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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

PM firm on temple plan

'No Thai cooperation' on Preah Vihear area

Thailand will not cooperate with the World Heritage Committee if it agrees to a management plan for the Preah Vihear temple that infringes upon the disputed border area, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva says.

The prime minister is sending a message to the WHC meeting which is expected to discuss Cambodia's management plan for the Hindu temple and its surrounding areas before the gathering, which began on Sunday in Brasilia, Brazil's capital, ends next Tuesday .

The Cambodian-sponsored plan is on the WHC agenda for its 21-member committee to discuss.

Phnom Penh is required to submit the management plan for WHC approval after the temple was placed on the world heritage listing of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in 2008.

Thailand's main concern is that the overlapping territory of 4.6 square kilometres, which has not been demarcated, could be included in the plan and jeopardise negotiations to sort out the area, which has been the main source of border conflicts between the two countries.

Thailand last year successfully blocked the plan at the meeting of the WHC in Seville, Spain.

This time, Mr Abhisit is refusing to cooperate with the WHC on the issue as the conflict over sovereignty of the area remains unsettled.

He reiterated yesterday Thailand's stance on opposing the management plan, which he says should not be brought up for discussion until the two countries resolve their dispute over the territory.

If the WHC's resolution on the management plan affects Thai sovereignty, the government will make it clear that it will not accept it, he said after talks with key leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) at Ban Phitsanulok.

The prime minister met with the PAD's co-leader Pibhop Dhongchai, the movement's spokesman Panthep Puapongpan, Senator Kamnoon Sitthisamarn and historian ML Walwipha Charoonroj, who leads the Preah Vihear listing monitoring network.

With the Brasilia meeting scheduled to discuss the issue, the PAD, led by Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang, and 1,000 supporters converged on Unesco's Sukhumvit office yesterday in an effort to derail the Cambodian effort and call for a review of the registration of Preah Vihear as a world heritage site.

The rally broke up after officials from the UN agency agreed to forward the demands to the WHC meeting.

The 21 members of the serving WHC committee are Thailand, Cambodia, Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Brazil, China, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Iraq, Jordan, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti is leading the Thai delegation to Brasilia to try to stifle Cambodia's management plan.

Mr Kamnoon said the PAD and the government shared a similar view on protecting the country's sovereignty.

He said he felt "relieved" since the government had prepared measures to be taken against the UN agency if it ignores Thailand's stance.

But Maj Gen Chamlong apparently did not feel that way. He said it would be difficult for the Thai delegation to support its objection to the management plan for the temple and its surrounding area, but warned the PAD would not give up its rallies to block it.

"We need to reaffirm our position because we don't believe that the Thai representatives will be able to oppose Cambodia's plan," he said.

"But we still have time to protest until the decision is made. Another series of protests will be definitely arranged to have our voices heard."

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear belonged to Cambodia.

The disputed area near the temple is claimed by Thailand as part of Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket.
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Protests In Bangkok Over UNESCO Temple Listing

(RTTNews) - Hundreds of people staged a rally in Thailand's capital Bangkok on Tuesday to protest the listing of the disputed Preah Vihear border temple in Cambodia as a World Heritage site.

The protesters marched to the UNESCO building on Bangkok's Sukhumvit Road to protest an international court ruling that gave management control over the temple to Cambodia despite a lingering territorial dispute over land adjacent to the Hindu shrine.

The protesters also handed over a petition against the listing of the temple as a heritage site to UNESCO officials, who in turn promised to forward it to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee before it meets in Brazil later this week.

span class="fullpost">The protesters also presented a similar petition to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya later in the day.

Abhisit has already indicated that his government will oppose Cambodia's management plan for the preservation of the 11th century temple at the UNESCO annual meeting on heritage sites in Brazil.

The temple protest was led by the the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD). The rally was held despite a standing emergency decree that bans political gatherings of more than five people and allows authorities to make arrests without filing charges.

The emergency decree was issued in April after a military crackdown ended months of protests by anti-government 'Red Shirt' volunteers in the Thai capital. At least 50 people were killed in the crackdown, bringing the total death toll to 77 since the protests began in mid-March.

Currently, relations between Thailand and Cambodia remain strained over the ancient temple on their border. Both countries claim ownership of the temple, which is located inside Cambodian territory. However, the main approach to the temple is from Thailand.

Cambodian and Thai troops had clashed briefly near the temple in July 2008. Since then, situation along the Thai-Cambodia border had been tense as both countries raised their troop levels at their respective boarders.

Dispute over the temple arose after an international court awarded the place of worship to Cambodia in 1962, and escalated after UNESCO listed it as a World Heritage Site recently. The dispute has led to several clashes between Armies of the two countries near the temple. Read more!

Kent man pleads guilty in Cambodia child exploitation case

Posted by John de Leon

A Kent man pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to sexual exploitation of a child in connection with a January trip to Cambodia where he had sex with underage girls, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Craig Carr, 59, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, and up to 30 years in prison, when he is sentenced in October.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Carr made contact over the Internet with a person in Cambodia who agreed to find girls for Carr to have sex with during a visit to the country. Carr paid the individual approximately $8,000 for sex with the girls during a week-long trip to Cambodia. Carr reportedly told the person arranging the sexual encounters that he wanted the girls to be about 12 years old.

Carr traveled from Seattle to Phnom Penh on Jan. 13. When he was arrested nine days later he admitted that he had sex with three young girls during his stay in Cambodia, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. His camera contained pictures of three young victims. Two of the victims have been located. Read more!

Striking female workers paid just £1 a day at factory which makes clothes for Gap and Adidas are beaten by riot police

By Richard Shears

Riot police used electric shock batons to beat women sweatshop workers when they stopped producing fashion labels for the UK and other Western nations in Cambodia today.

The image of heavily-armed police in protective clothing using their shields and batons to crush a strike by poverty-stricken women workers will do nothing to improve the tarnished image of designer label companies who run Asian sweatshops.

At least nine women were injured when more than 100 police, more than half in riot gear and armed with assault rifles, tried to force 3,000 women workers back into their factory.

Batons out: Nine garment workers were injured today in clashes with riot police in Phnom Penh as officials tried to end a week-long strike over the suspension of a local union official

Some women, who earn less than £1 a day, fell to the ground where they were attacked and stunned by police batons.

Workers in Cambodian sweatshops have risen up in recent protests against low pay and harsh working conditions, but today's walk-out was over the suspension of a local union official.

The factory, on the outskirts of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, is owned by a Malaysian firm and produces garments for the big names of fashion and sport - Gap, Benetton, Adidas and Puma. The factory contributes to Cambodia's clothing, textiles and shoes exports which were valued at more than £1 billion last year.

Police used shields and electric shock batons as they tried to force workers back into the PCCS Garments factory, which produces items for companies including Gap, Benetton, Adidas and Puma

All four clothing and sporting companies linked to the factory have come under severe criticism from investigators for the harsh conditions endured and low wages given to their Third World employees.

Reports by charities such as Oxfam have found that the apparel industry, whether for designer labels or for garments that carry the names of big sporting companies such as Adidas, Nike and Puma, uses and abuses sweatshops.
Oxfam points out that workers in developing countries are paid minimal wages and are often forced to endure long hours in harsh and often dangerous conditions producing some of the world's most expensive and coveted brands.

The Cambodian garment industry has been plagued by strikes over low pay and working conditions. Most employees make less than $100 a month and many receive a monthly wage of as little as $50

It is the sportswear and garment industry that employs mostly women - and the demonstration at the Cambodian factory yesterday was evidence of that as by the hundred they poured out of the premises in support of their suspended union official.
Riot police rushed to the factory after a court order was given to them to clear the roads and force the women back to work.

The brutality the women suffered brought an end to their strike and they returned to the factory, part of an estimated 300,000 people who work in the garment manufacturing sector.

When they have saved enough of their meagre wages, they send what they can back to their impoverished rural villages, where people struggle on as little as 50 pence a day.

Temporary reprieve? Police managed to bring the demonstration to an end, and union leaders are now talking to the workers about calling off their action
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