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Friday, September 09, 2011

PM, Thaksin in Cambodia next week

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will arrive in Phnom Penh next week to talk to the Cambodian government - a day after his sister, Yingluck, is due to arrive on an official visit.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra greets Cambodian ambassador to Thailand You Ay at Government House yesterday. You Ay was part of an Asean ambassadorial group that met Ms Yingluck for talks. CHANAT KATANYU

Ms Yingluck is expected on a one-day visit on Thursday, as she makes the rounds of neighbouring Association of Southeast Asian countries in her first foray overseas since becoming prime minister.

Thaksin is due in Cambodia a day later, for talks on Thai-Cambodian disputes regarding Preah Vihear temple and the disputed maritime area in the Gulf of Thailand. Unless one or the other changes his schedule, they are unlikely to meet.

Thaksin planned to visit Cambodia from Friday until the following Monday, said a Pheu Thai source. His legal adviser Noppadon Pattama will meet him in Phnom Penh. The two will talk to Cambodian officers about the Preah Vihear temple and the disputed maritime area.

They could also ask Cambodian authorities about helping two Thais - Veera Somkwamkid, a coordinator of the Thai Patriots Network, and Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, Veera's secretary - who have been jailed in Cambodia on a charge of spying and illegal entry since last December. The source said Thaksin and his legal adviser might try to convince the Cambodian government to agree on an inmates exchange.

Then, Veera and Ratree, who have been sentenced to eight years and six years in jail respectively, could be released from their prison in Cambodia while the Thai government would release Cambodian prisoners that have been jailed in Thailand on espionage charges.

It is unknown whether Thaksin intends to stay on until Sept 24 when Pheu Thai MPs will play football with representatives from the Cambodian government in a friendship match in Phnom Penh.

Pheu Thai list MP Natthawut Saikua said Pheu Thai MPs who will play football with the Cambodian government's team will not hold any talks with the Cambodian government because they are not representatives of the Thai government.

However, he will ask for suggestions from Cambodian officers on ways to help Veera and Ratree out of prison, said Mr Natthawut.

Cambodian ambassador to Thailand You Ay yesterday met Ms Yingluck at Government House.

He joined ambassadors of Asean member countries and chiefs of international organisations paying a courtesy call on Ms Yingluck.

The envoys offered congratulations to Ms Yingluck on her becoming leader of the Pheu Thai-led coalition government, said government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisaeng. Among the visitors was the Indonesian ambassador to Thailand Mohammad Hatta, who said her government was ready to welcome Ms Yingluck to Indonesia next week.
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Cambodia: Officials, police disrupt rights training event again

By Aliran

For the second time in less than a month, a human rights training event in Cambodia has been disrupted by men carrying AK-47s, reports the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights.

Village, commune and district authorities, together with police armed with AK­47s, disrupted a human rights training event on 7 September. The event was organised by the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) and the Natural Resources Protection Group (NRPG) in Mean Rith commune, Sandan district, Kampong Thom Province. Those involved in the disruption threatened to arrest the organixers if the event proceeded. It was the second such disruption in a month.

While no arrests were made, officials and police photographed individuals seeking to participate in the event. The involved in the event were community members affected by the ongoing destruction of Prey Lang forest or other land conflicts as well as event organisers and observers.

The training event was the first to be held by the CCHR and the NRPG following a media report in The Cambodia Daily on 6 September. The report quoted Kampong Thom provincial police chief Phan Sopheng as accusing the two groups of inciting people through the provision of human rights training. He threatened to seek the suspension of both groups if further training events were conducted.

On 6 September, the chief monk at Wat Kiribotaram, under pressure from commune and district level officials, withdrew the permission he previously granted to both groups for the use of the pagod. The groups were supposed to hold a training event on 8 September in Dang Kambith commune for another community affected by the destruction of Prey Lang.

This morning at 8.30am, staff from CCHR and NRPG arrived in Mean Rith commune to prepare the venue for today’s training event. The training was organised in response to information from community members that deforestation activities in the area had increased of late.

In total, 34 participants registered to take part in the training although organisers were informed by participants that others had been stopped from traveling to take part in the event. Shortly after the venue was prepared, officials and police arrived and informed CCHR and NRPG that, if they were to proceed with the event, they would be arrested.

Commune and district officials stated that the organisers had failed to provide adequate notice of the event. But the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations provides that no such notice is required for “education dissemination activities” including training events. The organisers had nevertheless informed the provincial authorities of the event in writing.

Under the direction of deputy governor of Sandan district, Div Hok, police photographed all participants who had registered for the event as well as the organisers and observers from The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (LICADHO) and The Community Legal Education Center (CLEC).

Div Hok requested that the organisers provide the identity cards of all participants and observers. This request was denied. After a two hour stand-off between the authorities and the organisers, the event was eventually allowed to proceed following a discussion with Sandan district council member Uch Bunhy.

In response to the intervention of officials and armed police, Ou Virak, President of CCHR, commented:

For the second time in less than a month, a human rights training event organised by CCHR and NRPG has been disrupted by men carrying AK-47s. Again, the authorities have claimed that CCHR and NRPG have failed to satisfy notification requirements that simply do not exist. To see the authorities resort to these kinds of tactics against ordinary citizens who simply want to inform themselves of their rights under Cambodian and international law is nothing short of shocking.

Nevertheless, what I will remember most from today is not the school yard bully-boy tactics deployed by the authorities; rather it is the defiance of the participants – ordinary people motivated by their desire to inform themselves of their human rights under Cambodian and international law facing down armed police.
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Yingluck's visit to improve relations: Cambodian deputy PM

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- The visit of the newly elected Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to Cambodia next week would definitely ameliorate diplomatic ties between the governments of the two neighbors, said Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An on Friday.

Yingluck has scheduled to make a one-day official visit to Cambodia on Sept. 15 to pay courtesy call on Cambodian leaders as she just becomes the new Thai prime minister.

"The visit will build better bilateral cooperation between the two countries," he told reporters at the Phnom Penh International Airport upon his return from the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) in China's Nanning.

The urgent and facing issue the two countries need to tackle is troop pullout from the provisional demilitarized zone of surrounding the 11th century Preah Vihear temple to comply with the order of the International Court of Justice and to end the two countries' military confrontation.

It was still unclear if Prime Minister Hun Sen and Yingluck would raise this issue during the upcoming meeting, said Sok An.

Cambodia and Thailand have had sporadic border conflict over territorial dispute near Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple since the UNESCO listed the temple as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008.

However, the military tension has eased since the former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's Pheu Thai Party won a landslide victory in the general elections on July 3.

Meanwhile, Sok An, who is also chairman of Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, insisted that Cambodia and Thailand should resume oil deal negotiations for joint development at the overlapping maritime area in the Gulf of Thailand as soon as possible.

Cambodia and Thailand entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding the area of their overlapping maritime claims to the continental shelf in June 2001, setting out an agreed area to be delimited and an agreed joint development area (JDA), but the talks was in limbo during the former Thai government under Abhisit Vejjajiva's administration.
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