A Change of Guard

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Saturday, 30 April 2011

New skirmishes on Thai-Cambodian border [Saturday morning]

A Thai soldier recovers a rocket following an exchange of fire between Thai and Cambodian soldiers near the tense border

By Michelle Fitzpatrick

PHNOM PENH (AFP)— 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.

IPU Resolution on Sam Rainsy's case

April 20, 2011
IPU Resolution on Sam Rainsy's case


On 20 April 2011, in Panama City, the Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) was submitted a Resolution by the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, in which there is the following sentence:

"[The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union] considers that it is becoming even more urgent to review Mr. Sam Rainsy’s case and to rehabilitate him, and calls on the authorities, including Parliament, to take action to this end without delay so as to enable Mr. Sam Rainsy to resume his rightful place as a member of the National Assembly and to stand as a candidate in the next parliamentary elections."

The full text of the Resolution is available in the attached file.

SRP Members of Parliament

Thailand, Cambodia Spat Gets Ugly

April 30, 2011
By William Lloyd-George
The Diplomat
According to Michael Montesano of the Institute of Southeast Asia Studies in Singapore, the temple dispute all came about as a result of ‘cheap politics’ by the People’s Alliance for Democracy – otherwise known as the Yellow Shirts – in 2008 to reduce support for then Prime Minister Shinawatra Thaksin.

Domestic politics could be pushing leaders of the two countries to more intense conflict as thousands flee border fighting.

PRASAT, THAILAND – It was a typical night for Wanchai Jongkot and his family. After working all day in the paddy fields, he sat down with his wife and two daughters to eat dinner – the main meal in his household. Before he could take his first bite, flashes illuminated the night sky, followed by deafening explosions.

‘We had no idea what was going on, we just ran to take cover,’ says Jongkot, a wiry man in his late 50s. ‘We were so shocked we almost fainted.’

In the midst of the bombardment the eldest daughter saw her sister rolling in agony and yelled out that she had been hit. When the fighting had subsided, they took the injured daughter to the local hospital where they discovered she had a broken arm and hip.

Jongkot and his family are some of around 80,000 civilians who have been affected on both sides of the Thai-Cambodian border by recent clashes between the two nations.

The latest conflict is the most serious fighting in decades and stems from a demarcation carried out in the 1950s by an international court, which awarded Cambodia the land. Thailand continues to disputes this ruling.

The effects of the fighting can been seen all over Gaab Cherng district in Surin Province. As fighting has escalated over the last seven days, both sides have been firing heavy artillery into each other’s territory, littering empty shells indiscriminately into civilian areas.

Wedged in a plank of wood at the back of the Jongkot’s house lies the stray BM21 rocket that has destroyed their home. Pieces of timber lie smashed amidst shared ceramic tiles. The only thing that remains intact is a picture of the revered King.

Lying in a hospital bed at Prasat local hospital, the 15-year-old daughter, Jeeranan, grimaces in pain. Accompanied by a teddy bear, and hair tied up in ponytails, she looks younger than she is. ‘The doctor says her bone is completely smashed,’ her mother says looking over at her, clearly distressed by the news. ‘We don’t want to go back to our village while bombs are flying over like this.’

The same sentiment is echoed throughout the more than 20 temporary camps along the border, populated by refugees evacuated from their homes. Sleeping on straw mats in crowded conditions and surviving on donations it’s not clear how much longer they can tolerate the fighting.

‘We’ve been okay so far,’ says an elderly lady as she finishes her food. ‘But I miss my home and worried for my property. We all hope it ends soon.’

Hope for an end to the conflict faded early Friday morning, when more fighting broke out, killing a Thai soldier and bringing the official tota; death toll for Thailand and Cambodia to 16. The latest clash occurred after a supposed ceasefire had been agreed between the two nations on Thursday morning.

High-level commanders of the two nations were reported to have agreed to stop all military activity and were supposed to open borders for displaced people to travel home. Both side’s commanders have blamed the other’s local units for not following orders.

Fighting is reported to have started again early Saturday morning.

With no international observers on the frontline, the conflict is slowly turning into a war of words, with a raging blame game taking place.

‘They want to take over our land, there are no Cambodian soldiers in Thailand, but they keep coming onto our land, plain and simple,’ Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan told me Friday. ‘Our soldiers are inside Cambodian land, if they fire into our land only then will we fire back.’

During a surprise visit to Koke Klang temporary refugee camp – home to more than 3,000 villagers who have escaped the fighting – Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told refugees and reporters that it was Cambodia’s fault the fighting continues. He said Thailand was ready to talk with Cambodia, but he added that if they continue to attack Thailand it will be impossible to make any progress.

Making some of his first comments on the conflict, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, meanwhile, said in a speech to a women's group on Wednesday that Abhisit was to blame.

‘The current Thai leader likes war, provokes war,’ he said. ‘Cambodia is a small, poor country and has fewer forces, but don't you forget that an ant can make an elephant not get any sleep…Cambodian's weaponry is not just slingshots.’

Relations first frosted over the border demarcation in 2008 when a temple – 150 kilometres (90 miles) east of the current conflict – was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. Thailand says that although the land was awarded to Cambodia by the international court, the temples were never properly discussed.

Conflict erupted at Preah Vihear temple in February 4-7 this year, killing 11 people.

While it could appear to be a simple conflict over sovereignty, experts and civilians on both sides of the border are beginning to blame domestic politics for the ongoing conflict.

In Cambodia, some believe Hun Sen is attempting to wield nationalist sentiment to gain support for his son, who he is grooming to eventually take over control of the country. It’s also believed that he could be attempting to discredit Abhisit and so boost support for opposition parties in the forthcoming elections. Hun Sen has often publicly voiced his support for the Puea Thai party and Red Shirts.

According to Michael Montesano of the Institute of Southeast Asia Studies in Singapore, the temple dispute all came about as a result of ‘cheap politics’ by the People’s Alliance for Democracy – otherwise known as the Yellow Shirts – in 2008 to reduce support for then Prime Minister Shinawatra Thaksin.

‘This whole episode in a sense is the tail that the dog of Thailand is waging, and the dog of Thai domestic politics is not going to calm down any time soon so that is the problem here,’ says.

In a move that’s likely to irk Bangkok even more, Cambodia announced on Friday it would be seeking clarification from the International Court of Justice over the demarcation of Preear Vihear temple.

Cambodia said a 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.’

Previously, the country had turned to ASEAN and asked for international mediation to deal with issue. It’s rumoured that Abhisit has been leaning towards accepting Cambodia’s proposal, but the Thai military has been reluctant to accept, adding to speculation they are prolonging the war in order to establish their legitimacy.

‘It’s very clear that the army and its backers are nervous about the overall political situation in Thailand, nervous about mounting criticism of the monarchy, nervous about Thaksin’s return to political activity, nervous about the outcome of the upcoming election,’ Montesano says.

‘This is one more way that the army and its backers are asserting themselves.’

Adding to concerns that the conflict will escalate further, Prawit Wongsuwon, Thailand's defence minister, cancelled a meeting with Cambodian counterpart Tea Banh on Wednesday.

While leaders quarrel over statements, fighting continues to rage in once sleepy Surin. Both armies are digging in – new rocket launchers have reportedly been deployed on the Cambodian side, and fresh tanks on the Thai side. With little progress diplomatically or military, few expect the problems to be resolved anytime soon.

At the border, villager parliamentary groups are getting ready to defend their villages. Bunkers are being built and weapons collected as the Thai military gives sporadic training.

‘We don’t war, but if they come near our village I will defend my land,’ says Khun Kung, a farmer in the area.

In the meantime, those who have fled the villages, caught in the middle of the conflict, continue to suffer while seemingly murky political battles rage on both sides.

‘The government of both countries should resolve the problems immediately,’ says Jongkot looking over his destroyed home. ‘We want our country in peace because now we’re losing everything we have.’

William Lloyd-George is a freelance journalist based on the Thai-Burma border. His work has appeared in TIME, The Independent, Bangkok Post, Afternposten, Irrawaddy and Global Post among others.

Cambidan-Thai clashes harm Thai trades with Vietnam and Laos

Clashes: impact on trade with VN, Laos adds to FTI concern

April 26, 2011
By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
The Nation

Today's meeting of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) will discuss the Thai-Cambodian border clashes, which have been added as an urgent agenda item amid concern that the fighting is not only harming trade between the two nations but also damaging commerce with Vietnam and Laos.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England yesterday said it expected only a minimal impact on Thailand's overall trade, due to the relatively small value of exports to Cambodia.

"Several million baht have been lost a day since the clashes first erupted," said FTI vice chairman Thanit Sorat.

"Thai exports to Vietnam and Laos have been affected, as some shipments have to pass through Route No 48, which connects Thailand, Cambodia and the southern part of Laos and Vietnam."

Normally, Thailand exports fresh fruits, flour and foods through Route No 48. Investment has also dropped considerably since the conflict started, he said.

The FTI will today call for an urgent meeting with the Foreign Ministry, the Trade Negotiations Department and the Thai Chamber of Commerce to address the economic losses and seek solutions for trading amid the political conflict with Cambodia, he added.

The federation was originally scheduled to meet to establish a Business Council between Thailand and Cambodia, but the dispute has been included as an urgent agenda item after the rising border tension.

Mathee Supapongse, senior director for the central bank's Domestic Economy Department, said there had been little impact to date on Thai-Cambodian trade after the fighting over the countries' disputed border.

If the situation were to get even worse, there should still be relatively little effect, as Thai-Cambodian trade is not high, he said.

"To my understanding, both countries' checkpoints have not yet been closed.

"Moreover, we have faced this kind of situation many times before.

"Therefore, it should not have much of an impact on bilateral trade," he added.

Overall Thai exports totalled about US$200 billion (Bt6 trillion) last year, according to the central bank.

Less than 1 per cent went to Cambodia.

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

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 (pictured) 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.

Cambodia to respect ceasefire despite alleged Thai mortar fire

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Phnom Penh (DPA)- Cambodia on Friday said that Thailand had broken a ceasefire agreed the day before by military commanders and endorsed by politicians in both countries, but that it would respect the deal.

Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan (pictured) said Thai artillery fired a number of mortars early Friday near Ta Kwai [Ta Krabey] temple on the north-western border. The temple is one of a half dozen sites that have seen exchanges of fire since April 22.

He said six shells landed on Cambodian territory.

"We are very sorry that Thailand has broken the agreement," he said. "It is a provocative act, but we restrain ourselves and we don't return fire. Cambodia is abiding by the (ceasefire) agreement."

Phay Siphan said Thai and Cambodian military commanders on the ground would meet to assess what had happened.

Cambodia seeks ICJ clarification on disputed temple

Aerial view of Preah Vihear temple.

By Supalak Ganhanakhundee
The Nation (Thailand)
Publication Date : 30th April, 2011

Cambodia has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to clarify its 1962 ruling over the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear as its military clashes with Thailand continued after a truce.

"The submission of this request has been prompted by Thailand's repeated armed aggression to exert its claims to Cambodian territory, on the basis of its own unilateral map that has no legal basis," said a Cambodian foreign ministry statement issued yesterday (April 29).

The ICJ ruled in 1962 that "the temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under sovereignty of Cambodia", but Bangkok argues that the court ruled only that the sandstone ruin belongs to Cambodia while the areas surrounding the Hindu temple belong to Thailand.

The court based its judgement on a French-made 1:200,000-scale map that indicated the boundary line between Siam, as Thailand was then known, and French Indochina.

Thailand argued that the boundary line should follow the watershed of the Phnom Dangrek Mountains in accordance with the 1904 and 1907 Franco-Siamese treaties. The disputed territory is a 4.6-square-kilometre area surrounding Preah Vihear.

Phnom Penh exercised its rights in accordance with Article 60 of the ICJ Statute, which says: "The judgement is final and without appeal. In the event of dispute as to the meaning or scope of the judgement, the Court shall construe it upon the request of any party."

There have been many armed skirmishes in the border area since Cambodia managed to get Preah Vihear listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, against Thailand's wishes. Bangkok feared Cambodia would turn the disputed areas adjacent to the temple into a buffer zone for management of the property.

Phnom Penh considers the request for ICJ clarification a preventive measure to avoid further armed conflict between the two countries, to stop loss of lives and to preserve the Hindu temple from serious damage.

THai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said his government had anticipated that Cambodia would request an ICJ clarification and that Thailand had organised a legal team to fight in court.

"We don't have a disadvantage in fighting in the world court. We are well prepared in terms of legal aspects and facts," Abhisit said.

The border conflict between the two countries has extended to other areas including near Ta Muan Thom and Ta Kwai temples in Surin province, about 150 kilometres west of Preah Vihear, since last week. The fighting has continued despite military commanders in the area reaching a ceasefire deal on Thursday.

The fresh clash after the truce killed a Thai military ranger and injured five others. Both sides blamed each other for firing first.

Thai Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said the clash took place because Cambodian soldiers threw grenades at the Thai side and Thai troops fired small arms to retaliate.

However, Prayuth said he remained hopeful of achieving peace with Cambodia, saying the latest clash might be caused simply by undisciplined soldiers who did not obey their commanders' instructions to cease fire.

A Cambodian commander accused Thai soldiers of firing first. "They began firing artillery shells at our troops at Ta Krabei (Ta Kwai) temple at 4:50am," Suos Sothea, deputy commander of the artillery unit, told Xinhua news agency by telephone from the battlefield yesterday.

"Thai troops may not respect their superiors because on Thursday, their military commander met with our commander and reached a ceasefire, but this morning they still shell us.

"However, we did not fight back, as we are complying with the ceasefire," he said.

Cambodia is a culinary chameleon

Cambodian signature dish amok fish curry. [Courtesy of Satrey Khmer Online Menu]

Published Saturday, April 30, 2011

My daughter has been traveling again, and this time, shares her area of greatest interest—Asian cooking, so enjoy – Connie Anderson

After 17 job interviews, and before going to China, where, if you are an assiduous reader of this column, you will know I have been multiple times, I decided to treat myself to something new. While winter was still trundling along stateside, I spent two weeks in February in sunny Cambodia.

Cambodia is best known from the not so distant past atrocities of the Khmer Rouge, but it has mostly come out of that horrible time to become a friendly, easy to navigate tourist destination. They have learned to capitalize on the world treasures of Angkor and to earn a solid buck out of their grisly history in the killing fields tourist sites around Phnom Penh, the capital.

Besides the must-see-before-you-die Angkor ancient temples, one of the most striking parts of Cambodia is the food.

Primarily, they are very eclectic, with a host of international foods on offer in tourist areas. The Cambodian cuisine itself is unique, yet a melange of its neighbors. Thai and Vietnamese components figure strongly in Khmer food. The pungency of Thai curries is softened and the mild sweet and sour of Vietnamese foods are punched up in the cuisine of the country betwixt the two. There were, of course, bizarre dishes and snacks on offer. I eschewed the fried tarantulas, which seemed like they would be crunchy in the teeth, yet furry going down. I did, however, like the red tree ants that were incorporated into a beef curry I had at an upscale restaurant. The undressed grilled squid I had on the beach in Sihanoukville was fine, but pulling the spine out of my mouth did nothing to improve the bland fishy flavor.

On my first night in Phnom Penh, I went to a restaurant, Frizz (terrible name), near the National Museum that was recommended by Lonely Planet. It was a nice place, but had a relatively spare menu. I started with grilled chicken skewers, which were served with a striking sauce, totally new to me. I am used to the heavy peanut sauce they serve with Thai chicken satays, but the Khmer sauce was simply ground fresh black pepper, lime, salt and hot water. I asked the waiter, because I couldn’t identify what made this sauce so good.

I have never thought deeply about umami, the illusive “fifth flavor” that supposedly gives certain foods their special “oomph,” but this uncomplicated concoction had it. After a long day viewing the horrors and traumas inflicted by the Khmer Rouge, the Frizz cooking class the next day sounded like a good idea.

After meeting at the restaurant in the morning, a random group of Dutch, Australian, German and American tourists followed our petite Khmer chef by auto-rickshaw to a local market. Our chef led us through the myriad stalls, stopping to point out vegetables and herbs that probably wouldn’t be familiar to us. Obviously a frequent visitor, he would pull bunches of kaffir lime leaves or galangal root off a vendors stand and pass it around, allowing us to smell or taste without a glance from the seller. The typical third-world country market stalls with flapping live fish, animal heads, skinned frogs bodies and fried unknowns sidetracked my camera’s eye but the fresh produce was bountiful and beautiful. After buying a bit of tofu for the lone vegetarian, we rickshawed back to our cooking base.

What I learned during that cooking course was that I can’t hope to replicate what we did that day. I have no idea where to find fresh galangal in the U.S. Even if I did, I am sure it would be an ordeal to obtain it. We did make some beautiful dishes. We started with spring rolls, which were more of a project than I would have expected. Instead of the rice paper wrappers typical of Vietnam, the Cambodians use a thin potato pancake. They also traditionally stuff their rolls with taro and root veggies. I spent 15 minutes kneading salt into the taro to take away the itchiness that taro inflicts on the diner if not properly cooked. After 30 minutes making our spring rolls and 30 minutes frying them, we enjoyed a brief, but wonderful snack, with a fantastic dipping sauce, which I will come back to later.

The highlight and focus of the cooking class was fish amok. If there is a national dish of Cambodia, fish amok is it. In its simplest form, it is a curry but it is steamed in a particularly folded banana leaf instead of stir-fried like most Thai curries. For our amok, we used mortar and pestle to grind galangal, fresh lemon grass, kaffir lime, garlic and chilles into an infinitesimally fine powder.

After 10 minutes of pounding and switching hands multiple times due to arm fatigue, the chef still found my powder unsatisfactory. This was hard work. After the physically demanding labor and intricately pinning the banana leaves, we set up our amok to steam. The result was worth the effort.

Fish amok combines the soft delicacy of white fish with the penetrating but refined flavors of a chili based red curry that becomes thick in the steaming. We ate our amok out of the banana cups with no rice. We didn’t want to dilute our efforts. It was that good. I have no words to do justice to the hearty, piquant richness of a properly prepared amok.

Though most Cambodian dishes are next to impossible to make outside of the country due to lack of proper ingredients, there is one component that can be replicated in the states. I really enjoyed the spring roll dipping sauce which you may have had a poor imitation in U.S. Asian restaurants. The sauce is not the sticky sweet pink goo shoveled out in packets by your local Chinese fry-up. This sauce is spicy, but sweet, and can be used to accompany a variety of foods as simple as skewered grilled chicken, sliced cucumbers, salad or with time-consuming spring rolls. Impress your friends and order your spring rolls or get them from the freezer section but serve them with this fresh sauce. The best part is that the sauce changes with age and has one flavor as soon as you make it but is best a day or two later.

Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

4 cloves garlic

1 shallot

1 fresh red pepper

1 fresh hot chili

2 tbsp fish sauce- can get in most Asian food stores (Cambodian is different than Thai but both are good)

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp salt

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp crushed peanuts

½ cup water

You can be traditional and crush the garlic in a mortar and then add the rest of the ingredients or just food process it all except the garnishes. Serve in small bowls with crushed peanut and julienned shallots or carrots on top.

Ninth day of Thai-Cambodia border clashes despite truce

Thai soldier patrolling, 28 April 2011 The latest violence on the disputed Thai-Cambodian border erupted on 22 April

BBC Asia-Pacific

Troops from Cambodia and Thailand have exchanged fire across their disputed border for a ninth consecutive day.

Officials from both sides said Saturday's fighting took place near the Ta Krabey temple - one of three claimed by both countries. No casualties have been reported [One Thai soldier was killed and 4 wounded. No news of casualty on the Cambodian side was reported].

Sixteen people have been killed in the latest clashes, part of a long-running dispute between the two countries.

On Friday a truce was broken by renewed fighting hours after it was agreed.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by the violence. Each sides accuses the other of starting it.

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

On Friday, Thai army spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd blamed Cambodia, adding that "local units might not agree to the talks as easily as their commanders did".

The latest series of border clashes began on 22 April, mainly around the temples of Ta Krabey and Ta Moan.

It briefly spread to a third location - the hill-top temple of Preah Vihear - on Tuesday.

Parts of the Thai-Cambodian border have never been formally demarcated, spurring nationalist sentiment in both countries.

Fighting took place three years ago in the run-up to a general election in Cambodia, and this latest outbreak comes with the Thai government due to call an election in the coming weeks.

A long-term solution at governmental level remains elusive, although the two prime ministers may talk at a meeting of the Asean regional bloc next month.

Indonesian team waits for nod from Thailand, Cambodia

By Sri Wahyuni,
The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta
Sat, 04/30/2011

An Indonesian observer team to the Thai-Cambodian border dispute was forced to delay its departure as both countries have not agreed on terms of reference (TOR) for the team’s duties and responsibilities.

Speaking in Yogyakarta on Friday, Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro (pictured) said there were a number of issues that remained to be hammered out in the TOR, which stated the readiness of Indonesia to send observers, including the number of the observers to be deployed, to what extent and in how many spots.

“The dispute has expanded to as far as 150 kilometers to the east of the initial area. This of course has to be considered in the TOR,” Purnomo said after delivering opening remarks at the ASEAN Defense Senior Officials Meeting (ADSOM) Plus
on Friday.

The Thai-Cambodian border conflict, he said, was initially over an area of 4.5 square kilometers, but later spilled over to a wider area. The dispute, Purnomo claimed, had been brought to the UN Security Council, which recommended it be settled within ASEAN.

Based on the recommendation, Purnomo said, Indonesia as the current chair of ASEAN initiated a meeting earlier this year and proposed the TOR should a peacekeeping operation be carried out to help settle the dispute.

“It’s still under discussion,” he said.

Purnomo added that a peacekeeping operation was one of five topics discussed at ADSOM Plus, which was attended by the representatives of the 10 ASEAN states and the grouping’s dialog partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the US.

“This is the new architecture of ASEAN and its eight dialog partners in the field of defense,” Purnomo said, adding that Yogyakarta was the first host city for the ADSOM Plus.

The meeting was scheduled back-to-back with the two-day ADSOM held on Wednesday and Thursday, which involved only senior defense officials from ASEAN states.

The other four defense cooperation issues discussed during the ADSOM Plus were military medicine, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counterterrorism and maritime security.

One soldier killed, 4 injured overnight

Published: 29/04/2011
Bangkok Post

One soldier was killed and four others wounded in fresh clashes along border in Surin on Thursday night, Army Region 2 commander Lt Gen Thawatchai Samutsakorn (pictured) said on Friday morning.

Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the fighting started with an exchange of machinegun fire about 9pm and continued until about 5am Friday.

Surin governor Serm Chainarong said on Friday morning that the two sides exchanged fire using small arms at Ta Meun Tom and Ta Kwai temples about 11pm on Thursday and stopped about 5am on Friday.

More than 41,000 local people in risk districts of Phanom Dong Rak, Kap Choeng and Sangka have been relocated to 34 evacuation centres in Surin province, he added.

The overnight clash shattered the truce agreement announced yesterday by the army chief.
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban indicated there might be a chance to salvage the truce.

"It's not considered a breach of ceasefire because they have used personal firearms. But if the clash expands with heavy weapons, that means the agreement is no longer valid," he told reporters.

Both sides had reacted cautiously to Thursday's peace deal, struck after talks among local commanders.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Thursday that the agreement was a "good sign", but added that "we have to wait and see whether real peace has been achieved".

Thai and Cambodian commanders had agreed at the talks to reopen a border gate and "create a climate to allow civilians to return home", according to the Cambodian defence ministry.

Seven Thai troops and eight Cambodian soldiers have died since the clashes began last Friday. Bangkok has said a Thai civilian has also been killed.

Heavy weapons fire has also strayed towards villages around the frontier, causing over 41,000 people in Thailand and 30,000 in Cambodia to flee their homes [the actual number of displaced people on the Cambodian side is 45,200 people].

The two countries have each accused the other of sparking the violence.

Guest Commentary: Empowering women key to healing Cambodia

Rabbi Micah Greenstein shares a meal with students of the Harpswell Foundation's leadership center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Courtesy Micah Greenstein

By Micah Greenstein,
Special to The Commercial Appeal
Memphis, Tennessee
Posted April 30, 2011

Since I returned from Phnom Penh in January, I've been asked, "What's a nice Jewish guy like you doing helping Buddhist and Muslim girls in Cambodia?" My usual response: "Because this is what Jews are called to do."

Each of the world's great religions suggests a fundamental problem with the world and a solution to that problem. For Judaism, the predicament facing the world is brokenness -- the absence of shalom. Judaism's solution? Being God's partner by healing this broken world whenever and wherever possible.

It's called tikun olam, literally "the repair of the world." A lofty goal certainly, but one which requires recognizing the pain of humanity and bringing hope wherever one can. Even as an American Jew in Cambodia.

In January, I had the privilege of spending three days with students at the Harpswell Foundation's leadership center for university women in Cambodia's capital city.

My time there culminated with an Interfaith Symposium on Spirituality attended by members of the Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist communities in Cambodia, with guests from Bangkok to Boston. It was the first time Buddhist, Muslim and Jewish or Christian leaders had ever convened in Cambodia, and it was a sublime and unforgettable experience.

The Harpswell Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded by former Memphian Alan Lightman, the MIT professor and best-selling author. "When I was in Cambodia," Alan told me 12 years ago, "I met with the children of the survivors, and there is a unique determination and spirit to go on despite the odds."

As I heard Alan speak about the resilience, talents and desire of these children of Cambodia to survive, I couldn't help but think of the eerie parallel to the Jewish experience. Cambodia and Israel form the bookends of Asia, but the stories of the Cambodian people and Jewish people in the 20th Century are more than a matter of geography.

From 1975 to 1979, more than one in four Cambodians -- about 2 million people -- were exterminated by the Khmer Rouge. This genocide occurred only decades after the murder of 6 million Jews by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. In 1945, the Jewish people shouted, "Never Again!" Thirty years later, the world let it happen again.

Cambodian men, women and children were tortured, forced to dig their own mass graves, then beaten to death with iron bars and hoes. Some were buried alive. The instigator of this genocide, Pol Pot, said to those he murdered, "To keep you is no benefit, to destroy you is no loss." Every Cambodian lost relatives and friends. Many lost their entire family. But what sadly distinguishes the Cambodia genocide is that educated people were singled out for extermination.

The mission of Lightman's Harpswell Foundation is to empower a new generation of women leaders in Cambodia and the developing world, specifically through housing, education and leadership training.

In January, I lectured and learned at the leadership center in Phnom Penh, two dormitories which provide a safe place for about three dozen women to live while they attend college. Harpswell believes that those educated women with the magnetism and creative vision to match constitute the most powerful force to bring about positive change in Southeast Asia's poorest country.

In a world filled with darkness, the Harpswell community in Cambodia is pure radiant light. These top female leaders whose parents somehow survived the genocide represent every part of the country and are the best hope for their nation. All have earned scholarships to colleges and universities. Many are the only female students in their fields and are already at the top of their class.

The girls at Harpswell truly believe that if they can become college-educated only years after living in squalor, anything is possible. They are the seed of a global movement to emancipate women and girls for the improvement of humankind.

While I was there, I thought of parallels to Memphis and the occasional words of hopelessness and despair heard from naysayers when it comes to finding solutions to our most pressing problems. Interestingly, these future Cambodian leaders in government and business who came from nothing expressed an interest and willingness to show our youth in Memphis what's possible when you follow a dream and work hard.

As a result, I am hopeful that my next visit to this global role model will result in strengthening the learning link between Cambodia and Memphis to help alleviate poverty, improve education, and elevate the plight of women from violence and fear to hope and optimism.

Tikun olam, the repair and healing of this world, mandates that we join hands with God as Abraham did, and respond to a world in pain. By putting out the fires of violence, ignorance and tyranny, we begin to build the kind of world God wants and needs us for in this lifetime.

Harpswell and Memphis are good places to start.

Micah Greenstein is senior rabbi of Temple Israel.

In Brief: Thai and Cambodian evacuees wait and see

Many of the displaced say they are afraid to return

BANGKOK, 29 April 2011 (IRIN) - One day after a ceasefire was reached between Thailand and Cambodia, more than 50,000 displaced civilians on both sides of the disputed border remain in temporary shelters, afraid to go home, aid workers say.

"Families will not return home before tomorrow. They need to be sure they will be safe," Leena Kamarainen, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Cambodian country office, told IRIN.

More than 26,000 people in four camps in Cambodia's northern Oddor Meanchey Province [the actual number of displaced people on the Cambodian side are 45,200 people], and 31,500 in Thailand's 27 camps in northeastern Surin and Buriram provinces, will continue to receive relief kits and food from the Red Cross.

"The ceasefire is no grounds for return yet," said Patrick Fox, head of regional disaster management of the IFRC in Bangkok. The fighting, which began on 22 April, is the second time this year that the two neighbours have clashed over the Preah Vihear temple, resulting in the displacement of tens of thousands on both sides.


Theme (s): Conflict, Refugees/IDPs,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

Thailand To Fight Cambodia’s World Court Appeal

Pattaya Daily News
-(MCOT) Thailand is willing to fight its case in the World Court to resolve the border dispute after Cambodia appealed to the court’s 1962 ruling about the ancient Preah Vihear temple, according to Thai Minister of Foreign Affair

Cambodia’s appeal in the World Court was made after the Cambodian government issued a statement that had requested “interpretation of the Court’s judgment… concerning the temple of Preah Vihear” was prompted by “Thailand’s repeated armed aggression to exert its claims to Cambodian territory.”
“We especially want clarification about the vicinity around the temple. Thailand is using unilateral maps to claim our territory,” a Cambodian government spokesman told Agence France Presse news agency.

Thai foreign ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi (pictured right) denied the accusation made by Cambodian government, stating that it was simply Cambodia’s opinion.
The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear temple belonged to Cambodia, although its primary entrance lies in Thailand.
Mr. Thongpakdi believed the Cambodian troops intrusion beginning last Friday was to pave the way for Cambodia to bring the issue to the International Court of Justice.

“The Thai foreign ministry is well prepared. Legal advisors have been hired to handle the case, but we continue to believe that the border dispute should be solved at the bilateral level,” the Thai spokesman said.

“What Cambodia is doing means it overlooks the importance of regional cooperation and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),” Mr. Thongpakdi added.

Mr. Thongpakdi believed that the court will forward the document to Thailand soon.
“However it may take year or two, or more, for the court’s consideration. We still must see whether the court will accept the case or not,” he said

The historic Preah Vihear temple has been a point of contention between two neighboring countries as the boundary through the surrounding grounds is not demarcated. This is the border where occasional military clashes claimed numerous lives.

The latest skirmish erupted last Friday near Ta Kwai [Ta Krabey] temple in Surin’s Phanom Dong Rak district and the fighting spread to nearby Si Sa Ket province, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of local residents for their safety.

The Thai army reported Cambodian troops first fired on Thai soldiers and that Thailand was obliged to retaliate to protect the country’s sovereignty.

Fighting broke out again Saturday morning despite two ceasefires

By Khmerization
Sources: DAP News and Kampuchea Thmey

DAP News and Kampuchea Thmey have reported that fighting between Cambodian and Thai troops had broken out at Ta Krabey (pictured) and Ta Moan Thom temples again despite two ceasefire agreements reached between Cambodian and Thai commanders.

The first ceasefire was reached on Thursday, but fighting broke out a few hours later and lasted till Friday morning. On Friday, the two sides talked again and reached another ceasefire agreement, but fighting broke out again at 8:05 p.m last night when Cambodian troops accused Thai troops of attacking them with rockets.

Kampuchea Thmey reported that at 5:15 a.m this morning, Thai troops began shelling Ta Moan Thom temple heavily. It also reported that Thai people in Surin province plan to hold a demonstration against the Thai military, whom they accused of instigating a border fighting with Cambodia. According to the report, many Thai people do not believe that Cambodia, as a small and weak country, dare to instigate an armed conflict with the bigger and stronger Thailand.

Cambodian commanders told DAP News that as at 5:45 a.m this morning, Saturday 30th April, the Thai side had suspended their shelling of Ta Krabey and Ta Moan Thom temples.

BREAKING NEWS: Hor Namhong Finally Lost His Lawsuit Against Sam Rainsy In Paris

Hor Namhong vs. Sam Rainsy

29 April 2011
Breaking news


The French Supreme Court ("Cour de Cassation") reportedly overruled earlier this week previous judicial decisions related to the defamation lawsuit filed by Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong against opposition leader Sam Rainsy in Paris. Therefore, Hor Namhong has finally and definitively lost his lawsuit against Sam Rainsy who accuses him of being a former Khmer Rouge leader responsible for the death of many people.

History points to negotiation as the only answer [for the Cambodian-Thai conflict]

Writer: Kamol Hengkietisak
Published: 30/04/2011
Bangkok Post

The continuing fighting between Cambodian and Thai troops along the porous and ill-defined border causes trouble and inconvenience for ordinary folks on both sides, not counting the deaths and injuries inflicted on soldiers, noted a Thai Rath editorial.

Thai Rath said folks on both sides had been living in peace with each other for a very long time. An example is Nong Chan village, Khok Sung district, Sa Kaeo province where villagers grow rice and raise animals peacefully on a common field with Cambodian farmers even though a definite border demarcation has yet to be settled. Village chiefs on both sides have pledged that once a definite border demarcation is established, any farm land that may extrude through the border line will be cut off from the original plot and taken possession of by the other side willingly without any protest.

It is true that the border disputes occur because both sides rely on different maps and thus claim ownership of disputed areas. When both sides allow politics to dictate their actions, it is inevitable that peaceful settlement is hard to reach. As long as definite demarcation is not implemented, border disputes can always occur, but they should not necessarily lead to skirmishes. Diplomatic means are still the best choice, advocated Thai Rath.

The current skirmishes at Ta Kwai and Ta Thom temples and previously at Preah Vihear temple have not only resulted in several deaths and injuries, the conflicts have also left a bitter legacy for future generations. The more the skirmishes go on, the harder it becomes to reach a border settlement. Thai Rath cited an example of the Sino-Vietnamese border war in February 1979 which resulted in about 26,000 deaths on the Chinese side while the Vietnamese death toll was 37,000 before both sides agreed to sign a formal border demarcation. This should provide a lesson that no matter how many troops die in border conflicts, the problem can only be settled through negotiation.

In the present circumstance, Thailand may find it difficult to hold bilateral talks with Cambodia to settle the conflict because Cambodia does not seem to want to talk without any intervention from a third party due to political reasons and the desire to own and manage 4.6 sq km of disputed area surrounding Preah Vihear temple. It is certainly the case that whenever there is a skirmish, the Cambodian government promptly sends a letter to request that the UN Security Council step in to mediate in the dispute. At the same time the Cambodian government whips up nationalistic fever among its people to rally for the people's support.

With no cooperation from the other side, it is no surprise that the Thai government has failed to bring peace to the border. Thai Rath sympathises with the Foreign Ministry in trying to convince the other side to sit at the negotiating table.

Both sides should know that battles can never settle the conflict. Eventually, both sides have to sit down and negotiate for peace and implement border demarcation. Isn't it wiser to do this sooner rather than let skirmishes go on and on and soldiers on both sides die in large numbers before agreeing to talk?

Thaksin bets all in bid to win election

Last week saw an all-out effort on the part of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was barred from politics for five years, to personally dictate Pheu Thai party's election policies in a live video feed from abroad on April 23. By doing so he risked the chance of Pheu Thai being dissolved for allowing a barred politician to get involved in the party's activities, noted Matichon.

Pheu Thai is different from other political parties in that there are not so many people in the executive committee (17) and that four had already resigned before Thaksin's live video-link appearance. So if the worst comes to worst, only 13 party executives could be barred from politics by the Constitution Court for five years.

It is not only Thaksin who is not afraid, his brother-in-law and former premier Somchai Wongsawat also are not. Mr Somchai has chaired several meetings of Pheu Thai MPs as well.

The all-out gamble by Thaksin in openly defying the 5-year ban from politics is seen by political pundits as worth the risk by personally taking charge. Thaksin can lead Pheu Thai to a win in the general election, scoring at least half the number of MPs in the House and then his sister Yingluck Shinawatra would become the first female prime minister of Thailand.

If it comes to pass that Pheu Thai is dissolved, only 13 insignificant executives will be barred from politics for five years. A spare party has already been registered with the Election Commission.

Veteran politician Chalerm Yubamrung explained that Pheu Thai must use the "Thaksin" name to sell its platform because the Thai people accept his capability and because his populist policies were successful. To make sure that people vote for the party, Pheu Thai must push Ms Yingluck as their prime ministerial candidate to represent Thaksin as no other politician can be said to be as loyal as Thaksin's own kin.

"If Pheu Thai do not use Thaksin's name as a selling point, who else can compete against Mr Abhisit? I have been thinking for two years now that Yingluck is most suitable as she is successful in running businesses. No need to deny that Yingluck is Thaksin's nominee because Pheu Thai, Thai Rak Thai and People Power Party all belong to Thaksin. Pheu Thai's headquarters is at OAI Tower. O is Oak [Thaksin's son], A is Aim, I is Ink [Thaksin's daughters]. Why should the party be afraid of being known as Thaksin's nominee?" Mr Chalerm said.

Even though during the live video link Thaksin did not openly anoint a real Pheu Thai leader, insiders unanimously say that Ms Yingluck is 99% sure to be the party's prime ministerial candidate.

Insiders also reveal that Thaksin has bet everything in openly dictating the party's general election strategies in a live video link because he deems that by personally declaring the party's policies, he can boost Pheu Thai's electoral victory chances. If Pheu Thai is to be dissolved, it would take time before all investigations and court cases reach their conclusion. By then, Pheu Thai could have formed a single-party or two-party coalition government headed by Ms Yingluck.

To boost the party's chances, Puea Paendin's leader Pol Gen Pracha Phromnok has been recruited. The departure of Mingkwan Saengsuwan, who is disappointed at not being anointed as the prime ministerial candidate, the resignation of Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and the U-turn of Sanoh Thienthong do not worry Thaksin as the three are considered "outsiders", not Thaksin loyalists.

It seems that for Pheu Thai and its spare party, the party leader and executives are "cursed" positions that seasoned politicians would rather not get involved with. They prefer to be ordinary party members and run for MP seats with the chance to be a minister or prime minister, concluded Matichon.

Parties geared for polls

Thai politics is now gearing for the general election. The Election Commission has finished drawing up 375 single-MP constituencies in 77 provinces in line with the amended constitution. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has said again and again that he will dissolve the House of Representatives on May 6. Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra unveiled Pheu Thai party's election policies in a video link to the party faithful on April 24, reported Thai Rath.

The only hitch is the persistent rumour that the military would stage the coup, often claimed by UDD red shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan. However, Thai Rath discounted this rumour as long as Thai politicians do not create conditions/disturbances that allow the military to step in. If this happens, it will be a disaster in the eyes of the global community.

Since the new election method will be a single constituency (one man, one vote) and the party list MPs will be a countrywide constituency with no minimum percentage required to win a listed MP seat, several small political parties believe that they have a greater chance to win in some specific constituencies and that nationwide they can score one or two listed MPs. Moreover, they believe that they can join the coalition government and earn a cabinet seat or two even though they may lack MPs.

The only exception is the New Politics Party which was initially enthusiastic in joining the fray to contest the upcoming election. However, when news was confirmed that Mr Abhisit would soon dissolve the House and call for an early general election, the yellow shirts movement (People's Alliance for Democracy) leaders decided to boycott the election and urge the Thai people to cast a "No" vote as a protest against corrupt politicians. The yellow shirt leaders' stance caused a split within the PAD because some executives of the New Politics Party would like to contest the election but they could not oppose the majority in the party who follow the PAD leaders' instructions.

What is most prominent in the upcoming election is the two major parties, Pheu Thai and the Democrats constantly issuing populist policies to sell to the grass-roots. All in all, Thai Rath could not distinguish much between the two parties in terms of populist policies, but it seems that Pheu Thai had a slight edge because it was personally delivered by Thaksin himself.

What is common about the two major parties is that they want to court votes by offering short-term goodies instead of talking about policies that lead to the country's structural reforms in terms of power decentralisation, agriculture, water resources management, education, political reconciliation/conflict reduction and social inequality.

The two parties fail to address the issue of how to make the Thai people stand on their own feet without waiting for perpetual hand-outs from the state.

It is good that both major parties promise to help the farmers but this is aimed at courting votes in the short term. It will not turn Thailand into the "Kitchen of the World" because that would mean restructuring the whole agriculture sector, ranging from irrigated lands, what to produce, marketing, agri-industry development and water resources management.

Thai Rath wondered how the populist policies promised by both parties will be financed as it needs a very large budget outlay. The two parties don't dare to say specifically that taxes need to be raised to finance their various populist schemes as this would certainly create a backlash. When asked, they just say there is plenty in the fiscal reserves waiting to be tapped.

If both parties can only do this much, the real problems in Thailand can never be solved, Thai Rath said.

45,200 Cambodian Evacuees Flee Home Due to Clashes with Thailand

Cambodian villagers who live near the Thai-Cambodia border and were evacuated after cross border fighting take shelter at a pagoda at Samrong in Oddar Meanchey province. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday urged Thailand and Cambodia to exercise restraint and take immediate steps to defuse tensions after their deadliest border clashes in several years.
(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

29th April, 2011
Xinhua Web Editor: Gong

The eighth day of armed clashes between Cambodian and Thai troops over disputed border areas had forced other 11,200 Cambodian people to flee homes, bringing the total number of evacuees to 45,200 by Friday evening, said a senior government official.

"Too many Cambodian evacuees have fled home in the latest rounds of fighting with Thailand," Nhim Vanda, the first vice- president of the Cambodian National Committee for Disaster Management, told Xinhua by telephone on Friday. "We have never expected such great number of evacuees, so now our major concerns for them are clean water and sanitary facilities."

During the fighting, the villagers living as far as 18 kilometers surrounding the fighting areas at the 11th century Ta Moan temple and Ta Krabei temple in Oddar Meanchey province have forced to flee for safe shelters.

The last day of armed clashes happened at Thursday night and lasted until 6:00 a.m. on Friday morning.

Cambodian and Thai troops had exchanged gunfire for eight straight days over disputed border areas at Ta Moan and Ta Krabei temples, which lie 150 kilometers west of Preah Vihear Temple.

The fighting had killed eight Cambodian soldiers, seven Thai soldiers and one Thai civilian, and caused several dozens injured.

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 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 build-up along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.

Cambodian, Thai battlefield commanders agree ceasefire again

Neak Vong talks to journalists.

PHNOM PENH, April 29 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian and Thai battlefield commanders on Friday agreed to a ceasefire again after the earlier ceasefire was broken, according to the statement of Cambodian Ministry of Defense. The statement said that Neak Vong, deputy commander of Cambodian brigade 42 at Ta Moan temple, and Dul Yadeth, field commander of Thai border regiment, held talks at O'smach border checkpoint at Friday noon after the eighth day of armed clashes at early Friday morning.

"Both sides agreed again to three points: ceasefire, no troop mobility and talk every two days by phone or face-to-face," it said. "This is the eighth time that both sides agreed to the ceasefire, but always failed to comply with it."

Cambodian and Thai troops had exchanged gunfire for eight straight days from April 22 to 29 over disputed border areas at the 13th century Ta Moan and Ta Krabei temples, which lie 150 kilometers west of Preah Vihear Temple.

The fighting had killed eight Cambodian soldiers, seven Thai soldiers and one Thai civilian, and caused several dozens injured.

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 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 build-up along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.
Editor: Mu Xuequan

Thai troops continue to attack Cambodian troops at Ta MoanThom temple despite a second truce

By Khmerization
Source: DAP News

The Cambodian military claimed that Thai troops continued to attack Cambodian troops at Ta Moan Thom and Ta Krabey temples despite a second ceasefire which was reached during talks earlier today.

A Cambodian commander told DAP News that as at 8:05 p.m Friday night, Thai troops had fired more than 10 rounds of M-79 and 60mm rockets into Ta Moan Thom temple compound (pictured) where the Cambodian troops were based, but Cambodian troops did not fire back. The same commander said no one was injured by the Thai rockets.

Commanders from both countries had met at O'Smach town for 40 minutes from 10:30 a.m today and reportedly have reached three more points to cease fighting, but the fighting broke out again.

On Thursday, both sides had reached a ceasefire agreement after Cambodian and Thai commanders met at the same O'Smach town, but fighting broke out again soon after and the fighting lasted until Friday morning. One Thai soldier was killed and 6 wounded. No casualty was reported on the Cambodian side.

The fighting has spread to Ta Krabey, but as at 11:25 pm last night, there are reports that the Thai side has suspended its shelling of the two temples. However, DAP News reported that the Thai side only stopped its shelling of the two temples at 5:05 a.m this morning, Saturday 30th April.

Thai-Cambodian border dispute heads to Hague as commanders meet again

The 11th century Preah Vihear temple stands in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, about 152 miles north of Phnom Penh. Cambodian and Thai troops resumed an artillery duel along their disputed border on Feb. 5, damaging the Hindu temple.
Heng Sinith/AP/File

Deadly skirmishes overnight on the Thai-Cambodian border broke a tentative cease-fire, but army commanders are holding talks again today as Cambodia simultaneously took the case to The Hague.

By Simon Montlake,
Christian Science Monitor Correspondent
April 29, 2011
Bangkok, Thailand

As army commanders held talks today on the Thai-Cambodian border after six days of clashes that have left 16 dead in the worst fighting in nearly three years, Cambodian officials simultaneously opened a new diplomatic front in the battle for an 11th century Khmer temple.

Cambodia's government said Friday it has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to clarify its 1962 ruling that awarded the temple to Cambodia, a request prompted by Thailand’s “repeated armed aggression to exert its claim to Cambodia’s territory."

Hundreds of troops from both nations have been camped out around the temple for years. After repeated deadly skirmishes and with United Nations and regional mediators repeatedly stifled in their attempts to negotiate a permanent cease-fire, Cambodia's bid to take the case back to The Hague after 50 years injects a new note of uncertainty into the border crisis.

IN PICTURES: Preah Vihear temple battle

Deadly gunfights early Friday broke a tentative truce agreed on late Thursday, with each side blaming the other for firing first. Thai military spokesman Col. Samsern Kaewkamnerd said the overnight exchanges of artillery and small arms fire killed one Thai soldier and injured four others, but he downplayed it as “sporadic clashes."

Thani Thongpakdee, a spokesman for Thailand’s Foreign Ministry, said Cambodia had instigated the latest fighting in order to “lay the ground for their decision to submit their request [to the ICJ].” He told a press conference Friday that Thailand had already anticipated this strategy and was preparing its legal defense.

Perched on a tall cliff, Preah Vihear is a contemporary of Angkor Wat, the renowned Cambodian temple that appears on the Cambodian national flag and has become a major tourist attraction.

Fighting also erupted this week around two other ancient temples, though analysts say the border dispute seems driven as much by domestic politics as strategic interests.

In recent days, politicians in both countries have toned down nationalist rhetoric, allowing local military commanders to pursue a cease-fire. The US and other allies have urged an end to the fighting and a resumption of negotiations. Thailand’s Army chief is in Beijing and is expected to brief his Chinese counterparts on the situation during the prearranged visit, say Thai officials.

Thai officials said the two countries’ foreign ministers would meet next week on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit held in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta.

Indonesia, as the current ASEAN chair, has tried to facilitate talks between the warring parties and to send military observers to the border. But Thailand has dragged its feet on allowing Indonesian observers into the disputed area, to the frustration of Cambodia, which has appealed to the UN to intervene in the conflict.

Thai government officials argue that bilateral talks are the best way to end the fighting. “We hope that Cambodia will return to the negotiating table,” said government spokesman Panitan Wattanyagorn.

Opposition politicians have accused Thailand’s powerful military of stirring trouble on the border as a pretext to crack down on dissent at home. Military chiefs have denied rumors of a coup to derail elections due by July.

Mr. Panitan insisted that civilian officials were in charge of border affairs. “The government has set guidelines for the military to follow,” he said.

Cambodia appeals to World Court for verdict explanation

Aerial view of Preah Vihear temple.

By Xinhua
The Nation

Cambodia on Thursday submitted a request to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the interpretation of the Court's judgment of 1962 on the case of Preah Vihear temple, according to the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on Friday.

"The submission of this request has been prompted by Thailand's repeated armed aggression to exert its claims to Cambodian territory, on the basis of its own unilateral map that has no legal basis," Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.

It added that Cambodia also submitted a request to the ICJ to take conservatory measures, in light of the repeated acts of aggression against Cambodian territory by Thailand's armed forces.

"Cambodia considers conservatory measures as unavoidable for engendering a permanent ceasefire between the two countries, thus stopping the loss of lives and preserving the temple of Preah Vihear from serious damages, until the interpretation of the ICJ' s 1962 judgment is finalized," said the statement.

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

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

The temple was enlisted as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. But Thailand claims the ownership of 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 build-up along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in deaths of troops on both sides.

Cambodia seeks World Court clarification [on Preah Vihear temple]

April 30, 2011
The Sydney Morning Herald

Cambodia said yesterday it has asked the World Court to clarify a 1962 ruling about an ancient temple on its disputed border with Thailand as clashes between the neighbours entered an eighth day.

The request ''for the interpretation of the court's judgment … concerning the temple of Preah Vihear'' was prompted by ''Thailand's repeated armed aggression to exert its claims to Cambodian territory'', the Foreign Ministry said.

A 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'', it said.

Hopes for an end to the bloodiest fighting between the neighbours in decades appeared to have been dashed after fresh clashes broke out hours after a ceasefire deal was struck on Thursday.

One Thai soldier was killed in fresh fighting on the border that shattered the truce, Thailand's army said yesterday. Sporadic fighting erupted just hours after a deal was announced and continued early yesterday, the north-eastern army region spokesman, Colonel Prawit Hookaew, said.

The clashes are centred on two temple complexes about 150 kilometres west of Preah Vihear.

Both countries have blamed each other for sparking the violence.

The International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled more than four decades ago that the 11th-century Preah Vihear belonged to Cambodia, but both countries claim ownership of a 4.6-square-kilometre surrounding area.

The temple - the most celebrated example of Khmer architecture outside Cambodia's Angkor - has been the focus of strained relations between the neighbours since it was granted UN World Heritage status in 2008.

Angelina Jolie on way to Siem Reap

Photo by: Reuters
Angelina Jolie visits Somali refugees at Shousha Camp at Ras Djir, 8 kilometres from the Tunis-Libyan border, earlier this month.

Friday, 29 April 2011
By Tan Yew Guan
Phnom Penh Post

Hollywood megastar Angelina Jolie is set to return to the Kingdom today to shoot an advertising campaign for fashion label Louis Vuitton in Siem Reap, but those connected with the visit have remained tight lipped about her agenda.

Jolie has strong ties to the Kingdom through her adopted Cambodian child Maddox, philanthropic enterprises and leading role in the 2001 action movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which was partially shot in Cambodia.

She has been a regular visitor to Cambodia and is believed to have last graced its shores in 2006.

Chief economic officer of the Cambodian Film Commission, Cedric Eloy, yesterday confirmed his organisation will shoot the label’s advert with the star in Siem Reap but said giving any other details would make a rushed situation even more hectic. Jolie, he said, would set foot in Cambodia today.

“Actually her schedule is really managed by her team, so it’s independent from the production that surrounds it,” he said.

Internationally renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz was scheduled to shoot Jolie, according to comments made by information minister Khieu Khanarith reported by the Cambodian news website DAP News.

But Eloy yesterday denied this was the case.

In 2003, Jolie established the Maddox Jolie-Foundation, later renamed the Maddox Jolie-Pitt foundation, which was established to tackle environmental degradation in Battambang’s Samlot district.

The organisation has since spread its wings to tackle broader conservation issues, education and infrastructure projects in Battambang province as well as rural development United Nation millennium goals, according to its website. Staff at the Maddox Jolie-Pitt foundation yesterday said they were unaware that the famous founder of their organisation was coming to visit the Kingdom.

“Our colleagues have not been informed by Ms Jolie or Brad Pitt so I think it is just a story,” said Narith, a general resources manager at the foundation who declined to give his full name.

Louis Vuitton staff members were unable to reply to questions by the time The Post went to press.

In September last year, producer Thomas Magyar announced he was hoping to secure Jolie for a US$70 million production to be filmed in Cambodia, tentatively titled The Great Khmer Empire. Eloy said today’s shoot had nothing to do with that project.

Jolie’s first major encounter with the Kingdom was back in 2001 when she acrobatically darted around the temples of Angkor Wat in the 2001 action movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

The movie was a box office smash-hit, though critics were less enthused by the high paced adventures of the voluptuous heroine, adopted from a popular video game.

Her relationship with Cambodia became more intimate in 2002 when she and then husband, Billy Bob Thornton, adopted a Cambodian boy they named Maddox.

Jolie’s union with Maddox then attracted the eye of criminal investigators pursuing Lauryn Galindo, the facilitator of the adoption who eventually pleaded guilty to charges related to her misrepresentation of the status of orphans in 2004.

[Thai Parliament] House panel warns about risk of war

A Thai army tank is unloaded onto a road near the Thai-Cambodia border in Surin province April 28, 2011. Thailand has dispatched troops to a disputed area on its border with Cambodia on Thursday after clashes erupted for the seventh day near two 12th-century Hindu temples, the Thai army spokesman said.
REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Writer: Aekarach Sattaburuth
Published: 28/04/2011
Bangkok Post

The House committee on foreign affairs yesterday warned the government against escalating the Thai-Cambodian border conflict to the point where it could become a state of war.

The chance of war breaking out was discussed in parliament.

Committee chairman and Pheu Thai MP for Udon Thani Tophong Chaiyasan said he did not understand why the lower House raised the issue of a "war announcement" for discussion.

The committee was worried the current confrontation would escalate and prompt one of the two countries to declare war.

It called on Bangkok and Phnom Penh to return to the negotiating table to solve the long-running dispute.

The request is part of the committee's eight-point announcement unveiled after it met Foreign Ministry officials and representatives from the army.

All of its points called on all parties, including soldiers and reporters, not to further expand the conflict, which has already resulted in heavy fighting since last Friday.

The committee accepted international calls for a ceasefire between the two countries after the Thai army said it needed to strike back against Cambodian troops who allegedly first opened fire at Thai soldiers at the Ta Kwai temple near the border in Surin province.

Phnom Penh was using every possible means to bring peace talks to a multi-lateral level, especially in the United Nations Security Council, Mr Tophong said.

He warned the move could benefit Cambodia because France, which has a good relationship with Cambodia, will assume the presidency of the Security Council next month."The president can guide the result of the talks, so Thailand too should seek an ally, especially China," Mr Tophong suggested.

He did not think China would want to see an armed conflict in the region.