Archive for March 24th, 2010
A senior Cambodian army official said Wednesday his troops have killed at least 88 Thai soldiers over the past two years in clashes near an ancient temple on a disputed frontier.
General Chea Tara, a Cambodian deputy commander-in-chief who oversees military operations in the area near the Preah Vihear temple, said that 38 Thai soldiers were killed in October 2008 and another 50 in April 2009.
“We helped them to find the bodies but they still hide the figure,” he said at a briefing of government officials and lawmakers about developments in the border spat. He said only two Cambodian soldiers were killed in the clashes.
The Thai military has previously said that only three of its soldiers were killed in the 2009 gunbattle. Thai army spokesman Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd denied the new claims.
“The information is not true. If that many Thai soldiers were killed, it would have been big news since then,” he said.
Chea Tara said that soldiers on both sides have remained on “high alert”, but added that the situation near the temple was now quiet.
“Cambodian troops have enough ability to protect the territory and we have all kinds of modern weapons to counter Thai soldiers,” he added.
Cambodia and Thailand have been locked in nationalist tensions and a troop standoff at their disputed border since July 2008, when Cambodia’s 11th century Preah Vihear temple was granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
The Thai-Cambodia border has never been fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia, which ended in 1998.
Earlier this month Cambodia mounted a rare public test of rockets to protect against “invaders”, while Prime Minister Hun Sen has made several fiery speeches accusing Thai leaders of infringing on his territory.
The World Court ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia, although its main entrance lies in Thailand. The exact boundary through the surrounding grounds remains in dispute.
Relations deteriorated further in November after Hun Sen appointed ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as his economic adviser and refused to extradite him to Thailand, which he fled to avoid a jail term for corruption.
March 24, 2010
I- My previous work on the border issue (October 2009 – February 2010)
My first purpose was to show that the so-called temporary border post # 185 made up of six wooden poles which I uprooted on October 25, 2010 in Koh Kban Kandal village, in Samraong commune, Chantrea district, Svay Rieng province, was located in fact within Cambodia’s territory, at a significant distance from the real and legal border between Cambodia and Vietnam, because the poles were planted in the middle of a Cambodian farmer’s rice field.
But in the process of doing the limited work as stated above, a team of several Cambodian and French experts assisting me has examined the border situation for the entire Samraong commune involving four different locations of newly erected “border” markers (# 184, 185, 186 and 187). We found that the locations were all inside Cambodia. Then we realized that the type of border encroachment we discovered in Samraong commune could have as well taken place in other communes, other districts and other provinces given the same political and administrative context that has prevailed in Cambodia since 1979.
In the first set of documents, we showed that the newly-planted so-called temporary border posts # 184, 185, 186 and 187 in Samraong commune were all inside Cambodia whether we based our observations and analyses on the official 1952 French SGI 1/100,000 map deposited at the UN in 1964, the 1966 US Army 1/50,000 map or more recent Google Earth satellite imagery. We estimated that the four so-called temporary border posts had been wrongfully planted inside Cambodia at a distance between 300 meters and 500 meters from the legal international border as delineated on both the French map and the US map.
In the second set of documents, we identified three real and legal border points in the vicinity of Samraong commune but in a zone now controlled by Vietnam. The geographical coordinates of those border points are specified in the 1985 Border Treaty between Cambodia and Vietnam (available at the Council of Ministers’ website
http://www.pressocm.gov.kh/border/11.php). As a matter of fact, we could confirm that those official border points are effectively located on — or extremely near — the border line as delineated on existing maps. However, we noticed that, on the two recognized maps as well as on satellite imagery, those three official border points are located much to the East of the newly-planted “temporary border posts” # 184 through 187, meaning that the latter clearly encroach on Cambodia’s territory, in stark violation of the 1985 Border Treaty.
Therefore, the so-called temporary border post I pulled out last year (# 185) and those nearby (# 184, 186 and 187) were not real border posts: They had been illegally planted well inside Cambodian territory on Khmer farmers’ rice fields.
The result of our previous work as described above is now confirmed by the new report attached herewith, which is more elaborated, more exhaustive and most authoritative.
II- The new report (March 23, 2010)
This 14-page report in French titled “Géoréférencement des Cartes Trang Bang et Duc Hue” was written by Mr Régis Caloz, a physicist and map expert specialized in Geographic Information System (GIS), who was a professor at the renowned Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, in Switzerland. I was introduced to Mr Caloz by the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
Here are the main points of the report:
- All the maps and official documents that we have used so far are real, genuine and authentic (pages 2 to 4).
- The analytical methods and tools we used previously were, on the whole, accurate. But more sophisticated, more refined and more precise methods and tools are used in the new report (page 4 to 10). A theoretical mistake we made previously related to a datum conversion has been fixed but with no change whatsoever in the final result (page 10): “Les points GPS sous WGS 84, convertis directement en UTM 48 sans modification de l’ellipsoïde et introduits sur la carte Duc Hue en UTM 48 sous Everest (Indes) 60, se superposent aux points obtenus en suivant la procédure de la première hypothèse comportant logiquement la conversion de datum.”
- All the results we found previously are confirmed by the new report, which only brings more certainty and more precision to our previous conclusions, in particular (pages 10 to 14):
- The so-called temporary border posts # 184, 185, 186 and 187 are located at a distance of respectively 368 m, 319 m, 493 m and 483 m from the real and legal border, with a margin of error of plus or minus 100 m. In the worst case, those fake and illegal border posts are located at 268 m, 219 m, 393 m and 383 m from the real and legal border, meaning well inside Cambodia’s territory (page 12).
- Even the controversial 1985 Border Treaty is being violated, with Vietnam continuously moving the de facto (imposed) border into Cambodia’s territory. The continuous encroachment has followed a two-step process (pages 13 and 14):
- a) First, from the original legal border line — where we can spot the three border points 1985-143, 1985-144 (very near Canal 1 on Google satellite imagery, page 14) and 1985-145 — to a more recent canal (Canal 2 on Google satellite imagery) dug in 1979 in Cambodia’s territory, from 100 m to 300 m to the west of the original legal border line. Canal 2 currently represents the de facto border line.
- b) Second, there is presently an attempt to move again the border line from the 1979 canal (Canal 2) to the new “temporary border posts” 184, 185, 186 and 187 planted from 100 m to 300 m further to the west in 2008-2009, infringing on rice fields belonging to Cambodian farmers I have been trying to defend.
- c) The current government in Phnom Penh has shown its negligence and/or incompetence when it comes to dealing with the defense of Cambodia’s territorial integrity as enshrined in the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements and in the Kingdom’s Constitution.
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Cambodia claims killing 88 Thais during 2008-9កម្ពុជាអះអាងថាបានសម្លាប់ទាហាន ឈ្លានពាន ថៃអស់៨៨នាក់ក្នង ការប្រយុទ្ទគ្នាពីឆ្នាំ ២០០៨ដល់២០០៩
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) – Cambodia claimed Wednesday that its forces killed scores of Thai soldiers in clashes during 2008-9 around a disputed ancient temple along the frontier, but Thailand said only two or three of its troops had died.
Neither claim could be verified, nor was it clear why Cambodia chose to announce the casualty figures at this time amid continuing tension in relations.
Gen. Chea Tara, who commands Cambodian forces in the disputed area, said the situation at the disputed border near the Preah Vihear temple was now quiet but that soldiers of both sides remain on high alert.
“Now Cambodia has enough weapons and forces to protect its territory. You (Thais) don’t want to be fighting with us,” the general told hundreds of Cambodian government officials and lawmakers.
“We also have enough reserve forces and weapons to help the front line if needed.”
The long-running dispute over Preah Vihear heated up in July 2008 when UNESCO, the U.N. cultural agency, approved Cambodia’s bid to have the 11th century temple named a World Heritage site.
Thailand initially supported the bid but then reneged after the move sparked outrage and protests by Thai nationalists.