Friday, 14 January 2011

Thai Nationals Seek The Release Of 7 Thai Detainees (In Khmer Language)

Thai activists vow to ramp up tensions

via CAAI

Thu, Jan 13, 2011
The Nation/Asia News Network

As the trial of the seven detained Thais dragged on in Phnom Penh and the Thai government struggled to get them released quickly, the Thai Patriots Network yesterday threatened to escalate tensions with Cambodia.

"If the government won't take any action, the network will bring people to shut the border gate by ourselves," leader Chaiwat Sinsuwong said.

The border crossing at Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaew province, opposite Poipet in Cambodia, is the major gateway for trade and tourism between the two countries, with billions of baht of goods in transit per year.

Foot traffic has dropped by 60 per cent since last month after the arrest of the seven Thais, said Benjaphon Rodsawasdi, deputy commander of Sa Kaew Immigration Police.

The number of travellers crossing the checkpoint from either side has plunged from 3,000 to only 1,000 per day, he said.

The Thai Patriots Network, which is associated with the yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), called for a major rally in front of Government House in Bangkok today to pressure the government to seal off the border.

The border area is basically under martial law, which authorises the military to control the situation and movement of people.

Colonel Thanathip Sawangsaeng, spokesman for the Defence Ministry, said the Burapha Task Force and Sa Kaew governor would look after the situation. The Thai Patriots Network could gather at the border area as long as it maintained law and order, he said.

Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, secretary to the foreign minister, said the group should not do anything to make the situation more complicated and difficult to resolve.

The network got angry after the government failed to rescue the seven Thais - including yellow-shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid and Democrat Party lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth - from the Cambodian prison.

The seven were taken into custody by Cambodian authorities late last month near Ban Nong Chan in Sa Kaew while they were inspecting the disputed border area. The Foreign Ministry said they had walked 55 metres into Cambodia.

All seven were charged with illegal entry into the country and illegal entry into a military zone, with a possible combined sentence of 18 months.

Veera and his close aide Ratree Pipatanapaiboon were also charged later with espionage for alleged attempts to collect information that might compromise Cambodia's national security. That charge could bring them a maximum 10-year imprisonment.

They were taken to court to testify again yesterday but Veera refused to speak via the court-appointed Khmer interpreter and requested an interpreter from the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, Chavanond said.

It was a court regulation not to allow interpreters from outside to provide services to defendants, he said.

Veera told reporters shortly before entering the courtroom that "they're trying to force me to accept the accusation".

Veera's action prolonged the hearing while the other five detainees were still waiting for the court's decision on their requests to be freed on bail.

The Thai Patriots Network accused their government of taking no effective action to put pressure on Phnom Penh to send the group back. They argued that the seven had been arrested in Thai territory and the Cambodian court had no authority to try them.

Thailand and Cambodia are in conflict over the boundary at many spots including the areas adjacent to the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear and Ban Nong Chan.

The Cabinet had approved more than Bt500 million (S$21.2 million) for military readiness to protect the border with Cambodia, Thanathip said.

The budget was allocated for an emergency situation, and was not a secret budget as reported by the media, he said. The military would spend the money for logistics supplies to its mission to defend the border.

-- The Nation/Asia News Network

Chelsea fair trader for Cambodian orphans

 via CAAI

13 Jan 11

by Sophie Aubrey

Chelsea's Andy Kent with orphans from Cambodia

ANDY Kent is no ordinary dad. With 25 Cambodian children who have dubbed him their Poppa Andy, this father of four has a lot of love to give.

It was after a trip to Africa in 2007 that the engineer from Chelsea decided he wanted to make a difference.

“The devastation just ripped me apart and I decided to do something,” Mr Kent said.

He began making regular visits to Cambodia and this year co-founded Build Foundation, a non-profit organisation aiming to help people out of poverty and provide protection, care and support for children.

The organisation recently teamed with the Sao Sary Foundation, which provides accommodation and education for more than 130 victims of child trafficking, in Kampong Speu province.

Mr Kent said many poverty-stricken children were at risk of being sold or kidnapped.

“We need to get them out of that danger and work with families to create a sustainable income,” he said.

Mr Kent spends up to three months a year working closely with Kampong Speu locals.

“They need someone who can give them hope,” Mr Kent said.

“Watching the children improve through just a little bit of effort and a little bit of giving makes everything worthwhile.”

The partner foundations are now designing a child protection centre made of shipping containers to be completed and self-sustainable by 2015.

The centre will house more than 100 children and provide paid work.

Volunteers are invited to join the Build Cambodia trip in September 2011.

“We want to give people an opportunity to open their hearts and get involved,” Mr Kent said.

The last trip saw 16 volunteers raise $22,000, build 10 houses and a temporary classroom, distribute clothing and set up a rice bank, all in just three weeks.

Volunteers also had the chance to take regular trips to Phnom Penh to gain a deeper understanding of the Cambodian people and culture.

Details: or phone Andy on 0417 104 741.

Urgent Action: Support over 300 Cambodian workers fired for striking for living wage

 via CAAI

The workers had been striking to demand a minimum monthly wage of US$ 93, which is considered to be the minimal "living wage" in Cambodia as calculated by labour groups and unions in the country. The strike lasted for three days and received massive support from workers throughout the country, culminating on the last day when over 200,000 workers from around 90 factories joined the protest.

The strike was called to an end by union leaders after the Ministry of Social Affairs invited them for a meeting to discuss their demands. However, when the garment workers returned to work the next day, they were confronted with mass dismissals of the unionized workers who had participated in the strike, and dozens of legal cases filed against union leaders.

The actions of the employers are in contravention of the Cambodian constitution and labour laws. They also violate International Labour Organization conventions on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining. The Cambodia government has responded by urging employers to drop the court cases and calling on them to return to the negotiating table.

In October, Cambodian courts issued a warrant ordering employers to reinstate the dismissed and suspended workers within 48 hours. The employers appealed and the case is still pending. Many employers have so far refused to abide by the government or court calls and have not allowed workers to return to their jobs.

Since September the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) has been calling on most of the global brands that outsource to these factories to demand that workers be reinstated immediately and unconditionally and that the owners enter into good faith negotiations with the trade unions.

Although some brands have taken some steps towards this, their actions have been insufficient to have an impact on the ground. Some of the factories involved supply products for major international brands such as Gap, Zara and H&M.

Please visit the CCC website to take action and write these brands to demand that the workers are allowed to return to work immediately, with compensation paid for the time they have been without work.

Cambodia Tribunal confirms trial for top regime leaders

 via CAAI

Published on : 13 January 2011

Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court on Thursday upheld the indictments against four top Khmer Rouge leaders, rejecting their appeals to dismiss the case and paving the way for a major trial.

The four face charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and related crimes under Cambodian laws in connection with the deaths of up to two million people between 1975 and 1979 from starvation, overwork and execution.

"Today, the pre-trial chamber [...] has confirmed and partially amended the indictments against the accused persons," the court said in a statement, referring to some minor technical changes to September's closing order, which detailed the investigating judges' conclusions.

"The pre-trial chamber has ordered the accused persons to be sent for trial and to continue to be held in provisional detention until they are brought before the trial chamber," it added.

The accused, the communist regime's most senior surviving members, are "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, former foreign minister Ieng Sary, his wife and ex-social affairs minister Ieng Thirith and former head of state Khieu Samphan.

"We expect the trial to start within the first half of this year," court spokesman Lars Olsen said.

The ailing defendants, aged between 78 and 85, have been in detention since 2007.

Asked about the state of their health, Olsen told AFP they have "normal health conditions for their age and they have regular medical check-ups."

The second trial follows the landmark July conviction of former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, for war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the deaths of around 15,000 men, women and children.

The court - which does not have the power to impose the death penalty - handed Duch a 30-year jail term but he could walk free in 19 years given time already served. Both Duch, 68, and the prosecution have appealed the sentence.

Hearings for those appeals are scheduled to take place in the last week of March.

The tribunal, dogged by allegations of political interference, has yet to announce whether it will go ahead with two more cases against five as-yet-unnamed former Khmer Rouge cadres.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself a mid-level cadre before turning against the movement, has repeatedly warned that pursuing more suspects from the hardline regime could spark civil war.

Led by "Brother Number One" Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Marxist regime emptied cities in the late 1970s in a bid to create an agrarian utopia.

(Source: AFP)

Thursday 13 January

Thai Foreign Minister to meet Cambodian counterpart soon

via CAAI

BANGKOK, Jan 13 - Amid renewed tension between Thailand and Cambodia following the arrest of seven Thais for an alleged trespass into the neighbouring kingdom, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said on Thursday that he expects to meet his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong next week.

The Thai foreign minister made the remarks as a Cambodian court today granted bail for Democrat MP for Bangkok Panich Vikitsreth and Naruemol Chitwaratana of the People’s Network Against Corruption and Santi Asoke network after they were detained with the remaining five Thais for two weeks.

Mr Kasit said the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh and the defense lawyers are seeking to help the other five detainees as fast as possible, adding that Mr Panich and Ms Naruemol are now staying at the embassy, and their families will visit them there.

"The foreign ministry is doing its best to help the seven Thais without giving priority to any particular person among them," asserted Mr Kasit, following criticism over the release of the Democrat MP.

The ministry has used various channels to coordinate the issue since the first day, both informally and formally, stated the minister, adding that any action which will improve the situation will be done, such as the release of Cambodians detained by the Thai Immigration Office.

Mr Kasit said he will meet with Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong in Indonesia where the foreign ministers meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is scheduled to be held from Saturday until Monday, Jan 15-17.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva earlier said he had talked with Mr Panich by phone after he was granted bail and asked him to convey messages to the six other Thais that the government is doing its best to help and they should take care their health, particularly Ms Naruemol who is now having health problems.

Regarding criticism that the government is focusing on help for Mr Panich only, Mr Abhisit said the government has sought bail for all seven detainees and is now waiting for the consideration of Cambodian court case by case.

The government has always been cautious so that it could help everyone and the attempt will continue as this is only the beginning," said Mr Abhisit.

Meanwhile, members of Thailand Patriots Network on Thursday rallied at the foreign ministry on Bangkok's Rama VI Road, verbally attacking what they describe as a poor performance of the ministry regarding help for the seven detainees and demanded that Mr Kasit resign from his post for his slow response on the matter.

The ministry's entrances were closed to prevent any intrusion into its compound. No violence incident has been reported.

The Cambodian court today allowed Mr Panich and Ms Naruemol to be temporary freed under bail under three conditions: they must not leave the country, give 1 million Cambodian riels (about Bt10,000) each as bail bond and must be ready to appear at court upon receiving a summons.

The seven Thais were arrested Dec 29 by the Cambodian authorities for illegal entry into Khmer territory in Banteay Meanchey province and are now detained in Phnom Penh's Prey Sar Prison.

The detainees face two initial charges -- illegal entry into Cambodia and also trespassing into a Cambodian military zone.

But Mr Veera Somkwamkid, leader of the Thai Patriots Network, and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon have been pressed with additional espionage charges. (MCOT online news)

Thai issues cross into Cambodia

via CAAI

BANGKOK, Jan 13, 2011 (The Straits Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- An added charge of espionage has been brought against two Thai nationals who appeared in a Cambodian court to face trespassing charges.

Analysts say the matter reveals how Thailand's domestic political issues are undermining its relations with Cambodia.

The pair -- Veera Somkwamkid, leader of the Thai Patriots Network, a faction of activist group People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), and his aide Ratree Pipattanapaibul -- entered Cambodia last month. They were among seven Thais arrested on Dec 29 after they crossed into Cambodia while on an inspection visit to a disputed border area.

It is not clear when a verdict on the case will be delivered. The court is expected to respond to a bail request by the end of the week.

The Thai-Cambodia border is not fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia. It is an issue that the neighbours have long been at odds over.

The PAD has periodically whipped up nationalist sentiment over the issue, pressing the Thai government to take a tougher stand with Cambodia over the disputes. The latest incident risks snowballing into yet another war of words between the two countries.

Observers believe it was a deliberate move by Veera's Thai Patriots Network to further provoke nationalist passion among supporters of the royalist PAD.

In 2006, the PAD, whose supporters are known as the 'yellow shirts', helped oust then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and in 2008, it also helped sabotage his loyalist People Power Party.

Initially, the PAD supported the ruling Democrat Party, but elements of it have grown increasingly critical of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, saying he is a weak leader, and accuse the government of rampant corruption.

The group now has its own political party -- the New Politics Party -- which it will field in a general election that may come this year.

Since all parties claim to fight against corruption and to protect the monarchy, the border dispute with Cambodia -- Thailand's ancient rival -- is "all that is left for the PAD", wrote Bangkok Post commentator Voranai Vanijaka.

The PAD has planned a rally in Bangkok on Jan 25 to protest against the detention of the seven Thais in Cambodia. To maintain its credibility, the group will try and ensure that the rally is big, analysts say.

"Keep whipping up that nationalist fervour and more people will show up," wrote Mr Voranai.

This is not the first time Veera has had trouble with the Cambodian authorities. In August last year, he was arrested for trespassing in Cambodian territory but was eventually released.

In September 2009, he led a crowd of supporters to the border near the controversial Preah Vihear temple, and ended up in a pitched battle with local Thai villagers who resented the nationalists' provocation of Cambodia.

This time, the presence of Democrat Party MP Panich Vikitsreth, who is close to Mr Abhisit, in the group of seven Thais reportedly incensed Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen -- and embarrassed the Thai government.

Panich -- who until his election was deputy minister for foreign affairs -- may have been manipulated into "deliberately or naively" crossing the border in an action designed to "make Veera into a martyr", a senior Thai official said on condition of anonymity.

The MP was visiting the border to look into land title problems that his constituency members said they were facing, officials have said. But going with Veera was his undoing, the official said.

About 30 members of the Thai Patriots Network protested at Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week against what they said was the government's failure to obtain the release of the seven.

"They want to bring this government down; they want a national government," the senior official said. Many elements in the PAD, which detests the largely pro-Thaksin 'red shirt' movement, also openly support the idea of military rule.

The Thai government has admitted that the seven crossed into Cambodian territory, but insists they were acting on their own.

Mr Hun Sen has said nobody can interfere with the courts in Cambodia.

Maintaining cordial relations will be a challenge in the face of the provocation from Thailand's ultra-nationalists, and both governments are trying.

"Both countries know what is at stake," said the Thai official.

Thai Patriots vow to rally until PM resigns

via CAAI

The Thai Patriots Network Thursday held a rally outside the Foreign Ministry to demand Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign.

The group alleged that the foreign minister and prime minister had failed to retaliated against Cambodia after it violated Thailand's sovereignty.

Chaiwat Sinsuwong, a leader of the group, said the Thai Patriots would protest outside the Foreign Ministry until Kasit and Abhisit resign.

The Nation

First Army has new war room

via CAAI

Published: 13/01/2011
A new, modern war room has been built at the 1st Army Region headquarters as a command post to cope with situations on parts of the border with both Cambodia and Burma, and internal political crises, a military source said.

The 1st Army Area Command is in charge of Bangkok and the Central provinces, including the adjoining Thai-Burmese border in Prachuap Khiri Khan and Kanchanaburi provinces in the west and the lower half of the Thai-Cambodia border, operating out of Prachin Buri. It controls as many as three infantry divisions, plus cavalry and artillery.

The source said the new war room was built on the orders of army commander-in-chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha soon after he assumed the post in October last year.

Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha

Gen Prayuth is of the opinion that since the 1st Army Region headquarters commands main army units located both in Bangkok and throughout the Central Region, it should have a war room with modern communications equipment, the source said.

The 1st Army Region headquarters is also where army chiefs and senior government figures hold meetings to monitor particular situations and give orders at times of political unrest, and of late especially the activities of protesters of different colour codes.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who is in charge of security affairs, frequently used the First Army headquarters in Bangkok as a situation monitoring centre.

The new war room is located on the 5th floor of the 1st Army Region headquarters. It has remote conference satellite connections with all border defence forces, including the Burapa Task Force responsible for part of the Thai-Cambodian border.

Many top brass attended a function marking the 101st anniversary of the establishment of the 1st Army today and visited the new war room. They included Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, Gen Prayuth, former army chief and 1st Army region commander Gen Anupong Paojinda, and privy councillor Gen Pijit Kullavanijaya.

They were received by Lt-Gen Udomdet Seetabut, the current 1st Army Region commander.

Ready, steady, boycott! Korean tensions spill over to restaurants

via CAAI

Jan 12, 2011

Phnom Penh - Ongoing tension on the Korean Peninsula has reached Korean eateries in Cambodia, local media reported Thursday, with boycotts of North Korean restaurants by South Korean tour groups and allegations of reprisal raids on South Korean restaurants by North Korean 'agents.'

Park Jeong Yeon, who heads the Phnom Penh branch of the Korean Association of Cambodia, said the sinking of the warship Cheonan last year, in which 46 South Korean sailors died, provided the spark. South Korea blamed the North for the torpedo attack.

'Afterwards, the embassy of (South) Korea recommended to Korean restaurants and tourist agencies not to go to North Korean restaurants,' he told The Phnom Penh Post newspaper.

Pyongyang, which denied any involvement in the sinking of the Cheonan, operates two restaurants in the Cambodian tourist hub of Siem Reap and one in Phnom Penh. They are part of a chain of outlets in a number of countries that earns the communist regime much-needed hard currency.

Patrons at North Korea's diners are treated to dance and music by trusted North Korean waitresses as well as dishes such as Pyongyang cold noodles.

But belligerence on the peninsula - most recently the North's shelling of the South's Yeonpyeong Island in November - saw Park's association distribute signs and stickers to South Korean restaurants in Cambodia condemning Pyongyang's actions.

Two South Korean restaurant owners claimed that 'North Korean agents' then raided their businesses and tore down stickers and signs critical of the Stalinist state.

The North Korean embassy in Phnom Penh was unavailable for comment.

But a spokesman for the South Korean embassy denied Seoul was seeking a boycott of Pyongyang's diners in Cambodia.

'The recent actions, including the boycott of North Korean restaurants, were completely voluntary decisions by the South Korean citizens in Siem Reap to express their regret over the North Korean provocations,' the spokesman said.

Cambodia's Ministry of Tourism said about 290,000 South Koreans visited Cambodia last year - up nearly 50 per cent - making it the industry's second-most important source country.

Long An opens to Cambodian trade

via CAAI

January, 13 2011

LONG AN — An international border crossing that links the Mekong Delta province of Long An and Cambodia's Svay Rieng Province officially opened its gates to trade yesterday in Binh Hiep Commune, Moc Hoa District.

The crossing has been upgraded following decisions by the Vietnamese and Cambodian governments to allow trade as well as civilian traffic to pass through, and becomes the 20th official overland international border gate in Viet Nam.

The Vietnamese side border gate, named Binh Hiep, was opened mainly for cross-national border exits and entries of people and means between Viet Nam and Cambodia. Now as the international border gate, it is open for people, means and goods of Viet Nam, Cambodia and third countries to pass through.

Its counterpart across the border, Prey Voa, was also upgraded to an international border gate this time.

The crossing links Viet Nam's National Highway 62 with Cambodia's Route 314 and the Asian transnational highway, connecting countries in the Mekong Subregion with the whole of ASEAN and Asia.

Nguyen Xuan Hong, deputy director of Long An Province's Department of Industry and Trade, said the new crossing would shorten transportation routes. Previously, products manufactured in Long An such as home appliances and fertiliser were exported to Cambodia via roundabout routes through other provinces such as An Giang and Tay Ninh.

Chairman of the provincial People's Committee Duong Quoc Xuan said in the future, the province would continue to upgrade the 25km road from Moc Hoa District to Cambodia's Svay Rieng City. The province would also quickly apply incentives at Binh Hiep border gate to create favourable conditions for enterprises from both countries to expand co-operative relations and boost imports-exports.

He said plans for a border gate economic zone revolving around Binh Hiep were underway. — VNS

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press

via CAAI

AKP, Phnom Penh, January 13, 2011

Cambodia National Assembly President Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin meets here today with H.E. Hon Antonio Cuenco, AIPA Secretary General.

In the meeting, Samdech Heng Samrin told his guest of Cambodia’s preparation for the 32nd AIPA Meeting which will be hosted here this year by Cambodia.

Photo: Hun Yuth Kun


Cambodia Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen inspects the construction site of Tatai Hydropower Dam in Koh Kong province’s Thmar Baing district while he was presiding over its groundbreaking ceremony on Jan. 12.

The 246KW-Tatai Hydropower Dam is the second power investment project from China (worth USD540 million) after Russey Chrum Krom Hydropower Dam.

Photo: Chim Nary.


Groundbreaking of Stung Tatai Hydropower Dam

Phnom Penh, January 13, 2011 AKP – The construction of “Stung Tatai” Hydropower Dam, in Thmar Baing District, Koh Kong province, begun Wednesday in a groundbreaking ceremony presided over by Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

This is the second largest project after the building of 338-megawatt “Russey Chrum Krom” Hydropower Dam started two weeks ago in Mondul Seima district.

China National Heavy Machinery was granted with a 42-year investment concession with five years projected for the construction of 246-megawatt “Stung Tatai” Hydropower Dam at the estimated cost of US$540 million, and the rest 37 years for business operation.

The construction of “Stung Tatai” Hydropower Dam is a large investment in electricity production in Cambodia, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said, adding that it reflects not only the confidence of the foreign firms in the political stability of Cambodia, but also the correct development strategies of the Royal Government of Cambodia, especially in the field of energy development.

He said the continued efforts for many years in the development of local energy resources would slightly affect the environment and society…and it would also meet the increasing need for energy and would help promote the investment, economic development, and improvement of livelihood of both urban and rural people and promote the process in the government policy for rural electrification.

Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen thanked the government of the People’s Republic of China for the support and assistance and for being a close partner with the Royal Government of Cambodia in encouraging the Chinese firms’ investments in Cambodia.

The “Stung Tatai” Hydropower Dam and “Russey Chrum Krom” Hydropower Dam are among the five hydropower projects built under the B.O.T. investment by Chinese companies with the funding support from the government of the People’s Republic of China.

“Kamchay” Hydropower Station in Kampot province is to be completed in August this year, 5 months ahead of schedule. Other two projects under construction are “Atai” Hydropower Station in Pursat province, and “Kirirom 3” Hydropower Station in Koh Kong province.

Lu Wenjun, Director-General of China National Heavy Machinery Corporation, said his corporation would endeavor to build “Stung Tatai” Hydropower Dam to be a magnificent building in Cambodia to bring happiness for the Cambodian people. –AKP

Article in Khmer by CHEY Phum Pul
Article in English by Ravuth M.

DPM Hor Namhong To Attend ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat in Indonesia

Phnom Penh, January 13, 2011 AKP – Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H.E. Hor Namhong will lead a delegation to attend the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat to be held on Jan. 15-17 in Lombok, Indonesia at the invitation of his Indonesian counterpart Dr. R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa.

The meeting will discuss a number of issues, including Exchange of Views on International and Regional Issues, ASEAN Community Building, East Asia Summit, and ASEAN Connectivity, according to a press release of the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation dated Wednesday.

On the sidelines of this Retreat, there will be a special meeting of ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) to review the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, which was adopted by the ASEAN Leaders in October 2010, and to adopt Terms of Reference of the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee.

In addition, the Cambodian deputy prime minister will hold bilateral talks with his Indonesian counterpart and ASEAN Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan. –AKP

Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith, meets in Phnom Penh on Jan. 12 with Ms. Anne Bass, Director/Producer Dancing across Border who seeks the support from the minister for the expansion of disseminating work on culture and art at national and international levels.

Photo: Hun Yuth Kun


ECCC: Case 002 Sent for Trial

Phnom Penh, January 13, 2011 AKP – Today, the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) has confirmed and partially amended the indictments against the Accused Persons Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, said an ECCC press release.

The Pre-Trial Chamber has ordered the Accused Persons to be sent for trial and to continue to be held in provisional detention until they are brought before the Trial Chamber, it said, adding that the indictments include charges of crimes against humanity, genocide, grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and murder, torture and religious persecution as defined by the 1956 Cambodian Penal Code.

The Co-Investigating Judges issued a Closing Order with the initial indictments of the Accused Persons on 15 September 2010. All four Accused Persons filed appeals against the Closing Order to the Pre-Trial Chamber.

The Pre-Trial Chamber found that the appeal filed by Khieu Samphan was inadmissible, whereas the appeals filed by Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith and Nuon Chea were found to be admissible in part. Of the admissible parts, the Pre-Trial Chamber dismissed all the grounds of appeal with two exceptions. First, the Pre-Trial Chamber ordered that the Closing Order be amended with a specification for the requirement of the existence of a link between the underlying acts of crimes against humanity and an armed conflict.

Secondly, the Pre-Trial Chamber also found that rape did not exist as a crime against humanity in its own right in the period 1975-1979, but that rape could be considered as “other inhumane acts” within the legal definition of crimes against humanity. The Closing Order was amended accordingly.

The Pre-Trial Chamber will issue reasoned decisions on the appeals at a later date, said the press release. –AKP


Cambodia To Host 30th ATF This Week

Phnom Penh, January 13, 2011 AKP – Cambodia will host the 30th ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) in Phnom Penh from Jan. 15 to 21, according to the Home Page of the Ministry of Tourism.

As many as 1,600 delegates, including 100 international media, will attend the ATF 2011 under the theme of “ASEAN-A World of Wonders and Diversity”.

Cambodian Tourism Minister H.E. Thong Khon will chair the week long forum, the home page added.

Phnom Penh first hosted ATF in 2003, said the home page, stressing that Siem Reap province, home of world heritage and the archaeological sites, and Preah Sihanouk province, the most beautiful and pristine beach, have been selected for pre- and post-tours.

ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) is a cooperative regional effort to promote the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region as one tourist destination. This annual event involves all the tourism industry sectors of the 10 member nations of ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. –AKP

By Théng

A performance of British band “Lost Souls Club” was held at Town Club in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Jan. 12.

The group is scheduled to perform for the Cambodian public from Jan. 14.

Photo: Hun Yuth Kun


Cambodia-Vietnam Bilateral Border Gate Upgraded to International Gate

Phnom Penh, January 13, 2011 AKP – Prey Var (Cambodia)-Binh Hiep (Vietnam) bilateral border gate was upgraded into the international border gate in a ceremony held on Jan. 11 in Svay Rieng province.

The Prey Var-Binh Hiep border gate between Svay Rieng province of Cambodia and Long An province of Vietnam was upgraded following the decision of both governments with an aim to facilitate and promote trade, tourism and the development of the two neighbouring countries, said Svay Rieng Provincial Governor H.E. Cheam Am on the occasion.

Both provinces have agreed to open the gate from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm daily, he said. –AKP

By KHAN Sophirom

Thai Patriots Network cannot close Sa Kaeo border checkpoint: Suthep

via CAAI

BANGKOK, Jan 13 -- Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Thursday that the government will not allow the activist Thai Patriots Network to push its agenda and close the Sa Kaeo border checkpoint in Aranyaprathet district as threatened to urge the government to help seven Thais detained in Cambodia.

Mr Suthep said the government has given every assistance in trying to help the detainees, and he personally believed the talks were the best way to find a solution, He expressed confidence that using threats will not bear fruit.

As for the Thai Patriots Network's plan to rally at the Thai-Cambodian border area at Aranyaprathet and threaten to close the border to pressure the Thai and Cambodian governments to release the seven Thais, Mr Suthep said he has ordered local officials to carry out their duties as normal.

However, he said, the government would not let the political activist network close the border as it could violate other people's rights.

"The protesters could demonstrate in accordance with their rights but the border closure will not be allowed as the area is business area, the people of the two countries are crossing to each other territory. The government wants to see the good relations between the two countries and eases the rift," he said.

The deputy premier said the government could not stop the Thai Patriots Network to have negative feeling and dissatisfied with the government's attempt to help the seven Thais.

He said people could have different idea but the government did not want the see any group divided against each other.

He added that even though both the red- and yellow-shirt people groups are planning to rally against the government, it was not necessary to reinstate the emergency decree. The authorities can keep the situation under control using ordinary law.

Mr Suthep said the government earlier had invited Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sok An to attend meeting on Preah Vihear disputes but get no confirmation on the trip after the incident of seven Thais detained in Cambodia.

Meanwhile, the Thai Patriots Network who had already gathered at Government House on Wednesday announced to step up their protest at Government House.

Mr Chaiwat Sinsuwong, a core member of the Thai Patriots Network, on Wednesday said in members of his group may close the permanent Aranyaprathet-Poipet checkpoint in Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet district to pressure Cambodia to release the seven Thais.

He said the closure was aimed at preventing Thai gamblers from crossing the border to patronise casinos in Poipet and barring illicit activities along the border including smuggling of contraband, drugs and the movement of illegal labour.

However, the decision of the so-called patriots network movement would be discussed among its leaders at 4pm.

The seven Thais, including Democrat member of parliament for Bangkok Panich Vikitsreth, were arrested Dec 29 by the Cambodian authorities for illegal entry into Cambodian territory in Banteay Meanchey province and are now detained in Phnom Penh's Prey Sar Prison.

However, the latest report from Phnom Penh said the Cambodian Court has granted bail for Mr Panich and Naruemol Chitwaratana, but has not allowed them to return to Thailand. (MCOT online news)

New border crossing hits snag

via CAAI

Published: 13/01/2011
The opening of a new permanent border crossing between Thailand and Cambodia may be further delayed by the current tension along the border, Burapa Task Force commander Maj-Gen Walit Rojanapakdi said on Thursday.

Thai Patriots Network members rally in Buri Ram on Jan 11 to demand seven Thais arrested by Cambodian officials be released.

Maj-Gen Walit, commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, was referring to the new border checkpoint between Ban Nong Ian in tambon Tha Kham of Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaeo province and Stung Bo in Bantey Meanchey province of Cambodia.

Cambodia proposed the opening of this checkpoint two years ago. The proposal had been considered by a joint Thai-Cambodian committee, the Sa Kaeo governor, and the National Security Council (NSC). It is about to be forwarded to the cabinet for final approval.

The new checkpoint was intended to ease the heavy traffic through the Khlong Luek- Poi Pet checkpoint.

It is also part of an exclusive economic zone project to make Aranyaprathet the gateway to Cambodia, Vietnam and Indochina.

"As commander of a unit in the area, I will propose that the opening of the new border checkpoint be delayed for some time because it is not far from the the Klong Luek - Poi Pet checkpoint, where the situation is not yet normal.

"This would affect local people involved in the cross-border trade," Maj-Gen Walit said.

Ban Nong Ian is located between border posts Nos 50-51, where the boundary is clearly defined by a stream.

Cambodia grants bail to Thai lawmaker

 via CAAI

Posted: 13 January 2011

PHNOM PENH: A Thai ruling party politician who was among seven Thais charged with illegally entering Cambodia has been granted bail along with one other member of the group, their lawyer said Thursday.
Panich Vikitsreth (R) is escorted by Cambodian court security personnel upon his workout at Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Panich Vikitsreth of the Democrat Party and Narumol Jitrawarattana, described as a female vendor, are now staying at the Thai embassy in the Cambodian capital as they await their trial for which a date has yet to be set.

"We asked the court to release the seven Thai people, but the court only allowed two to be released on bail," Ros Aun, a Cambodian attorney for the group, told AFP. Each paid a bail of one million riel ($250).

The other five Thai nationals are still being held at a Phnom Penh prison, Ros Aun added, and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said his government would continue to push for their release from jail.

The group was arrested on December 29 on charges of illegal entry and trespassing on a military area, which carry a maximum combined sentence of 18 months in prison.

The case has strained diplomatic ties between the neighbouring countries, long at odds over their border.

Panich told the court last week that he had crossed the disputed border by accident.

"He said he came (to the border area) because Thai people claimed it is their land. He said he was walking without knowing that he was entering Cambodian territory and was captured by the authorities," Ros Aun said.

Two of the seven Thais, Veera Somkwamkid - a former leader of the nationalist "Yellow Shirt" movement - and his secretary, were slapped with an additional charge of gathering information that could affect national defence, a serious offence punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

Thai officials have acknowledged that the seven were on Cambodian territory when arrested.

Despite appeals from Thailand, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has refused to intervene in the case, saying the matter was in the hands of the court.

The Thailand-Cambodia border is not fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

The current crisis threatens to reverse a recent thaw in relations between Hun Sen and Abhisit following a series of meetings on the sidelines of international and regional summits late last year.

- AFP/fa