Minister Decries Thai Border Shooting, Calls for Closure of Illegal Border Crossings

Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong called the fatal shooting by Thai security forces of two Cambodian nationals seeking to log trees illegally in Thailand a “cruel” act and said the ministry would contact officials in Bangkok directly to complain.

Mr Namhong said the ministry is drafting a letter to the Thai government about the killings, adding that the armed Thai officials who fired upon the Cambodians should have used non-lethal force to stop them from illegally slipping in to their country.

“Even if [Cambodians] are doing wrong, they should arrest them and sentence them according to the law,” the minister said during a news conference in Phnom Penh yesterday before traveling to Vietnam for a series of Asean meetings.

On Jan 10 in Oddar Meanchey province Trapaing Prasat district, Chean Cheath, 34, and Earn Ol, 43, were shot and killed by Thai forces, according to RCAF Brigadier General Pol Sinuon, head of the border affairs bureau. He said the two victims were among 26 people who crossed the border in the Dangrek mountains to cut tress illegally.

In September and October accounts from the border identified two other Cambodian fatalities caused by Thai border officials.

Mr Namhong also called for Cambodians to stop crossings illegally into neighboring Thailand to find work so as not to place themselves at risk.

“I appeal to all Cambodian people, please do not go into Thailand illegally and find a job in Cambodia,” he said. “If they want to go they should go by legal means.”

Oddar Meanchey Provincial Deputy Governor Lon An said authorities have campaigned to convince villagers not to illegally cross or smuggle goods across the borderline. However, he noted the often-poor Cambodian villagers are aided or persuaded in their ventures by Cambodian businessmen and military personnel stationed along the border who profit from their illegal activities.

“We educate them not to cross the border but they still cross it illegally because there are businessmen who buy the luxury timber from them or RCAF officers collude with them in this situation,” he said.


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