Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Feisty dispute turns into a war of words

via CAAI

Published: 8/02/2011

Thailand and Cambodia put their case in letters to UN Security Council president Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti.

Debris clutters the entrance to a school at Ban Phum Srol. JETJARAS NA RANONG


"Once again, despite negotiation by the field commander of both sides for a cease fire, on 6 February, 2011 [Sunday], at 18:20, Thai armed forces launched a full scale armed aggression against Cambodia, using heavy sophisticated weapons including many 105, 120, 130, 155 artillery shells which were fired into the TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR, a World Heritage [site], the region of TASEM, VEAL INTRY and PHNOM TRAP hill and others. All these areas are well inside Cambodian territory. Thai artillery shells have landed as far as approximately 20 km inside the Cambodian territory.

"While I write this letter to Your Excellency, Thai armed forces still continue firing of heavy weapons into Cambodian territory.

"This fresh onslaught by Thai armed forces has resulted in more human casualties and damages to the TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR as well as other properties."

It continues: "Considering this recent extremely grave aggressions by Thailand, which has gravely threatened peace and stability in the region, I earnestly request Your Excellency to convene an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council so as to stop Thailand's aggression. I would also highly appreciate it if Your Excellency could circulate this letter to all members of the United Nations Security Council as an official document."

A man looks at a huge crater in front of a house in the border village of Ban Don-aow. The crater was caused by a rocket fired from Cambodian soil that narrowly missed hitting the house. JETJARAS NA RANONG

1.Following the incidents of armed attacks in the afternoon of 4 February and again in the early morning of 5 February 2011, both of which were initiated by Cambodia, both Thai and Cambodian regional commanders met at Chong Sa-ngam Pass, Si Sa Ket Province, Thailand, in the morning of 5 February 2011. At that meeting, they reached an agreement on immediate ceasefire.

2.However, on 6 February 2011, at 18.30 hours, Cambodian troops breached the above agreement by opening fire, preceded by firing of military illumination flares into the sky, into Chong Don Ao Pass and Phu Ma Khua in Thai territory before launching attacks to other areas in Thai territory, namely Sattasom Hill, Phlan Yao, Chong Ta Thao Pass, the area near the Temple of Phra Viharn, and the Phum Srol village.

The incident resulted in severe destruction of many civilian structures and injury of two Thai civilians and eight Thai military personnel, one of which has sustained serious injury. Again, about 15,000 innocent villagers living along the border where the attacks took place had to be evacuated.

3.At 08.17 hours of 7 February 2011 Cambodian troops opened fire at Thai military personnel stationing at Phu Ma Khua and Phlan Yao in Thai territory. The incident lasted until 08.27 hours. Casualties from the attack are under investigation.

4.In this connection, Thailand categorically rejects the allegation made by Cambodia that Thailand initiated the attacks. The fact is that Thailand has always exercised utmost self-restraint, but in the face of such unprovoked armed attacks from Cambodia, it had no choice but to exercise its inherent right of self-defence.

An anti-war group gathers at the Victory Monument and arranges candles in a peace symbol to call for a stop to fighting between Thailand and Cambodia. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN

5.Thailand therefore protests in the strongest terms against Cambodia's blatant violation of Thailand's sovereignty and territorial integrity and its attacks on Thai civilians and properties.

6.Thailand is gravely concerned about the use of the Temple of Phra Viharn by Cambodia for military purposes, which is in violation of the international law, in particular the Article 4 (1) of the 1954 Hague Convention on Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

7.Thailand wishes to point out the fact that the attacks by Cambodian troops on 6 February 2011 were intentionally launched at night time. These attacks were pre-meditated and well planned in advance to create a situation which would serve Cambodia's political objective of internationalising what is essentially a bilateral issue while bilateral negotiations are still ongoing. The swiftness of the release of the letter from the Prime Minister of Cambodia to Your Excellency dated 6 February 2011, shortly after the attacks started, only confirms the pre-meditated nature of the attacks and unfriendly intention.

8.It is the firm conviction of Thailand that any differences between countries shall be settled by peaceful means.

9.Thailand wishes to reiterate its commitment to working closely with Cambodia through existing bilateral frameworks.

10.Thailand hopes that, with all bilateral channels of communication still open and ongoing dialogue by officials of both countries, the situation in this specific border area will return to normalcy soon.

Second Army commander Tawatchai Samutsakhon, left, and Suranaree Task Force commander Chavalit Choonprasarn take a break in front of a convenience store in Si Sa Ket’s Kantharalak district. WASSANA NANUAM

A Don-aow villager stands behind parts of a rocket Cambodian soldiers fired into Thai territory. JETJARAS NA RANONG

Thais occupy a campin front of Kantharalak district office, Si Sa Ket. JETJARASNA RANONG

Amonkwalks on a deserted road at Ban PhumSrol after villagers fled the village following the border clashes. PHONGTHAIWATTANAVANIATVUT

Agroup of villagers board ane-tan farm truck as they flee their villages in SiSa Ket’s Kantharalak district. PHONGTHAIWATTANAVANIATVUT

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