Archive for December 2009
22/12/2009 BKPost—The preconditions for peace talks to end the political standoff proposed by fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is a good offer, Nonthaburi Senator Direk Thuengfang said on Tuesday.
In a message on his Twitter account, the fugitive former prime minister has set four preconditions for any talks – restoration of the 1997 constitution; a general election and promise all parties would recognise the outcome; a fair trial on all the cases against him, both those already judged and those pending; and the return of his legally acquired assets currently frozen by the government.
“The government and the opposition camp should hold talks to discuss their demands in order to jointly find an acceptable way out or solution to the ongoing political conflict,” Mr Direk, who is chairman of the House reconciliation, political reform and constitutional amendment committee, said on Tuesday.
He was in favour of the government and the opposition inviting Privy Councilor Surayud Chulanont to witness the talks. Gen Surayud has offered his icas mediator.
Mr Direk said members of his committe were also ready to witnesses of the peace talks.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban earlier this morning said it was not possible for the government to dissolve parliament and hold a general election under the rules stipulated in the 1997 charter.
“It is not possible because the 2007 constitution was enacted and has not been revoked,” Mr Suthep said.
27/12/2009 BKPost– Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the government wanted the Thai-Cambodian diplomatic relations improved but it could not disregard the country’s sovereignty and pride.
“I admit that the Thai-Cambodian ties have not been smooth but the government must prevent it from troubling public members from the two countries,” Mr Abhisit said during his weekly broadcast on Sunday.
In response to criticisms that the government was using diplomatic measures against Cambodia, the prime minister said calling back the Thai ambassador to Phnom Penh was a very light one.
“Taking a diplomatic measure is better than using other methods as they may affect the trade situation and lead to clashes along the border area,” he said. “I also feel sorry that some Thai people have laid out more conditions and given certain information to Cambodia, causing the Cambodian leader to continuously criticise the Thai government.”
He said if the Cambodian government revised different issues surrounding the Thai-Cambodian row, the Thai government was willing to consider sending back its ambassador to Phnom Penh.
The government has no policy to resort to violence against its neighbouring countries, and also has no policy to intervene in their politics, he said.
27/12/2009 BangkokPost–In the face of international condemnation, the government will start an operation to clear a refugee camp in Phetchabun and repatriate more than 4,000 ethnic Hmong to Laos this evening.
More than 100 buses and trucks will be used to deport the ethnic Hmong to Laos, said a security source involved in the operation.
The government will press ahead with the forced deportation, despite opposition from the United States, the United Nations and human rights groups.
The government has insisted the repatriation plan will be carried out humanely.
Security authorities said the deportation of the ethnic Hmong is going according to plan and the people held at the Huay Nam Khao camp in Khao Kho district of Phetchabun will be moved according to schedule.
“More than 100 trucks and buses will take the Hmong from the camp to Laos on Monday morning. The first moves to clear the camp will occur on Sunday evening,” a source said.
Hundreds of security officers wearing bullet-proof vests have been assigned to secure the camp since yesterday.
Mobile phone signals have been jammed to prevent the Hmong from contacting outsiders.
Earlier report: Deportation deadline set for Hmong
Investigative report: The unwanted
International outrage: World community appeals for halt to deportation
Third Army chief Thanongsak Apirakyothin yesterday visited the camp to inspect preparations to deport the Hmong. He said he was satisfied with the preparations.
The Hmong will be taken to Nong Khai and be driven across the Friendship Bridge into Laos.
Democrat Party spokesman Buranaj Smutharaks said the government’s decision to repatriate the Hmong was based on human rights principles and international cooperation agreements and added that the government did not intend to prevent the Hmong from travelling to other countries.
“If any third-party countries agreed to receive these migrants, we would have no need to do this,” he said.
Villagers at Huay Nam Khao were pleased that the camp would be closed.
They said the existence of the camp has slowed development in the village and made it difficult to make a living.
The US has asked the government to delay the deportation, but has refused to agree to a large-scale resettlement for the Hmong.
A spokesperson from the US embassy in Bangkok said the US had expressed its concern about the forced deportation, as it would involve the involuntary return of people whom both the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Thai government have identified as having concerns for their protection.
“We have encouraged the government to delay plans to proceed with a large-scale repatriation,” the spokesperson said. “We have also urged the government to provide greater transparency in its screening process and emphasised that those with protection concerns should not be forced back to their homeland.
“The US has no plans for any large-scale resettlement of the Lao Hmong. However, we will consider referrals made on an individual basis by international organisations like the UNHCR,” she said.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva earlier said Thailand’s plan to deport the Hmong to Laos will not violate human rights issues. The repatriation would conform to international standards and Thailand would adhere to human rights rules.
Thailand had worked closely with the Lao government on the deportation and Vientiane said it would let other countries visit the Hmong upon their return to Laos, he said.
The ethnic minority Hmong in Phetchabun are seeking political asylum, claiming they face persecution from the regime in Laos because they fought alongside US forces during the Vietnam War. But Thailand and Laos have insisted they are economic migrants.
24/12/2009 (PPPost by Meas Sokchea)Two villagers in Svey Rieng province who had filed complaints about losing their land were arrested on Wednesday after being questioned in connection with the uprooting of Cambodia-Vietnam border markers with opposition party leader Sam Rainsy on October 25, family members and rights groups said.
Meas Srey and Prom Chea were held by provincial court officials after questioning Wednesday. A third man, identified as Neang Phally who had yet to be questioned, fled the court, and his whereabouts remain unknown, officials said.
Two other villagers were due in court for questioning today, court officials added.
Prom Chea’s wife, Choeung Sarin, said her husband’s arrest was unjust. “He was detained in court until Meas Srey was questioned. Then, they were both taken into custody. I am afraid. I don’t know where they’ve taken my husband,” she said.
In a citation issued on December 16, Judge Long Kesphyrom said the accused had purposely destroyed border marker poles and warned that if they refused to appear in court they would be arrested.
“The citation summoned my sister to appear in court, so when she appeared, why did they arrest her?” said Meas Prel, brother of Meas Srey. “This is an abuse of human rights.”
Nget Nara, a coordinator with the human rights group Adhoc, called the arrests unjust. “This action makes other people who are victims never dare to complain again,” he said. “People rely on the court, but the court arrests them.”
Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said the court is adding to the injustices.
“They wanted the government to help, but they were arrested,” he said, adding that people complaining about losing land should be encouraged, not arrested.
Judge Long Kesyphyrom could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
24/12/2009 (REUTERS) Moscow – Russia has agreed to sell Myanmar 20 MiG-29 jets for 400 million euro (S$806.2 million), the Vedomosti daily reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified sources in Russia’s defence industry.
Myanmar’s reclusive military government, which has ruled the country for almost 50 years, is shunned by the West because of its human rights record, though Russia, India and China have sold the country arms over recent years.
The Vedomosti daily cited sources in the defence industry as saying that Russia had beaten off competition from China to win the fighter contract. China had been trying to sell Myanmar J-10 and FS-1 fighters, the paper said.
Russia supplied Myanmar with 12 MiG-29 fighters in 2001, the paper said, adding that the contract with Myanmar was Russia’s biggest fighter deal since Algeria scrapped an agreement to buy 34 MiG-29s.
A spokesman for Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state arms exporter, declined to comment on the report.
According to preliminary official data, Russian arms exports rose to US$8.5 billion (S$12 billion) in 2009 from US$8.35 billion in 2008. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has been riven by ethnic conflict since its independence from Britain in 1948. The military has in recent months stepped up its campaign against separatist rebels and some other minority groups.
24/12/2009 (AFP) Phnom Penh – Cambodin Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday accused neighbouring Thailand of preparing a coup against his government as the war of words between the neighbouring nations worsened.
Mr Hun Sen said he had seen a secret Thai government document outlining the plan to mount a coup, which he said he had passed to Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni to show the ‘bad character of our neighbouring leaders’.
‘In your secret document it says that although the (Thai) foreign ministry does not agree to stage a coup in Cambodia… others are working on it,’ Mr Hun Sen said. ‘Don’t even think about it. I know who is doing this,’ he added, during a speech at a provincial ceremony.
The Cambodian premier said he had also seen documents that showed Thailand has considered waging war against its neighbour. ‘You have outlined bad scenarios, including preparing to wage war against Cambodia,’ he said.
Mr Hun Sen’s comments follow the leaking of a document in Thailand last week, written by the Thai foreign minister to premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, in which the worsening relations between the two countries are analysed.
Relations between the countries, which have fought a string of deadly gunbattles on their border since last year, plunged last month when fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra became an economic adviser to Cambodia.
20/12/2009 AFP–Phnom Penh- A group of 20 Muslim Uighurs who were seeking refuge in Cambodia after unrest in the Chinese region of Xinjiang were deported back to China late Saturday, an interior ministry spokesman said.
The expulsion comes despite protests from the United States, the United Nations and rights activists.
‘The 20 Uighurs have been sent back to China on a Chinese plane Saturday night,’ spokesman Khieu Sopheak told AFP.
The Uighurs’ presence in Phnom Penh was made public two weeks ago as they sought UN refugee status in Cambodia, saying they risked torture in China.
Cambodian foreign ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said the group must be expelled in accordance with domestic law, but rights experts argued the deportation would breach an international convention on refugees. ‘They are illegal immigrants and according to Cambodian immigration law they should be expelled from the country. So we must expel them,’ he said.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) deplored the deportation, which it viewed as a ‘breach of Cambodia’s obligations as a signatory to the 1951 (UN) Refugee Convention,’ UNHCR spokeswoman Kitty McKinsey said.
8/12/2009 (AFP) Hanoi – Viet Nam voiced concerns on Tuesday over regional tensions in the South China Sea but said they will not lead to conflict, in line with a new defence document that stresses international cooperation.
The White Paper released Tuesday is only the third since 1998 and for the first time included details of the communist nation’s military budget and armed forces strength, said Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, deputy minister of defence.
Asked about tensions in the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea, Vinh said: ‘This is a matter of concern to the Vietnamese national defence but the complications over the East Sea will not lead to conflicts’.
A long-standing dispute between China and Vietnam over ownership of the Paracels and a more southerly archipelago, the Spratleys, escalated earlier this year. Vietnam said fishing boats and their crew had been seized, and fishermen reported seeing an increasing number of armed Chinese patrol ships in disputed waters.
Legislators last month approved a law to establish a marine militia to protect the communist country’s maritime sovereignty. Vinh said that although the South China Sea issue is a matter of concern, international law provides a basis for a resolution.
‘As a party to the disputes over the East Sea it is the policy of our party, state and the Vietnamese national defence to ensure that all will be settled through peaceful means,’ he told an audience that included journalists, foreign military attaches and other diplomats.