Sunday, 16 January 2011

Two convicted Cambodians set free after illegally trespassing in Thailand

via CAAI

UBON RATCHATHANI - Two Cambodians have been released after a Thai court sentenced them to two-year suspended jail terms for illegally trespassing into Thailand while they were collecting forest products.

Ubon Ratchathani Governor Prawat Ratirom accompanied two Cambodian villagers from Preah Vihear province to the Chong Sangam border crossing in Sisaket province to hand over the two Cambodian nationals to Preah Vihear deputy governor Sor Thavy who was waiting to receive them.

Both men were arrested by Thai soldiers as they collected forest products in the Phanom Dong Rak Mountain Range near Thailand's Ubon Ratchathani province on Dec 29.

They were charged with illegally entering the Thai kingdom and were sentenced on Thursday to two months prison but the jail term was suspended and they were fined Bt2,500 each.

Mr Prawat said Preah Vihear Governor Oum Mara coordinated with him to help the two Cambodians.

They were set free as they did not intend to trespass into Thai territory but they became lost and their detention period exceeded the fine, according to the Thai governor.

Mr Prawat said the two Cambodian nationals were released to demonstrate Thailand’s sincerity and establish positive relations between Thai and Cambodian local authorities.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the release of the two Khmers has nothing to do with the Cambodian court agreeing to grant bail for two of seven Thais detained in Phnom Penh charged with trespass into Cambodia territory.

He said it was the co-incident not the exchange of prisoner deal between the two countries.

The Cambodian court on Thursda allowed Mr Panich Vikitsreth, MP for Bangkok and Naruemol Chitwaratana of the People’s Network Against Corruption and Santi Asoke networks, to be temporary freed under bail.

The seven were arrested Dec 29 by the Cambodian authorities for illegal entry into Cambodia in Banteay Meanchey province and are now detained in Phnom Penh's Prey Sar Prison. (MCOT online news)

Thailand Tries to Project Normality

via CAAI

But unresolved grievances likely to impede efforts to end civil conflict.
Ryan Pierse / Getty Images (left); Vivek Prakash / Reuters-Landov
Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra (left) and current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Following a year of violent antigovernment protest and military backlash in Bangkok, and with elections likely soon, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva appears eager to show that Thailand is on the mend. In late December, the government lifted the state of emergency that had been in place in the capital for more than eight months, and Abhisit then gave an optimistic end-of-year speech promising stability. As one indication, the cabinet also lifted a much older state of emergency in three districts of Thailand’s troubled Deep South—where successive administrations have been unable to quell an insurgency that since 2004 has claimed more than 4,400 lives. “It shows that the government is making progress,” Abhisit said of the move.

Yet analysts familiar with the region, where parts of the Muslim and ethnic-Malay majority have long clamored for a political voice, say the conflict is far from easing. In fact, while violence in the three districts in question has traditionally been low, it has risen overall during Abhisit’s two-year tenure, according to analysts. “The violence isn’t down,” says Zachary Abuza, a professor at the National War College who has done extensive fieldwork in the area. “People just accept that violence as the new normal.”

The conflict has been simmering since 1902, when Thailand annexed what had historically been parts of the Kingdom of Pattani, but flared up in 2004 following the heavy-handed approach to the region by the then-prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. Insurgent demands now range from more political say to a fully independent state and implementation of Sharia.

Abuza says there’s no end to the conflict in sight: Thai authorities have yet to get a handle on what is a hard-to-pinpoint, low-grade insurgency that has no clear-cut message, central command, or even identifiable leaders. Harsh military and police tactics, meanwhile, such as detaining suspected insurgents without charge and allegedly using torture, seem only to make things worse. And even lifting the state of emergency represents no significant policy shift—many of the measure’s stipulations remain in effect through the Internal Security Act. Conventional wisdom holds that the government must settle its problems in Bangkok before it can properly address the trouble in the South.

The core issue is legitimacy, says Duncan McCargo, a professor of Southeast Asian politics at the University of Leeds. Thailand’s government is extremely centralized, with even regional governors appointed by Bangkok, where the military and monarchy sit. In the South, many residents feel estranged from the power structure, and the notion has been exacerbated by the military presence and decades of neglect. The red-shirt protesters who occupied part of central Bangkok for two months last year were supporters of Shinawatra, a populist billionaire who went into exile after being deposed in a 2006 military coup—and was the first prime minister to begin shifting some power from Bangkok to the country’s North, which is his base. “What you see in the Deep South is just an extreme version of the national problem in Thailand, which is that power is overly concentrated in Bangkok,” McCargo says. The red shirts took to the streets again in the capital this month following the lifting of the emergency decree.

Devolution of power is the only long-term answer, both in the Deep South and countrywide, according to Michael Montesano of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. Yet the controversial subject is unlikely to be broached any time soon: the Bangkok elite are reluctant to cede real power, while Abhisit’s government is backed by Thailand’s most centralized powers—the military and the crown. “It would be hard to do this even if there weren’t a political crisis,” says Montesano. Until the country’s leaders are willing to address the longstanding grievances held by Thais outside the traditional power structure, unrest, both in the South and in Bangkok, will likely continue to be the norm.

The Arrest of Seven Thais Intruders – Is it A Legal Issue or a Border-Dispute?

via CAAI

Phnom Penh, January 15, 2011 AKP–(opinion) {The comments are solely the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Royal Government of Cambodia}

On December 29, 2010, seven Thais had been arrested by Cambodian authorities for illegally entering Cambodia. These seven were sent to a Cambodian prison in Phnom Penh for temporary detention. The Municipal Court (First Instance Tribunal) charged them with: 1) illegal crossing into Cambodian territory and 2) unlawfully entering a military base with ill will. They had their first hearing at the Court on Thursday, January 6, 2011.

These seven Thais include a Member of Thai Parliament, Mr. Nanich Vikitsreth; Mr. Veera Somkwamkid, a co-leader of a political Thai group called People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), known as the “Yellow Shirt”. Mr. Veera had been arrested several times by Cambodian authorities before. The last one was in August 2010, and again was charged for the same offense – illegal border crossing.

Their arrest has since then stirred up political and legal controversies in Bangkok. Some Thai groups have urged their government to seriously negotiate with Prime Minister Hun Sen, basically meaning or implying that the seven should be released unconditionally, and in the process alleging falsely that the seven were arrested on Thai territory instead.

Thai Prime Minister Mr. Abhisit Vijjajiva said on Friday, January 7, (published in Bangkok Post) that his Party was concerned only the charges against the seven arrested individuals and that the charges cannot be used to support any claim by Cambodia over border demarcation, nor would it allow Cambodia to get everything it is seeking for at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Bahrain in June this year.

These people are in the stage of confusion. These people are in the stage of illusion and delusion.

Firstly, the judicial branch of someone’s government is at risk. The world judicial system is at risk. Trespassing into someone else’s property or land without permission is illegal. Trespassing into a sovereign country’s border without permission and proper travel documentation, intentionally or unintentionally is illegal and must be arrested and prosecuted under the affected country’s jurisdiction.

There are many countries in the world, which have arrested people who crossed their border, detained them and prosecuted them. So allow the Cambodian Court to do its job unhindered and unimpeded. Justice in every civilized sovereign state must be implied through its own judicial system which subscribes fully to the principles of rule of law of the land without exception or “double standards”.

As far as the so called disputed area in the case is concerned, it does not make any sense. The arrest of seven Thais was made in Cambodian territory. On his return from Cambodia, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya stated that the seven were found to have been on Cambodian soil during their arrest. He said that a survey by officials from the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs and the Royal Thai Survey Department found that the seven were also inside Cambodia. This statement is clear evidence to implicate and convict the seven!

The seven Thais themselves had admitted to intruding into Cambodian soil when shown their actual position on the map and the video recording of their presence. The seven knew that they had entered Cambodian territory, Sa Kaeo governor Sanit Naksooksri said. Furthermore, Mr Sanit said the government could not make the excuse that the seven Thais led by Democrat Party MP Panich Vikitsreth and yellow-shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid had lost their way and entered Cambodia accidentally.

In a later statement, the yellow shirts (published in Bangkok Post on 12 January) did admit that the Thais had trespassed onto sovereign Cambodian soil, with the hope that they would get a royal pardon from the Cambodian King.

So, let the Cambodian Court do its job!

Secondly, the above mentioned groups deserved to be reminded about the principles of international law. “There are no disputed areas!” Cambodia’s government has always used the internationally recognized map in every negotiation, the map used by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, on June 15, 1962 to deliver its judgment. The Court noted that Thailand in 1908-1909, did accept the Annex I map as representing the outcome of the work of delimitation, and hence recognized the line on that map as being the frontier line. The Court concluded further that “the acceptance of the Annex I map by the Parties caused the map to enter the treaty settlement and to become an integral part of it”; and thereby conferred on it a “binding character”.

To this end the Court decided among the 3 points that: 1)“finds that the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia”; and that 2) Thailand is under an obligation to withdraw all military, police or other guards or keepers, stationed by her at the Temple, or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory.”

Cambodia never uses unilateral or a non internationally recognized map!

Those extremist groups have repeatedly betrayed history and the principles of “International Law”: The Temple of Preah Vihear is the property of Cambodia thereby the submission of the management plan to World Heritage Committee to preserve the Temple is Cambodia’s ultimate goal.

Any action which lacks of maturity and is contrary to the above principles would ignite tensions and will surely put Thailand at a disadvantage in any future negotiations.
by Sam Sotha ( AKP contributor)

Mr. Sam Sotha is the author of the “In the Shade of A Quiet Killing Place”. His personal memoire. About the book visit the

Defence Minister confident five Thais detained in Cambodia will be free soon

via CAAI

BANGKOK, Jan 15 -- Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan urged all parties to be patient and expressed confidence that all seven Thais detained in Phnom Penh since late last year would be released soon as the Cambodian authorities understood that they were not ill-intentioned people.

Gen Prawit said the defence ministry was not idle regarding the jailed Thais, but said it had done its best and explored options to help them.

He said the ministry had given its full attention at the beginning to help the seven Thais. After Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva assigned the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence to coordinate with Cambodian authorities to help the Thai detainees, the talks between the top military officials of both countries were already going on.

He urged all parties to be patient and said he believed all seven Thais would be released soon.

"Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for National Defence Tea Banh and I have been in contact and discussed the matter. We are neighbouring countries. We should talk, so don't worry. The bilateral committees at the government-to-government and ministry levels have still contact each other," he said.

He also denied the accusation that the Thai military at the border have taken no action because they had received payoffs on the border.

The minister warned against spreading the accusation and accepting it without any evidence as it could damage other people.

Gen Prawit said he would ask the Ministry's Judge Advocate General's Department to determine if legal action can be taken against the accusers.

The army chief said that the soldiers are Thais too and they love their country just like other Thais.

The so-called Thailand Patriots Network (TPN) group claimed that senior Thai military officers were somehow profiting from the border troubles and criticised their slow action in helping the detainees.

On Friday, TPN activists rallied at Thailand's defense ministry, calling for the resignation of the prime minister, Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya and Gen Prawit.

They charged that senior military officers chose to stay idle regarding the jailed Thais as they believed the seven were on Thai soil when they were taken into custody by the Cambodian authorities and that several Thai military officers had received payoffs on the border.

Chaiwat Sinsuwong, leader of the Thailand Patriots Network, said Saturday that the group viewed that the government and the military ignored helping the Thais and failed to protect Thai territory, which they believed could put Thailand at risk of losing territory in the future.

The network, therefore, will march from Government House where they will rally to the Palace to submit a petition to His Majesty the King on Tuesday (Jan 18) at 9.59am asking for help.

The network would discuss later whether to stop their demonstration after submitting their petition and would decide later whether to go to Sa Kaeo province on the Cambodian border.
The Thais were captured by Cambodian soldiers on Dec 29.

At present, five are still in custody and have been denied bail by the Cambodian court while two, including Panich Vikitsreth, an MP representing Bangkok and member of the ruling Democrat Party, have been released on bail but are not allowed to leave the country, as they must attend court hearings when they take place.

The detainees face two initial charges -- illegal entry into the Cambodian kingdom, with possible punishment of three to six months jail and deportation, and also trespass on a Cambodian military zone, punishable by three to six months jail and Bt7,500-15,000 in fines.

Veera Somkwamkid, leader of the Thai Patriots Network, and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, however, face additional spying charges on top of illegal entry and trespassing on a Cambodian military area, which has been already heard.

The duo could face five to 10 years in prison if found guilty. (MCOT online news)

PM optimistic detained Thais will be freed by Cambodia; urges army chief to be patient

via CAAI

BANGKOK, Jan 15 -- Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Saturday he is optimistic that all seven Thai detainees being held in Phnom Penh will be free on bail soon, yet urged army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha to both use restraint and speed up the process of resolving border problems with the neighbouring country amid slanders by the so-called Thailand Patriots Network (TPN) group.

The group said that senior Thai military officers were somehow profiting from the border troubles and the slow action in helping the detainees.

“I understand the army chief’s feeling," the prime minister said."I wish to ask him to be patient.”.

On Friday, TPN activists rallied at Thailand's defense ministry, calling for the resignation of the prime minister, Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya and Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan.

They charged that senior military officers chose to stay idle regarding the jailed Thais as they believed the seven were on Thai soil when they were taken into custody by the Cambodian authorities and that several Thai military officers had received payoffs on the border.

Urging Gen Prayuth to be patient, Mr Abhisit said he had ordered Defense Minister Gen Prawit to help resolve the problem of Thai villagers who have rightfully possession of land deeds, but work near the disputed border. The prime minister was responding to concerns that the border problem might affect Thailand’s sovereignty.

Asda Jayanama, the new chairman of Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC), went to Cambodia earlier this week for talks with his Cambodian counterparts on the border problem, said Mr Abhisit, adding that he was told the talks went smoothly.

At this stage finding ways to return the seven detainees is the most important issue, Mr Abhisit said.

The Thais were captured by Cambodian soldiers on Dec 29. At present, five are still in custody and have been denied bail by the Cambodian court while two, including Panich Vikitsreth, an MP representing Bangkok and member of the ruling Democrat Party, have been released on bail but are not allowed to leave the country, as they must attend court hearings when they take place.

Some Democrat MPs plan to go to Phnom Penh to visit Mr Panich. The prime minister, however, said he had instructed them to wait until the situation has improved as the Cambodian court announced Friday that the entire issue should be resolved in the near future.

Mr Abhisit said he hoped that the remaining five Thais would also be freed on bail as their lawyers are working to help release them. (MCOT online news)