Thursday, 16.10.2008: After an Armed Dispute, Cambodian Troops Still Control the Veal Intry Field

Posted on 17 October 2008. Filed under: Week 582 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 582

“Preah Vihear: Armed clashed occurred at 2:45 p.m. at the Veal Intry field, and then spread to other border areas and to the front of the Preah Vihear Temple market.


Note:

In a situation of conflict, it is important to see the opinion of both sides. We will therefore quote here, marked as Notes, some texts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand and from other sources, as a contribution to foster mutual understanding, in the hope that negotiations, not violence, will lead to peace.

Thailand’s Reaction to Remarks by Cambodian Prime Minister

October 16, 2008

In response to questions from the media, Mr. Tharit Charungvat, Director-General of the Department of Information and Foreign Ministry Spokesman, said that Thailand is surprised by the remarks by the Prime Minister of Cambodia issuing an ultimatum to Thailand to move its military personnel out of the area adjacent to the Temple of Phra Viharn and threatening the use of force, which runs counter to the spirit of neighborliness and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), especially between fellow ASEAN member countries. This is also contradictory to international norms of settling bilateral issues through peaceful means as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

Thailand has always tried to resolve its boundary issues with Cambodia peacefully through bilateral negotiations which have achieved satisfactory progress thus far. In this connection, the military of both sides have agreed to convene a special meeting of the Regional Border Committee (RBC) on 21 October 2008, which will be preceded by a meeting at the working level of the RBC on 15 October 2008.

In the meantime, in accordance with its obligations under the Ottawa Mine Ban Convention, Thailand has had to undertake de-mining efforts in the area adjacent to the Temple of Phra Viharn – an area which will be surveyed and demarcated by the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC), set up under the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries in the year 2000. De-mining there is a necessary and urgent issue so as to ensure the safety of people and military personnel who pass through the area. The urgency of this issue was again underscored when two Thai para-military rangers lost their legs after stepping on landmines in the area on 6 October 2008 in the Thai territory in accordance with Siam-France Treaty of 1904. We are now also conducting investigations to verify whether the landmines in the area are old mines or recently deployed in violation of the Ottawa Mine Ban Convention.

If Cambodia does resort to the use of force in accordance with its so-called ultimatum, Thailand will have to exercise its right of self-defense as provided for under the Charter of the United Nations, in order to protect our de-mining personnel and Thailand’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Thailand has always called for and remains committed to resolving its boundary issues with Cambodia peacefully through bilateral consultations under the many frameworks already in place. Indeed, as agreed upon by the Foreign Ministers of both Thailand and Cambodia at their meetings in Siem Reap and Cha-am on 28 July 2008 and 19 August 2008, respectively, both countries have committed themselves to exercise utmost restraint to avoid the possibility of armed confrontation. This was reiterated by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat to the Cambodian side during his visit there on 13 October 2008. Thailand has strictly observed our said commitments and expects Cambodia to do the same.

“The sound of both light and heavy explosions echoed strongly in the jungle at Veal Intry, caused by hundreds of Thai para troopers who were sent to control the Veal Intry area and the Our Chak Chraeng point which are in Khmer territory.

“A Cambodian army commander said that at 9:30 a.m. on 15 October 2008, 380 Siamese [Thai] para-military troopers rushed through the Phnom Trop region and through the Veal Intry field; then they crossed the Our Chak Chraeng channel nearby. Siamese troops were impudent when they sent troops to the area; they started to fight the Cambodian troops to control the whole Veal Intry filed. That motivated Cambodian troops to fight back from the Phnom Trop point to the Veal Intry field, and the fighting spread to the front of the Preah Vihear Temple market.

“The fighting lasted two hours before it calmed, after the Siamese troops had asked to stop the fire for negotiations.

Reason of the Armed Developments

“If the Siamese troops would not have been sent again, the war at Veal Intry would not have happened. Previously over 80 Siamese black clad soldiers [special border protection unit] had withdrawn from Veal Intry after the negotiations on 14 October 2008. But on 15 October 2008, because of endless greedy ambitions of the Siamese there was armed conflict. This is because they look down on Cambodia, thinking that Cambodia would not dare to fight.


Note:


Thailand protests intrusion into Thai territory and shooting of Thai soldiers by Cambodian soldiers

October 16, 2008, 8:48 pm

      Regarding the clash between Thai and Cambodian soldiers on Thai territory on 15 October 2008, the Royal Thai Government lodged another protest with the Royal Government of Cambodia through an additional Aide-Memoire on 16 October 2008, the gist of which can be summarized as follow:

      1. Regarding the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand’s Aide-Memoire of 15 October 2008, protesting against the shootings carried out by Cambodian soldiers on Thai soldiers who were peacefully patrolling along the Thai – Cambodian border within the Thai territory near Phu Ma Khua on 15 October 2008, a related incident took place in the vicinity of Pha Mor I Daeng between 14:25 – 15:00 hours on 15 October 2008, in which Cambodian soldiers intruded into Thai territory and opened fire, using recoilless guns, RPG, mortars, and rifles, on Thai soldiers who were positioned in the said area.

     2. Exercising their inherent right to self-defense as provided for by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, the Thai soldiers returned fire. This hostile action by the Cambodian soldiers resulted in further injury, bringing the total number of Thai casualties to seven persons.

     3. With reference to Cambodia’s accusation that Thai troops launched heavy armed attacks upon Cambodian troops stationed in three different locations in the area of Phra Viharn Temple, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand wishes to state that between 14.25 – 15.00 hours on 15 October 2008, there were two shooting incidents between Cambodian soldiers and Thai soldiers at only two locations. The first incident occurred at the coordinate of VA 644933 in the north of Khan Ma Pass, 900 meters from the Thai – Cambodian boundary line. The other incident took place at the coordinate of VA 655917, 400 meters from the boundary line. Both shooting incidents therefore did not happen at the locations indicated by Cambodia.

      4. The Royal Thai Government strongly protests against these acts of aggression committed in Thailand’s territory by Cambodian soldiers, in blatant violation of international law; and to condemn such constant intrusion and violation of Thailand’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.


Types of Weapons Used During the Clash at the Front Line

“Officials of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces at the battle filed reported that the fighting erupted first at Veal Intry, and the weapons mostly used were AK47, M16, M79, B40 and the rocket launchers DK75 and DK72, and explosives.

Numbers of Injuries and Deaths

“According to unofficial information from the troops at the front lines, during more than two hours of fighting, 20 Siamese soldiers were killed, 36 soldiers were injured, and 28 were arrested. As for Cambodia, there was one death and two injured soldiers. The heaviest fighting was at Veal Intry and at Phnom Trop


Note:

All other media known to us speak of two Cambodian people having lost their lives – Thai media say that no Thai persons lost their lives, and there are no reports of Thai prisoners of war..


10 Siamese Soldiers in the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda Put Down Their Weapons Instead of Fighting

“As soon as the sound of armed conflict was heard strongly from the front line, the Siamese soldiers stationed at the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda put down their weapons and raised up their hands so that the Cambodians did not shoot them. These ten soldiers did not resist, they just wanted to survive. Now, they are being held arrested as prisoners of war, together with 18 other soldiers arrested at the Phnom Trop point and at Veal Intry. As for twenty other Siamese soldiers who had been at the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak pagoda, they ran back into their territory, leaving their weapons behind. Now there is no presence of Siamese soldiers at the front line after this armed conflict.


Note:

The presence of a small group of Thai soldiers at the region of the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda had been negotiated and agreed upon some weeks ago. The Thai side seem to consider the remaining persons not to be under detention – and the Cambodian statement, that they are free to leave (though they preferred to stay) seems to confirm their special status.


Armed Conflict Occurred at Three Points [Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda, Phnom Trop point, and Veal Intry]



Fighting Was Stopped at 4:00 p.m. after a Request from Siam to Negotiate

“At 4:00 p.m., armed conflict calmed down after Siam had asked for a suspension, in order to find a solution through negotiations. The Cambodian side agreed to negotiate with a Siamese front line commander. Major General Srey Dek met with a Siamese army commander with five stripes as a sign of his rank, to discuss the armed conflict and to shift to negotiations. However, the content of their discussion was not disclosed.

Armed Conflict Finished, but Siam Continues to Sent More Modern Weapons

“Although the armed conflict at the Preah Vihear Temple region finished, according to information from front line soldiers, Siamese solders armed with modern weapons are sent from behind the front. The present Siamese activities are not the sign of an intention to stop the war.

The Situation at the Ta Moan and the Ta Krabei Temples Is Quiet


Siam Asks their Citizens to Leave the Border Area

“When the clash began, Siamese troops started to remove their citizens away from the border. Moreover, Siam called on all Siamese people in Cambodia to be prepared to leave.

At the Poipet Border Crossing, Citizens Are Surprised

“Officials of the Banteay Meanchey municipal cabinet concerned, and Khmer vendors at the Rong Kluea market [in Thailand] transport their belongings from the market worriedly after they had received the information that war had erupted at Veal Intry. Citizens at Poipet are still afraid and do not dare to do their business at the Rong Kluea market, because Siamese troops arrived at the market. Although there was turmoil, the Poipet border crossing point is not closed, because Siamese and Cambodian businesspeople still exchange goods as normal, except for vendors at the Rong Kluea market, that had closed their stalls very quickly.

The Situation at Pailin Is Normal


There Is No Armed Conflict at the Koh Kong Border Crossing Point, but Troops Are Built Up


Siamese Army Commander Anupong Paochinda Announces to Prepare to Fight

“Mr. Anupong Paochinda (อนุพงษ์ เผ่าจินดา], the Siamese Army Commander-in-Chief, had announced to be prepared to fight against Cambodia. This army commander told the Siamese cabinet ministers that their troops are prepared to fight, if they receive an order from the government. However, this army commander said that they will not start fighting as long as Cambodia does not begin, only then they will fight in self-defense.

“High ranking officials of Cambodia raised the question who protects oneself, because Siam initiated the event by sending troops to invade Cambodian territory. On 15 October 2008, Siamese soldiers were sent to the Preah Vihear region. Is it known in Siam whether or not there was a Siamese troop presence before 15 October 2008 in the Preah Vihear region? It is Siam that did violate the territorial integrity of Cambodia. Although there were many negotiations, Siam always finds tricks to violate the right of Cambodia.


Note:

On 18 June 2008, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers So An had signed a Joint Communique with Thailand and UNESCO, for the Royal Government of Cambodia, that “the Kingdom of Cambodia accepts that the Temple of Preah Vihear be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple,” and that a map appended “supersedes the maps… as well as all the graphic references… of the Temple of Preah Vihear site in Cambodia’s nomination file” previously presented to UNESCO, where maps dating back to 1962 and 1907 had been appended.

This 18 June 2008 Joint Communique [the file size of this PDF document, the text and the map, is 1.3 MB PDF], signed for the Royal Government of Cambodia – together with a representative of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO – to leave the question of ownership of the areas to the north and west of the temples undefined until further negotiations, is rarely, if ever, reported in the press in Cambodia. However, it is well known in Thailand.


Siamese Troops Left in Cambodia Are Not Allowed to Be Armed

“Cambodian military officials said that the Siamese soldiers that are arrested as prisoners of war in a place on Khmer territory are not allowed to be armed, but if they want to leave, we allow them, but they are not allowed to take food like before, but Cambodia cooks rice for them.

Siamese and Cambodian Regional Commanders Will Negotiate This Morning

“Officials of the Ministry of Defense said that General Chea Man and the Siamese regional commander will meet urgently at the red house point in front of the Preah Vihear Temple on Siamese territory. The meeting by both sides will discuss the armed conflict, and how to mutually arrange to stop any such armed conflict in future. But the Cambodian side said already that Cambodia did not initiate it, it is Siam that always causes endless problems. Cambodia told the Siamese side already that if the negotiation fails, we should take the problem to the United Nations, together with Thailand, but Siam broke its promise given to Cambodia, but in contrast, they continue to send troops steadily into Khmer territory.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1769, 16.10.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 16 October 2008


Deum Ampil, Vol.2, #90, 15-21.10.2008

  • The Prime Minister Continues to Open the Door for Opposition Politicians [to join the Cambodian People’s Party]
  • The Ministry of Agriculture Allows to Import 800 Pigs per Day to be Distributed by Four Companies, but One of Them Plans to Import Additionally 20,000 pigs [worrying local pig feeders]


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1769, 16.10.2008

  • After an Armed Dispute, Cambodian Troops Still Control the Veal Intry Field
  • Dramatic Drop of the Fuel Price Concerns the Middle East, while Fuel Companies in Cambodia Are Very Happy [because they are benefiting by selling fuel at a high price]
  • North Korea Permits UN Monitors to Return to the Nuclear Sites


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #264, 16.10.2008

  • Kol Sokhom [a businesswoman] Asks [Police General] Hok Lundy to Take Action against Khem Veasna [the president of the League for Democracy Party, accusing him of taking her land to be sold]


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #118, 16.10.2008

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The Cambodian People’s Party Might Loose Some Seats during the Elections in 2013, but Still, It Will Win
  • The Sam Rainsy Party Secretary General Eng Chhay Ieng Resigns [resignation letter of 14 October 2008, keeping his promise to resign made on 7 and 9 May 2008; the party has not yet reacted]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6474, 16.10.2008

  • The Attempt [by a workers’ solidarity group] to Sell Rubber Resin [at double the price a middle-man pays, directly to a trader] Caused a Dispute in Ratanakiri – Police Shot out the Tires of the Loaded Truck and Harvesters [of the resin] Burnt It


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3589, 16.10.2008

  • Sam Rainsy: Election Report of the European Community Shows Problematic Elections
  • Khmer Prime Minister Plans to Ask More Than US$300 Million from China to Support the Fourth Term Package Government [according to his speech during an economic forum on 14 October 2008]
  • Leader of the Opposition Party Criticizes that the Government Disregards the Paris Agreement [of 1991 in which the signatories, also Thailand, guarantee the territorial integrity and the respects for human rights and democracy in Cambodia]


Rasmei Angkor, Vol.15, #1370, 16.10.2008

  • A Book The History of the Democratic Kampuchea Will Be Included into some Study Programs


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4717, 16.10.2008

  • The King Goes to Participate in the Summit of the Francophone Countries held in Canada
  • France Grants More Than US$3 Million to Support the Development of Agriculture

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2 Responses to “Thursday, 16.10.2008: After an Armed Dispute, Cambodian Troops Still Control the Veal Intry Field”

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[…] Mirror provides a narrative of last Wednesday’s fighting. Global Voices author Tharum writes a backgrounder on the dispute. […]

I can’t see any positive effect/result from any bilateral talks between both sides anymore. Because each side, especillay Thailand, is not going to soften their stances.

In my opinion, as much as it can do, Cambodia is trying to avoid any dispute. What does Cambodia gain from the dispute at this time? It gains nothing but serious lose in tourism, investment…

Contrary to Cambodia, in the current situation of Thailand, the dispute may gives interests to Thailand, at least, there’s no loss for Thailand.

Without metioning which side is right or wrong, I believe the mediator is very important right now to stop the dispute. Besides calling for utmost restraints from both sides, UN should show do something, at least show its willing to be a mediator though there’s no request from both sides. The dark cloud is not going to fade away soon, if there’s no immediate mediation.


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