CAMBODIA: Thailand and Cambodia must put people before politics 

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to forward to you the following press release from the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

Asian Human Rights Commission
Hong Kong


A Press Release from the Cambodian Center for Human Rights forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

CAMBODIA: Thailand and Cambodia must put people before politics

PRESS RELEASE: Phnom Penh, 7 February 2011 Thailand and Cambodia must put people before politics:

CCHR condemns ongoing fighting at Preah Vihear and supports calls for international intervention The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (“CCHR”) condemns the ongoing fighting in the area surrounding the Preah Vihear on the Cambodian-Thai border. As the human toll rises in the dispute over an area of 4.6 kilometers surrounding the temple, CCHR calls on both sides to put people before politics and to immediately end the ongoing conflict. The failure of bilateral attempts to resolve the border issue has resulted in three days of clashes. As both sides increase their military presence along the border, the need for international mediation to ease tensions and conclusively determine the border issue becomes increasingly clear so as to ensure that fighting ends once and for all.

Thai sources claim that up to 65 Cambodian soldiers have been killed while a spokesman for the Cambodian government has claimed 30 Thai losses since the fighting broke out again on 4 February 2011 (although other sources put casualties as low as five people between the two sides). Up to 3,000 people are reported to have fled villages on the Thai side, while hundreds of Cambodians have been evacuated from villages on the Cambodian side, with Thai shells reported to have landed as far as 27km inside Cambodian territory. Furthermore, it is understood that significant damage has been caused to the temple itself by indiscriminate artillery fire in violation of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of an Armed Conflict.

In our May 2009 Legal Analysis of the events of 3 April 2009 that resulted in the destruction of a village and damage to the Preah Vihear Temple, CCHR called upon the United Nations (the “UN”) and the Association of South East Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) to intervene and mediate between the two sides. Two years on, the stand-off between Cambodia and Thailand is worse than ever, with yesterday seeing the worst fighting since tensions broke out in July 2008. Thailand’s continued assurances that a solution can be reached using existing bilateral mechanisms – a planned Thai letter to the UN Security Council is reportedly intended merely to inform the council of the situation rather than to ask for intervention – belie the reality and threaten only to draw out the conflict further. Bilateral efforts to delineate the border unambiguously have clearly failed, and, given the ever-growing human toll, it is high time that external parties intervene.

CCHR therefore welcomes the news that Indonesian Foreign Minister and current ASEAN
Chairman Marty Natalegawa is due to visit Cambodia today for talks aimed at easing tensions along the disputed border, and that Prime Minister Hun Sen has written to the UN Security Council urging UN intervention. CCHR unreservedly supports the Royal Government of Cambodia’s attempts to resolve the border issue through international and regional forums. In the light of reports that Thai paratroopers have been deployed along the border with Cambodia’s Banteay Meanchey province, more than 100km from the Preah Vihear temple, it is imperative that the issue is resolved before the fighting escalates and more people are killed, injured or displaced.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is reportedly under pressure from the nationalist “Yellow Shirt” movement to adopt a harder line against Cambodia and to resist alleged border encroachment, especially in the aftermath of the espionage convictions of Yellow Shirts Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipatanapaibul. CCHR urges both sides to put people before politics by immediately ending the ongoing clashes and to invite the UN and ASEAN to help broker a peaceful and permanent solution to this long-running border dispute. For more information, please contact:

Ou Virak, President of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights Tel: +855 12 40 40 51 Email:

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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Document Type : Forwarded Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-FPR-008-2011
Countries : Cambodia, Thailand,
Issues : State of emergency & martial law,