Friday, January 7, 2011

Cambodia news Update on 7 jan 2011

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No bail for 7 Thais jailed in Phnom Penh

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 05:07 PM PST

January 7, 2011
The Nation, Agencies

Drawn-out taking of testimony leaves lawyers no time to file requests; Panich claims unintentional crossing as Veera remains defiant over charges

Seven Thai nationals who faced trail in Cambodian court for trespassing were in critical situation yesterday as their prosecution would drag on with no time to submit bail request, resulting in longer stay in Prey Sar prison.

The seven Thais including the ruling Democrat Party's lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth and yellow shirted activist Veera Somkwamkid appeared in the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in blue prisoner dresses.

They testified in the closed door court room one by one, beginning with Panich who told the court that he crossed to the disputed border area by accident.

Panich told the court that he had "crossed into Cambodian territory unintentionally," his Cambodian attorney Ros Aun told AFP by telephone.

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

Veera, who was previously arrested in the same location in August, told reporters briefly as leaving the court that "they are forcing us to accept the accusation."

Panich, Veera and other yellow shirted activists who claimed they are patriotic group were arrested last week in the border near Sa Kaeo's Ban Nong Chan while inspecting the disputed area. A leaked video clip indicated that Panich and the group were aware of entering into Cambodia side as he phoned to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's aide to convey his message.

The Royal Thai Survey Department indicated that the group went 55 meters deeper into the territory under sovereignty of Cambodia before the capture.

The Thai government failed to settle the case outside the court room since Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen reportedly was furious with Veera's second trespassing.

They were charge of illegal entry and unlawful entering to military areas, the charges with combined 18 month jail term.

The Thai foreign ministry said it would allow the Cambodian court to continue without intervention but urged Phnom Penh to speed up the process and hand them only lenient punishment.

The court spent the whole yesterday for the testimony of seven detainees and it set no time line when the entire trail would be completed.

Their lawyer had no time to submit bail request yesterday and would not until Monday as Friday is Cambodia's public holiday. The court has five days to consider the bail request, said Thai Foreign Ministry's spokesman Thani Thongpakdi. "We expect to know whether they would get free on bail by January 14," he said.

Prime Minister Abhisit called a meeting with many concern ministers and officials including Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and Kasit's secretary Chavanond Intarakomalyasut to discuss the situation of the seven Thai people in Cambodian court.

Chavanond told reporters after the meeting that Prime Minister Abhisit did not have any more instruction but wrapped up the situation and expected the group would have to stay longer in the Cambodian prison.

Hun Xen's interview by Soy Sopheap - Satire by SL (Cont'd)

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 05:02 PM PST

Hello from GG Cambodian Evangelical Church

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 04:57 PM PST

Dear Readers,

Please help Pastor Scott Peterson if you can or if you live in Long Beach or know anyone there whom he can make contact. Thanks- Khmerization.


My name is Pastor Scott and I am the Youth and Young Adults Pastor at GG Cambodian Evangelical Church. Our youth and young adults would like to make contact with the youth and young adult population in Long Beach, and we are wondering if you would be able to help us.

At your convenience, please contact me via email ( and perhaps with a telephone number so that we can best communicate.

If you would like more information about us, please go to and to

We look forward to hearing from you.

Peace, Pastor Scott
Cell 714-349-5352

Bringing compassionate touch to Cambodian kids

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 04:50 PM PST

SATISFACTION - Mike Norman holds an infant at Our Village. "I think my two weeks there gives me more satisfaction than anything else I do," he says.
MASSAGE LINE --- A Heart Touch volunteer massages a boy as she gets an impromptu rub herself.
For three years, Religious Education leader Mike Norman has traveled to a remote Southeast Asian orphanage to give healing massages to HIV-positive children.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Touch is something babies need, children crave and adults long for. In fact, it's critical for the emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of every human being.

Mike Norman, associate director of the Office of Religious Education who oversees youth programs, has found this out first hand. For the last three years as a volunteer with "Heart Touch," he's traveled with a team to an orphanage in Cambodia that cares for more than 200 HIV-positive children. At the 18-acre compound divided into eight large family-style units, the men and women who are mostly professional massage therapists practice the art of compassionate touch therapy. The results are often nothing short of miraculous.

"Being touched is so taboo in some ways here in the United States and also in Cambodia. But it's amazing to see how just human contact can change a person's life, and the little kids especially. Like a two-year-old who is freaking out because they have never seen a white person before and they don't know what they're like. But if you just massage their arms for a few minutes, the next time you come they sit in your lap immediately and try to say 'massage.' And when you get out of the van, all the kids just come running."

Norman points this out after his most recent trip, Nov. 26 to Dec. 11, to Our Village orphanage outside of Phnom Penh. The city was the former headquarters of the infamous Khmer Rouge and its leader Pol Pot. Under his rule from 1975 to 1979, some two million Cambodians died through political executions, starvation and forced labor. The genocide was dramatically chronicled in the movie "The Killing Fields."

"I've noticed that touch is so much even more than talking," he continues. "These kids have been through trauma. They've lost parents or been abandoned. People might say, 'You should sit and chat with them.' Yes, I agree with that. But, more importantly, I think for two weeks they have this intimate contact with a group of people. So the language barrier is there, but the touch dissolves that immediately. While you're massaging someone, they just laugh. Laughter happens constantly. Or they doze off."

It's the laughter along with the deep friendship Norman has forged with John and Kathy Tucker that keeps him coming back to the orphanage. The former Maryknoll lay missionaries founded New Hope for Cambodian Children (NHCC) and Our Village in 2006 to provide holistic care to children infected with HIV/AIDS as well as outreach support to affected children and their families in six provinces. NHCC also operates a transition house called "Happy Home" for babies too sick to live at the orphanage, which is supported by the Clinton Foundation and other philanthropic organizations and individual donors.

Norman, 48, got involved with Heart Touch through friends who were volunteering their time and talents at the literally hands-on organization based in Southern California. The nonprofit's mission, since its inception in 1995, is the training and delivery of "compassionate and healing touch" to homebound and hospitalized men, women and children.

Locally, Heart Touch volunteers massage infants, older kids and adults who are terminally ill or in hospice care at Children's Hospital, Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA and Kaiser Permanente hospitals among other healthcare facilities. Its International Global Outreach program also currently operates in Thailand and India besides Cambodia. Volunteers, like Norman, raise about $4,000 to cover costs for travel, lodging and meals during their two-week humanitarian stays.

"How it works at Our Village is the team drives up in our van and the kids come running shouting 'massage! massage!' because they know the English word now," he reports. "But they love it because for most of them it's the only time they're getting touched all day. So it's that compassionate touch that they crave."

He points out that their massage is not the laying-down-on-a-table, covered-with-a-towel traditional kind. Instead, most of the orphans are rubbed while sitting outside on benches. They just roll up their shirt sleeves and pants so lotion can be rubbed on their arms and legs. A good bench massage takes 20 to 30 minutes, starting with the neck and shoulders, then the arms and finally the legs and feet.

But what often happens when a line forms is the kids start imitating the Heart Touch volunteers and wind up trying to massage each other. So by the second week they're really into it, according to Norman, and on the last day they're even giving the volunteers massages. The team also teaches the caretakers at Our Village how to continue the compassionate touch therapy when they're gone.

"I've gotten really close to the kids, like one named Thavry who came here last year for Youth Day at the Religious Education Congress," he says. "They're become family, and I think my two weeks there gives me more satisfaction than anything else I do. And I don't want to belittle my work here in the archdiocese. We work hard all year in youth ministry teaching youth how to enrich their faith life in hope that what they'll do is pass it on to other generations.

"We don't usually get to see how we've really impacted junior high or high school students we're working with in a parish and what they do later in life. But because of this intense two weeks, we get to see how these young people in Cambodia are changed."

After a moment, he explains, "And that's through our compassionate touch."

Politiktoons No. 127: Aung San Suu Kyi

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 04:06 PM PST

Cartoon by Sacrava (on the web at
and also at

Anti Hun Xen's regime leaflet distributed in Cambodia

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 03:59 PM PST

Click on the article in Khmer to zoom in

"Pram Pi Makara - 07 January" - Poem in Khmer by Khmer Sachak

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 03:56 PM PST

Border trespassing Thais appear in court for the 2nd time

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 01:12 PM PST

Thai Illegal Entry Suspects Appear in Cambodian Court

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 12:59 PM PST

[Thai] Army rejects 'weakness' claims

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 12:58 PM PST

Wassana Nanuam
Bangkok Post

The army has been criticised for being weak in its handling of the capture of seven Thais, including Democrat Party MP Panich Vikitsreth, by Cambodian soldiers in the disputed border area late last month. First Army chief Udomdej Seetabutr told WASSANA NANUAM in an interview the incident was unexpected and the military was doing its best to help those arrested.

Was the local military unit informed beforehand that the group including Mr Panich would enter the disputed area?

The local unit of paramilitary rangers only knew when the group drove past a road checkpoint. Paramilitary rangers called on them to stop but they did not. The paramilitary rangers could not follow them right away because their motorcycles broke down. When the rangers finally found a vehicle and tried to catch up, the seven people had already passed the barbed wire fence [and entered Cambodia]. Three people in the group were waiting at the border, so we brought them back just in time.

Did local soldiers or border patrol police fail to do their duty by not blocking the group or by not informing their supervisors of the incident?

At the time we did not know who they were. Local units did their job but the incident was beyond their ability to rectify. When the incident happened, we tried to contact Cambodian authorities at local and all other levels. But the seven people were already taken to Phnom Penh, so that was beyond the local level. But normally our soldiers and Cambodian soldiers retain good relations.

Yet the case has triggered criticism that the army is weak.

It worries us. The army chief wants to tell the public that we soldiers do our best to help the people. Soldiers at the local level tried to reach their contacts. People higher up in the Defence Ministry tried to contact Cambodia. But they must also respect the justice system of Cambodia.

Why didn't Thai soldiers rescue the seven people as soon as they were arrested?

We wanted to help then. We were ready but high-ranking commanders would have to make the final decision. We knew that such action would surely lead to a clash and might affect bilateral relations. We soldiers are ready to follow orders but consequences must also be considered. However, the military is doing its best to negotiate.

What's your view of the incident?

We cannot say who is wrong or who is right, and if they did that on purpose or unintentionally. They [the seven Thais] just wanted to see the area in response to villagers' complaints. They had good intentions. The boundary is unclear and they might not have thought about the consequences.

Normally, Thais and Cambodians must inform the other country's authorities before entering a disputed area. Cambodians do this when they want to enter an area where we restrict access. There were no problems in the past and I do not think there will be such a problem in the future.

We are doing our best to take care of people living in the area. I assure you no one can harm Thai people in an area that clearly belongs to us.

The Burapha Task Force is ready to protect all Thai people along the border. We constantly operate patrols. However, the border is easy to cross because there is neither a noticeable borderline nor a mountain range as a point of reference.

Now more Cambodian soldiers have been deployed to secure the border, haven't they?

There is no problem. The [Cambodian] soldiers stand on their side of the fence. Surveillance is active whenever there is a situation and we do this as well. The Burapha Task Force has enough reinforcements to take care of the area.

Thai seven face a long wait for bail

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 12:52 PM PST

Intrusion not intended, Panich informs hearing

Bangkok Post and DPA

Seven Thais arrested in Cambodia for trespassing will be detained at least until Monday as they wait to apply for bail.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said yesterday bail requests were expected to be made on Monday because today was a holiday in Cambodia. Consideration of bail had to be decided within five days of the request being made, he said.

The government has ordered officials to seek bail for the group arrested by Cambodian soldiers on Dec29 after they crossed the border at Khok Sung district in Sa Kaeo and entered Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province.

The group include former vice minister for foreign affairs Panich Vikitsreth and Veera Somkwamkid, a leading member of the People's Alliance for Democracy. Mr Panich is now a Democrat MP for Bangkok.

They appeared yesterday before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, which is considering whether to look into charges that the seven entered Cambodia illegally and unlawfully entered a military base. The charges carry a combined maximum jail sentence of 18 months.

Mr Thani denied that some of the seven also were facing charges of espionage. The Foreign Ministry had been informed of just two charges, he said.

The seven are being held at Prey Sar prison on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

The accused said nothing as they were led into the courtroom for yesterday's preliminary hearing, which was closed to reporters. No date has been set for their trial.

Mr Panich was examined first when proceedings opened at 8am, followed by two women identified as Narumon Chitvarattana and Ratree Pipattanapaiboon. Mr Veera and the three others were examined later in the day.

The examinations ended last night.

Mr Panich told the court he had "unintentionally" crossed into Cambodia, his Cambodian lawyer, Ros Aun, said.

"The purpose of his visit to the border was to address the complaints of [Thai] villagers," Ros Aun said, adding the villagers claimed a border marker had been moved by Cambodians and encroached on Thai territory.

In video footage shown on YouTube early this week and later in the Thai media, Mr Panich appears to be talking on the phone to his secretary to ask that an aide to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva be informed that the group had crossed into Cambodia.

In addition to seeking bail for the seven men and women, the government wants to settle the case in a way that will not affect relations between the two countries.

Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday Mr Panich's case was "separate from our diplomatic relations".

He declined to speculate on whether the group would be granted bail or whether Prime Minister Hun Sen would request a pardon for them if they are convicted.

"Right now, it's in the hands of the court, so we cannot say any more than that," he said.

PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang insisted yesterday the government must strongly protest to Phnom Penh that the arrests were inappropriate.

He criticised the government for admitting the group had illegally entered Cambodian territory. It was a serious mistake to make accusations against fellow Thais, Maj Gen Chamlong said.

He insisted the group had been arrested in Thai territory because some Thais held title deeds over land in the area. But the Royal Thai Survey Department on Wednesday confirmed that the group was 55 metres inside Cambodia when arrested.

1st Army commander Udomdej Seetabutr said yesterday he believed the seven had not realised they were on Cambodian soil.

"They had good intentions," Lt Gen Udomdej said.

"The boundary is unclear and they might not have thought about the consequences."

Border demarcation talks have stalled over continual delays in the Thai parliament on approving the latest round of negotiations.

Global lessons for NGO law [Pre-press]

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 09:26 AM PST

Yeng Virak, executive director of the Community Legal Education Center, speaks to residents of the city's Dey Krahorm community following their eviction in January 2009. (Photo by: Heng Chivoan)
Thursday, 06 January 2011
Thomas Miller
The Phnom Penh Post

On December 15, the government finally made public a draft of its new NGO law, trumpeting it as a tool for fighting terrorism and crime, increasing transparency in the Kingdom's vast NGO sector and regulating groups that are "working for the opposition".

As civil society workers across the nation brace for the law's passage, local activists have voiced fears about the possible effects of the legislation.

Coming amid a resurgence in government confidence – which has seen the jailing in absentia of opposition leader Sam Rainsy and public threats of the expulsion of United Nations officials and diplomats – local rights group Licadho described it as "the most serious threat to civil society in years".

If implemented in its current form, critics say the draft law – lacking sufficient safeguards – will violate the right to freedom of association and hamper NGO activities, especially those of small community organisations.

They have called on the government to accept a longer period of consultation and a joint working group to finish drafting the law. Licadho and other organisations have stated that they don't want an NGO law at all.

As the two sides trade invective in both public and private, the implementation of similar regulations in other countries may provide a perspective.

The view from Dhaka

Representatives of the Bangladeshi human rights organisation Odhikar, founded in 1994, say that its activities have been increasingly restricted under current regulations that place tight controls on any NGO activities linked to foreign funding.

In a rights report issued last month, Odhikar documented an increasing level of government interference in its programmes, in addition to the surveillance and intimidation by the state's security apparatus.

In August 2009, the government's NGO Affairs Bureau, which is under the authority of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's office, ordered Odhikar to halt a programme focused on documenting and preventing torture, citing the "reservations" of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Though Odhikar submitted a writ petition to the High Court, which eventually ruled against the government, the message from the authorities was clear, said Odhikar's executive secretary Adilur Rahman Khan.

"Human rights organisations, especially [those] which are critical against the atrocities of the government, torture, ill-treatment and impunity of the regime, like Odhikar, face massive difficulty in getting their projects approved," Khan said via email.

In recent months, the organisation has documented numerous instances in which security or police officials paid visits to Odhikar's offices to request information from its leadership.

In November, after several such visits, an official warned Odhikar's director that the government was "extremely annoyed" with the organisation, and that officers from the Special Branch of the police were "constantly monitoring" their office.

"Such incidents of constant visits, telephone calls and request for information that can be obtained from government records are clear examples of harassment and intimidation and an attempt to disrupt the functioning of a human rights organisation," states the Odhikar report.

Other countries too have seen a recent tightening of regulations. In a special report issued last month, the United States-based International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law took aim at what it termed the "wave of constraint" embodied by legal developments in countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras, Iran and Bahrain, all of which took place in November and December.

"The restrictions proposed in these laws will create a burdensome web of regulations for civil society groups and are evidence that the backlash against civil society is ongoing, transcending legal systems and political cultures," the report states.

ICNL said Cambodia's law also bore many of the hallmarks of this global crackdown, including restrictions on the number and nationality of NGOs' founding members, onerous registration requirements, government powers to suspend or terminate organisations and limits on the activities of foreign NGOs.

Discretionary authority in the draft law has emerged as a critical issue. The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights concluded from a review of 50 countries that NGO laws should be "evaluated, first and foremost, for the vagueness of the language and the broad discretionary powers that they grant to governments"....

read the full story in tomorrow's Phnom Penh Post or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hours.

Chinese lakeside link [in BOEUNG KAK FORCED EVICTIONS] confirmed [-and so does HUN XEN]

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 09:19 AM PST

Boeung Kak residents protest against the Chinese involvement in the controversial development of the Boeung Kak lake at Phnom Penh's 'Freedom Park' yesterday. (Photo by: Pha Lina)
Hun Xen shaking hand with Hu Jintao
Choeung Sopheap (L), Lao Meng Khin (C) visiting Sihamoni (R)
Thursday, 06 January 2011
Khouth Sophak Chakrya and James O'Toole
The Phnom Penh Post

Prime Minister Hun Sen has approved a joint-venture partnership to develop the controversial Boeung Kak lake project involving a Chinese firm and a local company linked to ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin, according to a document signed by the premier and Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema.

In 2007, local developer Shukaku Inc, owned by Lao Meng Khin, was granted a 99-year lease to develop the lake. In a letter dated November 12 of last year and obtained yesterday, Kep Chuktema wrote to Hun Sen to inform him that Shukaku had established a partnership with China's Inner Mongolia Erdos Hung Jun Investment Co.

"Shukaku's owner has asked to register the land in the 99-year lease agreement ... under the new name of Shukaku Erdos Hung Jun Property Development Co, Ltd, for directly implementing the project in the Boeung Kak area," Kep Chuktema wrote.

Hun Sen initialled the letter on November 27 along with a brief, handwritten notation reading: "agree to the offer".

Rights groups say the emergence of the document, which confirms earlier reports of Chinese involvement in the lake development, underscores the lack of transparency surrounding the project and the willingness of the government to approve large-scale foreign investment deals without assessing the consequences for local residents.

The lakeside development, which rights groups say will ultimately displace more than 4,000 families, is the largest and most prominent example of the urban evictions that have displaced thousands of the capital's poor in recent years. Protests by Boeung Kak residents have become a weekly occurrence in Phnom Penh, as homes are flooded or even submerged by the filling of the lake and villagers charge that they are being denied market value in compensation for their homes.

Kep Chuktema's letter follows Chinese-language news reports from September stating that Hung Jun had set up a partnership in July with Shukaku and Cambodia International Investment Development Group.

CIIDG is also linked to Lao Meng Khin. According to an undated government investment publication available online, the firm runs a special economic zone in Sihanoukville, with Lao Meng Khin listed as the "zone developer".

In a 2009 announcement to the Malaysian stock exchange, Malaysia's Leader Universal Holdings announced a proposed joint venture agreement with CIIDG to develop a coal-fired power plant in Sihanoukville. The listed headquarters for CIIDG in the announcement is the same Daun Penh district address that houses Pheapimex, a local conglomerate owned by Lao Meng Khin's wife, Choeung Sopheap.

In September, Hung Jun chairman Wang Linxiang traveled to Cambodia for a meeting with Hun Sen that was also attended by Choeung Sopheap. The lake development was part of a US$3 billion package of investment deals that also included a 750-megawatt power station in Sihanoukville and a bauxite exploration project in Mondulkiri province, according to Chinese news reports.

At the time, Eang Sophalleth, assistant to Hun Sen, told The Post that the meeting was to discuss the power station project and real estate developments, but did not mention Boeung Kak lake.

The prime minister, Eang Sophalleth said, "fully supported" Hung Jun's proposals. Eang Sophalleth did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

Shukaku representative Lao Vann declined to comment yesterday on the Hung Jun partnership.

"I don't know about this, and now I am sorry, I'm busy finding a solution for people who have volunteered to receive compensation," he said.

Chinese Embassy spokesman Qian Hai denied that any Chinese firm was involved with the project, declining to comment on Kep Chuktema's letter or the Chinese news reports on Hung Jun's involvement.

"There's no Chinese company involved at this stage," he said.

Some Boeung Kak residents said this week that they would boycott all Chinese products if Hung Jun does not send a representative to negotiate with them.

"We will starve to death if they do not find a solution for us and forcibly evict us from our homes," 32-year-old lakeside resident Naon Sok Nen said yesterday.

City Hall claims around 2,000 families from the lack have already accepted compensation packages.

Those facing eviction have received varying compensation options, including cash payments of $8500, housing at a relocation site in Dangkor district, or on-site relocation, the plans for which have yet to materialise. In the meantime, many of those still in their homes have complained of rashes and health problems as the lake-filling inundates the community with floodwaters and sewage.

"The Chinese… should conduct the impact assessment and should do a public consultation with the residents," said Sia Phearum, secretariat director of Housing Rights Task Force.

Kep Chuktema said in his letter to the premier that the relocation process was going smoothly, held up only by "powerful people and opportunists trying to make difficulty for the company". But Nora Lindstrom, programme development manager at local housing NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, called this claim unfounded.

"Faced with forced eviction, it is the residents right to demand adequate compensation that does not push them into poverty," she said in an email.

Sia Phearum said Kep Chuktema and his subordinates likely felt pressure to emphasise "potential for development and benefit" rather than giving a proper account of the project.

"The residents really want to meet with the government, top leaders of the municipality, or the private companies, both local and Chinese," Sia Phearum said. "They want to support the government, but so far, there's no public consultation - they never consult with the people."


Preah Vihear villagers lodge NGO complaint

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 09:10 AM PST

Thursday, 06 January 2011
Tep Nimol
The Phnom Penh Post

SIX representatives of more than 100 families from Kantuot commune in Preah Vihear province's Choam Ksan district have filed complaints to the interior and defence ministries, requesting an intervention into an ongoing land dispute with an NGO accused of clearing farmland and using intimidation and violence against the residents. Hun Daren, a village representative, said the six travelled to Phnom Penh on Monday to file complaints about the Drug and AIDS Research and Prevention Organisation. Pen Loem, the director of DARPO and a one-star general with the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, could not be reached for comment.

Situation Along Thai-Cambodian Border Remains Stable

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 09:07 AM PST

BANGKOK, Jan 6 (Bernama) -- The situation along the Thai-Cambodian border in Thailand's eastern Sa Kaeo Province, where seven Thai nationals were arrested last week, has remained calm, as people on both sides of the common border are waiting for a Cambodian court's verdicts against the Thai nationals--which were expected later on Thursday, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported.

A TNA reporter said that the situation along the Thai-Cambodian border near Ban Nong Jan area of Non Mak Mun Sub-district in Khok Sung District of Sa Kaeo has remained stable,as supporters of the Thai Patriots Network left the province yesterday after staging a rally demanding the release of the seven Thai detainees by Cambodian authorities.

The Thai activists were heading for Government House in Bangkok--where they would resume their protest against the Cambodian government and call on the Thai government to assist the seven Thai people.

Local villagers in Khok Sung said they are afraid that the Thai Patriots Network activists would return to their district if the Cambodian court sentenced the seven Thai people to imprisonment or rejected their bail.

Meanwhile, Thai Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti will represent Thailand to discuss border demarcation issues near the ancient Preah Vihear Temple with Cambodian Deputy Prime minister Sok An.

Suwit insisted, however, that the negotiation would have nothing to do with the arrest and detention of the seven Thai people, as it was earlier scheduled--aimed to soon address unsettled territorial issues in the area--where a Thai national park stands next to the Preah Vihear Temple.

Suwit acknowledged that a Thai working group is preparing a complaint against a Cambodian proposal on its unilateral management of the Preah Vihear Temple and its vicinity as a World Heritage site to be submitted before the next meeting of the UN World Heritage Committee in Bahrain this July.

CAMBODIA: Winning the battle against schistosomiasis

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 09:02 AM PST

Freshwater snails act as hosts for the parasitic disease (Photo: Lynn Maung/IRIN)
KRATIE, 6 January 2011 (IRIN) - Health officials in Cambodia are making inroads in their battle against schistosomiasis, a chronic and debilitating disease commonly known as snail fever.

In northeastern Cambodia, more than 80,000 people living along the 5,000km-long Mekong River are at risk of schistosomiasis, according to the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (CNM).

"We've seen a very [big] drop from the last decade," Muth Sinuon, a parasitic worms specialist at the government body, said. She places current prevalence rates at less than 5 percent - a steep fall from the mid-1990s.

"Back around 1995, we saw that between 30 and 70 percent of people in Kratie and Stung Treng were infected," she said. The chronic disease is endemic in the two poor, remote provinces in northeastern Cambodia.

Schistosomiasis is known as snail fever because the parasite lives in freshwater snails. According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), people become infected when larval forms of the parasite - released by freshwater snails - penetrate their skin during contact with infested water.

In Cambodia, residents go fishing in rivers when water levels are low during the dry season, from February to May, and contract the disease from infested water.

The disease spreads through bathing, washing laundry and fetching water, Muth said.

Left untreated, the worm is perilous even though mortality is low. Schistosomiasis can cause bloody faeces and urine, a bloated belly, intestine damage, liver disease and bladder cancer, say health experts.

In terms of its social and economic impacts, snail fever is second only to malaria as the most devastating parasitic disease in tropical countries, according to the Carter Center, a non-profit charity based at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Risk to children

Because of their hygiene and play habits in the water, children are particularly at risk.

"These parasites cause growth retardation in children, short- and long-term memory problems, difficulty with reasoning and reading comprehension," said Taing Tek Hong, a US-based Cambodian gastroenterologist, who travels regularly to Cambodia.

Heavily infected people are at risk of malnutrition.

Parasite's lifecycle

When human urine or faeces containing the parasite's eggs enter the water, the eggs hatch and release larvae, which search for river snails that live in the fissures of partially submerged rocks.

They enter the snail and multiply, then look for a new host in the water. They break through human skin and infiltrate the blood, move to the liver, and grow into worms.

From there, the worms travel through the blood, laying thousands of eggs in the intestine or bladder.


Since 2002, the Cambodian government has overseen a vast deworming programme. In 2004, the country was the first to reach the WHO's goal of covering three-quarters of school-aged children, or three million people.

Once a year in Kratie and Stung Treng, authorities treat schistosomiasis patients with Praziquantel, a drug that is usually effective with a single dose.

The campaign has led to a drastic fall in cases, said Duong Socheat, head of the CNM.

Even so, more needs to be done to improve sanitation and education, he said.

Many people still defecate into rivers because they have limited access to toilets. Fewer than 16 percent of rural Cambodians have access to adequate sanitation, says the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

According to WHO, around the world, 700 million people may be at risk of schistosomiasis. More than 207 million people are infected worldwide, the majority in Africa. Most live in poor communities without access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.

Control of schistosomiasis is based on drug treatment, snail control, improved sanitation and health education, the world health body says.

First Cambodian woman promoted to deputy police chief

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 08:56 AM PST

January 06, 2011

Un Sokunthea became Cambodia's first female deputy police chief on Thursday.

The promotion ceremony was held at the Ministry of Interior chaired by Em Sam An, secretary of state of Ministry of Interior, said Keat Chantharith, spokesman of National Police Commissariat.

Just prior to her promotion, Major Gen. Un Sokunthea served as deputy director of central justice department of Interior Ministry.

Her appointment will bring to a total of 11 the country's deputy police chiefs, but she is the first woman to be promoted to Lieutenant General.

In the current cabinet members, there are two women who serve as deputy prime minister and minister of women's affairs respectively, while several others serve as secretary of states.

Chavanond: Bail requests Monday

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 08:51 AM PST

Bangkok Post

Applications for the release on bail of the seven Thais arrested in Cambodia are likely to be filed in the Phnom Penh Court on Monday, foreign minister's secretary Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said on Thursday.

Mr Chavanond said the court was expected to complete the questioning of the seven detained Thais today, because there will be a long holiday in Cambodia from tomorrow.

Defence lawyers were still awaiting details of charges levied against each of them, he said.

"The bail requests cannot be filed today since the court has not yet given its decision. It is expected this will be on Monday," he said. Bail applications would be filed immediately.

As of 5pm it was reported that the court had finished questioning five of the seven Thais.

Yellow-shirt Veera Somkwankid, a leading member of the Thai Patriots Network, was the last to be examined by the judge.

Trial Opens in Cambodia for Thai Nationals

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 08:44 AM PST

Thai 'Yellow Shirt' activist Veera Somkwamkid (L) and Thai Democrat Party lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth (R) walk at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, 6 Jan 2011 (Photo: AFP)
Ron Corben, VOA
Bangkok 06 January 2011

A Cambodian court has begun hearings into the cases of seven Thais arrested last month for illegally entering the country. Some political analysts say the episode raises questions over the government's close ties with nationalist group, the People's Alliance for Democracy.

The Thais, including a member of parliament, were brought before a judge Thursday in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. They were detained December 29 after crossing into Cambodia.

If found guilty of illegal entry and entering a military area, the seven could face jail terms of up to 18 months.

The leader, Panich Vikitsreth, is a member of the Democrat Party of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Among those arrested was Veera Somkwamkid, a former leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy, and of the Thailand Patriot Network, an offshoot of the PAD. Veera was briefly detained last year in the same area but was quickly sent back to Thailand.

The Thailand Patriot Network says Cambodian nationals occupy Thai territory along the border in Sa Kaeo province, 245 kilometers from Bangkok.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, says the evidence indicates a deliberate crossing into Cambodia.

"The videos, the evidence so far and the statements from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - including senior officials - suggest that the seven Thais who have been arrested did indeed cross over into Cambodian territory," Thitinan said. "But what it says about the Patriotic Thais or the Patriot Thai Network is that it is intent on stirring up trouble."

In video clips posted on the Internet, Panich is seen speaking on a mobile phone, saying he crossed into Cambodia and asks that Abhisit's secretary be told.

Thitinan says the incident points to the PAD's influence on the Abhisit government. The PAD played a key role in protests that led to a military coup to oust former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006.

And in 2008 PAD demonstrators shut down Bangkok's airports and occupied the prime minister's office building, until court rulings removed two pro-Thaksin governments.

After that, parliamentary maneuvering brought Abhisit to power. Thitinan says those ties to the PAD are now hurting the government.

"This is a reminder that the liability from having been so closely tied to the PAD has come back to haunt and boomerang against the Democrat Party and the Abhisit government. It shows also that the government does not seem to know what its doing," Thitinan said.

The arrests have hurt efforts to improve relations with Cambodia. Ties had deteriorated after Thaksin visited Cambodia in 2009. He faces corruption charges at home and lives abroad.

Thai foreign ministry officials said the Phnom Penh court Thursday completed hearings for three of the detainees. More hearings must be held before a verdict is handed down.

The Thai government says it is working to get the seven released and sent home.

Thai Foreign Ministry: No additional spying charges against 7 Thais

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 07:59 AM PST

BANGKOK, Jan 6 (MCOT online news) – Thailand's Foreign Ministry on Thursday said no charge of espionage has been filed against the seven Thais detained in Cambodia for allegedly illegally trespassing into the neighbouring country, despite reports that the Cambodian authorities have evidence to charge one of the detainees for spying to gather military information.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi reported so far that the hearings for the first four Thai nationals have been conducted.

Democrat MP for Bangkok Panich Vikitsreth, who was also a former deputy minister of foreign affairs, was the first of the seven who was questioned in court for four hours on Thursday morning.

Mr Thani said the ministry hopes the hearing for the seven will be completed within today. If not, the hearing will continue on Monday as Friday is a public holiday in Phnom Penh.

Following the reports that an additional charge of spying to gather military information will be further filed against activist Veera Somkwamkid, the spokesman reaffirmed that so far the ministry has been officially informed that only two charges filed against the seven Thais.

One was illegal entry into the Cambodian kingdom with punishment of three to six months of imprisonment and deportation, while the second charge involved trespass into a Cambodian military area without permission with three to six months of jail term and Bt7,500-15,000 in fines.

Mr Thani said that the morning hearing was a closed session and that Thai embassy officials in Phnom Penh were barred from observing the process. Only two Cambodian lawyers hired by Thai authorities were allowed to present at the hearing with the seven detainees.

"This moment is very sensitive. The lawyers do not want the Thai foreign ministry and the Thai embassy to give interviews to the media as this can affect the case and the testimony of the remaining detainees," said the foreign ministry spokesman.

The seven, including Panich and Thai Patriots Network leader Veera Somkwamkid, were taken from Prey Sor Prison in Phnom Penh to the court early this morning amid an army of local and international media.

The Thais were arrested by Cambodian soldiers on Dec 29 near Nong Jan village in Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet district.

Mr Veera was arrested for trespassing into Cambodian territory in August last year but Thai border patrol police in Sa Kaeo convinced the local Cambodian authorities to release him at that time.

The Cambodian lawyers have met with the seven defendants but details of their discussions cannot be disclosed, according to Mr Thani.

When asked whether the arrest of seven Thais will affect the demarcation activities of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC), Mr Thani stated that both countries agreed earlier that this issue will not be mixed up with the talks.

The fourth meeting of the JBC will still be held in Phnom Penh. The arrest of the seven Thais occurred as they visited the dispute area, Mr Thani said, where they did not know exactly which the land belonged to which country. He asserted that this will not affect the upcoming border talks.

Meanwhile, key leader of Thailand Patriot Network Chaiwat Sinsuwong on Thursday submitted a complaint letter to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen via the Cambodian ambassador to Bangkok, opposing the legal action against the seven Thais.

The network stated that the Cambodian move to proceed with legal action against the seven was considered in violation of the Geneva Convention.

Mr Chaiwat added the group will also hand in the complaint letter over the case to the International Red Cross tomorrow.

Cambodian court adjourns

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 01:19 AM PST

Thursday, January 06, 2011
The Nation

Cambodian Court completed hearings on three of seven Thais comprising Democrat MP Panich Vikitsetr, who were charged with illegal entry into Cambodian soil, secretary to the Thai FM said Thursday.

Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said in Bangkok that the Cambodian court adjourned for a lunch break at noon.

During the morning session, three suspects; Panich and two female suspects, testified against charges that they illegally entered Cambodian soil last Wednesday.

The three were among seven Thais arrested and charged during their inspection trip in Sa Kaew's Kok Sung district. Cambodia claimed that they were on Cambodian soil during the time of arrests.

P.Penh Court finishes examining Panich

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 01:18 AM PST

Bangkok Post

A Phnom Penh court has finished the questioning of Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth and two other members of his team also arrested on the border, foreign minister's secretary to Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said on Thursday afternoon.

Seven Thais were arrested on Dec 29 and charged with illegal entry and trespassing on a restricted military zone in Cambodia.

They were taken from Prey Sor prison to the court on Thursday morning when the questioning of the defendants began.

The court examined the defendants individually, and had finished questioning of Mr Panich and two Thai women on the team, Mr Chavanond said.

Mr Chavanond said he did not expect the court to deliver a verdict today. There would be a long holiday starting tomorrow in Cambodia, so when the verdict would be given was not known.

Relatives of the defendants, reporters and Thai embassy officials were not allowed inside the courtroom.

The relatives returned to a hotel after seeing them arrive at the court.

Mr Panich and the others, including Veera Somkwamkid, a former leader of the yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy, were charged last week with illegal entry and unlawfully entering a military area, offences that carry a combined maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.

The group were arrested near a military encampment in Banteay Meanchey's O'Chrou district while attempting to "investigate" the contentious border demarcation process between Thailand and Cambodia.

Sacrava's Political Cartoon: A Brief History of January 7, 1979-2011

Posted: 06 Jan 2011 01:13 AM PST

Blue uniform goes well with the Yellow PAD Thais

Posted: 05 Jan 2011 10:59 PM PST

(All Photos: DAP-news)

Seven Thais taken to court for first hearing on illegal entry into Cambodia

Posted: 05 Jan 2011 10:50 PM PST

PHNOM PENH, Jan 6 (MCOT online news) -- A Cambodian court on Thursday begin hearing the illegal entry cases against seven Thais detained by Cambodian troops as they inspected the Thai-Cambodian border in Sa Kaeo province adjacent the Cambodian province of Banteay Meanchey.

The seven, including Democrat MP for Bangkok Panich Vikitsreth and Thai Patriots Network leader Veera Somkwamkid, were taken from Prey Sor Prison in Phnom Penh to the court early this morning amid an army of local and international media.

The Thais were arrested by Cambodian soldiers on Dec 29 near Nong Jan village in Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet district.

A Cambodian court charged them with illegal entry and trespass into a Cambodian military area.

But Mr Veera was reportedly may face additional charges of spying for military information.

Mr Veera was once arrested for trespassing into Cambodian territory in August last year when he said he was inspecting the disputed border area at Ban Nong Chan, in Sa Kaew's Khok Sung district. However, Thai border patrol police in Sa Kaeo to convinced the local Cambodian authorities to release Mr Veera at that time.

The seven Thais will testify in court one by one and a bail request will be submitted for each of them.

Media members are not permitted to attend the hearing; only members of families of the detained Thais and Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials were allowed to enter the court room.

Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, secretary to the Thai minister of foreign affairs, said the ministry would wait for the result of the hearing and, if the court permits, bail requests will be submitted.

If the court gives verdict on the same day, he said, the ministry would be ready to extend next step of assistance.

The Royal Thai Survey Department earlier confirmed the seven were 55 metres inside territory claimed by Cambodia when arrested, and the encroachment was likely because of a misunderstanding about the border line.
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