CNRP Lawmakers Lead Another Trip to Disputed VN Border

Continuing a campaign by the opposition to inspect alleged encroachment upon Cambodian territory along the Vietnamese border, CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrith on Saturday led a trip to a disputed cashew farm in Svay Rieng province, fellow lawmaker Kong Saphea said Sunday.

The CNRP has over the past month inspected alleged border violations in Tbong Khmum and Ratanakkiri provinces as part of an effort to have a controversial 2005 border treaty with Vietnam reviewed by parliament.

The campaign led the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Friday to ask Vietnam to halt the digging of ponds in a disputed “white zone” in Ratanakkiri. Mr. Saphea said that Mr. Chanrith’s trip to Svay Rieng turned up further violations in need of diplomatic interventions.

“We visited Svay Rieng province and we saw that Vietnam has planted boundary posts inside our farmers’ land, covering about 30 hectares,” Mr. Saphea said.

“Our farmers had planted cashew fields in the farmland for a long time, but they were not able to collect the yields because the Yuon did not allow the people to harvest,” he added, using an often pejorative word for Vietnamese.

Mr. Saphea said the markers were shifted last year but that the Vietnamese had not intervened on the land until last month when the villagers went to harvest their cashews.

“We plan to write a letter to be sent to Var Kimhong and Hor Namhong on Monday to ask the two excellencies to check into the possibility to issue a diplomatic note to reinspect the border line,” he said, referring to the Cambodian chief of the joint border committee and the foreign minister.

Mr. Kimhong said Sunday that he would not consider Mr. Saphea’s complaints, which he said were invalid.

“I wish to state that Vietnam has not moved the borders to inside Cambodia, but our people have violated Vietnam,” Mr. Kimhong said. “The opposition should not blame the border committee because we have implemented [the boundary] according to the French colonial maps.”

Following its diplomatic missive to Vietnam on Friday, the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Sunday also released a follow-up note identifying three more ponds in the disputed “white zone” that it wished to see canceled pending further talks.

In a speech in Preah Sihanouk province Sunday, opposition leader Sam Rainsy, a longtime critic of Mr. Hun Sen’s policies on the border, said he was pleased to see the government standing up against violations of territory.

“The CNRP wishes to support Mr. Hun Sen’s government, if he is daring to confront the Yuon to protect the land,” Mr. Rainsy said.

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