Sunday, 1 May 2011

Khmer BM21 - Thanks to the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces who strongly defence our country from the Siam invasion. We salute to you all

RFA Khmer Webcast-KHM-042911-F

PM: Cabinet to appoint committee to contend with Cambodia's appeals to World Court

via CAAI

BANGKOK, May 1 -- The Thai cabinet will be asked this Tuesday to appointing a committee to counter an appeal lodged by Phnom Penh government to the World Court to clarify its 1962 ruling about the ancient Preah Vihear temple, which sits on the disputed border with Thailand, as clashes between the two neighbouring countries continued.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Sunday during his weekly TV and radio address--held for the last time before he dissolves the lower house and call for a general election--that he would ask the cabinet during its weekly meeting this Tuesday to formally appoint a committee to counter Cambodia appeals to the International Court of Justice.

The Phnom Penh foreign ministry last Friday said it had made a request “for an interpretation of the Court’s judgment … concerning the temple of Preah Vihear which was prompted by Thailand’s repeated armed aggression to exert its claims on Cambodian territory.”

According to the statement, clarification by the court was of “the utmost necessity … in order to peacefully and definitely settle the boundary problem between the two countries in the area.”

In 1962, the court ruled that the 11th century Preah Vihear belonged to Cambodia, but both countries claim ownership of a 4.6-square-kilometre (1.8-square-mile) surrounding the area.

Mr Abhisit assured Thais that although the House of Representatives would be dissolved, expected sometime in early May, his caretaker government would continue to perform its duty in order to “protect Thailand’s benefit and sovereignty.”

The prime minister added although the border conflict is prolonged, it will not affect his planned House dissolution and the upcoming election, as the army can do its job and control the situation.

If the situation remains as it is during the next couple days where no heavy weapons have been used during the clashes, Mr Abhisit said, local residents earlier evacuated to temporary shelters will be allowed to return to their homes.

Meanwhile, Col Prawit Hukaew, spokesman of Second Army Region Command, said two minor clashes continued Saturday near Ta Kwai temple in Surin’s Phanom Dong Rak district.

The first skirmish occurred at 7.00 p.m. after a number of Cambodian soldiers patrolling near Ta Kwai temple opened fire at Thai soldiers, forcing Thai soldiers to retaliate and fired back. Both sides exchanged gunfire for a short period.

Col Prawit said both sides clashed again at 9.45 p.m. and this time only machine guns and hand grenades were used. The fighting lasted until about 11.00 p.m.

Casualties of both sides were still unknown, he said.

Soldiers of the two countries have been fighting near the temple since April 22 with each side claiming to be attacked by the other first. (MCOT online news)

Cambodia rejects arrangement for deployment of observers on disputed Cambodian-Thai border

via CAAI

April 30, 2011 

Cambodia has rejected arrangement for the deployment of Indonesian observers to the disputed border area near Preah Vihear temple because Thailand has proposed a location in Cambodian territory for observers on its side, Cambodian foreign minister Hor Namhong said Saturday.

The rejection was in response to the 5th modified terms of reference (TOR) submitted by Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa, current rotating ASEAN chair, on April 28, for Indonesian observers to be deployed in the disputed border areas in order to monitor ceasefire.

"Cambodia cannot accept the fifth revised TOR because Thailand has proposed four locations for the observers on its side, but one of the locations is in Cambodian territory at Svay Chhrum area, though Thailand uses a different name," Hor Namhong said at Phnom Penh International Airport upon his return from submitting a request to the International Court of Justice for the interpretation of the Court's judgment of 1962 on the case concerning the Preah Vihear temple.

He said that the Svay Chhrum area in Preah Vihear province is in Cambodian territory as far as 7 kilometers from the border line.

"I will reply to Marty that Cambodia cannot accept the fifth TOR," he said.

Cambodia has proposed three locations -- Ta Sem, Chak Chreng and Pram Makara -- near Preah Vihear temple for the deployment of observers on its side.

The International Court of Justice awarded Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia in 1962.

The 11th century temple was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on July 7, 2008. But the dispute over the 4.6 square kilometers scrub next to the temple has sparked periodic border conflict between Cambodia and Thailand. The latest in a series of deadly clashes has killed over a dozen soldiers on both sides since April 22.

Source: Xinhua

Thai, Cambodian troops exchange automatic weapons fire again over disputed border

A Thai soldier holds his machine gun atop an army vehicle while patrolling near the Thai-Cambodian frontline in Surin province, northeastern Thailand, Saturday, April 30, 2011. Troops from Thailand and Cambodia exchanged fire at the countries' contested border again Saturday, marking the ninth straight day of clashes. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

By The Associated Press
BANGKOK — Troops from Thailand and Cambodia have exchanged fire again at the countries' disputed border.

Thai regional army spokesman Col. Prawit Hukaew says the two sides exchanged automatic weapons fire overnight and before dawn Sunday as the conflict entered its 10th day.

Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan says the fighting took place around the Ta Krabey and Ta Moan temples, which are in a disputed zone between the two nations.

No casualties were reported. At least 16 people have been killed and nearly 100,000 displaced since fighting began April 22.

Thailand and Cambodia fought six times since 2008 over land disputed for more than half a century, but analysts say domestic politics on both sides is driving the current conflict.

The world is so blind

via CAAI

By Santel PHIN

REUTERS PICTURES. Cambodia's Defense Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat (R) and Cambodia's government spokesman Phay Siphan address the media during a news conference at the Council of Ministers in Phnom Penh April 22, 2011.

I am not a politician. I am like any other Cambodian people, we like peace. We don’t want to make any war against anybody, especially our neighbors. That was our own mistake that have made lost a lot of lands. This is the history. We need to accept what happened and learned from it.

After years of war, Cambodia found its stable both on politic and economy.

Anybody will ask the same question, why Cambodia want to make war with Thailand? Even before this, who started to send troops to border and made up everything?

We need to come out of the box. We need to isolate ourselves from Thais medias. Don’t let them fool you around. Thailand has power in medias and weapons. They smiled and talked anything they want. People will listen to them. They are good in acting. Hollywood should make a film about them.

Cambodian government position is remain the same: we will protect our territory and don’t let anyone invade our country. This is a very clear statement made by our PM. We are not good in distract people from the reality. If you invade, we fire. This is the simple logic, moreover it is a natural reaction.

Cambodia has no intention or provoke any war with Thailand. We need time to rebuild the country, we have enough bad memory with war. There’s no reason for a country to make war with another country that has stronger economy of 26 times than its own. The Cambodian army spent $191 million in 2009, compared with $4.9 billion for the military in Thailand, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (source).

Thailand keep repeating Cambodia started the fire first. They are protecting their territory. These are the series photos of a Thai’s base that they are using to fire into Cambodia territory. Do you feel any protecting gesture? The journalist also confirmed there’s no sign of fire back from Cambodia.

And check out the result from this video, Thais’ rackets bombed on Cambodian villages and make thousands of people homeless.

They also mentioned the 3 F16 jets flying around the fighting area is on training. If you believe what they said, the world is so blind. UN is blind, USA is blind. How can you ask Cambodia to restraint when Thailand is invading their country. Asean can’t do anything. They can’t make Thailand accept the observers. But we are grateful for the efforts of the Indonesia FM.

The war still continue as long as Thailand has two colors: yellow and red. They will continue to use border issue to save their political crisis. On the other hand, their nonsense behaviors will give bad image of Thailand to the world.

I believed a lot of Cambodian people feel very upset with Thais. We are neighbors for a thousand years. It is sad to see this thing happen. I hope the world will see the reality and react in the right way to finish this war.

Let’s share your opinion about this matter and help to share information from Cambodian sides, so that the world can see from both sides. You can follow me at twitter for more update on the issue.

Thailand voices disappointment over latest clash with Cambodia

Thailand Urge Cambodia to stop fighting? Liars are still Liars.. this is khama one day the thai will get this Khama... the buddha will punish those who is lie....Once the King die then those Khama will come to your liars in thai

via CAAI

April 30, 2011 

Thai government was disappointed with the latest round of clash although both sides have earlier reached an agreement to a ceasefire, government spokesman said on Friday.

Panitan Wattanayagorn, Thai government spokesman, said the Thai government also felt sorry for the lost of lives of soldiers and civilian, Matichon online reported.

From eight days of clash, Thailand has lost seven soldiers and one civilian with more than 70 people injured.

Thailand strongly urged Cambodia to resume negotiation, Panitan said at a press briefing at the Foreign Ministry.

The fighting, which is in the eight straight day since April 22, has forced more than 48,000 Thais villagers in Thailand's Surin and Buri Ram provinces to evacuate.

Both sides blamed each others for shooting first.

Source: Xinhua

Sporadic clashes still continue between Cambodian, Thai troops

via CAAI   2011-05-01

PHNOM PENH, May 1 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia said on Sunday that Thai troops still continue launching mortar shells into Cambodian territory at the 13th century Ta Krabei temple in Oddar Meanchey province throughout Saturday night until Sunday morning.

"Every night, Thai troops open fire at our troops at Ta Krabei temple," Suos Sothea, deputy commander of the artillery unit, told Xinhua by telephone from the battle fields.

"On Saturday night at 10:00 p.m. (local time), they had used weapon M97 to shell at the temple," he said. "Then, occasionally, they continued to fire mortar shells at us at 2:00 a.m. until 6:00 a.m. this Sunday."

"Cambodian troops had fired back in early Sunday morning in order to defend our territory from the invasion," he said. " However, we had just used small guns to retaliate."

No casualties were reported in this latest sporadic fighting.

Cambodian and Thai troops have exchanged gunfire over the disputed border areas at the two temples since April 22. Both sides blamed the other for the fighting over the past days.

The fightings had killed at least eight Cambodian soldiers, seven Thai soldiers and one Thai civilian, and nearly 100,000 civilians on both sides fled homes for safe shelters.

The border between Thailand and Cambodia has never been completely demarcated.

Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. But Thailand claims the ownership of the 4.6 square kilometers (1.8 square miles) of scrub next to the temple. Just a week after the enlistment, Cambodia and Thailand had a border conflict, triggering a military buildup along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.

Editor: Chen Zhi

Preah vihear at ground level

via CAAI

Exploring the army's role in the dispute and the lives of soldiers on the front line

Published: 1/05/2011
Newspaper section: Brunch

The re-emergence of the armed forces to the public fore since the last coup has piqued curiosity about the secret world of the Royal Thai Army. Was the recent breakdown of a pricey satellite a sign of a looming coup? If so, when will it take place?

The term "Big" (used as a reference to Orwell's Big Brother in Thai) has become more common in casual conversation.

Over the past two decades, we have been using the term "Big" with a sense of dread or cynicism.

One person who deserves credit for unveiling the secret world of the army is Wassana Nanuam, a veteran news reporter at the Bangkok Post.

Wassana has been covering the military for over a decade. She has forged ties with a cadre of soldiers _ many of them real movers and shakers in the country.

A true insider, Wassana has penned several critically acclaimed books, starting with her famous interview with Gen Suchinda Kraprayoon, the coup maker who was involved in the civilian massacre of Black May in 1992.

She has also written about privy councillor and statesman Gen Prem Tinsulanond and former prime minister Gen Surayud Chulanont, not to mention behind-the-scenes accounts of the last coup, and the use of black magic among politicians.

Lap Luang Prang: Suek Prawiharn (Secrets, Deception and Masquerade: The Battle of Preah Vihear Temple) is her latest book, an up-to-date account of the military operations of Thai and Cambodia armies fighting over 4.6 square kilometres of land around the Preah Vihear temple.

LAP LUANG PRANG: SUEK PRAWIHARN: (Secrets, Deception and Masquerade: The Battle of Preah Vihear Temple) Wassana Nanuam, Post Books, 375pp. Available in Thai only at all good bookshops for 240 baht.

Like her previous books, The Battle of Preah Vihear Temple is loaded with exclusive and behind-the-scenes details.

The book serves as a who's who of Thai-Cambodian geopolitics. Readers will be enlightened on the mindset, nature and background of important players _ army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha; Second Army commander Lt Gen Thawatchai Samutsakorn, or "Big Yerm"; and more importantly, the up-and-coming Maj Gen Hun Manet, son of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and possibly the country's next prime minister.

The book will help readers make sense of the confusing issues related to the Preah Vihear temple skirmishes.

Chapter by chapter, the writer explains in layman's terms the importance and background of the temple, and pertinent details including problems with the 1:200,000 map and the controversial memorandum of understanding that Thai and Cambodian authorities signed in 2000.

Readers will understand why gunfire resumed on Feb 4 this year when Thai soldiers built an extension from the highway close to the entrance of Preah Vihear, and why soldiers on both sides reacted furiously to trivial issues such as the placement of banners and flags. The writer provides background on military diplomacy at the regional and international levels.

Indonesia is providing military assistance to Cambodia and that may explain why Thai authorities gave the cold shoulder to Asean's latest move to broker peace talks. (Indonesia currently chairs Asean.)

What makes this book suitable for general readers is that at its core it is about the lives of the soldiers. While offering a wealth of data, the writer always draws readers back to those brave soldiers who earn a meagre salary to protect our country. Wassana makes it clear that she is for a professional military. She has donated income from her books to assist the families of soldiers who died in the line of duty in the three southernmost provinces and in the Preah Vihear clashes. Names of fallen soldiers are mentioned. The writer also interviewed heartbroken family members. She observes that most of the soldiers killed in the line of duty were recently married, or had newborn babies or pregnant wives.

Despite its serious subject matter, the book is peppered with humour, much of it dark when its troubling implications are considered. Such is the case with Wassana's detailing of how the army is spending 14 million baht to produce amulets to hand out to soldiers fighting in the South and near Preah Vihear. (High-ranking soldiers clearly want to allay fears of Cambodia's alleged use of voodooism to cause bad luck to Thais!)

CHILD’S EYE VIEW: A drawing from a child living on the Thai side of the border depicts the ongoing dispute over Preah Vihear temple.

Then there is how local villagers collect remnants of rockets as memorabilia or even as good luck charms; a rocket fired by Cambodian troops is kept as a bell at a Thai temple.

The funniest chapter is about the black magic that Thai soldiers believed Boonranee, wife of prime minister Hun Sen, used to curse Thai soldiers (two of whom died mysteriously).

The book brings us closer to those soldiers. We now know our tough and highly superstitious Second Army commander has to eat ice cream to de-stress when planning a military attack.

Regardless of her leanings towards retaliation, Wassana is right on one point: Thai authorities let politics determine military operations at the cost of soldiers' lives. Hun Sen also cleverly and successfully uses both diplomatic tactics and brute military force, not to mention manipulation of the media to invoke hatred and spread propaganda.

The Preah Vihear conflict is a strange one. As villagers are evacuated, trade along the border continues, with only brief pauses. Gamblers still frequent casinos across the border run by politicians. It is a conflict in which Prime Minister Abhisit ordered soldiers to exercise maximum restraint and behave like "gentlemen".

Wassana said she wants this book to draw more attention to the issue of Preah Vihear. "Do not look at the land as forest, hills, brick and rocks. All of these things are part of our motherland and we cannot afford to lose even a square inch. We must not let this land be consumed by cheating tactics and ignorance or gross incompetence of the government, the army or of Thais who fail to inspect and pressure the government and army to do their duty."

Civilians Displaced Along Thai-Cambodian Border

via CAAI

30/4/2011 - Children are among the tens of thousands of civilians displaced in the ongoing territorial conflict between Thailand and Cambodia.

As of yesterday evening, it was reported that 42,500 Cambodian civilians have fled violent skirmishes erupting along the country's border with Thailand. Most of them are women, children and elderly persons. An estimated 11,200 of those forced to flee their homes are people who have been displaced recently.

According to a more recent media report by the AFP, the total number of displaced people now exceeds 85,000 civilians.

"We have never expected such great number of evacuees, so now our major concerns for them are clean water and sanitary facilities," Nhim Vanda of the Cambodian National Committee for Disaster Management told China's Xinhua News Agency.

Emergency relief assistance for fleeing families and their children should remain an important humanitarian consideration − this means ensuring peoples' access to water, hygiene and sanitation facilities, well as food, shelter, safety and child protection services.

Maintaining some normalcy, such as children's access to education, in the face of displacement is also desirable. Already, 67 schools have closed in Cambodia, leaving 1,600 students out of the classroom. Schools is Thailand's Surin province are now functioning as shelters.

The ceasefire brokered between the two countries on Thursday has broken down with the renewed violence that has villagers on the run. A total of 16 people have been killed in the fighting, which has lasted for more than a week.

The current casualties from the conflict are mostly among military personnel − eight Cambodian soldiers, seven Thai soldiers and one Thai civilian. Several people were injured.

This is the ninth day of the conflict. Gunfire has been exchanged over disputed border areas at the temples of Ta Moan and Ta Krabei. These temples are just 150 kilometers west of the Preah Vihear Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization.

Preah Vihear (known as Phra Viharn in Vietnam), an 11th century temple, is located in the Oddar Meanchey province of Cambodia. A 1962 court ruling gave the temple to Cambodia. However, the temple can reportedly be most easily accessed via Thailand, who has also claimed ownership to some 4.6 square kilometres of the surrounding area.

The current casualties from the conflict are mostly among military personnel − eight Cambodian soldiers, seven Thai soldiers and one Thai civilian. Several people were injured.

Cambodia has reportedly called on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to review the case.

Long Beach residents' recollections of Cambodian horror will be heard

via CAAI

Statements will form part of evidence against Khmer Rouge leaders.

By Greg Mellen, Staff writer
Posted: 04/30/2011
LONG BEACH — A year-and-a-half ago when refugee survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime gathered in Long Beach to fill out forms about atrocities they witnessed in the mid-'70 s in Cambodia, they had no idea whether it would make a difference.

On Saturday, many of them got their answer. Leakhena Nou, a sociology professor at Cal State Long Beach told a gathering that their statements would be part of an upcoming trial against four former leaders of the Khmer Rouge.

"We wanted to make sure your voices are heard thousands of miles away," Nou told the elderly crowd that assembled at the Mark Twain Branch Library.

"Your applications have been heard and have been accepted by the court," Nou said. "You are heroes."

In 2009, Nou and her nonprofit group, Applied Social Research Institute of Cambodia traversed the U.S. Gathering victim statements from refugees in the Cambodian diaspora with the goal of having them entered as evidence in the upcoming Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia.

She has since learned that 170 of the applications she gathered nationwide were accepted to be used in the trial.

More than 35 years after the Khmer Rouge rise to power and the onset of the Killing Fields genocide that left about 2 million dead, Noun Chea, Pol Pot's second in command, and three other top officials in the communist government that ruled until Jan. 1979, are being tried for a number of war crimes under the auspices of the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia.

On Saturday, Nou, along with lawyers from the Center for Justice and Accountability, which will represent refugee complainants in the proceedings, met with Long Beach residents to update them on the results of the statements filings and to talk about what's next.

The event was entitled From Victim to Witness: In Pursuit of Justice and Healing.

"Today the power is in your hands and the world is listening," Nou said. "You were witnesses to some of the worst crimes in mankind."

Nou said she hopes the trials will bring closure to those who suffered during the Khmer Rouge reign and since. She said justice can't be gained through violence, hatred or anger, but justice and education of the young about what happened.

"Your weapon was this," Nou said, holding up a pen.

Nou also asked those in attendance to sign a petition demanding the tribunal continue. The court is currently considering its second case.

Earlier Kaing Guek Eav, or Duch, the former head of the Tuol Sleng interrogation prison, was found guilty. The court is considering charges against five more suspects, however, Prime Minister Hun Sen has opposed any more trials.

As part of the ongoing legal proceedings, the court could offer non-monetary reparations to the complainants. Although they cannot receive cash, attorney Nushin Sarkarati said their could be symbolic reparations. These could range from the creation of stupas or museums, to a holiday in Cambodia to commemorate the dead to building a medical center that offers treatment to survivors for lingering health issues from the Khmer Rouge era.

After the presentation to the elders, volunteers gathered with the survivors to discuss their ideas of appropriate reparations.


Video game teaches Cambodian children to avoid land mines

via CAAI

Undercover UXO, shorthand for unexploded ordnance, uses an engaging platform to educate youths about what to avoid in a nation where decades of fighting left the land filled with hidden explosives.
Chhoun Mina, 15, left, Chob Sopheak, 14, and Chamroeun Chanpisey, 11, test a new video game being unveiled in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, called Undercover UXO, designed to teach youths about the dangers of land mines. (Brendan Brady, For The Times / May 1, 2011)

By Brendan Brady, Los Angeles Times
May 1, 2011

Reporting from Phnom Penh, Cambodia—

"Turn left, turn right, go back!" her friends urge as she leads her avatar, a pet dog, into a lethal trap and the sound of an explosion rings out from the computer.

In the virtual game world, players can always hit restart, but 11-year-old Chamroeun Chanpisey gets the point. "The game is different from real life," she said. "People have only one life."

The video game, called Undercover UXO, shorthand for unexploded ordnance, is a new tool aimed at educating young Cambodians about the dangers of land mines and other explosives across the war-pocked Southeast Asian country.

It's a lesson that could save numerous lives each year in Cambodia and other post-conflict countries, where millions of land mines and unexploded ordnance — sometimes mistaken for toys — lie hidden under earth, rocks and wrecked vehicles, posing a threat to farmers and wandering children.

In Cambodia alone, such war remnants have killed or maimed nearly 64,000 people in the last three decades, including 286 last year, according to the Cambodian Mine/Explosives Remnants of War Victim Information System.

The video game, designed by a team of professors at Michigan State University with a $78,000 grant from the State Department, has been piloted in Cambodia by the Golden West Humanitarian Foundation, a Woodland-Hills nonprofit group. It tested the game on children such as Chanpisey in its Phnom Penh office before introducing it to rural communities.

Cambodia remains one of the world's most explosives-littered countries, a hangover of extensive bloodshed in the 1970s to the 1990s. This period included civil war, a genocidal communist regime and a secret American bombing campaign in the eastern part of the country to root out suspected Viet Cong fighters.

The United States dropped 2.75 million tons of bombs and warring factions placed millions of mines.

In 1992, a United Nations peacekeeping mission initiated a cleanup. But turning back such a deadly legacy is slow and costly; 4 million to 6 million explosive devices remain, according to the government-run Cambodian Mine Action Center. The government recently said it would need a dozen more years and tens of millions more aid dollars to complete the job.

Meanwhile, traditional efforts to warn to children about the danger involve dry presentations using printed materials, "which is of limited appeal to children, and most people, actually," said Allen Tan, who manages Golden West's work in Cambodia.

Tan, an American whose Cambodian father immigrated to the U.S. after surviving the Khmer Rouge's bloody rule in the late 1970s, said his own experience as an infantryman in Afghanistan and as a bomb-disposal technician in Iraq taught him how easily child's play can turn deadly.

"If you're a kid and you see something shiny in an environment where things are mostly wooden, you're going to want to pick it up," he said.

The video game uses an engaging platform to turn such mistakes into lessons, he said. Players instruct their pet dog to find food while dodging hidden dangers. They increase their scores by recognizing explicit cues, such as a skull-and-bones sign, or less obvious tip-offs, such as a barbed-wire fence, to save their avatar's life.

When an explosion is triggered, a mine specialist character appears onscreen to explain what happened and how to avoid repeating the mistake.

Corey Bohil, a visiting assistant professor at Michigan State University and part of the team that developed the game, said a digital template is being completed that could be tailored to other languages and imagery for a few thousand dollars. In Arab countries where many consider dogs to be unclean, for instance, the avatar could be a goat. And in Afghanistan, roadside bombs could be added to the repertoire of hazards, he said.

The project follows growing popular interest in "serious games" designed to develop life skills and inform players about real-world problems. Michigan State's addition is primitive, with very modest graphics. But its target audience — youngsters in post-conflict countries who are unlikely to have been spoiled by high-tech games — is likely to be forgiving

"I think it's fun, and it teaches me to be more careful," said Chob Sopheak, 14, a tester in Phnom Penh whose neighbor was left maimed and deaf by an exploding mine. Like the two other girls playing that day, Sopheak had never used a computer but quickly adapted to the controls.

Distribution is a significant hurdle for the project, however. The game was originally designed for the XO-1 computer, the "$100 laptop" that actually costs nearly $200 and hasn't really caught on globally. The version of the game that's just been released can be used on PCs and the XO-1. In coming months, plans call for making it available for Macs and Linux, and further down the road, for smartphones and the Web.

This first version benefits from an unlikely boost: narration in Khmer provided by the silky voiced Chhom Nimol, the Khmer lead singer of the popular Silver Lake-based Cambodian-style rock band Dengue Fever.

Brady is a special correspondent. Times staff writer Mark Magnier in New Delhi contributed to this report.

New skirmishes on Thai-Cambodian border

via CAAI

Sun, May 01, 2011

THAI and Cambodian troops exchanged fire on their disputed border for a ninth straight day on Saturday, both sides said, casting doubt on efforts to end the countries' bloodiest conflict in decades.

The latest hostilities at two ancient temples on their shared jungle frontier erupted just hours after Cambodia announced a second truce in as many days, although Bangkok denied knowledge of a new peace deal.

Each side has traded accusations of untrustworthiness in solving a dispute that has killed 16 people and displaced more than 85,000 civilians.

"Even though there is a recent ceasefire... Thailand still breached it," Cambodia's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters in Phnom Penh on Saturday.

"It shows that we cannot trust our counterpart," he said in comments that echoed those made by Thai officials a day earlier.

The latest flare-up was confirmed by both countries, but while it was followed by a lull in fighting, frontline soldiers remained on alert.

"Clashes could happen at any time," Cambodian field commander Suos Sothea told AFP by telephone.

There were no reports of new deaths, although at least 10 Thai soldiers were injured in clashes on Friday night and Saturday morning, army sources in Thailand said.

Cambodia's defence ministry accused Thailand in a statement of using grenades and firing mortar rounds at Cambodian troops in the latest clashes.

The two neighbours have come under increasing international pressure to stop the violence.

A first attempted truce on Thursday, confirmed by the two countries, proved short-lived and Bangkok has contradicted Phnom Penh's latest claims, saying Friday's talks between commanders on the ground did not amount to a genuine breakthrough.

"We actually have talked at local officers' level which I hope will lead to a real ceasefire," said Thailand's government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn.

Hor Namhong returned Saturday from The Hague where he had submitted a request to the World Court to clarify a 1962 ruling about land around the ancient Preah Vihear temple -- an area that has inflamed tensions between the two neighbours.

"The request for the interpretation by the court is a way to resolve the problem peacefully," he said at Phnom Penh airport.

The court ruled more than four decades ago that the 900-year-old temple belonged to Cambodia, but both countries claim ownership of a 4.6-square-kilometre (1.8-square-mile) surrounding area.

Thailand said it had hired legal advisors and would fight the case.

The stone structure has been the focus of border tensions since it was granted UN World Heritage status in 2008 and 10 people died in hostilities between the neighbours there in February.

The Thai-Cambodian frontier has never been fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from years of war in Cambodia.

The current unrest is centred around two other contested temple complexes 150 kilometres (90 miles) west of Preah Vihear, although there was some fighting at the site itself on Tuesday.

Seven Thai troops and eight Cambodian soldiers have died since the fighting began on April 22, and Bangkok has said a Thai civilian was also killed.

Bid for help from ICJ has a lot of unknown factors

via CAAI

By The Nation
Published on May 1, 2011

Are Thailand and Cambodia set for a new legal showdown? It's difficult to predict if move will ensure peace

Many had thought the day would come. But now that Cambodia has submitted a request to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for interpretation of the Court's judgement in 1962 on the Bangkok-Phnom Penh wrangling over the Preah Vihear Temple, there is cautious optimism at best. The past few days have seen violent clashes between both countries' troops at the border, which raises the question as to why people needed to die despite quite a few unexplored ways out. We only hope both nations have not gone too far to turn back and not been already addicted to the use of military might in this territorial conflict.

Obviously, Cambodia will be in a better position if the world court takes up its request. The 1962 verdict stated that the temple was situated on territory that was under its sovereignty. Phnom Penh celebrated the ruling while Thai leaders took it on the chin. The Thai side, however, will now have a chance to renew the legal fight for its decades-old "reservations" registered after the verdict. Old wounds will be reopened, but that may be better than having fresh ones inflicted on bilateral ties day after day.

There are a few immediate issues to watch. Firstly, how long will it take for the court to take up Cambodia's request? Secondly, if the court takes up the request, will it use the old evidence, which led to the 1962 verdict, or allow both countries to present their cases once again? Last but not least, since Cambodia is officially seeking legal help, will the border fighting stop?

In the event of a new Thai-Cambodian showdown at the ICJ, the process could take a long time. How that will affect Phnom Penh's rush to complete the World Heritage plan for the Preah Vihear Temple remains to be seen. But with soldiers killed and tens of thousands of villagers evacuated on both sides, a bigger concern should be about the on-going border tension. A protracted ICJ process means that the Thai-Cambodian border could remain a flash point, and innocent villagers will have to continue living in fears.

The ball is somehow back on the ICJ court. What appeared to be a considerably clear ruling in 1962 led to conflicts and controversies because the Thai side argued that there was nowhere that the court pinpointed Cambodia's sovereignty over surrounding areas. And the arguments over the surrounding areas have hampered border re-demarcation as well as the World Heritage plan for Preah Vihear. Armed conflicts that have flared up have resulted from overlapping claims of areas adjacent to the temple.

While the timing of Cambodia's move is questionable, returning the issue to the ICJ could be the only way to stop the loss of lives and suffering at the border, at least for now. The key thing is whether Bangkok and Phnom Penh can really return to the legal dispute for the sake of peace.

There are examples of ICJ verdicts being ignored, and international mechanisms to enforce them have been anything but effective. However, Cambodia's latest move will test both nations' sincerity and willingness to solve the decades-long conflict the way good neighbours are supposed to.

This is not going back to where it all began. This may take both neighbours far beyond 1962. That year's verdict followed years and years of disputes that all but tore neighbourly relations to pieces. The court in 1962 only, at least in the Thai view, took a stance on a small part of the problem. The border stretches far beyond the area where the Preah Vihear Temple is situated. The underlying issue is who'll get what and who'll lose what when different measures are applied. It was extremely difficult for the ICJ in 1962 and it won't be any easier for the court this time.


Wanted red shirt nabbed at border

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Published: 1/05/2011 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

SA KAEO : A key red shirt supporter has been arrested at the Aranyaprathet immigration checkpoint trying to cross into Cambodia.

HELPING US WITH INQUIRIES: The DSI will oppose bail for Somyot Prueksakasemsuk

Police yesterday arrested Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, executive editor of the now-defunct Voice of Thaksin magazine, who has been on the run from a lese majeste charge.

Mr Somyot, 50, a key member of the red shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, is wanted under an arrest warrant sought by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on a charge of offending the monarchy.

Officials at the checkpoint alerted DSI headquarters in Bangkok around 1.30pm yesterday after Mr Somyot presented his passport to immigration officers as the tried to cross the border to Cambodia.

Mr Somyot told immigration staff that he had no idea he was wanted on the lese majeste charge, or he would have reported to police and fought the case in court.

He was detained under the emergency decree enforced by the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation for his involvement in the red shirt political violence in June last year.

He was released on June 13 on the court's order after the red shirt protest ended on May 19.

However, the DSI later filed charges of lese majeste in connection with his running of the magazine.

He said he ran a tourist business in Cambodia and regularly went there to look after his business interest.

Mr Somyot was taken to the DSI in Bangkok for further questioning, said DSI director-general Tharit Pengdit.

Mr Somyot was accused of running several websites containing content that allegedly offended the monarch.

Mr Tharit said the DSI would oppose bail for Mr Somyot during the interrogation process and would ask the Criminal Court tomorrow to detain him.

Meanwhile, police have arrested Srayuth Thanok, 32, the owner of a building where authorities found a large quantity of M79 grenade launchers in March last year.

Mr Srayuth was arrested in Muang district of Nakhon Phanom yesterday.

On March 13 last year, police raided a company in Samut Prakan and found 600 parts for M79 launchers and 5,000 more parts buried in front of the office entrance.

The company belongs to Mr Srayuth, according to police.

The seizure was made amid a spate of M79-related attacks in Bangkok. Mr Srayuth denied any involvement with the weapons cache.

New skirmishes on Thai-Cambodian border

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Cambodian soldiers stand on a military truck as they travel past a check point near the Preah Vhear temple in Preah Vihear province, some 500km northwest of Phnom Penh

PHNOM PENH: Sporadic clashes broke out on the tense Thai-Cambodian border on Saturday, both sides said, casting doubt on peace efforts as the countries' bloodiest conflict in decades stretched into a ninth day.

The latest hostilities at two ancient temples on the disputed jungle frontier erupted just hours after Cambodia announced a second truce agreement in as many days, although Bangkok denied knowledge of a new deal.

"Even though there is a recent ceasefire agreement... Thailand still breached it," Cambodia's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters in Phnom Penh.

"There were exchange of firing last night and this morning," he said. "it shows that we cannot trust our counterpart."

Thai army sources also confirmed early morning clashes.

Thailand said on Friday's peace talks between commanders from both sides did not amount to a genuine breakthrough in a dispute that has left 16 people dead and displaced more than 85,000 civilians.

"We actually have talked at local officers' level which I hope will lead to a real ceasefire," said Thailand's government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn.

Seven Thai troops and eight Cambodian soldiers have died since the clashes began on April 22, and Bangkok has said a Thai civilian has also been killed.

Hor Namhong returned Saturday from The Hague where he had submitted a request to the World Court to clarify a 1962 ruling about land around the ancient Preah Vihear temple -- an area that has inflamed tensions between the two neighbours.

"The request for the interpretation by the court is a way to resolve the problem peacefully," he said at Phnom Penh airport.

The court ruled more than four decades ago that the 900-year-old temple belonged to Cambodia, but both countries claim ownership of a 4.6-square-kilometre (1.8-square-mile) surrounding area.

Thailand said it had hired legal advisors and would fight the case.

The stone structure has been the focus of border tensions since it was granted UN World Heritage status in 2008 and 10 people died in hostilities between the neighbours there in February.

The current unrest is centred around two other contested temple complexes 150 kilometres (90 miles) west of Preah Vihear, although there was some fighting at the site itself on Tuesday.

The Thai-Cambodian frontier has never been fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from years of war in Cambodia.

Domestic politics driving border battles

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Upcoming elections in both countries are helping to fuel the fighting, say analysts

Published: 1/05/2011 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

When the latest military clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops broke out, many were surprised they took place so far from the disputed area around Preah Vihear temple. The artillery and gunfire exchanges which have killed and wounded soldiers on both sides are centred about 140km away in Surin province and Cambodia's Oddar Meanchey province, near another disputed area which includes Ta Kwai and Ta Muen Thom temples.

Thai military sources say a signal that hostilities might move to the west emerged over the Songkran holiday, when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's son, Maj Gen Hun Manet, reportedly made a visit to an area near Ta Kwai and Ta Muen Thom temples on the Cambodian side. The temples are located in ''no-man's land'' claimed by both sides.

The military sources say Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh and other senior military officers were also present at the site where Thai soldiers were deployed only 50-100m from Cambodian soldiers. It is rumoured that Major Gen Hun Manet is hatching plans to take over 14 temples in disputed regions along the Thai-Cambodia border before the rainy season to raise his popularity and assure a smooth succession when power is eventually handed over to him.

The Thai military sources say that during this time women and children _ possibly soldiers' families _ were brought into the disputed areas by the Cambodians, especially around Preah Vihear, possibly intended as ''human shields''. Later, some of the Cambodian forces, along with civilians, were reportedly redeployed to Ta Kwai and Ta Muen Thom temples. The sources conclude that Hun Sen plans to worsen the border situation to justify outside intervention, not just from Asean, but also the United Nations Security Council.

''Everything is up to Hun Sen,'' said the 2nd Army's Lt Gen Thawatchai Samutsakorn, commanding troops in the fighting area. ''He is the one who issues all orders in Cambodia. The military officers on both sides know each other and don't want to fight. But as Hun Sen orders them to fight, they have to do it.''

Meanwhile, Cambodian officials staunchly maintain that Thai troops started the latest round of hostilities. With both sides claiming the other is the aggressor, some analysts look to domestic politics for a possible motive. New elections are planned in both countries in the coming months.

Ian Storey, a fellow at the Singapore-based Southeast Asian Studies, and editor of the journal Contemporary Southeast Asia, said it is apparent that political factors are playing a role in these latest clashes. In the case of Cambodia, said Mr Storey, it is obvious that Hun Sen once again wants to use the border conflict to rally popularity among Cambodians. What is more interesting is Thailand, he said, remarking that it is obvious that the army now is calling the shots rather than Thai ministers in the handling of the border situation.

He said that amid efforts to resolve the conflict with Asean's participation, it was obvious that the army is more vocal than the government and taking a leading role. When the army rejected Asean's plan for Indonesian mediation, the Thai government, including the PM, could do nothing but go along.

Mr Storey said a prolonged conflict might undermine Asean, but added: ''I cannot see that the issue will be resolved soon. The tension will continue for some time, perhaps, after the elections, especially in Thailand.''

Dr Storey's analysis was echoed by Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies' regional strategic and political studies programme. Mr Pavin, who has written extensively on the border conflict, said that when considering who might gain politically, the Thai government and military were prime candidates.

He said a lengthy conflict along the border could affect the timing of the Thai elections as the government would be too busy resolving more important issues. Prolonged fighting would also allow the military to increase its influence in the name of protecting national interests. This is a crucial point at a time when Thai politics is so unstable, he said. Mr Pavin said the military might be in a difficult situation if a new government did not give it strong backing.

On the other hand, Mr Pavin agreed with the Thai military assessment that Hun Sen and his son also have much to gain from the conflict. Cambodia also looks to have its territorial claims strengthened as it seems much of the international community is siding with Thailand's neighbour. This will be reinforced if Thailand persists in resisting international participation in resolving the disputes, he said.

Whatever happens, it seems Cambodia will be the ultimate winner, said Mr Pavin. He added that Asean is facing a real test of its credibility as a viable regional organisation.

Recent developments indicate that Cambodia also feels it has the advantage, as Dr Pavin suggests. A statement from the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, dated April 29, 2011 said that the government of Cambodia had submitted a request to the International Court of Justice for interpretation of its judgment in 1962 on Preah Vihear Temple. It further said ''this submission has been prompted by Thailand's repeated armed aggression to exert its claims on Cambodian territory, on the basis of its own unilateral ownership, which has no legal basis''.

The fighting may have broken out many kilometres away, but it seems that the Preah Vihear temple is still at the centre of the storm.

Thai military: Deadly fighting resumes at Thai-Cambodian border

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30 April,CNN

Fighting raged on along the turbulent Thai-Cambodian border Friday, one day after a military source said local commanders from both sides had agreed to a cease-fire.

Thai military spokesman Col. Sansern Kawekumnerd said Friday that another Thai soldier died and four soldiers were injured in the fighting.

At least six Thai soldiers and one civilian have been killed in the clashes that started last week. Cambodia has said three of its troops have been killed in the fighting.

The cease-fire agreed upon Thursday was forged at the unit commander level but not at the higher levels of the militaries, a Thai military source said.

The source, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak publicly, had said if peace persisted, higher-ranking commanders might meet on Friday. The commanders would be Thailand’s 2nd Region commander, Lt. Gen Tawatchai Samutsakorn, and Lt. Gen. Chea Mon, Cambodia’s 5th Army Region commander.

Cambodia’s government spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Clashes between the two started April 22 as both sides accused each other of trying to seize ancient temples. Thailand calls the temples Ta Kwai and Ta Muen, while Cambodia calls them Ta Krabey and Ta Moan.

Much of the border between the two countries remains in dispute. Both sides claim the disputed temples are in their country. Indonesia has offered to provide observers to the border area and help both sides resolve the crisis diplomatically.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya met with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Thursday. Indonesia holds the chair of the the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Natalegawa also said Thailand welcomes the deployment of an Indonesian observer team to the disputed area.

This idea was first agreed upon in an emergency meeting of ASEAN’s Foreign Ministers in February, also in Jakarta.

The observers have not been deployed, after Thailand later stated their presence was not needed. “I just want to reassure that Thailand will work very earnestly and in a very serious manner with Indonesia in the role of Indonesia as a great facilitator,” the Thai foreign minister said.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged both nations to pursue “an effective and verifiable cease-fire.”

In February, fighting flared up along another disputed border area between the two nations, prompting the U.N. Security Council to issue a statement calling on both sides to implement a cease-fire.

Those clashes stemmed from a longstanding conflict related to the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple.

EDITORIAL: Suddenly, a Thailand-Cambodia ceasefire

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(Source: The Manilla Times)By The Manila Times, Philippines

April 29--Israeli leaders expectedly condemned the unity announced in Cairo, where the two Palestinian factions were holding talks. The Israelis' initial reaction was to say that Fatah-Hamas unification would harm chances for peace between them and the Palestinians. President Abbas, however, said unity in Palestine would pave the way for peace.

The announcement in Cairo said the Palestine Authority and the Hamas Islamists controlling Gaza have agreed to form a transitional government of the future Palestine state, ahead of elections to be held within a year.

Why did the sudden "outbreak of peace" come about? The Fatah and Hamas officials engaged in the Cairo negotiations both said it was a result of the freeze in peace talks between the Palestine Authority and Israel and the upheavals going on in the Arab countries.

President Abbas (quoted by Agence France-Presse) said on Thursday he hoped the unity agreement achieved between his Fatah party and Hamas would promote revival of negotiations with Israel. He said, "We hope that it will bring all the factions of the Palestinians to accept the Quartet conditions." The Quartet is the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia. One of its demands is that any Palestinian government must accept previous agreements, recognize Israel and renounce violence.

Of greater and immediate importance to us in the Philippines and our fellow members of the Association of Asian Nations (Asean) is the also "surprise" ceasefire agreement that Thailand and Cambodia made yesterday.

The two neighbors had been fighting on their common border for seven days. The clashes resulted in 15 deaths.

Until last Wednesday, it did not appear that the fierce fighting would soon stop, and it looked like the Thai-Cambodian conflict was surely going to get worse because talks that had previously been set to take place in Phnom Penh on Wednesday were called off at the last minute by Thailand's defense minister.

The armed forces of both countries have been shooting at each other since February, when their dispute about an ancient temple erupted in an actual war. There was a ceasefire but this ended last week when shooting began again.

Both Bangkok and Phnom Penh say it is the other's fault that war has broken out over two contested temples in the jungle between the two countries. This conflict has caused 75,000 civilians to be displaced. Scores of soldiers on both sides have been killed.

This episode in this decades-long war has been the bloodiest so far. Six Thai soldiers and a civilian and eight Cambodian soldiers were killed.

In February, the European Union foreign policy secretary echoed an earlier call from the United Nations Security Council for a permanent ceasefire.

And the American Ambassador to Thailand, Kristie Kinney (whose previous posting is the Philippines) on Thursday called on both countries to return to the negotiating table.

Asean leaders have also been appealing to Thailand and Cambodia to stop fighting.

The Thai-Cambodian border has never been fully demarcated. Part of the reason is because the jungles are littered with landmines left over from the years when Cambodia was ruled by the Communist Khmer Rouge (which was, of course, the enemy of democratic monarchy Thailand) at war with non-communists as well as with a faction of Cambodian communists supported by Vietnam.

On Tuesday, the fighting briefly spread to the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple. This temple has been the focus of the conflict between the neighbors since the United Nations gave it UN World Heritage status in 2008.

The clashes that began last week were however centered not in Preah Vihear temple but in two other ancient temples that are 150 kilometers away to the east.

In late February, both countries agreed to let monitors from Indonesia observe the grounds near Preah Vihear. But the Thai military later withdrew its approval of the foreign observers' arrival.

In 1962, the World Court ruled that the temple belonged to Cambodia. But Thailand, as Cambodia does, claims ownership of a 4.6-square-kilometer surrounding area.

Cambodia accuses Thailand of having used spy planes and poison gas in the recent fighting. Thailand denies this allegation.

It is not just the two countries' concern for territorial integrity that is causing the border war.

Domestic politics in both Thailand and Cambodia also appears to be a reason why clashes suddenly erupt. The Abhisit government in Thailand must not appear weak against Cambodia. And the ruling party in Cambodia has retained Prime Minister Abhisit's rival, ousted and exiled former Thai PM Thaksin, as an adviser.

This war is a test of Asean's effectiveness as an organization. Thailand does not want to internationalize the conflict and insists that there are enough bilateral mechanisms to solve the problem.

A major next step for Asean is to become a united economy. That is obviously put into question if war persists--if only a border one--between two members.

Asean is also seen as a region--just as China and East Asia and India and South Asia--in which global economic growth depends.

Asean must grow into a regional grouping that exercises a more effective say on the behavior of its members than it does now.


To see more of The Manila Times, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

The fate of Cambodia shocked the world when the radical communist Khmer Rouge under their leader Pol Pot seized power in 1975 after years of guerrilla warfare.

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

(Source: Belfast Telegraph)The fate of Cambodia shocked the world when the radical communist Khmer Rouge under their leader Pol Pot seized power in 1975 after years of guerrilla warfare.

An estimated 1.7m Cambodians died during the next three years, many from exhaustion or starvation. Others were tortured and executed.

Today, Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world and relies heavily on aid. Foreign donors have urged the Government to clamp down on pervasive corruption.

Cambodia is burdened with the legacy of decades of conflict; unexploded munitions -- thought to be in the millions -- continue to kill and maim civilians, despite an ongoing demining drive.

Only now is the country beginning to put the mechanism in place to bring those responsible for the "killing fields" to justice. Cambodia and the UN have agreed to set up a tribunal to try the surviving leaders of the genocide years.

Renewed clashes this week on the Thai-Cambodian border have spread to a second location, increasing the danger that the fighting might develop into a full-scale conflict.

At least 12 soldiers have been killed in clashes between troops stationed on the disputed border, making this their most violent confrontation in 20 years.

'Red Power' editor Somyos arrested

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By Pravit Rojanaphruk
The Nation on Sunday
Published on May 1, 2011

Red Power magazine editor Somyos Prueksakasemsuk was arrested yesterday afternoon for alleged lese majeste, after trying to leave the Kingdom on a fund-raising tour to Cambodia

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) arrested Somyos after being notified by border officers at Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaew province that Somyos was leading some 30 or so red shirts on a fund-raising tour for the magazine to Angkor Wat.

Somyos was charged last week with alleged lese majeste over an article in the February and March issue of the now-banned Voice of Thaksin magazine, which he published in February. He denied the charge and insisted yesterday that he was innocent.

"We're fighting for the right to be human," he said on the phone shortly after 5pm yesterday, while inside a DSI vehicle on the way from Sa Kaew back to Bangkok.

It was unclear at press time if Somyos would be granted bail or not, but a DSI officer told a local media outlet they were determined to detain him until Monday, when a court would decide whether he should be given bail or not.

Speaking on his mobile phone, Somyos said he was surprised by the incident. He said the timing of his arrest, coupled with other developments, such as the crackdown on many red-shirt community radio stations, a new wave of internet censorship, plus "harassment" of a red-shirt historian and lese majeste charges against 18 red-shirt leaders had all taken place at a "suspicious" time - just before the election.

"I think they're all related to the current [political] situation," said Somyos, who was detained for a month without charge last year under the emergency decree.

10 Thai troops injured in Surin after 'light weapons' clashes on border

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By The Nation on Sunday
Published on May 1, 2011

Flare-up triggered by delay in informing units of ceasefire

Ten more Thai soldiers were injured in the Thai-Cambodian border clashes in Surin's Phanom Dongrak district on Friday night until yesterday morning, bringing the cumulative Thai casualties to seven deaths and 95 injuries in the nine days of clashes.

Among the four injured soldiers from Friday night's clash, First-Lieutenant Kosit Songsaengkajorn suffered severe shrapnel wounds to his neck and back and was transferred to Phramongkutklao Hospital in Bangkok, while others were airlifted to the Surin Centre Hospital and Weerawat Yothin Army Camp Hospital the same night. Six other soldiers were injured on Saturday morning.

The border clash reoccurred despite the fact that a ceasefire was agreed by Thai and Cambodian field commanders.

Second Army spokesman Prawit Hookaew said that the Cambodian side explained that it was because "some units weren't yet informed [of the ceasefire]" and "there were some rogue soldiers".

He also declared a hint of a silver lining in that the reoccurring clashes so far utilised light weapons only.

This showed that field officers could still talk to each other and limit the fighting.

Since Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen declared that he wouldn't negotiate at all levels and would only table the issue at the Asean level - and announced that Cambodia was ready to go to war against Thailand - the Thai Army has remained cautious and was following the situation closely, he said.

Prawit also revealed that Cambodia had sent more backups to the clash area and reportedly recruited more fighters, especially former Khmer Rouge soldiers and their children.

"We haven't yet sent more back-up soldiers, [but] it wouldn't take a long time to send back-ups because most of the manpower are already in the Second Army area. We're using force only to defence our territory," he said adding that 36 out of the injured 95 soldiers already asked to be reinstated in the field.

Thai Army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd commented that the Cambodian side admitted that there might be some stress in the areas that the ceasefire order haven't reached yet - hence the fighting wasn't completely halted.

But gunfire erupted lightly on and off and Thai troops just counter-fired. He said they would try to get the ceasefire in place first before negotiations at other levels could take place.

Meanwhile, the Second Army Area bomb squad had cleared some 70 per cent of the grenades fired from Cambodia to Thai villages.

As several schools in Surin were currently functioning as shelters to villagers, the Education Ministry inspector Supakorn Wongprat said he would initially arrange a Bt500,000 budget allocation to help these schools with water, electricity and other expenses. He said he would also have non-formal education teachers teach students at the shelters so the students could later catch up with their lessons, as the school term will open in mid-May.

In Buri Ram, some male evacuees yesterday returned to their homes near the clash site in hopes that the border fighting would stop soon, bringing the number of evacuees in nine shelters of Ban Kruat and Prakhon Chai districts down from 9,000 to some 4,000.

Intensity of fighting on border eases

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Published: 1/05/2011 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

The military believes the situation on the Thai-Cambodian border is improving despite fighting continuing on the border near Surin for a ninth day.

Second Army Region spokesman Prawit Hookaew said that although the clashes have not yet ended, encouragement can be taken from the fact that the exchanges of gunfire have lessened in intensity and heavy weapons have not been deployed in the past few days.

He said only small and mortar guns have been used since military delegations from both sides held talks on Thursday.

In the latest skirmishes, two Thai soldiers were injured yesterday afternoon near Ta Kwai temple in the border area of Surin.

Fighting on Friday night and yesterday left 11 Thai soldiers wounded, bringing the total injury toll for Thai soldiers to 97, while seven soldiers and one civilian have been killed.

According to the Second Army, two Cambodian BM21 multiple rocket launchers were destroyed and a number of their soldiers were killed during the clashes.

Col Prawit said that Thailand contacted Cambodia after the latest skirmishes broke out and was told that some troops were not following orders.

"They promise to look into this to avoid further incidents," said Col Prawit.

It is reported that troops under Special Force 911 and a number of those who are not under the control of Lt Gen Chea Mon refused to hold fire.

Special Force 911 is a highly trained armed unit under the command of army deputy commander Hun Manet, son of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Col Prawit said he had heard a report of Cambodia recruiting more troops and urging those who are relatives of former Khmer Rouge guerrillas to join the army.

Thai military spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd said yesterday the overall situation is considered to be "improving" despite the continued fighting.

"At first there were rocket-propelled grenades and artillery shelling for hours. Now it is just sporadic fighting with small guns," he said.

He maintained the stance that a complete ceasefire must be sustained before further talks can proceed.

A border source said that Lt Gen Hun Manet has offered a house and a five-rai plot of land to those who join the Cambodian effort.

The recruitment drive was announced in the Cambodian areas of Samrong, Anlong Veng, Oddar Meanchey and O-Smach, which were once controlled by Khmer Rouge guerrillas.

The source said that more than 100 Cambodian troops with close links to former Khmer Rouge guerrillas have fled those areas.

Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, secretary to the foreign minister, said the government has formed a three-man team to counter Cambodia's petition to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the border dispute around Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodia said it was seeking the ICJ's interpretation "in order to peacefully and definitely settle the boundary problem between the two countries".

Mr Chavanond said it would be some time before the ICJ decides whether or not to accept Cambodia's petition.

The 5th national blood centre in Nakhon Ratchasima is in short supply of blood and is pleading for donations.

Staff member Sirilak Piakkhunthod said the centre faces a severe shortage because the national blood centre in Bangkok has sent its supply to Surin.

Surin Hospital has needed 60-80 bags of blood per day since the border clashes erupted.

Ms Sirilak said the centre usually receives 60 bags of blood daily from Bangkok but is currently receiving only 10 bags a day.

The 5th national blood centre supplies blood to hospitals in Nakhon Ratchasima, Chaiyaphum, Buri Ram and Surin provinces.

In Buri Ram, a large number of border villagers who were evacuated after the fighting erupted returned home during the day to tend to their farms.

During the day, about 4,000 evacuees were left at the centre, most of them women, children and the elderly.

More than 9,000 residents from Ban Kruat and Prakhon Chai districts sought shelter at nine temporary centres when the clashes broke out on April 22.

District authorities said yesterday the shelters would remain open until the last evacuee returned home.