Cambodia questioned as peace exercise host

Friday, July 9, 2010

Under Hun Xen's regime, the army and the military police actively participate in inhumane forced evictions

NEW YORK, July 8 (UPI) -- A human rights group Thursday criticized the U.S. choice of a Cambodian military unit with a record of human rights abuses to host a peacekeeping exercise.

Human Rights Watch announced in New York the choice undermines the commitment of the United States to promote human rights in Cambodia.

The 2010 Global Peace Operations Initiative, of which the Angkor Sentinel exercise is a part, is a peacekeeper-training joint effort by the U.S. Departments of Defense and State. It is co-hosted by the U.S. Pacific Command, and will be the largest multinational military exercise held this year in the Asia-Pacific region, Human Rights Watch said, with more than 1,000 military personnel from 23 Asian-Pacific countries scheduled to participate.

The U.S. Defense Department funded construction of a $1.8 million training center for the 2010 initiative, which is scheduled to begin Sunday.

"For the Pentagon and State Department to permit abusive Cambodian military units to host a high-profile regional peacekeeping exercise is outrageous. The United States undermines its protests against the Cambodian government for rampant rights abuses like forced evictions when it showers international attention and funds on military units involved in grabbing land and other human rights violations," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

The ACO Tank Unit has been involved in illegal land seizures for years, the organization said. The United States should suspend military aid to Cambodia until abusive people or units have been screened out, the group said.


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