SRP plans to visit other border posts with neighboring countries

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Location of border post no. 270 in Anh-chanh villager, Chey Chauk commune, Borey Chulsa district, Takeo province on 12 June 2010.

19 June 2010

By Den Aythyea
Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Socheata
Click here to read the article in Khmer

SRP leaders plan to visit numerous planting of border posts along the border between Cambodia and neighboring countries in secret in the upcoming days.

Opposition officials have accused that the planting of border stakes by government experts and experts from neighboring countries affected the territorial integrity of Cambodia, in addition to causing the loss of rice fields owned by Cambodian farmers.

Yim Sovann, SRP MP and SRP spokesman, told RFA this weekend that in the upcoming days, SRP officials plan to travel to visit the planting of all border stakes that Cambodia agreed with neighboring countries.

He added that the planned visit to these border stakes stems from the fact that the SRP received information from local villagers living along the border claiming that the planting of border stakes between Cambodia and neighboring countries, in particular with Vietnam, led to the loss of Cambodian territories.

Yim Sovann said: “This action affects the land owned by local villagers, it affects Cambodia’s territories, and they [the government] threaten the villagers, telling them not to react or protest. This action [by the government] is not proper at all. This is a very serious issue, it’s not just the case of border post 270 alone. There are four more border posts in Chantrea village, and 2 others in Kak commune, Kampong Cham province also. Right now, we are reviewing other border posts to see if the planting was done properly or not. But, we are not doing this openly, in order to avoid being harassed [by the government].”

Opposition and civil society officials claimed that the planting of border stakes between Cambodia and neighboring countries was done through encroachments into Cambodian territories and led to the loss of villagers’ lands by several hectares. However, such accusations always met with constant denial from government officials.

Rong Chhun, President of the Cambodia Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA) and representative of the Cambodia Watchdog Council (CWC), said that there is no reason for government experts to prevent opposition and civil society officials from visiting the location of the border stakes if such planting was not done with mystery and it did not lead to the loss of Cambodian territories.

Rong Chhun said: “I want the government leaders to recognize the truth, and they should avoid hiding their mistakes. We must recognize the fact that the Yuon authority is currently encroaching on lands belonging to our Cambodian people. It is true, the live witnesses are the people who are currently on the spot.”

sVar Kim Hong, the senior minister in charge of Cambodian borders, used to claim that the planting of border stakes between Cambodia and neighboring countries was not done without prior detailed discussions by expert officials and government leaders because these officials are responsible in the eyes of history. sVar Kim Hong considered the criticisms leveled by opposition or civil officials on government border experts as a prevention act to the government’s speedup of the border post planting.

sVar Kim Hong said: “We are doing according to high-level technology in the survey of border between country and country. We are not an irresponsible committee! Therefore, if the opposition cannot trust a national institution, who can it trust? They trust NGOs in France, in the US, or in Switzerland, and such and such professor! It’s tough, they harass our committee’s work. If they harass us, we have the rights to defend the interest of our nation’s government also!”

In the past, any criticisms leveled against government officials in regards to the planting of border stakes between Cambodia and neighboring countries have led to the exile fleeing of opposition and civil society critics. A number of other critics have been charged by the government with jail terms because they dare criticize this border issue.

On 27 January 2010, in regards to this border problem also, the Svay Rieng provincial court sentenced opposition leader Sam Rainsy to a 2-year jail term, as well as 2 other villagers to one-year of jail term each. All three were fined a total amount of 60 million riels for destruction of public property after they participated in the uprooting of border stakes no. 185 located in Samrong commune, Chantrea district, on 25 October 2009.

Nevertheless, Yim Sovann did not provide the schedule of the SRP visit to the border post locations, nor the location of these border posts, because doing so would earn them harassment from the Cambodian authority.

Cambodia is currently planting border posts with neighboring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. The Cambodian government plans to end the planting of border posts with Vietnam by the end of 2012.


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