1996 December 11
Six border passes opened
The Interior Ministry has temporarily opened six more border passes for Thai companies to bring in processed wood and logs from Cambodia, a ministry source said.
Of the six passes three are in Chanthaburi's Ban Mamuang and Kradook Chang in Bo Rai district, and Ban Phakkad in Pong Nam Ron district; Chongsa-ngam
in Si Sa Ket's Phu Sing district; Ban Khok Sabaeng in Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet district; and Chong Chom in Surin's Kap Choeng district.
Former prime minister Banharn Silpa-archa, who was also interior minister, approved the opening of the passes last month to enable six Thai sawmills to bring in logs from Cambodia, said the source.
The six companies are Hua Wiang Sawmill Co seeking to bring in 5,000 cubic metres of logs through Ban Mamuang pass and another 10,000 cubic metres through Chongsa-ngam
; Kanchanaburi Sawmill Co which will bring in 15,519 cubic metres of logs and 1,404 cubic metres of processed wood through Ban Mamuang; S.S.R. Commerical Co which will haul 16,923 cubic metres of logs through Chong Sa-ngam
; Enterprise P.S.D. Co which will bring in 18,686.50 cubic metres of logs and 2,000 cubic metres of processed wood through Kradook Chang; Makha Centre Co which will bring in 20,000 cubic metres of logs through Ban Phakkad, and another 7,680 cubic metres through Ban Khok Sabaeng; and Bunlert Prasarnmitr Co which will bring in 3.550 pieces of furniture through Chong Chom.
1998 April 7
Refugees return to home base
Khmer Rouge seize back Anlong Veng
Thousands of Cambodian refugees seeking shelter around Sa-ngam
Pass from fierce fighting in Khmer Rouge-controlled Anlong Veng have all been moved back, said an army officer yesterday.
Col Thirasak Ritthiwonge, chief of the Second Army's 16th regiment, yesterday took reporters to look at the border situation at the pass. He said Ta Mok's Khmer Rouge forces had already recaptured their base from Phnom Penh forces.
"Now Anlong Veng is under the Khmer Rouge's total control," he said.
The officer said some 30,000 Cambodians who had taken refuge around Sa-ngam
Pass, about 15 kilometres from Anlong Veng, had all been moved back to the base.
Col Thirasak added the Khmer Rouge were working out a new military strategy to secure their area.
The officer said he had no worry about the situation around Sa-ngam
Pass, adding the current fighting in Cambodia was unlikely to spill into Thailand.
1998 April 17
Pol Pot's body on display
Cremation postponed to prove demise of Cambodia's tormentor
Pol Pot died of a heart attack on Wednesday and his body was shown to Western journalists allowed inside Cambodia yesterday.
Teenage Khmer Rouge guerrillas carrying AK-47s stood impassively around the body lying on a wooden bed inside a simple hut reeking from formaldehyde barely 300m from the Thai border.
A bouquet of pink and white flowers was placed at the head of the former Khmer Rouge leader. He was wearing grey slacks, an off-white short-sleeved cotton shirt and was partially covered with a lime-green shroud.
The only sound was machine gun fire and artillery in the distance as the last remaining Khmer Rouge attempted to fend off Cambodian government troops and guerrillas who turned against the hard-liners, now fighting their way towards their position.
Pol Pot, who turned Cambodia into a slave labour camp during his genocidal rule from 1975-79, died in the jungle hut where he had been held prisoner by the men who once served him.
Non Nou, his jailer, said Pol Pot's heart stopped at 11:15 p.m. on Wednesday. "At midnight (Pol Pot's) wife came to us. She learned that her husband was dead when she was tying the (mosquito) net for him," Non Nou said. "He died in a hut built for him after he lost power."
Non Nou had been assigned to guard Pol Pot, 73, after he lost power in a bloody internal struggle last year and was placed under loose house arrest.
Inspired by Chinese communism and schooled in leftist politics in France, Pol Pot, whose birth name was Saloth Sar, orchestrated one of the most violent revolutions of the 20th century.
Under his rule, as many as two million Cambodians perished through executions, disease and starvation before he was toppled by an invasion from Vietnam.
King Norodom Sihanouk recently described Pol Pot as "one of the most horrible monsters ever created by humanity".
Non Nou said Pol Pot would be cremated in two days. The funeral was postponed from Wednesday because the Khmer Rouge wanted to prove to the world that Pol Pot was dead.
Khem Ngun, a senior Khmer Rouge leader, said: "We have not yet set a programme to cremate him because we want people to have enough evidence to prove he is dead."
Pol Pot's death came as large numbers of the last remaining hard-line guerrillas were defecting to the government.
These guerrillas, led by the one-legged Ta Mok, lost one of their last bargaining chips with the government with Pol Pot's demise.
Khmer Rouge leaders recently said they were preparing to hand over Pol Pot, but had not decided how or to whom he would be given. There were reports that Washington wanted to take him into custody.
Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, said: "I think we could almost have arrested him tomorrow. It was very close."
Non Nou said that was unlikely. "The international community was too late," he said. "They said they wanted Pol Pot but they never contacted us. They only talked."
Pol Pot's death was good for the Khmer Rouge, he said. "No one will say anything about the Pol Pot regime any more. It's finished. Who else bares the guilt like Pol Pot? This time the movement is very clean."
Youk Chhang questioned the timing of his death, saying countries such as Thailand and China must be relieved because Pol Pot could not disclose how much they helped his movement.
Having apparently lost most, if not all, his power in recent years, Pol Pot's passing is unlikely to have much effect on Cambodia, preoccupied with a forthcoming election between Hun Sen and his royalist rivals.
Suggestions that the death was not natural were dismissed by Non Nou. "If they are afraid the body was tampered with, ask his wife," he said. "She was there. No one has done anything like that."
Pol Pot's wife cried on seeing her husband dead. "It is impossible for a wife to inject her husband to death," Non Nou said. Photographs had been taken as evidence, but he did not elaborate.
In Phnom Penh, Tea Banh, co-defence minister, said: "Pol Pot died of a heart attack last night. We could not prevent his death. It is unfortunate and we are sad because we wanted him to be tried."
Khem Ngun said the rebels kept Pol Pot alive for as long as possible, hoping to hand him over to a war crimes tribunal. "I was happy to hand him over any time but we should not be blamed for his death," he said.
"They (the international community) were too late," he said. "They delayed things and now we are blamed for his death.
"But we gave him injections and kept him alive for as long as we could," said Khem Ngun. Pol Pot had a history of heart problems and had been blind in one eye since 1996 when he came down with an unspecified "blood problem".
"What I can tell you is that he was quite old and he dropped his life like a ripe fruit," Khem Ngun said.
Thai military sources said Pol Pot spent the last few days before his death constantly on the move.
He was forced to leave Anlong Veng with some 1,000 Khmer Rouge guerrillas and 5,000 civilians to the government military suppression.
The Khmer Rouge leader had sent a representative to contact the Thai military at the border asking to be allowed to cross into Thailand at Chong Chom, Surin on Monday but his request was rejected.
Pol Pot, also accompanied by Ta Mok, moved to an area opposite Chong Sa-ngam
of Phusing district, Si Sa Ket, and later to an area opposite Khukhan district where his health rapidly deteriorated.
Gen Chettha Thanajaro, the army commander, said a team of Thai intelligence officials sent into Cambodia had confirmed the death. "Our intelligence personnel confirmed he is dead. This is from our own intelligence. We do not rely on anybody else in obtaining this kind of information," Gen Chettha said.
"I learned the news of Pol Pot's death at 4:00 a.m. and hope this will mark an end to the Khmer Rouge conflict," he said. "I believe the situation in Cambodia will improve as loyalists to Pol Pot cease operations."
1998 April 18
Thailand ready to help in trial of Khmer Rouge
Leaders will be held if they cross border
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai yesterday said his government will cooperate with the world community to bring the remaining Khmer Rouge leadership to justice for genocide.
His statement was echoed by Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan at a press conference yesterday.
Mr Chuan, however, reaffirmed Thailand's policy of non-interference in Cambodia's internal affairs.
The premier said the remaining Khmer Rouge leaders would be arrested and tried for illegal entry if they crossed into Thailand. But he was not specific on whether they would be handed over to the United States or other interested parties to be put on trial by the International Court of Justice.
"... regarding the international community's interest to bring the Khmer Rouge leadership to trial by the International Court of Justice, this will have to proceed according to the law," he said without elaborating.
Mr Surin, meanwhile, said Thailand would abide by the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocidal Crime if there was any request to extradite Khmer Rouge leaders.
But he pointed out so far there had been no identification by name of any Khmer Rouge leader wanted for trial.
"No government has identified by name any individual wanted for prosecution in an international court. The term that has been used is Khmer Rouge leadership," Mr Surin said.
Sources, however, mentioned as being among the most wanted: Khieu Samphan, the official Khmer Rouge president; Nuon Chea, deputy secretary-general of the Communist Party of Democratic Kampuchea often referred to as Brother No 2 after Pol Pot; and Ta Mok, the group's notoriously ruthless military commander. Despite his defection to Phnom Penh two years ago, Ieng Sary, a former foreign minister, is another sought-after Khmer Rouge leader.
Mr Surin yesterday said Thailand would help carry out an autopsy on the body of Pol Pot if the Phnom Penh government agreed to a formal request from the international community.
He also signalled the need for an agreement from Khmer Rouge forces holding the area, saying Thailand hoped for cooperation "from all factions".
The request would have to be made with the Phnom Penh government because Thailand "has no relations with the Khmer Rouge since the Paris Accord in 1991".
Mr Surin cited photographs, other evidence, and sources to back up Thailand's conviction that Pol Pot had died.
"There is nothing to contradict the evidence that we have," he said, "and the place where he died is only one kilometre from Thai territory."
Defending Thai announcements and efforts to verify the Khmer Rouge leader's death, Mr Surin said it was Thailand's duty as an immediate neighbour to seek clarification of the fact.
Mr Surin hoped Pol Pot's death would lead to national reconciliation in Cambodia, but stressed that would be up to all parties concerned, including the Khmer Rouge.
Far Eastern Economic Review correspondent Nate Thayer confirmed Pol Pot was dead, but expressed doubt about the circumstances surrounding his death.
But Phnom Penh officials said yesterday they were still not entirely convinced Pol Pot had died of a heart attack and demanded a full and proper identification of the body.
Cambodian government chief spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the government would be sending a three-point memorandum to all foreign embassies requesting a thorough autopsy on the body to conclusively identify it as Pol Pot and establish the cause of death.
One Cambodian official said in Phnom Penh that Thailand, which has had close links with the Khmer Rouge despite an official ban on relations since 1991, was among the countries that might have feared revelations Pol Pot could have made at a tribunal.
"We cannot say that Thailand is the best choice for a neutral country to decide if this is Pol Pot and what he died of. They have shown bias in this area before," he said.
Diplomats and analysts said they remained highly suspicious of the circumstances surrounding Pol Pot's death.
"I heard 16 days ago that there were going to be mass defections from the Khmer Rouge, that they would be finished and that Pol Pot would be found dead," said one Western diplomat based in Phnom Penh.
Despite the suspicion, Thai army chief Gen Chettha Thanajaro confirmed Pol Pot was already dead.
"When I said he was already dead, then he was definitely dead because I would not have said so without verification. He was not murdered either, but died naturally because he was very old and also ill," said Gen Chettha.
The Thai army yesterday examined Pol Pot's body, confirming his identity and saying he had died of a coronary.
The examination included verification of fingerprints, photographs and other scientific tests, a Thai intelligence officer said, adding however that the corpse was not opened for autopsy.
Explaining the question about Pol Pot's black hair which was in contrast with the white-haired Khmer Rouge leader photographed earlier, Gen Chettha said it was possible Pol Pot's cadres might have dyed his hair to prevent him from being recognised while he was moved out of the besieged Anlong Veng base.
"White hair and then black hair, it is the result of dyeing because it will be more convenient for movements. It is a kind of disguise. If the hair is white, he would be recognised whenever he went," Gen Chettha said.
His former jailer, Nou Nou, confirmed Pol Pot had dyed his hair jet black the day before he died.
"The location where he was living was too close to the government shelling, and I was afraid it would be shelled and I arranged another location for him to move to," Nou Nou said.
"He dyed his hair so that when he moved to another place people would not recognise him," Nou Nou said. "He dyed his hair one day before he died. He died after he dyed his hair, before he was able to move anywhere."
The body of Pol Pot would be cremated today several hours earlier than expected in a private ceremony near the border with Thailand. No journalists would be allowed, Nou Nou said.
"There will be no monks" or Khmer Rouge leaders, but Pol Pot's wife would attend, Non Nou said in a telephone interview.
Regarding the remaining Khmer Rouge leaders namely Khieu Samphan and military leader Ta Mok, Gen Chettha said they would be arrested on illegal entry charges if they crossed into Thailand.
"But how to deal with them next, that is whether they will be tried or handed over to any other countries is not our business.
"No-one can deny that genocide is a heinous crime. Whoever did that must be punished," he said but added that the other Khmer Rouge leaders should not be held responsible for the genocide in the same degree as did Pol Pot because of the different degree of the crime.
An army source said Ta Mok and Khieu Samphan were still inside Cambodia near Sa-ngam
Pass. The duo had asked to take refuge in Thailand, but were turned down.
The source predicted the last pocket of Khmer Rouge resistance would collapse within a day or two under the overwhelming force of Khmer Rouge defectors and Cambodian government troops.
1998 May 2
25,000 Khmers cross border to flee battle
Ta Mok and loyalist troops escape
Some 25,000 Khmer Rouge dependents crossed into northeastern Thailand yesterday to escape fighting as the Cambodian government force made the final push for the last defence line of the hardline guerrillas at Anlong Veng.
Thai military sources said that Anlong Veng, the headquarters of the Khmer Rouge guerrillas led by Ta Mok, was completely controlled by government force at about noon time.
With the exception of Ta Mok, the sources said that the two other Khmer Rouge leaders, namely Khieu Samphan and Noun Chea, had contacted Defence Minister Tea Banh to offer their surrender.
The sources said Ta Mok accompanied by a handful of loyalist troops had escaped to areas near the Phra Vihear temple ruins which was recently seized by government force following the defection of the guerrillas based at the temple ruins.
The sources reconfirmed the Thai government's policy of not giving any sanctuary to the Khmer Rouge leaders who are now wanted by the United States to stand trial by an international tribunal. Guerrillas will be disarmed once they crossed into Thailand, the sources added.
Thousands of Khmer Rouge dependents began to gather near the Sa-ngam
pass late Thursday night as government force, battling the guerrillas, was pushing for complete control of Anlong Veng.
Thai troops manning a gate at Sa-ngam
pass allowed the Cambodian civilians in yesterday. The refugees, estimated at about 25,000, were later moved to a site at Ban Sae Prai near Huey Samran reservoir in Phu Sing district.
The refugees, according to the sources, would be allowed temporary stay, probably only a few days, after which they would be sent back across the border to the care of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The Cambodian government has contacted the Thai military asking for the UNHCR to take care of the refugees, said the sources, adding that a camp would be set up on the Cambodian soil to accommodate them.
There are about 40,000 civilians living under the Khmer Rouge's control.
The positive gesture from Phnom Penh has assured the Thai military that the Khmer Rouge dependents would be safe once they are back and they will also be allowed to participate in the July 26 election.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Kobsak Chutikul said the fresh influx of the Cambodians would not hamper a repatriation plan in the next two weeks.
The joint effort by Thailand, Cambodia and the UNHCR to return the first group of Khmer Rouge dependents back would continue as planned, he said.
The plan to send the family members of the Khmer Rouge is tentatively set on May 14 by transporting them from a refugee camp in Tak to Poipet where Cambodian Red Cross and the UNHCR officials will take them to a temporary shelter in Sisophon.
The repatriation bid is to encourage them to register for the July 26 election. Registration process will begin on May 18.
Thailand houses about 64,000 Cambodian refugees, over 46,700 of them related to the Khmer Rouge. They fled into Thailand after a coup in Cambodia last July which ousted co-Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh.
1998 May 12
Refugees evacuated to holding camp
To protect them from Phnom Penh attacks
About 20,000 Cambodian refugees who fled the recent fighting in Cambodia have been evacuated to a holding camp deeper inside Thailand as part of the military's precautionary measures to protect them from being attacked by Phnom Penh troops and to keep them away from the Khmer Rouge.
Maj-Gen Vivat Sarttarak, commander of the Suranaree Task Force, said military officials have relocated a total of 20,270 Khmer Rouge dependents from a makeshift camp near the Huay Samran reservoir in Si Sa Ket's Phu Sing district, about eight kilometres from the border, to a nearby camp at Phu Noi.
Sources said that aside from the security concern, the move to Phu Noi was due to fears that the refugees would contaminate the reservoir.
Army Commander-in-Chief Gen Chettha Thanajaro is scheduled to visit the refugee camp at Phu Noi on Friday and will hold talks with senior military officers about the repatriation of the refugees.
According to Maj-Gen Virat, fighting between Cambodian government troops and Khmer Rouge guerrillas was still continuing although the government had taken full control of the Khmer Rouge's major stronghold at Anlong Veng, 16 kilometres south of the border.
After the situation inside Cambodia returns to normal, Thailand will repatriate the Cambodian refugees to their motherland so they can take part in general elections scheduled for July 26.
The planned repatriation of the refugees is expected to take about one month, said the Suranaree Task Force commander.
More than 20,000 Khmer Rouge dependents have poured through the province's Sa Ngam
Pass border crossing in recent weeks as Cambodian government troops tried to crush the Khmer Rouge's last pockets of resistance, reportedly hiding along the border.
The new refugees at Phu Noi camp join some 60,000 other Cambodians who have fled fighting in their homeland over the past 10 months.
1998 June 16
Border units told to deny top Khmer Rouge entry
Ta Mok said to be near Preah Vihear
Thai border forces have been ordered to bar the three remaining Khmer Rouge guerrilla leaders from entering the country, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.
"Thai (border) offices have received the order to definitely not allow any Khmer Rouge leaders to cross to Thailand," said the ministry.
The three leaders - one-legged military chief Ta Mok, who is known as "The Butcher", senior ideologue Nuon Chea and nominal political chief Khieu Samphan - were in western Pailin district and the northern area of Preah Vihear, he quoted Cambodian military reports as saying.
It was not clear which of the leaders were in which area. Pailin is effectively under the control of former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary, who was granted limited autonomy after striking a peace deal with the government in 1996.
Other reports have suggested all three were in Preah Vihear after fleeing their nearby Anlong Veng base before it was overrun by Phnom Penh forces in April.
Cambodian strongman Hun Sen has said the three should be tried by an international war crimes tribunal for their parts in the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime, during which up to two million Cambodians died.
The Khmer Rouge have been severely weakened over the last two years by a wave of defections and internal splits.
Thailand's announcement that it was sealing its borders came three days after five senior Khmer Rouge officials split from the hardline leadership and pledged allegiance to the government.
Cambodian co-Defence Minister Gen Tea Banh, meanwhile, flew to Anlong Veng and nearby Preah Vihear temple yesterday to look into possibly opening border checkpoints in the former Khmer Rouge territory.
"We went there to see the possibility of opening the border checkpoint at Preah Vihear temple and Sa Ngam
Pass," he said after returning to Phnom Penh.
"We also looked into the possibility of opening the checkpoint near Anlong Veng. Our main goal today was to improve tourism and our relationship with Thailand.
Despite the reported proximity of the Khmer Rouge remnants, Tea Banh said: "We did not deal in politics with anyone."
Aides to the minister said Tea Banh crossed into Thailand for about one hour to talk with local Thai officials. - AFP
1998 July 12
Hun Sen confident of emerging winner in upcoming polls
Gen Chettha in talks with second premier
Cambodian Second Prime Minister Hun Sen has strong confidence to win the general elections scheduled for July 26, Army Commander-in- Chief Gen Chettha Thanajaro said yesterday.
Gen Chettha, who held a 20-minute private talk with the Cambodian sec ond premier yesterday, said Mr Hun Sen thanked him for the support given to Cambodia which eventually helped bring back political reconcili ation to the war-torn country.
Gen Chettha said his visit to Cambodia had no political implications, maintaining that the trip was aimed to strengthen bilateral ties.
The army chief said he was considering a Cambodian request to open Si Sa Ket's Sa-ngam
checkpoint and An Mah Pass in Ubon Ratchathani for the passage of Cambodian logs, estimated to be around 120,000 cubic metre, which had been accumulated in the area, once a Khmer Rouge area.
Gen Chettha said the second pre mier has asked for Thai cooperation, adding that Second Prime Minister Hun Sen had once stated that Cambo dian government would ask Thailand to open border passes, which once was located in Khmer Rouge-con trolled area, for the passage of Cam bodian logs if the government was able to resolve its security problem along the common border.
Gen Chettha said the Sa-ngam
bor der checkpoint might be opened first so that Cambodian refugees in the area could be sent back to take part in the election.
Earlier, Mr Hun Sen and Gen Chettha had reached agreement to demarcate their ill-defined borderline to prevent further border problems.
The source said the demarcation would start immediately once the sec ond premier was elected to lead the new government.
During the two-day unofficial visit, Gen Chettha also had a chance to hold security talks with Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh, who is likely to maintain his defence portfo lio if Mr Hun Sen wins the election.
1998 July 18
Army may be allowed to open border
The army may be allowed to reopen some border passes in the Northeast to allow transport of logs stranded in Cambodia into Thailand as proposed by the Cambodian military, the army chief said yesterday.
Gen Chettha Thanajaro said the army's proposal to reopen An Mah Pass in Ubon Ratchathani and Sa-ngam
Pass in Si Sa Ket to allow in more than 120,000 cubic metres of timber stranded in Cambodia was already submitted for consideration by the National Security Council.
If endorsed by the NSC, the proposal made at the requests of Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh and Supreme Commander Kae Kim Yan during Gen Chettha's July 10-12 visit to Phnom Penh would then be forwarded to the government, he said.
But he added the two border passes should be reopened after Cambodia's July 26 general election and the formation of its new government.
"There will be no problem if Hun Sen wins as it is also his policy to support this (reopening border passes)," Gen Chettha said.
Meanwhile, Hun Sen yesterday apologised for rampant illegal logging that has reduced Cambodia's forests by half over the past 20 years.
The powerful co-premier said foreign isolation and civil war with the Khmer Rouge during the 1980s left the country little alternative but to resort to logging for income.
However, he suggested his former coalition government partner, deposed co-premier Prince Norodom Ranariddh, was responsible for continued deforestation between 1993 and 1998.
Environmental watchdogs have said Cambodia's once-lush forests will be completely "logged out" of usable timber within five years at the current rate.
"It is a big mistake," Hun Sen said while campaigning in a village 20 kilometres south of Phnom Penh.
"Now I apologise to my people that I cannot control my partner in the government during 1993 to 1998." - Bangkok Post, dpa
1998 October 27
Four killed in border clash
Three Cambodian soldiers and their Khmer Rouge captive were killed in a fierce clash with Thai troops, which also left a Thai army captain seriously wounded in this border province early yesterday morning.
The gunfight took place around 1.30am after a group of 60 Cambodian soldiers sneaked across the border to a Cambodian refugee camp in Tambon Prai Pattana, Phu Sing district, said a border officer.
The intruders wanted to arrest some key Khmer Rouge members believed in hiding at the camp and to take their relatives back into Cambodia.
They took some Khmer Rouge hostage, robbed the refugees of some valuables and left the camp for Sa-ngam
Pass on two pick-up trucks stolen from the camp.
At the Sa-ngam
Pass checkpoint, their representatives tried to negotiate with Capt Somchart Thuesuetrong, head of the 23rd Ranger Unit, for passage into Cambodia.
Capt Somchart refused to negotiate, saying he had to seek permission from his superiors first.
The Cambodians, who appeared drunk, became angry and opened fire at Capt Somchart. The shots blew off his right thumb and injured both his legs.
The Thai rangers then returned fire, triggering off a fierce exchange of gunfire which lasted about two hours before the Cambodians fled across the border.
Three Cambodian soldiers and a Khmer Rouge hostage were found dead. One AK47 assault rifle and two Chinese-made hand grenades were also discovered.
Capt Somchart was later sent to a military hospital in Surin's Viravat Yothin Camp.
The four dead bodies were sent back to Cambodia yesterday morning.
Col Thirasak Ritthiwong, chief of the 16th Infantry Regiment, said a protest would be made to the Cambodian government through the Foreign Ministry.
1999 March 14
Justice within reach
KHMER ROUGE LEADERS: After years in the jungle, Ta Mok, the notorious 'Butcher', is today in the custody of Cambodian authorities. What happens next is anyone's guess.
It is hard to fathom the mind of Ta Mok when he was whisked by helicopter from the northwestern provincial town of Siem Reap to the capital Phnom Penh on that fateful Saturday morning. The Khmer Rouge chief and three close aides had earlier flown from their former stronghold in Anlong Veng to Siem Reap, apparently for talks about conditions for his surrender.
It was to be his last flight from the jungle.
From the airport in Phnom Penh, the 74-year-old veteran jungle fighter was taken to a military prison in the centre of the capital, where he was formally charged on Tuesday with violating the 1994 legislation that outlawed the Khmer Rouge.
While the circumstances of how he was "lured" into government hands remain unclear, his arrest will certainly cause widespread repercussions-both in Cambodia and in the international arena where attempts have been made to put him and other Khmer Rouge leaders on trial for genocide.
Mr Hun Sen, the Cambodian prime minister, has drawn the ire of the United Nations by insisting that the notorious former rebel would be put before a domestic rather than international court. UN legal experts last month recommended the formation of an international tribunal for the Khmer Rouge similar to those set up for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
Certainly, it will be in the best interests of people in power in Cambodia to have Ta Mok tried in a local military court. It is their best chance to bury the Khmer Rouge past and clear themselves of any past connections with the movement that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.
An estimated 1.7 million people were killed or died of starvation or disease when the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot turned the country into an agrarian society. Ta Mok served as Pol Pot's chief of military operations during those "Killing Fields" years, and the work later earned him the nickname of "The Butcher".
This reputation makes him an easy target-a scapegoat to be used by those who want to whitewash their own dirty past.
And so a new political game has begun in Cambodia, not much to the surprise of those familiar with the intrinsically volatile politics of this war-torn country.
FINDING A SCAPEGOAT
It is no surprise that Ta Mok himself has been assigning blame to others for the deaths of his fellow countrymen during the Khmer Rouge rule.
Interrogated by military prosecutors after his arrest, the one-legged fighter blamed Pol Pot and ideologues Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea for the "Killing Fields", saying it was nothing to do with him.
Pol Pot died last April under mysterious circumstances after being put under house arrest by Ta Mok. Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea surrendered in December and have been allowed to live freely in the semi-autonomous former rebel town of Pailin, opposite the Thai border town of Chanthaburi.
As investigations continue into his role in the "Killing Fields", Ta Mok's former colleagues must be keeping a close watch on the situation. Will their names be brought up and a probe ordered into their past as well?Right now, however, Ta Mok seems to be the fall guy.
In an interview with veteran reporter Prasit Saengrungruang at his Anlong Veng stronghold in January last year, Ta Mok said he was seeking peace talks with Hun Sen and both sides hoped to strike a ceasefire deal prior to last July's general election.
"The Pol Pot era is over," he said.
Much has changed since then. Anlong Veng was overrun by government troops, more Khmer Rouge officials defected, culminating in last December's surrender of Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea.
The warm welcome given to the two Khmer Rouge ideoloques might have convinced Ta Mok that it was time to return to the fold. If so, his gamble did not pay off.
Thai and Cambodian officials have denied allegations arising from the arrest of Ta Mok on Saturday, March 6. But one thing is clear: Ta Mok has become dispensable to those who used to be on good terms with him.
Since the death of Pol Pot in April last year, key commanding officers under Ta Mok increasingly felt insecure and suspicion grew among them. Ta Mok had four trusted aides, Gen Im Ngun, Gen Im Tem, Gen Nuan No, and Lt-Gen Saroen. Gen Nuan No is a nephew of Ta Mok and was in charge of his financial affairs.
It is not known whether any of them had prior knowledge of the March 6 incident.
Former Khmer Rouge insiders say negotiations had been held regarding the terms of his surrender for quite some time. They believe Ta Mok was lured into Hun Sen's trap by some of his aides who had been fighting for power and financial interests. Ta Mok might have been unaware of these conflicts, but there is a lot of money to be gained from covert operations near the border, not to mention the huge piles of logs left unattended near the Sa-ngam
Gen Tea Banh, the Cambodian defence minister, had made frequent trips to the Anlong Veng area during the past several months, the former insiders noted.
"Apparently many people-from various sides-were involved in this plan," they added.
"A deal might have been settled before he (Ta Mok) was flown to Phnom Penh."Speculation aside, the arrest of Ta Mok has given Hun Sen a new card to play. He needs foreign aid and recognition from the international community, and he can gain both by playing this card close to his chest.
There have been mixed reactions to Hun Sen's insistence that the trial of Ta Mok be handled by a Cambodian court rather than an international tribunal.
"We do not have confidence in a so-called international court of law that would be managed by those who used to support the Khmer Rouge," Hun Sen said in an interview broadcast on government TV and radio on Thursday.
He was apparently referring to the United Nations and the United States, which backed a three-party, jungle-based coalition government dominated by the Khmer Rouge after Vietnam invaded Cambodia in early 1979.
The United States is now spearheading calls for Khmer Rouge leaders to be brought before an international tribunal, a move that Hun Sen says might cause instability in the country. Democracy groups, however, claim the Cambodian courts are under the influence of Hun Sen and cannot be trusted.
But analysts say that it would be premature to conclude that Hun Sen's position is final.
"All surviving top Khmer Rouge leaders are now within reach of justice," said Prof Ben Kiernan, director of the Genocide Studies Programme at Yale University, USA.
Prosecution of Ta Mok "will probably implicate the other surviving Khmer Rouge leaders, including Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary, Ke Pauk, and Deuch, whether or not they are tried at the same time," he said in response to questions submitted by Perspective on Thursday.
Hun Sen himself indicated on the same day that other Khmer Rouge leaders, though they have been allowed to live freely in Cambodia since surrendering, might still have to face trial.
"Even those who surrendered. That does not mean automatically they are exempt from being charged," he said. "A court is entitled to invite, or summon these people."It must be noted, however, that Ta Mok has only been charged with violating 1994 legislation that outlawed the Khmer Rouge. He has not yet been charged with genocide.
"More charges will depend on further investigation," investigating judge Ngin Sam An said in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. He also noted that the military court has allowed him four to six months to build a case against the one-legged general.
But six months is a long time in Cambodia. Hun Sen might change his mind again. The UN might come up with another proposal. But a compromise is not impossible.
"Hun Sen may insist that the trial of Ta Mok must be held in Cambodia," says a Cambodian observer. "But he has not ruled out international assistance for the trial.
"Who knows, he may let foreign judges come to Cambodia and get it over and done with."
2001 October 23
Si Sa Ket _ Thai and Cambodian authorities have agreed to open a border checkpoint at Sa-ngam
village in Phusing district.
Agreement was reached at a meeting of Si Sa Ket governor Sudjarit Nonthamontri and Cambodia's Oddar Meanchey governor Lai Veera yesterday.
Mr Sudjarit said the agreement would be forwarded to cabinet for approval, and the crossing is expected to be officially opened in January.
2001 November 13
New link for Chiang Rai and Burma
2nd bridge planned across Mae Sai river
A second bridge across the Mae Sai river linking Chiang Rai with Burma is expected to be completed around the middle of next year, the government says.
The two-lane bridge, now being designed, is to be built about 2.5km east of the old bridge at an estimated cost of 28 million baht, as part of a comprehensive plan to expand transport networks between Thailand and neighbouring countries.
The plan, supervised by the Transport Ministry, is the result of a high-level tourism workshop held in Chiang Mai in April.
The ministry has been given five tasks, one of which is to study the possibility of creating and expanding air and land transport networks between Thailand and close neighbours.
Agreements have been reached with Burma to build a second bridge across the Mae Sai river, and to develop a route from Mae Sot to Rangoon via Myawaddy and Pa-an.
Thailand has also reached an agreement with Laos on the construction of a second bridge across the Mekong river in Mukdahan province as part of the Mukdahan-Sawannakhet-Vietnam route.
The bridge, now under construction, is expected to be completed in 2006 to link up with a road to be built in Laos in 2004.
Also, Thailand, Laos and China will jointly build a Huayxai-Bo Tane route linking Thailand with southern China via Laos. Construction costs will be split.
Flight services from Sukhothai and Laos' Luang Prabang have begun since early this month.
Meanwhile, Cambodia is to allow a private firm to build a road between Poipet and Sisophon.
Also, an existing but heavily-damaged rail line will be repaired and extended to Vietnam and southern China.
Thailand's Highways Department has suggested building a route from Si Sa Ket's Sa Ngam
to Siem Reap in Cambodia.
Also, the Thai government will allocate a budget of one million baht and send army soldiers to help build a 138km route linking Trat with Sihanoukville.
In a deal with Malaysia, the Highways Department will build a bridge across the Su-ngai Kolok river in Narathiwat to provide access to Malaysia's Kelantan.
A cargo rail service from Su-ngai Kolok to Kota Baru is now on a trial run.
Unlimited flights between Thailand and Malaysia, and Thailand and Singapore have been allowed.
Another task given the Transport Minister is to promote Chiang Mai as an aviation centre linking Thailand with southern and western China.
In late October, Bangkok Airways Co launched a flight service from Chiang Mai to Jing Hong in China. Also, Thai Airways International offers two flights a week between Bangkok-Chiang Mai-Kunming, and five direct Bangkok-Kunming flights a week.
The ministry must also try to raise income from tourists in transit.
2002 January 03
Security council says it opposes new pass
The National Security Council was against the proposed opening of a border pass in Si Sa Ket, the Surin governor said.
Kasemsak Saenpot said Sa Ngam
pass in Phu Sing district was unlikely to be opened because of the council's opposition.
However, the governor said the council was interested in the proposed opening of Chong Chom pass in Surin's Kap Choeng district.
Opening the pass would help draw tourists from Cambodia to Surin and boost the local economy, he said..
Up to 700,000 tourists a year visited Cambodia's Siem Reap which was opposite Surin, the governor said.
He said a better road linking Thai and Cambodian towns was needed.
2002 Janury 10
Upwardly mobile historical ruins
As Prasat Phanom Rung grows in popularity, the Fine Arts Department will introduce more facilities to serve the demand of tourists. There are many development projects in the pipeline to make Prasat Phanom Rung a more attractive destination for travellers.
Nongkran Suksom, head of Phanom Rung historical park, said the department wants the government to approve a budget to develop facilities.
Among the improvements to be implemented are a larger carpark, public toilets and souvenir shops.
The department also plans to add more accommodation at the site to cater to visitors who want to stay overnight near the park. Phanom Rung is one of only two historical parks in Thailand with accommodation for tourists.
Another project in the master plan is a survey of the ancient community within a 20-km radius of the site. The project is for academic purposes.
``The objective of the Fine Arts Department is to make historical sites lifetime learning places for all Thai people. We want people to learn history so that they can comprehend their roots and origins and appreciate local culture,'' Ms Nongkran said.
This idea is gradually taking shape with the opening this year of an information centre featuring interesting displays and exhibits about the history of Buri Ram.
Phanom Rung recorded 5 million visitors this year, an increase of 30% from two years ago.
To encourage people to be more interested in history, the department will launch a ``Go to Them'' campaign featuring exhibitions at schools, colleges and universities within the area. It expects over 50,000 people to see the exhibition.
Ms Nongkran is not concerned about the effect of Angkor Wat on the popularity of Phanom Rung. She said Phanom Rung would benefit for tourists' interest in Khmer archeological sites.
``Today, tourism is more sophisticated and instead of thinking about single destinations, we have to adopt a regional perspective. Our historical and archeological link to Angkor Wat will benefit Thailand because we are in the same historical routes. And for people who want to understand more about Khmer culture, they can stop to see the remains here too,'' she said.
``Of course, tourists are flocking to Cambodia but we believe that most people still love conveniences when they travel. So, our strategy is to improve our facilities to serve tourists.''
Ms Nongkran said the government has already approved the construction of a road linking Si Sa Ket province to Siem Reap through Chong Sa Ngam
border. This road would probably be the shortest route between Cambodia and Thailand. The route will pass through Phanom Rung, which will encourage people to see the site.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand hired a research company to study Thailand-Cambodia cultural routes and conducts feasibility study to promote the region.
When the project is completed, nearby tourist attractions can be included in the tour package to benefit overall tourism in Southern Isan.
2002 February 27
Borderless tourist spot will be rich in beauty, Khmer culture
Govt urged to first open doors to trade
The proposed construction of an international golf course in the so-called Emerald Triangle is merely part of a plan to boost tourism co-operation between Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
Under the framework laid down by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the tri-country junction covering some 3,000 rai of land would be turned into a borderless tourist spot rich in natural beauty and ancient Khmer culture.
According to Uamporn Jirakanvisal, director of the tourism bureau in the Northeast, ``it is widely accepted that a museum on Khmer culture in Korat province's Phimai district is the best there is. If we have a comprehensive promotion plan, it will be our strongest selling point to tourists,'' she says.
The lower Northeast region welcomes more than 400,000 foreign visitors and 2.5 million local tourists each year.
The number of European tourists visiting the region has increased during the past four years with the likelihood that more of their Asian counterparts from Japan, China and Korea will visit the region in the coming years.
Germany, she claims, has a policy to encourage its people to take part in cultural tours outside the country.
Ms Uamporn concedes existing border disputes might delay or hinder implementation of the development scheme.
``Some people say the Emerald Triangle is only a dream. But if we don't dare to dream, it's impossible to make it come true,'' she notes.
Under TAT's framework, the tri-country junction encompasses nine zones in the following manner: Nakhon Ratchasima-Phimai, Khao Phanom Rung-Preah Vihear, Khong Chiam-Amnart Charoen-Pakse, Prachin Buri-Sa Kaew, Siem Riep-Kampong Thom, Boloven Plateau, Ratanakiri-Stung Treng and Mondulkiri-Krachae.
The Emerald Triangle will include resort towns, camping sites, ahandicrafts distribution centre, a botanical garden, a war museum, a cultural centre and an international conference centre besides other tourism-related facilities.
However, more work needs to be done to link the nine zones. PM's Office Minister Somsak Thepsuthin, who is in charge of tourism, has estimated that a budget of at least two billion baht would be needed to cover the construction costs of basic infrastructure and the golf course.
Sakda Piriyakijpaiboon, owner of the Sakda tour agency which pioneered the cross-border tour services, is strongly rooting for the scheme.
``It's the perfect spot. With a comprehensive infrastructure network it will present the best opportunity to tourists keen to explore the three countries,'' he says.
Mr Sakda has also proposed the construction of a road linking Route 13 in southern Laos with Thailand's Chong Bok. Route 13 also connects Laos with Cambodia.
``Once this road is in place, tourists will be able to travel in a loop. Currently they can cross the border into Laos only from the Chong Mek pass and gain access to Cambodia from the Aranyaprathet-Poi Pet pass,'' he said.
Mr Sakda's company has pioneered another route to Cambodia's Angkor Wat via the Chong Sa Ngam
pass in Si Sa Ket's Phu Sing district.
Mr Sakda's partner is a Cambodian tour company which is partly owned by Cambodian military officers.
The passage is about 150 kilometres from the Emerald Triangle but the route is convenient.
He suggested that the government first open a border pass to promote border trade among the three countries before moving on to other tourism-related projects.
Mr Sakda said he anticipated obstacles from the Thai side because the scheme is planned on one of Thailand's lush forests.
``I believe environmentalists will fight hard against the project, so the government must come up with assurances that lush forests would not be affected,'' he said.
A leading member of Ubon Ratchathani's chamber of commerce said that business operators are in favour of the scheme as the province would greatly benefit from the project.
``But they remain skeptical when it comes to investing. This is a huge project and somehow they believe it is fit for only transnational investors,'' said the businessman, who asked not to be named.
However, more studies are planned including the feasibility of improving an access road from Non Sung to the Emerald Triangle.
The 17-kilometre-long road is in poor shape and it will cost the country around 77 million baht to improve it.
2002 March 14
A temporary pass on the Malaysian border at Ban Prakop in Songkhla's Nathawi district will be upgraded to a permanent checkpoint, according to the deputy permanent secretary for interior.
Pairote Promsan said the move was agreed in principle yesterday at a joint meeting of the National Security Council, the Office of the Royal Thai Police, and the Foreign Affairs, Interior and Defence ministries.
Also discussed at the meeting was a proposal by residents and businesses of Si Sa Ket province to open a temporary border checkpoint at Sa-ngam
pass in Phu Sing district. The Foreign Ministry was asked to negotiate the proposed checkpoint, 130km from Siem Reap, with Cambodian authorities as locals believe it would boost tourism and trade between the two countries.
2002 April 25
Si Sa Ket _ The Cambodian government has agreed to open Sa-ngam
pass on the Thai-Cambodian border, but is still waiting for Bangkok's approval, according to the deputy chief-of-staff of the Fourth Military Region of Cambodia.
Him Sieng, who yesterday inspected Sa-ngam
pass on the border with Si Sa Ket, said the road running from Cambodia to the pass had been cleared of landmines and was now safe.
Sujarit Nanthamontri, the provincial governor, said chamber of commerce members would visit Cambodia on May 2-4 to look at co-operation on trade and tourism.
2002 May 15
Border pass push
Si Sa Ket _ The Foreign Ministry has been urged to include three border crossings in the Thai-Cambodian treaty on trade and investment co-operation.
Si Sa Ket governor Sudjarit Nanthamontri said talks on opening Sa-ngam
border pass in Si Sa Ket's Phu Sing district were making progress.
The governor said he had also proposed the re-opening of two more border passes _Ta Thao and Mor E-Daeng _ to boost trade. Currently, none of the passes are included in the Thai-Cambodian treaty on trade co-operation.
2002 June 19
No to new pass
Si Sa Ket _ A group of businessmen have reportedly raised 100 million baht in an attempt to stop the opening of a new border pass here, the provincial chief said yesterday.
Governor Sudjarit Nontamontri said Sa Ngam
pass in Phu Sing district, if opened, was likely to put several businessmen at other border passes out of business. He did not say how the money would be used to stop the opening of the new border pass.
2002 November 3
Chavalit backs new Preah Vihear gateway
Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh has thrown his weight behind a proposal to reopen and upgrade Sa-ngam
border pass in a bid to establish a more convenient gateway to the historic Preah Vihear temple in Cambodia.
The province's most revered monk, Phra Rajwanwethee, said Gen Chavalit had given his backing during a recent trip to Ubon Ratchathani, and had ordered Second Army chief Lt-Gen Theppathat Prommopakorn to proceed accordingly.
Provincial official Hattachai Pengjaem said a petition of 50,000 signatures would be handed to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra after a civic meeting tomorrow at Phu Sing district hall.
Many residents supported reopening of the border pass to boost tourism and the local economy, he said.
Mr Hattachai said a Japanese firm was preparing to begin construction of a cable-car service between the temple and the Cambodian district of Chomprasan, opposite the pass.
pass would prove more convenient than the current gateway, Pha Mor E-daeng checkpoint in Kantharalak district, as it was located only 142km from the temple.
2002 November 13
Push to open temple, border pass together
Mine clearance nearly complete
Local authorities and businessmen want Sa-ngarm border pass in Si Sa Ket and Cambodia's Phreah Vihear historic temple to reopen simultaneously.
The reopening and upgrading of the border pass in Kantharalak district would provide a more convenient gateway to Phreah Vihear, known in Thai as Khao Phra Viharn, they say.
The historic temple is expected to reopen to tourists entering from Si Sa Ket province early next month following completion of landmine clearing.
Kalayanee Thammajaree, head of the Si Sa Ket tourism association, said the temple's closure had badly affected the border economy and tourism.
Provincial authorities and businessmen were pushing for the reopening of the temple and Sa-ngarm border pass. This would draw more tourists.
A Japanese firm was preparing to begin construction of a cable car service between the temple and the Cambodian district of Chomprasan, opposite the pass, she said.
pass would prove more convenient than the current gateway, Pha Mor E-daeng checkpoint in Kantharalak district, as it was only 142km from the temple.
MP Chaturong Pengnoraphat, an adviser to the industry minister, said reopening of Phreah Vihear was in line with the government's policy to promote tourism in neighbouring countries.
Sources said the governors of Si Sa Ket and Phreah Vihear and a representative from the Second Army would soon meet to discuss the reopening of the border pass.
Landmine clearance began in the area last February.
The clearance operation at Phreah Vihear is being done by Cambodian troops and the Halo Trust, an England-based non-governmental organisation specialised in removing the debris of war.
The reopening of the temple was earlier agreed on at a meeting between Phreah Vihear province governor Rong Suwan and Si Sa Ket governor Sawat Srisuwandee, Thai officials and the private sector.
Cheay Samnang, head of a mine clearance team from the Halo Trust, said Phreah Vihear Temple would be free of bombs soon.
A total of 894 mines had been found and destroyed in the past 10 months _ an average of 15 mines a day.
2002 December 18
New border pass
Cabinet yesterday approved in principle the opening of Sa-ngam
pass on the Thai-Cambodian border in Si Sa Ket's Phu Sing district, as proposed by the Prime Minister's Office.
Sansanee Nakpong, deputy government spokeswoman, said Sa-ngam
pass would promote trade and investment in Si Sa Ket, and serve as another route for tourism.
Quotes from Global Witness
On 27th September 1996, the Thai Interior Ministry announced the opening of various checkpoints to log imports including Chongsa-ngam
and Prapalai, both opposite hardline KR territory. In December 1996 and January 1997 the road to the Thai/Cambodia border at Prapalai was being graded by heavy equipment, creating a three lane laterite road of excellent quality. Three companies - Chantaburi Romphoorow, BLP and SRR - were poised to import logs across this checkpoint.
(Asian Timber, July 1992, p. 7, citing the Bangkok Post)
(archived at soc.culture.thai)
Udon Supply, Khukhan Aroonswat, MLL 33 Company, and Surin Thanapong Construction are named as log importing companies that will benefit from the opening of a new border pass allowing Cambodian timber to be brought into Thailand. The pass is in the Chong Sangam
area of the Khukhan District, which is a pristine forest covering both sides of the Cambodian-Thai border; the Thai side of the pass is within the Huay Sala Wildlife reserve.
1998 March 29
More Fighting in Cambodia Reported (archived at soc.culture.cambodia)
SREY NOY, Cambodia (AP) -- Fighting around the Khmer Rouge rebel movement's headquarters in northern Cambodia has forced an increasing number of villagers to flee their homes, Cambodian and Thai officials said Sunday.
The government military's deputy chief of staff, Meas Sophea, reported sporadic fighting 3 1/2 miles north of Anlong Veng, the last major base of the hard-core remnants of the communist guerrilla group.
He said defecting guerrilla soldiers and their families, about 1,000 people in all, fled to Srey Noy, a remote government base about 30 miles south of Anlong Veng, carting cows, motorbikes and other belongings to safety.
``We are hungry and thirsty,'' said a civilian defector, Khann Sarom, 36, who arrived in Srey Noy with her husband and two children after a three-day journey by foot through the dense northern jungles. ``We're glad to be here, but need rice.''
Thai military sources, meanwhile, said the number of villagers from the Anlong Veng area encamped near the Thai border checkpoint of Chong Sa-ngam
had increased to about 1,000 Sunday from 500 a day earlier.
In addition to villagers seeking refuge from fighting, unconfirmed reports said the families of the guerrilla group's current leadership were also gathered at the Thai border checkpoint.
Maj. Gen. Chea Saran, the Cambodian government's chief of operations, said Sunday that Khmer Rouge leader Ta Mok has led 3,000 civilians to seek refuge at the Thai border, but Thai authorities had prevented him from leaving Cambodia.
The situation remained unclear because the area is not easily accessible. Virtually all accounts have come from the government side, which also arranged a journalists' trip to Srey Noy early Sunday to meet defecting guerrilla soldiers and their families.
Reports first surfaced Thursday that splits had erupted among the last hard-line faction of the Khmer Rouge at its Anlong Veng headquarters, and that the rebel movement was tottering on the brink of collapse.
One Khmer Rouge soldier, 29-year-old Klorb Narang, said Sunday that he and other defectors left because they were tired of living under the strict control of their guerrilla leaders.
``All our children have been forced to lay poisoned bamboo spikes and to transport weapons and ammunition to the soldiers,'' said the amputee, who complained that he and the others could only listen to the Khmer Rouge radio.
``If they catch us listening to anything else we would be jailed,'' he said, adding that there is only one place to buy things in Anlong Veng, and that people are threatened with imprisonment if they engage in business activities.
The defectors at Srey Noy said the journey from Anlong Veng was long and treacherous. They complained of a lack of food and water, and said they were frightened of the guerrilla leaders.
According to the government, more than 1,500 guerrillas from eight divisions have defected since Thursday.
The government has claimed to have captured part of the guerrilla movement's jungle stronghold, and said its total collapse was imminent.
The Khmer Rouge, however, has repeatedly rejected those claims in radio broadcasts, calling the reports ``exaggerated'' and ``propaganda.''
Gen. Meas Sophea also charged Sunday that the leaders of resistance forces loyal to deposed Cambodian co-premier Prince Norodom Ranariddh were sending about 200 troops to Anlong Veng to help the hard-core guerrillas. He said Gen. Nhek Bunchhay, Ranariddh's resistance commander, was with Ta Mok at the Thai border.
``If they dare to send troops to Anlong Veng, they will lose everything,'' said Meas Sophea, who claimed that the troops were coming from the resistance base of O'Smach, west of Anlong Veng. ``Pretty soon they will have neither.''
Ranariddh's resistance forces have formed a de facto alliance with the Khmer Rouge to oppose the government of Hun Sen, the strongman who ousted Ranariddh in a coup last July.
The defections, or the publicity around them, seem meant to upstage Ranariddh's planned return to Cambodia.
Ranariddh, in exile since he was ousted, plans to return Monday to begin preparing for a general election on July 26.
Meas Sophea also claimed that the government had taken control of Preah Vihear, the guerrilla's long-held base at a historic hilltop temple on the Thai border. But Thai military sources at the border said the guerrillas appeared to be still holding the site.
1998 March 30
Thousands of Cambodian refugees at border as fighting continues (Archived in soc.culture.cambodia)
By Ker Munthit, Associated Press
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) -- About 7,000 Cambodian refugees from fighting around the last Khmer Rouge jungle stronghold converged on the border with Thailand today but Thai officials blocked them from crossing.
Thai army officers monitoring the situation said the border was sealed off around Chong Sa-ngam
Pass, where the refugees were.
The fighting, stemming from a mutiny last week, has pushed thousands of villagers living around the northern jungle base of Anlong Veng toward Thailand. The Anlong Veng guerrillas are the last Khmer Rouge group still at war with Cambodia's government after the movement broke apart in 1996.
The Cambodian government in Phnom Penh is supporting a faction that rebelled last week against the leadership of Ta Mok, hard-line leader of the Anlong Veng guerrillas.
Fighting was reported about 4 miles north of Anlong Veng today, with the government-backed rebels apparently gaining ground.
But it was unclear who had the advantage in the battle for the isolated region, long the home of the Khmer Rouge leadership. Both Ta Mok's loyalists and the breakaway group have an intimate knowledge of the terrain and each other's tactics.
Gen. Nhek Bunchhay, commander of forces loyal to Cambodia's deposed co-premier Prince Norodom Ranariddh, which have had a loose alliance with the Khmer Rouge since the prince was toppled last July, said Anlong Veng's fall would be unimportant.
"The forces will spread to other places,'' Nhek Bunchhay said in Bangkok, Thailand.
The government-backed rebels were reportedly chasing Ta Mok and Pol Pot, the notorious leader of the Khmer Rouge regime that caused the deaths of some 2 million people between 1975 and 1979.
Ta Mok, known as "The Butcher'' for his revolutionary brutality, deposed Pol Pot as the leader of the Khmer Rouge last year and has since reportedly held him under house arrest.
The push against the Anlong Veng faction coincides with Ranariddh's return today to Cambodia after nine months in exile since he was deposed as co-prime minister in a coup last July by his rival, Cambodian leader Hun Sen.
1998 April 6
Defectors Spurn Khmer Rouge Offer (Archived in soc.culture.cambodia)
By Sok Peov
O BAI TAP, Cambodia (AP) -- Claiming a string of victories in recent days, Khmer Rouge chieftain Khieu Samphan has taken to the airwaves to urge thousands of guerrillas who have mutinied to stop fighting and come home.
The answer in O Bai Tap is: ``No way.''
The government camp 25 miles south of the Khmer Rouge base at Anlong Veng has welcomed some 5,000 defecting rebels and their families in the past two weeks since fighting erupted between the hard-line leadership and war-weary mutineers.
No matter how difficult life may be at O Bai Tap -- there's little food and weakened children desperately need medicine -- the refugees think it's better than the nightmare they left behind.
Their stories have the eerie ring of accounts told 20 years ago by Cambodian refugees who stumbled into Thailand after escaping the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime, when as many as 2 million people died of forced labor, disease and systematic execution.
Those stories were met by disbelief until they became so repetitive they could no longer be ignored. With the horrors of the regime led by the notorious Pol Pot now well known, the stories of the Anlong Veng escapees have the ring of truth.
``The bones of people are like a mountain now in Anlong Veng,'' said Im Ry, 27.
The refugees describe indiscriminate killings by the guerrilla leadership. Wearing lipstick, listening to non-Khmer Rouge radio or conducting small-scale business or trade could be punished by jail or death.
Offenders of Khmer Rouge rules would be put in small iron cages, sent to the front lines, or just disappear. Even children or the disabled would be killed.
``I have seen the sunlight for the first time when I arrived at the government area,'' said a woman who identified herself only as Hoeung, 42, carrying her
young daughter. ``I have no plan to go back there.''
The refugees said they would not feel safe until Ta Mok, known as the ``The Butcher'' for his revolutionary brutality in the 1970s, is dead. Many said they would be happy to kill him.
Ta Mok led a mutiny in Anlong Veng against the ailing Pol Pot last year. Pol Pot was reportedly put under house arrest while his old comrades -- Ta Mok, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea -- promised to improve the lives of the 60,000 people under their control.
Instead, they proved little better, the refugees said.
``We heard Khieu Samphan asking us to return,'' said Im Ry, referring to a weekend broadcast on Khmer Rouge radio. ``The answer is, no way. If the Ta Mok regime is finished, maybe, but until then, forget it.''
Some 7,000 people who had fled north to the Thai border at Chong Sa-Ngam
Pass were not so lucky. Thailand refused to allow them entry since they were not immediately threatened by fighting.
The Thai army showed the area, which has been off limits, to reporters on Monday. Officers said only 500 people were left on the frontier, the rest having
returned to the control of the Khmer Rouge. The Thais said Pol Pot would never be allowed into Thailand.
The Anlong Veng faction of the Khmer Rouge is the last still fighting the Phnom Penh government since the group broke apart in 1996 and thousands of guerrillas at other bases began to make peace with the government.
The Anlong Veng guerrillas were on the verge of a deal last year, but the co-prime minister they were negotiating with, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, was toppled in a coup. They since have lent support to Ranariddh's small armed forces against the army of strongman Hun Sen.
But the recent defections have shown that even in Anlong Veng, many people want to end decades of war. Their absence should deepen the isolation around Ta Mok and his dwindling band of loyalists, no matter what happens on the battlefield.
Describing life at Anlong Veng, Chan Lep, a mother of four, said that wives, widows and the disabled would spend their days making poison spikes. Children over 10 lay them.
No one could leave home after sunset. Going from one village to another required written permission. Ta Mok approved weddings.
Chan Lep's husband was jailed for catching a wild animal to eat, then sent to the front lines.
``Since then, I've lost hope of ever seeing his face,'' she said.
1998 April 13
China Daily (Archived in soc.culture.china)
Khmer Rouge near end -- authorities
SIEM REAP, Cambodia (Agencies via Xinhua) -- Cambodian military commanders say the Khmer Rouge guerrilla force is on the verge of collapse, and one top commander is checking a report former Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot is in Thailand.
General Meas Sophea said he heard a report Khmer Rouge leader Ta Mok, with Pol Pot and other leaders, are in a Thai border village. "According to a report, Pol Pot is not on Cambodian territory," Meas Sophea told reporters yesterday.
He is checking a report Pol Pot, under whose rule more than a million Cambodians were killed in the 1970s, is in the Thai village of Ban Sangam
with Ta Mok and other leaders.
The report has not been confirmed, but he predicted the imminent demise of the Khmer Rouge. "The report is not clear. I'm going to check again but, I think today or tomorrow, everything will be finished," he said.
Thai military sources on the border were not immediately available for comment, but in recent days Thailand has strongly denied reports Pol Pot is on Thai soil.
The once-feared Khmer Rogue has been crippled by mass defections in recent weeks.
1998 April 18
Pol Pot Is Cremated (Archived in soc.culture.cambodia)
By Jerry Harmer
Associated Press Writer
, Thailand (AP) -- Pol Pot, one of the century's bloodiest tyrants, was cremated in a simple ceremony in the jungle Saturday, having survived three violent decades and cheating millions who hoped to see him tried for genocide.
The cremation was announced by Pol Pot's former Khmer Rouge jailer, Non Nou, who spoke to journalists at the Thai-Cambodian border near the hut where he died of an apparent heart attack Wednesday.
``The Khmer Rouge is over,'' said Non Nou, member of a dwindling number of guerrillas who hope Pol Pot's death will help cleanse the group's blood-soaked image.
Non Nou said the cremation, attended only by villagers and three Khmer Rouge officers, began at mid-morning. Journalists, who in the last two days were allowed to enter the area to see Pol Pot's corpse, were barred from the ceremony.
Pol Pot's wife and daughter also held a small private ceremony at the hut where he died. ``They lit incense in accordance with Buddhist practice,'' he said.
On Friday, a Thai military team collected evidence from the body to lay to rest doubts that Pol Pot was truly dead.
As television cameras recorded the scene in a jungle hut, plainclothes Thai military men from just across the border cut wisps of hair and took pictures and fingerprints. But they resisted U.S. pressure to perform an autopsy.
Journalists and other independent observers here have little doubt that the body is that of Pol Pot.
But skeptics pointed out that the death was fortuitously timed, coming just as it appeared that Pol Pot's comrades-turned-captors might be forced to turn him over for trial before an international genocide tribunal. Pol Pot presided over a 1975-79 regime that killed as many as 2 million Cambodians through violence, starvation and overwork.
Pol Pot's men rebelled against him last year and put him under house arrest, with his right-hand man, Ta Mok, taking his place. In the past few weeks, the remnants of the once-mighty guerrilla army, low on supplies, have been expelled from their stronghold at Anlong Veng and pushed up against the Thai border by Cambodian government troops.
The skeptics theorize that Pol Pot's testimony could have been an embarrassment to Thailand, China and even the United States, as well as various Cambodian leaders with whom the Khmer Rouge have been allied at times over the past two decades.
Some questioned whether he might have been killed to shut him up.
The physical evidence gathered by the Thais could provide clues of foul play. But the Thais said the fingerprints were being taken simply for identification purposes -- to compare to any that might later turn up in archives -- and the hair samples to determine why the color had changed from gray to black.
Non Nou, Pol Pot's chief jailer, said the former guerrilla dyed his gray hair black the day before he died to disguise himself if he had to flee the jungle.
``The location where he was living was too close to the government shelling, and I was afraid it would be shelled and I arranged another location for him to move to,'' Non Nou said.
Pol Pot's widow praised her husband as a ``good man'' Friday, the 23rd anniversary of the day the Khmer Rouge army won a civil war and imposed a four-year reign of terror over the country.
Mea Som, 40, and their 14-year-old daughter, Mea Sith, were presented by Thai military officials to reporters at the border, a few hundred yards away from where Pol Pot's body lay.
Both were extremely nervous and at one point started walking back to Cambodia. Mea Som said she was ``afraid for her life'' now that her husband was gone, but that he had left ``some money to help the family.''
``He was a good man,'' she said.
King Norodom Sihanouk, once an ally and later a prisoner of the Khmer Rouge, more accurately summed up the feelings of his countrymen: ``Pol Pot's death is a relief to the nation.''
The government hopes to capture other Khmer Rouge leaders, who lost a key bargaining chip when Pol Pot died.
Besides Ta Mok, they include Nuon Chea, long the Khmer Rouge's sinister second-in-command, and Khieu Samphan, its chief spokesman.
The Thai military estimates Ta Mok still has a 2,000-man force that would be difficult to wipe out. The Cambodian army puts the number at up to 300.
1998 June 2
Thai army opposes sending rice to feed Khmer Rouge defectors (Archived in soc.culture.cambodia)
The Thai army opposes granting a request from Cambodia to supply 1,000 tons of rice to Khmer Rouge defectors at a former guerrilla stronghold just across the border, a senior Thai officer said Tuesday.
The Cambodian army has asked to buy the rice from Thailand to distribute to some 10,000 Khmer Rouge fighters and their families who defected to the Cambodian government in recent months from the base, Anlong Veng.
The Thai officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Chong Sa-Ngam
Pass, where the rice would need to cross, is not an official checkpoint and could not accommodate such a shipment.
The area has been the scene of occasional fighting between Cambodian troops and Khmer Rouge remnants and security could not be guaranteed, the officer said. It is also heavily mined.
The officer said the rice would be permitted through other checkpoints, but they lie so far from the refugee concentrations inside Cambodia that such shipments would be impractical.
Thailand may fear that supplying the defectors with rice could offend some 20,000 refugees who came from Anlong Veng to Thailand in recent weeks. They include disarmed rebels opposed to the government in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh and the families of die-hards still fighting in Cambodia.
Officials in Phnom Penh have frequently accused the Thais of aiding the Khmer Rouge, which caused the deaths of as many as 2 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979.
Thailand has denied that it is sheltering wanted Khmer Rouge leaders and says it has a policy of helping people fleeing fighting. Khmer Rouge fighters who seek shelter in Thailand are required to lay down their arms at the border.
1998 November 5
Government general says no problem on Thai border despite clashes (Archived in soc.culture.cambodia)
BBC Summary of World Broadcasts
Text of report by Cambodian radio on 3rd November
Foreign reports say that there is tension along the Cambodian-Thai border following a clash between Thai troops and armed Cambodians on 27th October in which four armed Cambodians died.
Meas Sophea, army deputy chief of staff, denied that there were any problems, despite some minor clashes with the Thai troops, as no government troops were involved. Those involved were anarchic troops and bandits along the border.
Deputy Chief of Staff General Meas Sophea said the incident took place at Chong Sa-ngam
pass near the border. Investigations had revealed that the four armed persons killed by Thai troops were not government soldiers but anarchic elements in Anlong Veng. Meas Sophea further said the four crossed the border to see their relatives at (?Phu Noi) camp and then clashed with Khmer Rouge soldiers guarding the camp. The black-uniformed Thai border troops in the nearby garrison came out to intervene.
The deputy chief of staff stressed that there was no problem concerning the situation along the border between Thai troops and those of the government, despite some clashes with anarchic forces.
1998 March 30
Guerillas evacuate 4,000 in war zone (Archived in soc.culture.cambodia)
HUW WATKIN(SCMP) and Agencies in Anlong Veng, Sreynoy, Aranyaprathet and Phnom Penh Khmer Rouge guerillas battling a government assault on their jungle stronghold have evacuated 4,000 women, children and old men but insist they are still in control of the Anlong Veng camp.
The guerillas' royalist resistance ally, Nhiek Bun Chhay, sent fighters to back the Khmer Rouge, whose forces Rwere depleted by the defection of 1,000 guerillas and their families on Saturday.
Phnom Penh's deputy chief of staff, General Meas Sophea, said another 1,000 fighters and their families had defected last week, making 6,000 people who had switched their loyalties.
Government troops yesterday held Anlong Veng township but their grip appeared shaky, with the Khmer Rouge apparently in control of most of the high ground.
Speaking in Sreynoy, 40 kilometres south of Anlong Veng, General Meas Sophea said his forces also controlled the hilltop Preah Vihear temple to the west.
He said the guerillas defending the temple had defected yesterday, but Thai military sources said the hardliners were still in control there.
The general said Khmer Rouge chief of staff Ta Mok and 200 fighters were in high ground close to the Thai border about 16 km to the north.
"They have been refused permission to flee into Thailand so they are finished," he said. "Not even Nhiek Bun Chhay can save them."
A senior Khmer Rouge spokesman, Iem Nung, said: "Anlong Veng is 100 per cent under our control."
He denied leaders Ta Mok, Khieu Samphan and Pol Pot had fled to the border.
Thai Army spokesman Vivat Sattralad said 4,000 Cambodians camped opposite the Thai town of Chong Sangam
were claiming they intended to return to Anlong Veng this week once fighting had died down.
Analysts said Anlong Veng town held little strategic importance.
"To the Khmer Rouge, Anlong Veng means a region stretching north from the town and then east and west along the border," said one.
"It's very tough terrain concealing many well defended settlements - I find it difficult to believe the Government and defectors are in total control."
Defector Pich Cheang, ambassador to China from 1975 to 1984, said in Anlong Veng town: "Ta Mok is the man who is responsible for the fall of our ideology.
"Since he arrested Pol Pot and tried Pol Pot [last June and July] . . . he doesn't listen to anyone.
"I expect all of our comrades and friends to come to join us. No one has any faith in Ta Mok any more."
In Sreynoy, guerilla Klob Narng, 29, said: "Ta Mok said . . . if we listened to government and foreign radio broadcasts we would be sent to prison.
"The children did not go to school but were forced to carry arms and lay landmines. Ta Mok is very cruel."
1999 August 24
Economic Ministers Council Meeting
Endorsement of the proposal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the opening of the border checkpoints at Chong Sa-Ngam
, Sri Saket Province and Chong Chom, Surin Province to allow 12 officials of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and the other 20 officials of UNHCR and NGOs to enter Cambodia for humanitarian mission in O'Smach and Anlong Veng.