he told reporters.

"I want the problem to be solved, and the solution must be accepted by both countries," he said.
The image of calm differed from earlier comments, when a Cambodian official said that Thailand's troop presence had doubled overnight to 200 soldiers.

Thailand has consistently denied entering Cambodian territory, even when a Thai soldier was injured by a landmine Tuesday.

The military says the landmine was planted on Thai soil, possibly a remnant from the decades of war that once plagued the border.

The incident comes amid heightened political tensions in both countries, after the UN cultural agency UNESCO awarded the temple World Heritage status earlier this month.

Cambodia is preparing for general elections on July 27, when Prime Minister Hun Sen is expected to extend his decades-long grip on power.

He has portrayed the UN recognition of the ruins as a national triumph, organising huge public celebrations.

In Thailand, critics of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej -- who was already the target of street protests -- have stoked the temple controversy to fire up nationalist sentiment.

Samak's government had originally signed a deal supporting Cambodia's bid to make the ruins a World Heritage site, but a court overturned the pact, forcing the resignation of foreign minister Noppadon Pattama.

The parliamentary opposition is now mulling impeachment motions against the entire cabinet.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia, but the exact border around the ruins remains in dispute, with the main compound lying inside Cambodia but the most accessible entrance at the foot of a mountain in Thailand.

Cambodia: Thai troops still in country

Cambodian Army soldiers guard the entrance of the Preah Vihear temple, in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Wednesday, July 16, 2008. Cambodian officials said more Thai troops crossed into their country's territory Wednesday in the second day of alleged incursions amid tensions over disputed border land near the historic temple.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)


Cambodian Army soldiers walk as they guard near Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Wednesday, July 16, 2008. Cambodian officials said more Thai troops crossed into their country's territory Wednesday in the second day of alleged incursions amid tensions over disputed border land near a historic temple.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian Army soldiers patrol near the Preah Vihear temple, in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Wednesday, July 16, 2008. Cambodian officials said more Thai troops crossed into their country's territory Wednesday in the second day of alleged incursions amid tensions over disputed border land near the historic temple.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

By SOPHENG CHEANG

PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia assembled its troops near the Thai border Wednesday in the second day of alleged incursions by Thai soldiers amid tensions over disputed border land near a historic temple.

Cambodian officials said more Thai troops crossed into their country's territory Wednesday while Thai officials have denied any incursion, saying the troops were deployed on what was clearly Thai territory to protect their country's sovereignty.

However, a senior Thai military source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said about 200 Thai troops were inside what he called "disputed border territory."

Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the number of Thai troops increased to about 200 Wednesday from around 170 Tuesday night.

He said Cambodia has about 380 troops in the area but insisted that "the situation is stable."
In the jungle on Preah Vihear mountain, Thai troops — armed with rifles and combat gears — sat in small groups.

A few feet away, Cambodian troops were pacing back and forth. Some were carrying B-40 rocket launchers.

Cambodian troop reinforcements were also seen on the road Wednesday.

"I have received an order from our commander to back up our forces over there," Ouch Borith, an army captain, told The Associated Press at a village several miles from the Preah Vihear mountain. He did not elaborate on the numbers of soldiers to be deployed.

"We are trying as hard as we can to avoid a situation that could lead to fighting," said Maj. Gen. Sor Thavy, a Cambodian commander in Preah Vihear.

He said he has reached an agreement with a Thai commander there that both sides would not make any troop movement Wednesday night and that the situation was likely to extend into a third day.

Despite the tension, efforts appeared to be under way to defuse the situation.

Khieu Kanharith said a Thai senior official had called Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh to propose a meeting at the highest level to try to resolve the situation.

He did not elaborate on who the Thai official was or what the terms of the negotiations were, but said the call was made on behalf of Thailand's Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat could not be reached for comment on the proposed talks.

Cambodia's position for the proposed meeting would be to seek the withdrawal of Thai troops from its territory, Khieu Kanharith said.

"After that, we will talk about border problems," Khieu Kanharith said.

Meanwhile, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen appealed to the Cambodian media and the public to remain calm and "not to inflame (the situation) or add fuel to the fire," Khieu Kanharith quoted Hun Sen as saying.

"We will definitely not use any force unless attacked," Khieu Kanharith said.

Cambodian border guard unit commander Seng Vuthy said some of the 900 residents on the mountain where the temple is located have fled their homes to the foot of the mountain because they consider it safer.

PrearVihear — last week declared a UNESCO World Heritage site — is at the center of a long-standing border quarrel. Both countries claim 1.8 square miles of land around the temple, and Thai anti-government activists have recently revived nationalist sentiment over the issue. The activists and some government officials fear the temple's new status will jeopardize their country's claims to land adjacent to the site.

Thai army spokeswoman Col. Sirichan Ngathong said in a telephone interview Wednesday that the Thai troops were on Thai soil close to the disputed area. She declined to give the number of soldiers deployed.

"We do not have troops inside Cambodia and we are not in the disputed territory. Thai paramilitary troops are deployed on the Preah Vihear mountain on Thai soil," Sirichan said.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat Tuesday denied any incursion and said the relationship between the two countries remained normal.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice awarded Preah Vihear and the land it occupies to Cambodia, a decision that still rankles many Thais even though the temple is culturally Cambodian, sharing the Hindu-influenced style of the more famous Angkor complex in northwestern Cambodia.

Authorities restrict access to Preah Vihear temple zone

The Bangkok Post

Military sources said about 250 Thai troops have been deployed near the Cambodian border following the arrest by Cambodia of three Thai citizens who crossed into the disputed border area early Tuesday.

The trio were returned to Thailand later on Tuesday, but Thais are being warned not to travel to the vicinity of Preah Vihear.

Meanwhile, military sources said, Cambodian troops have been reinforced nearby the area of overlapping claims.

The troop movements by both countries heightened tension at the border, and the Thai authorities have restricted vehicles and media from a 10km radius of the ancient temple.

Lt-Gen Suchit Sitthiprapha, Thailand's Second Army Region commander said Wednesday that the protesters were being interviewed by the Suranaree Task Force and are "not being detained".

The trio, including a Buddhist monk, were detained briefly by Cambodian authorities on Tuesday after they had sneaked into the disputed area adjacent to the 11th century temple.

It was the first cross-border protest since Cambodia blocked access to Preah Vihear temple to visitors from Thailand last month, after some Thai protesters attempted to march on the temple ruins.

Gen Suchit said the area adjacent to the temple was still disputed between the two countries, which means there are differing ideas as to where the border is.

Assuring the public that there are sufficient Thai military personnel patrolling the Thai-Cambodian border.

The Preah Vihear site was awarded a World Heritage Site status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on July 7. (TNA)

More than 200 Thai troops now in Cambodia, Phnom Penh says

M&G Asia-Pacific News
Jul 16, 2008

Phnom Penh - The Cambodian government said Wednesday that a couple hundred Thai troops had moved into its territory in a dispute involving an ancient temple while a Thai military officer denied his country's soldiers had crossed the border.

More than 200 Thai troops were inside Cambodian territory and 380 Cambodian troops were deployed to meet them, Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said while denying bilateral relations were strained.

'They are living altogether, and there is no conflict between them,' he said at a press conference at the Information Ministry.

However, Major Kanok Natrakawessena, commander of the Thai Army's Suranaree task force along Thailand's border with Cambodia, said no Thai soldiers had crossed into Cambodian territory.

According to the Cambodian government, Thai troops clad in black - a colour that evokes memories of the Khmer Rouge to many Cambodians and is regarded as particularly menacing - began arriving Tuesday at the northern Preah Vihear temple, about 300 kilometres north of Phnom Penh.

Tensions have been building since Cambodia again asked UNESCO to list the 11th-century Hindu temple as a World Heritage Site in 2007 and the United Nations cultural body granted that wish on July 9.

The temple was awarded to Cambodia in 1962 by the International Court in The Hague, but the surrounding border area is still disputed, and many Thais were angered by the decision. Thai protesters have been camped out on the border for weeks.

'Please, I urge journalists not to inflame this situation,' Kanharith said.

The Cambodian government has urged calm with national elections, which are held every five years, two weeks away, and Cambodians seem to have obliged.

In 2003, angry Cambodians torched the Thai embassy and some businesses over a false rumour that a Thai actress had said the country's other World Heritage Site, the Angkor Wat temple, was Thai.

Kanharith declined comment on reports that more Thai troops were massing in the north-western Cambodian province of Banteay Meanchey, also on the Thai border and around 200 kilometres from the temple.

Cambodia briefly detained and then released three Thai protesters Tuesday, but their arrest was followed, the Cambodian government said, by the arrival of 40 armed Thai troops at the temple, which is sacred to both sides.

Thailand's Kanok denied Cambodia's claims from Tuesday that some of those Thai soldiers were detained.

Cambodia has said all Thais are free to return after signing agreements that they trespassed on Cambodian soil and apologize. The Cambodian government denied they were under arrest.

Kanharith said Thailand had discussed the issue by telephone with Defence Minister Tea Banh, who has strong Thai connections and speaks fluent Thai, and added Prime Minister Hun Sen and representatives of his Interior and Foreign ministries had also met about the issue Wednesday.

Border authorities were unavailable for comment.

Thailand-Cambodia Temple Rift Continues

Cambodian soldiers (L and 2nd R) hold radios as they stand guard over a group of soldiers from Thailand (background and R) in the Preah Vihaer temple compound, 245km north of Phnom Penh, on July 16. (Photo: Reuters)


The Irrawaddy
By SAI SILP
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Thai Air Force chief warned the public on Wednesday of the presence of live landmines in the disputed area around Preah Vihear temple on the Thai-Cambodian border, amid continuing tensions between the two countries.

Air Chief Marshal Chalit Putphasuk said, “Local people and protesters should be careful in the area because there is a high risk of danger from landmines.”

The warning came after a Thai ranger, Vilai Arom, stepped on a landmine on Tuesday during a patrol in the area. His right leg was blown off in the blast.

Meanwhile, three Thai protestors who made their way through a barbed wire fence on the Thai side into a disputed zone at the entrance of Preah Vihear temple in an attempt to protest by meditating were arrested on Tuesday by the Cambodian military. They were released the same day.

It was the first cross-border protest incident since Cambodia closed access to Preah Vihear temple to visitors from Thailand last month, after a group of Thai protestors attempted to march on the temple complex.

In 2007, the Thai government opposed Phnom Penh's application to annex 4.6 square kilometers of land claimed by both countries. The dispute was settled after Cambodia agreed last month to accept that only the temple site was on Cambodian land.

The case became a political issue when opponents noted that Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej’s cabinet had bypassed parliament when it endorsed the Cambodian application to UNESCO to declare the temple a World Heritage Site. The temple site was ruled to be on Cambodian soil by the International Court of Justice in 1962.

So far, 100,000 Thais have signed a petition in opposition to declaring the temple the property of Cambodia and a World Heritage Site, according to Wanwipa Charoonrote of the Thai Studies Institute, in a report on the Thailand Public Relations Web site.

On Wednesday, Cambodian officials said more Thai soldiers entered their country's territory on Wednesday in the second day of alleged border incursions amid tensions over the disputed land near the temple.

Thai officials denied any incursions, and said troops were deployed on Thai territory to protect the country's sovereignty, according to a report by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

A senior Thai military source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AP, however, that about 200 Thai troops were inside what he called "disputed border territory."

Cambodia, Thailand to solve problem of Thai troops stationed in disputed area

www.chinaview.cn
2008-07-16

PHNOM PENH, July 16 (Xinhua) -- The Cambodian and Thai governments will have a top meeting to solve the matter of nearly 200 Thai troops stationed inside a Cambodian pagoda 200 meters away from the Preah Vihear Temple, a Cambodian official said here on Wednesday.

The border committees of both countries will have a top meeting as soon as possible to solve the problem of Thai troops who went into a pagoda on Cambodian territory without moving back, Khieu Kanharith, Cambodian Minister of Information and government spokesman, told reporters in a press conference.

The Thai side will choose the place to discuss the issue, he added.

"We wanted to have the stable situation like before July 15. The Thai troops ...have to return to their places," he said.

Three Thai protesters were arrested Tuesday for jumping an immigration checkpoint to reach the temple. Thai troops then came to fetch them, thus triggering the face off.

Cambodian soldiers arrested the three and later freed them all after they signed some documents, Khieu Kanharith said, adding that while both sides were waiting to discuss, those Thai troops equipped with light weapons and military bags were deployed into the pagoda without returning back.

Meanwhile, about 380 Cambodian troops were living and staying around the same pagoda named Wat Preah Sat and slept inside the pagoda together with Thai troops, he said.

The Thai troops on Wednesday morning also offered food to Cambodian monks at the pagoda, he added.

"I am optimistic that we could solve the matter soon," he said, adding that Cambodia and Thailand do not have a military stand-off but it is just a misunderstanding.

"We stopped Thai troops from entering any further into our territory. The Thai troops are not invaders. They had a misunderstanding about the map. They used their own map and we used our map too that we had the treaty with each other in 1907," he said.

They claimed that the pagoda they stayed is in the disputed area while Cambodia considers the pagoda as on its territory, he said.

"We do not have serious situation with the Thai side," he said, adding that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered all troops and governors of provinces bordering with Thailand to continue to have normal relationship and cooperation with Thai side.

The Preah Vihear temple straddles the Thai-Cambodian border atop the Dangrek Mountain and was listed as a World Heritage Site on July 7 by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee.

On June 15, 1962, the International Court of Justice decided to award the ancient Angkorian site at the Cambodian-Thai border to Cambodia over the protest of Thailand.

Editor: An lu

Bun Rany wishes for better relations between Cambodia, China

http://www.chinaview.cn
2008-07-16

PHNOM PENH, July 16 (Xinhua) -- On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Cambodian and China, Bun Rany, president of the Cambodian Red Cross and wife of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a recent written interview with the Xinhua News Agency and Chinese-language newspaper the Jian Hua Daily that the bilateral ties will be improved and strengthened.

"I am optimistic that the bilateral ties between Cambodia and China will be improved and strengthened with the background of traditional and historical friendship and cooperation between the two countries," she said.

Especially in the era of globalization, the two countries face common matters related with peace and regional security maintenance, economic development and some other issues like crackdown on cross-border crimes and terrorism, as well as containment of epidemics, natural disasters, climate change and population migration, she said.

"All these things are demanding mutual support and help by sharing spirit, materials, budget, human resources and modern technology," she added.

Meanwhile for the anniversary which falls on July 19, Bun Rany expressed her profound thanks and gratitude to all the party and state leaders and the people of China for the frequent care and help they have given to Cambodia and the Cambodians when there were emergency cases in the kingdom.

"Particularly, China has provided strong help for medical care of former king Norodom Sihanouk and his wife Norodom Monireth," she added.

Cambodia and China established formal diplomatic relations on July 19, 1958. Both sides have staged a series of celebrations for the anniversary.

The Chinese Embassy is scheduled to host a banquet here Friday to mark the special occasion, which Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni himself will attend to highlight the importance and friendliness of bilateral ties.

Editor: Du Guodong

Thai troops enter Cambodia in escalation of temple feud

Jonathan Manthorphe
Vancouver Sun
Published: Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Several dozen Thai troops crossed into neighbouring Cambodia on Tuesday as a smouldering dispute over ownership of a 900-year-old temple has been fanned into flames by political turmoil in both countries.

It appears that up to 100 Thai soldiers were detained by Cambodian troops after crossing the border at the site of the Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodian forces have been ordered not to shoot unless fired upon, but one Thai soldier was badly injured by a landmine.

The Thai troops were part of an effort by local governor Seni Chittakasem to gain the release of three Thais -- a man, a woman and a monk -- who had crossed the border to protest Cambodia's ownership of the 12th-century Hindu temple.

Ownership of Preah Vihear, which was awarded to Cambodia by the World Court in 1962, has been a matter of dispute between the two countries for 100 years.

The issue resurfaced recently because of controversy surrounding the listing of the temple last week by the United Nations as a world heritage site.

In Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen is in the midst of a election campaign to secure a return to the power he first achieved as a surrogate for invading Vietnamese forces in the 1980s.

Hun Sen is never shy about using any weapon that comes to hand to undermine his opponents' campaigns and the Preah Vihear UN listing, together with Thailand's evident discomfiture, have been a great political gift.

But political agitation of the Preah Vihear issue is most potent in Thailand where the government elected in December is floundering under a barrage of street demonstrations, an economy in turmoil, and a re-invigorated parliamentary opposition.

Thailand's foreign minister, Noppadon Pattama, was even forced to resign last week over the Preah Vihear temple issue.

Noppadon quit after the Thai Constitutional Court ruled he acted unconstitutionally when he endorsed Cambodia's application to have the temple registered as a world heritage site by UNESCO.

But Noppadon was also the lawyer for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has large business interests in Cambodia. Critics say Noppadon's attempt to support Cambodia's campaign for Preah Vihear's listing by the UN was in reality an effort to protect Thaksin's business interests.

Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in September 2006. The coup was mounted by traditionalists with strong loyalty to Thailand's monarchy who disliked Thaksin's presidential style, which stems from the self-assurance of having built the country's largest corporate conglomerate.

Thaksin and his party were barred from contesting elections when democracy returned last year. However, the election victor, Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and his People Power Party, are generally held to be fronts for Thaksin.

Although Cambodia's ancient Khmer empire and its glorious temples such as Preah Vihear and the more famous Ankor Wat complex are symbols of Southeast Asian culture, the dominant countries of the region for hundreds of years have been Thailand and Vietnam.

The claim to own Preah Vihear and even Ankor Wat held by many Thais is based on Thailand's overthrow of the Khmer empire six hundred years ago.

In 2003 an alleged comment by a famous Thai actress Sunawan Khongying, who was very popular in Cambodia, that she would not visit Cambodia until Ankor Wat was returned to Thai ownership led to days of rioting.

In the Cambodian capital of Phnom Pehn, mobs linked to Hun Sen's ruling party burned the Thai embassy and businesses owned by then Thai prime minister Thaksin.

It was widely believed, however, that the true reason for the anti-Thai riots was that Hun Sen was miffed when Sunawan turned down his suggestion that she become his mistress.

It was the French colonial masters of Cambodia who 100 years ago first fixed the border that put Preah Vihear just inside Cambodia.

Thailand felt cheated and in 1941 fought its only official war of the 20th century against French colonial troops over the line of the border.

Thailand's defeat in that war and the failure of successive Bangkok governments to sustain the claim to Preah Vihear, which has some merit because all the ancient farmland associated with the temple is in Thailand, prompted the World Court to award the temple to Cambodia in 1962.

To reach Jonathan Manthorpe, go to his blog at: www:vancouversun.com/blogs

Cambodia plays down border spat, detains 17 Thai troops

Wed, July 16, 2008
The Nation

By Deutsche Presse Agenture

Bangkok/Phnom Penh - Cambodia will detain overnight around 17 Thai border troops who had earlier occupied a Cambodian temple after three colleagues were arrested before releasing them to Thai authorities, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Tuesday.

Some 40 Thai border guards entered Cambodian territory after Cambodia arrested and later released three Thais including a Buddhist monk, but border authorities said many guards returned voluntarily soon after, and the three initial suspects were released.

"Let me stress this is a very small problem that can be solved by local officials," Kanharith said. "The Thais entered Cambodia and Cambodia detained them. This issue will be finished by tomorrow."

The first trio of Thais, identified as Phicharn Thapsorn, 35, Chanikarn Singnok, 64, and Buddhist monk Khamphor, were detained Tuesday by Cambodian soldiers for trespassing in the Preah Vihear temple compound on the Cambodian side of the border.

They were reportedly members of a Buddhist peace pilgrimage group and had crossed into the temple area from Khantalak district, Si Sa Khet province, bordering Cambodia's Preah Vihear province, Monday night.

Si Sa Khet Governor Seni Chittakasem confirmed that Cambodian authorities had released the three men unconditionally Tuesday.

An estimated 40 Thai border police had crossed the Cambodian border into Preah Vihear temple to retrieve the trespassing Thais, alarming tourists and sparking urgent bilateral talks, but Kanharith said this issue was local and not of national importance.

"We did not even speak with the Thai government about this. It is a very local issue to that area," he said.

Hang Soth, secretary general of the government's Preah Vihear authority said earlier that around 40 black uniformed Thai border guards with guns arrived at the temple, but was in negotiations when contacted for comment.

Kanharith said not all the Thai troops were armed and that the situation was contained despite their overnight detention.

Cambodia has had riot police and military on standby at the temple since Thai protests began earlier this month.

Preah Vihear temple, known as Phra Viharn in Thailand, was named a World Heritage Site at a UNESCO meeting in Quebec earlier this month, despite Thai opposition to the listing.

The ancient Hindu temple, perched on a 525-metre-high cliff on the Dangrek Mountain range that defines the Thai-Cambodian border, has been the source of a sovereignty dispute for decades.

An ownership spat between Cambodia and Thailand led to a suspension of diplomatic relations in 1958 and eventually ended up in The Hague for an international settlement in 1962. Cambodia won.

The temple reemerged as a source of bilateral tensions in 2006 when Cambodia first proposed listing the monument.

Thailand succeeded in blocking the move in 2006 and 2007. Parts of the outlying temple compound are still in dispute.

Cambodia redrew the Preah Vihear inscription map this year, excluding the disputed territory. It was approved by the World Heritage Committee on July 7.

The Thai government at first backed the proposal, but then withdrew support when the issue became a political hot potato.

Residents of Si Sa Khet province, about 400 kilometres north-east of Bangkok, have been protesting the listing since early July, prompting Cambodia to shut access to the temple from the Thai side of the border.

Hang Soth said in an earlier interview that Cambodia believed the protesters had been paid by a political group in Thailand to remain.

Border markers set with Cambodia

VNS
16-07-2008

TAY NINH — Viet Nam’s southern Tay Ninh Province and Cambodia’s Kampong Cham Province began construction of their shared border marker yesterday.

The marker No. 131 was the first to be installed along the two countries’ border this year and the third built in Tay Ninh Province.

According to the Tay Ninh border demarcation steering board, 35 more border markers will be built on the border running through Tay Ninh Province by the year’s end.

By 2012, Tay Ninh will house a total of 108 border markers in accordance with the plan agreed by the two Governments. — VNS

Cambodia, VN news agencies discuss improving exchanges


General Director of Vietnam News Agency Nguyen Quoc Uy and Cambodian Minister of Information Khieu Canharith test the operation of the new printer. — VNA/VNS File Photo

VNS
16-07-2008

HA NOI — The Vietnam News Agency (VNA) presented a printer and a soldering machine to the Cambodian News Agency (AKP) on Monday.

Cambodian Minister of Information Khieu Canharith thanked the Vietnamese Government and the VNA for the gifts and said they were a symbol of the friendship and traditional relations between the two countries in general and the two news agencies in particular.

During the VNA general director’s stay in Cambodia, the two agencies’ leaders spoke about their current operations and shared methods to boost their information sharing and co-operation. — VNS

CWCI condems the Thai back-clad soldiers' violation and incursion into Cambodia's territories


Extracted from KI Media

Translation from Khmer by Heng Soy

Cambodia Watchdog Council International (CWCI)

Kristiansand, 15 July 2008

Statement

The CWCI is strongly condemning the about 40 armed black-clad Thai soldiers who savagely trespassed into Cambodia’s Preah Vihear western region on 15 July 2008, and who closed the access to the Preah Vihear temple located in this region, as well as preventing access to Cambodians, the rightful owners of the land. The Thai military action is an unlawful violation of Cambodia’s territorial integrity, and a scorn on Cambodia’s honor. This action is inexcusable.

The 4.6-square-km area located to the west of the Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia per the decision handed down by The Hague International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1962, furthermore, the 2-km-long stone stair steps between the temple and the borderline (also belong to Cambodia) based on the 1904 and 1907 Franco-Siamese Convention. However, the current Cambodian government committed a grave mistake by agreeing with Thailand to redraw a new map which turned that land located to the west of the temple – including the important stair steps – into a disputed zone instead.

The Thai black-clad soldiers must immediately pull out of Cambodia near the western region of the Preah Vihear temple, and the Thai government must issue a public apology for its violation and incursion into Cambodia’s territorial integrity.

CWCI calls on the Cambodian government to cancel all treaties recently concluded with Thailand regarding the Preah Vihear temple issue, and it must maintain the decision handed down by the ICJ in 1962.

Ir Channa
CSCI Secretary-General

Sacravatoons : " A healthy-Democracy "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at http://sacrava.blogspot.com/

Some 200 Thai troops stationed at border area with Cambodia

July 16, 2008

Thailand has stationed around 200 troops at the border area with Cambodia over a land dispute around the Preah Vihear Temple, according to the provincial authority of Preah Vihear Wednesday.

The Cambodian side insisted that the Thai force entered its territory, while the Thai side denied.

Both forces were in armed situation, the provincial authority said.

Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said Tuesday night that 170 troops and Thai civilians crossed into the Cambodian territory, but couldn't say how many civilians were among them.

He denied any tension, but said that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the Cambodian troops to withhold firing unless being fired upon first. Negotiation was going on, the minister added.

Earlier Tuesday, three Thai protesters were arrested for jumping an immigration checkpoint to reach the temple. Thai troops then came to fetch them, thus triggering the face off.

"The Thai troops could leave the Cambodian territory only after they signed documents to admit their incursion," local newspapers Wednesday quoted him as saying.

The protesters trespassed the border with intention to reclaim the 11-century classic Khmer-style temple, which the International Court of Justice awarded, together with the land it occupies, to Cambodia in 1962, a decision that rankled the Thais, according to the newspapers.

The temple straddles the Thai-Cambodian border atop the Dangrek Mountain and was listed as a World Heritage Site on July 7 by the UNESCO's World Heritage Committee.

Source:Xinhua

Cambodia claims new Thai incursion

A Cambodian commander said troops on both sides were on high alert [EPA]


Thailand and Cambodia both claim land around the Preah Vihear temple [EPA]

Al Jazeera
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cambodian officials say more Thai troops have crossed into their territory, raising tensions over in a disputed border region close to an historic temple.

The number of Thai troops swelled to about 200 on Wednesday, Seng Vuthy, a Cambodian border guard unit commander, said on the second day of alleged incursions.

"Both the Cambodian and Thai forces have their hands on their guns at all times," he said.
On Tuesday Cambodia's information minister said that some 170 troops and Thai civilians had crossed into Cambodian territory.

But Thai officials have denied any incursion, saying the troops have been deployed on its territory to protect their country's sovereignty and control Thai activists.

Major-General Kanok Netakawesana, a Thai army field commander in the region, said on Tuesday that his troops were on Thai soil close to the disputed area.

"We are not violating the territory of Cambodia. We have every right to deploy troops here to protect our sovereignty," he said, but declined to give the number of soldiers deployed.

A Thai foreign ministry spokesman, also denied any incursion, saying the relationship between the two countries remained normal.

The ministry said in a statement late on Tuesday that the troops were ensuring that any protests by Thai activists were being done "in an orderly manner". The confrontation comes after the United Nations' culture body Unesco declared the 1,000 year-old Preah Vihear temple a World Heritage site last week.

The temple, which shares the Hindu-influenced style of the more famous Angkor complex in northwestern Cambodia, has been at the centre of a long-standing border row between the neighbours.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice awarded Preah Vihear and the land it occupies to Cambodia, a decision that still rankles many Thais.

Both countries claim land around the temple, and Thai anti-government activists have revived nationalist sentiment over the issue, blaming the government for ceding Thai sovereignty by backing Cambodia's application to Unesco.

The activists and some government officials fear the temple's new status will jeopardise their country's claims to land adjacent to the site.

The Thai troop movements followed the arrest by Cambodia of three Thai citizens for crossing the border earlier on Tuesday. The three were returned to Thailand later in the day.

The dispute has already left one Thai soldier injured, when a mine went off while he was patrolling in the area.

Stretches of the Thai-Cambodian border are still strewn with land mines sown by various sides during the 1970-75 Cambodian civil war and the guerrilla conflict that followed the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979.

OAG urged to go after Vatana

The Bangkok Post
Wednesday July 16, 2008

POST REPORTERS

It is the responsibility of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to see to it that veteran politician Vatana Asavahame, who is reportedly on the run in Cambodia, is brought back for trial, permanent secretary for justice Kittipong Kittiyarak said yesterday.

Mr Kittipong said only after the verdict in the Samut Prakan politician's case is handed down can the police work with the OAG to bring him to justice.

The court on July 9 seized Mr Vatana's 2.2-million-baht bail and issued a warrant for his arrest after he failed to turn up to hear the verdict. The reading of the verdict was rescheduled for Aug 18.

He was last seen in Cambodia, where he runs two casinos in the Cambodian border town of Poi Pet, opposite Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaeo.

Unfortunately, Thailand has no extradition treaty with Cambodia.

In the absence of a treaty, all the OAG can do is make a request for Mr Vatana's extradition to the Cambodian authorities, said Mr Kittipong.

Police led by Maj-Gen Sok Pheap will today meet with Cambodian officials in Aranyaprathet district and seek confirmation whether the chief adviser of the Puea Pandin party is hiding across the border, said deputy national police chief Jongrak Juthanont.

Pol Gen Jongrak conceded the chances of bringing him back would be slim if he is really in the neighbouring country, citing the veteran politician's strong business ties in Cambodia.

"The man is confident of his close ties with Cambodia and that's why he has gone into hiding there.

"He built a few casinos, each worth well over 700 million baht," the police general said.

"If Mr Vatana is found guilty of corruption, he must stay on the run for 20 years, until the statute of limitation in the case expires, to avoid arrest.

"Only then can he come back to Thailand, and by then he'll be almost 100 years old," he said.

Mr Vatana, 72, was accused of conspiring in the issuing of illegal title deeds for 1,900 rai of land in Samut Prakan's Bang Bo district, later sold at an inflated price to the Pollution Control Department for the construction of the Klong Dan wastewater treatment plant, when he was the deputy interior minister.

A Tribunal Worth Paying For

By JOHN A. HALL
FROM TODAY'S WALL STREET JOURNAL ASIA
July 16, 2008

For years, the United States withheld funding from Cambodia's Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal. Before opening its wallet, Washington insisted that the court meet international standards for fairness and anticorruption measures. That stance has now paid off, contributing to international scrutiny that has led to dramatic improvements in the tribunal's operations. It's now time for the U.S. to contribute funding and preserve the gains its earlier policy has helped foster.

This matters because the tribunal represents Cambodians' last best hope of healing the wounds they suffered under decades of Khmer Rouge rule. Roughly one in three Cambodians perished under the Khmer Rouge's Maoist experiment to send the country back to what they called "Year Zero." If Cambodia is ever to find its way to economic growth and a stable, democratic political system, it's important for its former leaders to stand trial for their alleged crimes. The tribunal's failure would be a blow for the long-suffering Cambodian people themselves, but also for the credibility of the United Nations. And it would be a black mark against the U.S. to stand idly while the tribunal America helped birth 10 years ago falters.

By pouring money into the U.N. Development Program without adequate oversight, donors for too long effectively handed their money straight to the Cambodian side of the tribunal, with predictable results. Auditors have uncovered fiscal problems, serious mismanagement and bloated salaries. The Open Society Justice Initiative, a New York-based NGO, raised serious allegations of widespread corruption and kick-back schemes among Cambodian appointees. After three years of operations, only five defendants are in custody and no trials have begun. The tribunal still lacks a credible anticorruption plan.

But major strides have been made over the past six months. The U.N. has brought in David Tolbert, a former prosecutor with the Yugoslavia tribunal, as its "special expert" to act as a much-needed coordinator between the tribunal, donors and the U.N. It boasts a new management team led by Norwegian lawyer Knut Rosandhaug, a veteran of the U.N.'s mission in the Balkans. Day-to-day judicial operations like filings and hearings increasingly adhere to basic standards of transparency and fairness. And a revised budget features more prudent expenditures, and better controls over where and how donor money is spent.

The biggest threat to consolidation of this progress now is lack of funds moving forward. The tribunal is currently seeking almost $100 million to allow it to complete its mandate. Without additional donor support, the tribunal could close its doors in a matter of weeks. And even if the tribunal did manage to secure adequate funding, the U.S. would have lost its prime leverage to push for improvements.

So far, the desire to address serious U.S. concerns and win its support has been a prime driver of improvements to the tribunal process. More than any other country, the U.S. has consistently expressed skepticism about the Cambodian government's purported efforts to cooperate with the tribunal and has championed transparency and effective anticorruption measures. Mr. Tolbert's appointment was a direct result of U.S. pressure.

That U.S. leverage only works, however, so long as people have reason to believe American money might be forthcoming if participants can satisfy the U.S. concerns. If the U.S. holds back now, despite the progress of the past few months, it will lose this advantage.

In contrast, donating now as the tribunal moves into a new, improved phase of management, would allow the U.S. to bring enormous diplomatic weight to the table. The U.S. then could exert pressure on the Cambodian government and the U.N. to ensure that the tribunal continues to focus on anticorruption policies and meeting international standards.

For example, Mr. Tolbert is crafting such a plan right now, and it would be to America's advantage to maximize its say over the proposal. As a donor the U.S. could offer powerful support to Mr. Tolbert's push to include mechanisms for participants to report suspected corruption (including whistleblower protections), greater anticorruption investigative capacity on the part of the tribunal's management, and changes to the code of conduct for judges that would spell out explicitly what constitutes corrupt activity.

Some of the fiercest opposition to funding the tribunal originates in the U.S. Congress, which is understandable, given the tribunal's troubled history. It's also healthy. The "blank check" approach adopted by the UNDP and other donors created the tribunal's problems in the first place. It is vital that the U.S. not be that naïve, let alone willfully deaf, blind and dumb in its own funding.

Instead, the type of scrutiny and attention that the U.S. could and should bring to the court as a donor will be one of the critical safeguards for progress. Particularly if America becomes a member of the tribunal's steering committee by committing $2 million or more, it will be in a position to play a powerful role in the tribunal's future.

Meanwhile, the U.S. could target its donations to specific budget items, such as victims' rights and witness protection or even the operating budget for the international side of the tribunal, and make payments over time rather than as one lump sum. Washington could use its new leverage to force the tribunal to process cases more efficiently, ensuring proceedings don't drag on for years until already-elderly defendants simply die. The U.S. would also be in a position to mandate independent and transparent accounting procedures that would not only track American dollars but aid in improving the tribunal's operations overall.

The U.S. was instrumental in negotiating the creation of this tribunal 10 years ago, and has all along affirmed its commitment to helping the Cambodian people seek justice. Up to now, the most effective way to do that has been to withhold U.S. money pending reform. But as the tribunal moves into a new phase, and with its management improving, donating will become the more effective tool for the U.S. to follow through on its promise to Cambodia.

Mr. Hall is an associate professor at Chapman University School of Law, in Orange, Calif., and a research fellow at the Center for Global Trade & Development.
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Cambodia bicycle taxis angered by security guards

Radio Australia

Drivers of Cambodia's cyclos, or bicycle taxis, say security guards around city's markets are chasing them away, making it difficult for them to earn a living.

The drivers have also accused the guards of seeking protection money.

An industry survey shows there are more than 1,200 cyclo drivers in the capital Phnom Pehn who earn around 8,000 riel or $US2 a day.

Most say they cant afford to give the guards money and are powerless against them.

They've called on the Cambodian government to intervene.

History kept at a distance

The Bangkok Post
Wednesday July 16, 2008

Closing the Thai entrance to Preah Vihear has proven unpopularAnchalee Kongrut in Si Sa Ket

The scenic Pha Mo E-Daeng, a cliff opposite the Dongrek mountains where the Preah Vihear ruins sit, was noisy on Sunday.

That is unusual. Normally the drawcard is atop the temple hill, from where visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Cambodia.

But since the Preah Vihear sovereignty dispute flared up, and the Cambodian government closed access from Thailand, Pha Mo E-Daeng has been a favourite place for temple spotters.

Visitors can only see the controversial temple from a distance. Some rent binoculars to watch Cambodian soldiers guarding the complex.

A hot topic among visitors last weekend was why the temple did not belong to Thailand, given its location.

"If the whole site belongs to Cambodia, how can they walk up to the temple when the most accessible entrance is from Thailand?" said Ruen Tiachai, 71, a farmer from Sukhothai.

"The Cambodians must have to climb a rope to enter their temple."

Scratching his head, Mr Ruen said he cannot understand why the International Court of Justice ruled in favour of Cambodia in 1962.

"Common sense tells me the temple belongs to us. The owner of the house enters the house through the front door. He doesn't climb in," he said.

Other visitors were concerned about the overlapping area of 4.6 sq km which has not been settled by the two governments. Despite the dispute, 500 Cambodians managed to erect a village and temple there a decade ago. The village is far from makeshift. Most of the 200 homes there have electricity and television antennas.

"Overlapping area means overlapping business interests," said Thananchai Sained, 46, a villager from Ubon Ratchathani.

But no matter what patriotic Thai visitors think, the ancient stone temple is now inscribed as Cambodia's second World Heritage site. The first is the breathtaking Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.

As nationalistic Thais grow enraged that Cambodia walked away with the prize from the World Heritage Committee, local people, particularly those with tourism businesses worry what will happen now.

Most affected are vendors who sell souvenirs and food to tourists in Thailand's Preah Vihear national park. Each of the 60 shops there typically earned at least 5,000 baht a day on weekends and 2,000 baht on weekdays.

Vasana Limthongsood, 28, a food vendor, said the market has been closed for more than three weeks.

There is no sign the Cambodian government will reopen the gate. "I don't know what to do," she said.

Local people are thinking a few years ahead, when Cambodia is expected to finish a 118km road to bring in tourists from their side.

The Cambodian government wants to make Preah Vihear a tourist magnet, with better access from Cambodia. A cable car will be built to take visitors up the 522-metre-high cliff where the temple stands.

"I bet Cambodia will close the gate on the Thailand side eventually, or start charging high prices for entry tickets," said Sawai Chaowarak, 52, a Si Sa Ket native.

"Then we will lose our business opportunity. After the close relationship between Cambodians and Thais on the border, the Cambodian government will shut the door in our face," she said.

For decades, and regardless of the world court's verdict, the Preah Vihear area has been an international zone where citizens of both countries freely crossed the border.

Many Kantharalak district natives speak Khmer and people from both countries have cross-married.

Thai villagers even do merit-making at temples in Cambodia, while Cambodians often go to the hospital in Si Sa Ket and do shopping in the province. That, too, could change as Cambodians develop the area, said Vichin Prasarnjit, 53, of Si Sa Ket.

If anyone approaches the Cambodian village, they will hear loud voices from the lively community. On Thai soil, the atmosphere is different. Since the area was declared a national park almost a decade ago, the area fell quiet after local villagers were removed.

Soldiers complain about poaching and Cambodians trying to populate land in the disputed area.
For Mr Vichin, the authorities, after missteps and non-transparency, still have a final chance to serve the country.

"The government must clear up the dispute over border demarcation and overlapping land rights. The sooner, the better," he said.

Thai troops accused of entering Cambodia in dispute over temple

THE INDEPENDENT
By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent
Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The controversy surrounding an 11th-century temple on the Cambodian border with Thailand has taken a new twist after the authorities in Phnom Penh alleged that up to 170 armed troops and civilians from Thailand had illegally entered its territory.

Cambodia's Information Minister, Khieu Kanharith, made the allegation yesterday, a week after the country celebrated the temple's designation by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site.

He said the troops and civilians had crossed the border close to the Preah Vihear temple and refused to pull back. The Thai authorities denied they had crossed into Cambodian territory and claimed that troops had gathered close to the border simply to protect the nation's "sovereign territory". They said at least one soldier was injured after accidentally triggering one of the landmines that litter the border between the two countries.

The incident is the latest flash-point in a long-running controversy between the two countries over the Hindu temple, which was built by the Khmer empire. As far back as 1962, an international court ruled that the temple belonged to Cambodia but the two countries havequarrelled over the land surrounding the temple.

In 2001 Cambodia began seeking special status for the temple in the hope that such a designation would boost the number of tourists visiting the site. Thailand had long opposed the designation because it feared the ruling would also say that thedisputed territory along the border belonged to Cambodia.

But in May, Thailand's Prime Minister, Samak Sundaravej, announced that he was supporting the Cambodian application. His decision – taken without parliamentary approval – was seized on by his political opponents who have sought to drum up a nationalist outcry over his decision. Last month, Mr Samak survived a confidence vote brought by his opponents, who have accused him of acting as a proxy for the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Yesterday, Major-General Kanok Netakawesana, a Thai army field commander in the region, told reporters that his troops were on Thai soil close to the disputed area but they had not crossed into Cambodia. "We are not violating the territory of Cambodia," he told the Associated Press. "We have every right to deploy troops here to protect our sovereignty."

The deployment of the Thai troops followed the arrest by Cambodia of three Thai citizens for allegedly crossing the border earlier in the day. A Cambodian government official said all three were later released.

While the Khmer empire constructed many temple complexes – the most famous being that located at Angkor Wat – the buildings at Preah Vihear are said to enjoy perhaps the most stunning location, high on a cliff top. The temple has long been favoured as a defensive outpost; in 1975 government troops based there held off Khmer Rouge fighters for more than a month after the rest of the country fell. In 1998, when the last sizeable group of Khmer Rouge fighters agreed to surrender to the Cambodian government, Preah Vihear was the location of negotiations.

Boonsrang urges border calm

The Bangkok Post
Wednesday July 16, 2008

Three Thais seized after crossing into Cambodia
BANGKOK POST AND AGENCIES

Supreme Commander Gen Boonsrang Niempradit has urged people protesting in Si Sa Ket over the Preah Vihear temple controversy not to escalate the tensions with Cambodia after three Thais crossed into the disputed border area.

The crossing of senior monk Phra Khampheng, Vicharn Tabsorn and Chanikarn Kengnok, members of the ultra-nationalist Dharmayatra group, into the overlapping zone around 7am yesterday, prompted Gen Boonsrang to call Cambodian Defence Minister Teah Banh to secure their release.

Suranaree Task Force commander Maj-Gen Kanok Nettarakawaysana and Si Sa Ket governor Seni Jittakasem also went to Preah Vihear to hold talks with Cambodian authorities on the issue.
The three Thais were freed after four hours of negotiations, they said.

The Dharmayatra group has camped out on the Thai border in Kantharalak district of the northeastern province since June 22 to protest against Thai support for Phnom Penh's listing of the temple as a World Heritage site.

They are also demanding the return of the Preah Vihear temple to Thailand although the kingdom lost a legal battle with Cambodia over it in the International Court of Justice in 1962.

The World Heritage Committee has now listed the Preah Vihear temple.

Yesterday's events turned tragic for ranger Vilai Arom, who stepped on a landmine during a border patrol of the area. His leg was blown off in the blast.

Cambodian government spokesman Khiew Kanharith and director-general of the national authority of Preah Vihear temple Hang Soth, said that Thai troops had crossed over into Cambodian territory to help the three protesters.

But Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat and the Si Sa Ket governor denied that Thai troops had intruded on Cambodian soil.

Lt-Gen Nipat Thonglek, head of the Border Affairs Department under the Supreme Command, said the protesters posed no harm to Cambodia as they protested peacefully by meditating.

Khieu Kanharith was quoted as saying in Phnom Penh that 170 Thai troops and civilians had crossed into Cambodian territory. He said a group of Thai soldiers were being detained inside Cambodia and would be there overnight. Still, he was confident the situation was under control and would not flare up.

But a reliable Thai source dismissed his account, saying there were no Thai troops under detention in Cambodia.

Worried about the tensions, Gen Boonsrang called on nationalists to pay heed to warnings by the military not to let the situation get out of control and stressed that the overlapping area of 4.6 sq km would be handled by the authorities and legal experts.

Those who did not know the problem and were ultra-nationalist but had taken their own steps without paying heed to any warnings would cause confusion, Gen Boonsrang warned.

The supreme commander called on ultra-nationalists staging protests over the Preah Vihear issue to stay calm. Patriotism was good, but it must be based on reason and fairness, he said.

Meanwhile, the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) yesterday called on the Senate to impeach Prime Minster Samak Sundaravej over the temple row.

PAD leaders Pibhop Dhongchai, Suriyasai Katasila and Sirichai Mai-ngarm submitted 46,530 signatures to Senate Speaker Prasopsuk Boondej demanding the impeachment of Mr Samak for violating Article 270 of the charter.

His cabinet had endorsed the joint communique without parliamentary approval, the PAD said.

Treaties and Legal Affairs Department director-general Krit Kraichitti yesterday told the House panel on border affairs that the listing of the temple ruins did not include the 4.6-sq-km overlapping area with Cambodia.

Mr Krit insisted that Cambodia had proposed the listing of the temple only. He and Lt-Gen Dan Meechu-at, head of the Survey Department under the Supreme Command, were yesterday invited by the panel chaired by Samphan Lertnuwat, a list-MP of the People Power party, to testify over the listing of the Preah Vihear temple.

Jongrak seeks Vatana return on Klong Dan case

(BangkokPost.com) - Deputy national police chief Jongrak Juthanont said he will talk with counterparts in Cambodia on Wednesday on how to bring back veteran politician Vatana Asavahame for trial involving Klong Dan wastewater treatment plant.

The talk will be held at Indo-China hotel in Sa Kaeo province, Thailand.

Mr Vatana was last seen in Cambodia, where he runs two casinos in the Cambodian border town of Poi Pet, opposite Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaeo.

The court on July 9 seized Mr Vatana's 2.2-million-baht bail and issued a warrant for his arrest after he failed to turn up to hear the verdict. The reading of the verdict was rescheduled for Aug 18.

Pol Gen Jongrak said Mr Vatana would be brought to Thailand before Aug 18.

Troops, mine blast, protests shake temple

By The Nation
SI SA KET
Published on July 16, 2008

Allegations are that Thai troops crossed over into Cambodia

Tension between Thailand and Cambodia over a territorial dispute flared up again yesterday, with allegations by Cambodia that Thai troops crossed illegally into Cambodian territory.

Meanwhile, a paratrooper from the Ranger Unit 2301 assigned to oversee areas leading to the 10th-century-AD Preah Vihear Temple stepped on a landmine, resulting in the loss of his right leg.

It was not clear who placed the explosive in the disputed area or whether it was a remnant of decades of civil war among Cambodian factions that often spilled over onto the Thai side of the border.

Security officials declined to speculate as to who might be behind the placing of the device along the border area that has yet to be demarcated.

Regarding the troop crossing, Agence France-Presse quoted Hang Soth, the Cambodian official who manages a border crossing, as saying that at Preah Vihear Temple, about 40 Thai troops entered Cambodia early yesterday morning.

It was not clear if the crossing was related to the three Thai protesters who had been detained by Cambodian authorities for jumping an immigration checkpoint in a bid to reach the ruins.

Preah Vihear has been the focus of an decades-long dispute between the two countries.

Local authorities said the three had crossed into the Preah Vihear temple ground "to meditate" at the ancient temple as a way to display their objection to the temple becoming a World Heritage site.

"At first about 20 troops entered a pagoda in Cambodian territory. Later they increased their numbers to about 40," Hang Soth was quoted as saying.

"We don't yet understand why they came."

None of the Thai authorities was aware of the alleged crossing by the troops.

Cambodia says more Thai soldiers cross border

The Srandard
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cambodian officials said more Thai troops crossed into their country's territory today in the second day of alleged incursions amid tensions over disputed border land near a historic temple.

Thai officials have denied any incursion, saying the troops are deploying on what was clearly Thai territory to protect their country's sovereignty.

However, a senior Thai military source said about 200 Thai troops were inside what he called "disputed border territory.''

The latest confrontation came after UNESCO declared Preah Vihear - which is at the center of a long-standing border quarrel between the neighbors - a World Heritage site last week.

Cambodia: Thai troops still in country

A chicken roams near the locked gate from Thai side to Preah Vihear temple, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, on July 13, 2008. Three Thai protesters managed to quietly sneak across the border in an attempt to enter Cambodia's 11th century temple, which has become the center of a dispute between the neighboring countries, , an official said Tuesday, July 15, 2008. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

By KER MUNTHIT

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodian officials said more Thai troops crossed into their country's territory Wednesday in the second day of alleged incursions amid tensions over disputed border land near a historic temple.

Thai officials have denied any incursion, saying the troops are deploying on Thai territory to protect their country's sovereignty.

"Their troops have increased in number. They have not pulled back yet," said Hang Soth, director-general of the national authority for the Preah Vihear temple. Both sides were due to resume negotiations Wednesday morning, he said, but did not elaborate.

Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said Tuesday night that 170 troops and Thai civilians had crossed into Cambodian territory. He could not say how many civilians were among the group.

The number of Thai troops swelled to about 200 on Wednesday, Cambodian border guard unit commander Seng Vuthy said by telephone from Preah Vihear.

"Both the Cambodian and Thai forces have their hands on their guns at all times," Seng Vuthy said.

The latest confrontation came after UNESCO declared Preah Vihear — which is at the center of a long-standing border quarrel between the neighbors — a World Heritage site last week.

Both countries claim land around the temple, and Thai anti-government activists have revived nationalist sentiment over the issue. The activists and some government officials fear the temple's new status will jeopardize their country's claims to land adjacent to the site.

The incident has claimed at least one casualty. A land mine explosion sheared the right leg off a Thai soldier patrolling in the area, said Thai army Col. Sirichan Ngathong.

Stretches of the Thai-Cambodian border are still strewn with land mines sown by various sides during the 1970-75 Cambodian civil war and the guerrilla conflict that followed the fall of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in 1979.

Maj. Gen. Kanok Netakawesana, a Thai army field commander in the region, said in a telephone interview Tuesday that his troops were on Thai soil close to the disputed area. He declined to give the number of soldiers deployed.

"We are not violating the territory of Cambodia. We have every right to deploy troops here to protect our sovereignty," Kanok said.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat denied any incursion, saying the relationship between the two countries remained normal.

The ministry said in a statement late Tuesday that the troops were ensuring that any protests by Thai activists were being done "in an orderly manner."

The Thai troop movements followed the arrest by Cambodia of three Thai citizens for crossing the border earlier Tuesday. The three were returned to Thailand later Tuesday.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice awarded Preah Vihear and the land it occupies to Cambodia, a decision that still rankles many Thais even though the temple is culturally Cambodian, sharing the Hindu-influenced style of the more famous Angkor complex in northwestern Cambodia.

Cambodian secretary of state recovering well after acid attack

www.chinaview.cn
2008-07-16

PHNOM PENH, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Ngor Srun, secretary of state at the Cambodian Council of Ministers and top aid for Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, was recovering well in Thailand after the acid attack Sunday in Phnom Penh, national media said Wednesday.

Although the acid hit Srun's face, his wounds were superficial and he should be able to return soon to Cambodia following medical treatment in Thailand, English-Khmer language newspaper the Cambodia Daily quoted his sister-in-law Chea Sam Ath as saying.

"I saw him Sunday before he left for Thailand. He is just a little burned and it didn't affect his eyes. He can be normal after treatment," said the elder sister of Srun's wife Chea Sam Eng, who is the second daughter to Cambodian Senate President CheaSim.

The attack occurred in downtown Phnom Penh, as Srun ended his participation in a major general election campaign for the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and prepared to bring his vehicle to a nearby workshop for mechanical check.

Srun was hospitalized at the Calmette Hospital around 11:00 a.m. local time Sunday and transferred to Thailand later in the afternoon.

Hospital sources said that Srun was burnt on the left side of his face, ear and chest. His wounds were cleaned, treated and bandaged in the emergency room over the course of two hours.

This has been the second high-profile crime so far during Cambodia's general election month, which started in June and will end on July 27.

Friday, veteran reporter Khim Sambo and his son were shot dead on street. Sambo used to work as part-time contributor for the Khmer Conscience News, a Cambodian-language newspaper closely affiliated with the major opposition party.

Editor: Du Guodong

Cambodia: Murder of Journalist Jolts Run-Up to Election

16 Jul 2008

Source: Human Rights Watch

Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

(New York, July 16, 2008) With less than two weeks before Cambodia's National Assembly elections on July 27, the political climate has sharply deteriorated, highlighted by the killing of opposition journalist Khim Sambo and his son in a drive-by shooting on July 11 in Phnom Penh, Human Rights Watch said today. At 6:30 p.m. on July 11, Sambo, 47, and his son, Khat Sarinpheata, 21, were fired upon numerous times by a man riding on the back of a motorcycle near Olympic Stadium in central Phnom Penh, where Sambo and his son had been exercising. Sambo died at the scene. His son died the following day in hospital.

"As in previous pre-election periods, this killing appears to be intended to send a message not to engage in opposition politics," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Sambo had been a reporter for more than 10 years for Moneaksekar Khmer (Khmer Conscience), a newspaper affiliated with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP). It is one of the few newspapers in Cambodia that is not dominated by the government or the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) of incumbent Prime Minister Hun Sen, which also controls most television and radio stations. Sambo was known for his hard-hitting articles about government corruption, political affairs, and land grabbing.

"The Cambodian authorities should surprise everyone for once and hold accountable those responsible for Khim Sambo's murder, no matter their political allegiance," said Adams. "Sadly, there is every reason to fear that Khim Sambo will be yet another opposition journalist whose killing will not be solved."

Just a month before his murder, military police arrested Moneaksekar Khmer editor, Dam Sith, who is also running as a SRP candidate in the elections, after the paper reported on allegations about the current foreign minister's role during the Khmer Rouge regime. Although Sith was released after several days in detention and the foreign minister dropped his lawsuit against the editor, criminal charges of defamation and disinformation are still pending against Sith under articles 62 and 63 of Cambodia's penal code.

The buildup to the July elections has been marked by intense and systematic efforts by the CPP to pressure opposition party members, particularly those from the SRP, to defect to the CPP. Lucrative offers of high-paying government positions or threats and reprisals against those who refuse have resulted in hundreds of opposition party members defecting to the CPP during this campaign.

One of those suffering reprisals as a result of the defection campaign is Tuot Saron , a local SRP leader in Kampong Thom province, who remains in detention almost four months after her arrest.

In violation of election rules, the 11 political parties competing in the election do not have equal access to the media, especially radio and television. Most of the electronic media outlets in Cambodia have focused their election coverage almost exclusively on positive portrayals of the CPP or one-sided attacks on the opposition. On July 10, the National Election Commission (NEC) issued a warning to 13 television and radio stations for broadcasting biased coverage of the elections. Ten of those stations are dominated by pro-CPP coverage, according to the NEC.

Human Rights Watch called on the Cambodia authorities to promptly implement other critically needed reforms in advance of the elections. These include to:

-Remove pending criminal charges against Dam Sith;
-Reissue the license and reopen Angkor Ratha (FM 105.25) radio in Kratie province, which was shut down by the government in May 2008 after it sold air time to opposition parties;
-Release SRP member Tuot Saron in Kompong Thom;
-Stop the unprecedented pressure by the CPP to coerce opposition party officials to defect to the CPP before the elections; and
-Ensure fair and equal access to electronic media.

"Elections in Cambodia are always fraught with violence and intimidation," said Adams. "While political violence is considerably less than in past elections, the fact that an opposition journalist has been gunned down on a busy city street has sent shock waves through the community of media workers, opposition party supporters, and the voting population in general."

HRW news

Tokyo U. geologist to assist temple restoration

Nobuhiko Harada / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer

Bayon, a key temple of Cambodia's Angkor ruins, "is like a dam that is just about to break," geologist Tomochika Tokunaga says.

The intensely weathered temple is on the brink of collapse, according to Tokunaga, an associate professor of geology at Tokyo University. He has been working with the Japanese Government Team for Safeguarding Angkor (JSA) since last year.

Tokunaga specializes in groundwater fluctuations and has researched the Sahara Desert and various other locations worldwide. He has used cutting-edge geologic technology on the Angkor project. One such device, a type of ground-penetrating radar, is being used to "see through" the temple.

Last spring, Tokunaga, 41, was assisted by the JSA while conducting research on the water in a lake near Angkor. The government team subsequently asked him to lend his expertise for the restoration project.

According to Tokunaga, his Ehime Prefecture roots and his ability to assist the Angkor project made him feel that it was his duty to accept the request.

Last year, he found that the stone inside the Bayon temple was more brittle than he had expected. He also concluded penetrating water would further erode the temple.

Tokunaga was surprised to discover that geology could help preserve relics.

Tokunaga returns to Cambodia next month. Although the project requires working under the hot sun, Tokunaga is looking forward to seeing the inquisitive local Cambodians again.

(Jul. 16, 2008)

Violence and terror in Cambodia electoral campaign


AsiaNews.it
07/15/2008

Over the weekend, two episodes ignited the political atmosphere: on Friday, it was the assassination of a well-known journalist of the opposition, while on Sunday two thugs splashed acid in the face of a majority representative. On July 27, the country will be summoned to the ballot box to elect its new government.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Just under two weeks from the vote, the violence is increasing in Cambodia and hopes for a peaceful electoral campaign are dwindling. Last weekend, the country was shaken by two bloody events: on Friday, July 11, a well-known local journalist and his son were killed in the heart of the city centre by two assassins who came up beside their vehicle and opened fire; on Sunday, a government leader was the victim of an acid attack.

According to some human rights activists, the assassination of Khim Sambo, a central figure at Moneaksela Khmer (editor's note: Khmer Conscience), a newspaper aligned with the main opposition leader Sam Rainsy, was connected to a strategy aimed at creating a widespread climate of tension and terror in view of the vote. In the past, the journalist had written about cases of corruption involving top level political leaders, while the director of the newspaper for which he worked was denounced recently by foreign minister Hor Namhong, for "defamation".

Sunday morning, the violence touched a representative of the governing party, headed by the former Khmer Rouge member Hun Sen. At the end of a campaign event, Ngor Srun, the secretary of the Cambodian People's Party and a close collaborator of deputy prime minister Sok An, had acid thrown into his face, causing serious wounds. He is now under medical care in Thailand, but it seems that his life is not in danger; according to the doctors he has severe wounds on the left side of his face. Some witnesses say that the political leader was approached by two people on a motorcycle, who threw the acid on him and then fled, without pursuit, through the streets of the capital. The reason for the attack is not yet known: no one has claimed responsibility, but an anonymous source affirms that there was no political motivation, but it was instead caused by a "family problem".

The one thing that is certain is that these two episodes in the past few days have ignited the political climate in the country: political analysts recall that criminal episodes generally strike "members of the opposition", and although they emphasise that the climate is "changing and uncertain", they are betting that the governing party will win the upcoming elections, as before in 1998 and 2003.