Phnom Penh, Hanoi to Investigate Alleged Attacks Along Border

Cambodia and Vietnam have agreed to create a joint working group to investigate the CNRP-led trip to a disputed border mark­er in Svay Rieng province late last month, where opposition lawmak­er Real Camerin claims he was as­saulted by Vietnamese civilians backed by soldiers.

The trip on July 28 was intended to study disputed border marker 203 in Kompong Ro district, but descended into a scuffle when the hundreds of Cambodian locals were met by a group of Vietnam­ese in the area, which has not been fully demarcated.

Hanoi has since claimed that its citizens and security personnel were attacked, with seven people injured after they tried to stop the Cambodians from crossing into Vietnamese territory.

“The Royal Government of Cam­bodia has agreed to set up a Joint Working Group tasked with further examination and clarification of the incident…as requested,” reads a statement from the Foreign Af­fairs Ministry dated Thursday.

Contacted Friday, Chum Soun­ry, spokesman for the ministry, was unable to give details of who would sit on the committee or how many members it might have.
“We are just in the process of setting up the joint working group to clarify the incident of June 28 in Kompong Ro district,” he said. “I have no idea of the make up.”

Mr. Camerin said the two governments should investigate the dispute independently and then compare results.

“Because the Vietnamese government always uses its influence over the Cambodian government, the findings will not be acceptable if the incident is examined by a joint working group composed of the two countries,” he said.

“For accurate findings, the two countries must create separate groups and then compare the findings of the Yuon working group with those of the Cambodian working group,” he said, using an often pejorative word for Vietnamese.

Mr. Camerin also said the CNRP should have a role in the investigation.

In recent weeks, the CPP government has sent three diplomatic notes to Hanoi demanding that it cease its alleged incursions into Cambodia, including digging ponds, building a military post and constructing a road in disputed border areas.

Prime Minister Hun Sen also met a member of Vietnam’s Polit­buro last month and asked for “calm” during the CNRP-led trips to disputed areas along the border.

Contacted Friday, Kem Ley, a political analyst and founder of the Khmer for Khmer political  ad­vocacy group, said the two governments would struggle to settle the border disputes on their own.

“They can’t continue trying to solve these problems one by one,” he said. “In order to finish this border conflict, there needs to be a regional or international mechanism, an international court, like the Preah Vihear case.”

The investigation by the new joint working group was unlikely to yield neutral results, he said, due to the historical relationship between the governments.

“[Cambodia’s] current government was adopted in 1980 by Ha­noi, and all the same people are still working in the government,” he said. “When they create a working group like this, it might be to cover up the issue, not solve the issue.”

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