Cambodia Raises Stakes, Ties with Thailand Plummet

By Marwaan Macan-Markar

BANGKOK, Nov 12 (IPS) – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is known for his brash and earthy vocabulary even when, as he did in early April, he talks about himself. “I am neither a gangster nor a gentleman, but a real man,” the politician who has led his country for 25 years said in a fit of rage.

The target of his ire at the time was Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, following comments the latter had made during a parliamentary debate in the Thai capital.

Hun Sen criticised Kasit for calling him a “gangster” during that debate, but Kasit shot back, saying his description of Hun Sen in Thai had got lost in translation. The actual words were “Nak Leng,” Kasit had explained, which in Thai means “a person who is lion-hearted, a courageous and magnanimous gentleman.”

It was Kasit’s second run-in with the Cambodian leader in under a year. In late 2008, when the former veteran Thai diplomat was in the political wilderness as a speaker for a conservative, right-wing protest movement, he had called Hun Sen a “thug” during a speech at a public rally.

If the new Thai government, formed under a cloud of controversy last December, was hoping that Hun Sen would move on from such moments, then the current war of words between the two countries suggests otherwise.

“The Thais seem to have forgotten that Hun Sen has a very good memory. He does not forget easily,” a South-east Asian diplomat from a regional capital told IPS on the condition of anonymity. “He unearths details and history he knows well to go after those who criticise him.”

But the current war of words between Cambodia and Thailand has degenerated into personal insults and a trading of charges about interfering into each country’s judicial and domestic affairs.

Hun Sen raised the stakes this week in an increasingly volatile relationship between the two South-east Asian kingdoms by targeting his Thai counterpart, Abhisit Vejjajiva, in a verbal barrage.

“I would not be surprised if there was a link here with comments made by political allies of Abhisit,” the diplomat added. “It is Hun Sen getting back.”

Besides words, Phnom Penh also rejected a request by Bangkok on Wednesday for the extradition of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who arrived in Cambodia on Tuesday to begin his new role as Hun Sen’s economic advisor. Continue reading “Cambodia Raises Stakes, Ties with Thailand Plummet”

Covering up Thailand’s police violence

By Awzar Thi
Column: Rule of Lords

Hong Kong, China — This is a story about a recent incident of police violence in Thailand. For reasons that will become obvious, the persons and places involved cannot be identified.
It begins with a young man, known here as Prasert. He hangs out with a local gang, has had some run-ins with the law, and has been up on a minor drug charge.

Not long ago, Prasert and his friends went to a concert in the district town. Some trouble started. Prasert joined a fight, he says, to pull a buddy out. The other side started attacking him, and he ran. As he ran, a policeman called out to stop. When he did not, the officer shot at him three times, hitting him twice.

The policeman strode over and started kicking Prasert as he lay wounded on the ground. Then Prasert’s friends intervened. The officer, whose breath smelt of alcohol, denied shooting him. Eyewitnesses gathered, insisting that he had, and the policeman backed off.

The young man’s friends chased after the policeman and caught up with him as he reached a group of his colleagues and security volunteers. They asked the officers for help to call an ambulance. Instead, the police accused one of the victim’s friends of being the shooter, and began assaulting him too.

Meanwhile, someone called the local hospital and Prasert was sent for treatment. His relatives found him there, in a serious condition but alive.

The next day the family went to the station, but the police told them to come back the day after because the investigating officer was not present. When they came again to give evidence, they saw the alleged shooter hanging around in the background.

A lawyer who learned about the case visited the family and listened to the story, then outlined what could be done. She was frank, explaining that police in these types of cases almost never face punishment. She would do as much as she could, but also could not guarantee Prasert’s safety, or that of other family members.

Both the lawyer and family knew that it was only a matter of time before the police made contact to negotiate a deal. Sure enough, after a week they received a phone call from a senior officer at the station, asking how he could help. The family requested over US$10,000 to pay for the medical expenses and put the matter to rest. He said that he would tell his boss and get back to them.

The police bargained down to half of what the family asked. A senior officer came to their house and paid in cash. The family moved Prasert to another part of the country, where it will take him about a year to fully recover from his injuries.

Prasert’s story stops here, but is indicative of the type of routine police violence against ordinary folks that goes on daily all over Thailand, yet receives little attention from the media or human rights groups.

How come we don’t hear more about cases like this? There are a number of reasons, including the following.

First, Prasert was the wrong type of victim. He falls into a category of citizens for whom the ordinary rules do not apply, and for whom there is no public sympathy when things go bad. His appearance and background mean that he is presumed guilty of something, for which he deserves whatever he gets. Continue reading “Covering up Thailand’s police violence”

Burmese Soldier Killed by Corporal at Military Planning Bureau Headquarters

Buthidaung By Takaloo: One soldier was hacked to death by his corporal yesterday at the headquarters of Military Planning Bureau No. 15 based in Buthidaung, a border town in western Burma’s Arakan State, said a military source.

The deceased soldier was identified as San Thein Kyaw, ID Ta/1011165, who was said to have been hit several times with a chopping blade by his corporal, identified as Tin Aung Maung, ID 966641.

Both of them were serving at the department of communication in the headquarters of Military Planning Bureau No. 15, also known as Sakhaka 15.

The source said that a conflict mounted between the two as the soldier argued with the corporal, who distributed salaries in the department, for cutting his salary unofficially. He threatened to take the matter to higher authorities.

Displeased and angry with the soldier, the corporal went into the soldiers room and attacked him, added the source.

The body of the soldier was sent to the Buthidaung government hospital for an autopsy and the perpetrator has been detained by his own force, said the source.

Rehmonnya armed group requests base in Lamine Sub-Township

Thu 12 Nov 2009, IMNA
According to NMSP officials in the area, Nai Shaung, the leader of a newly-formed Mon splinter group known as the “Rehmonnya” group has asked permission from the Burmese government to set up their base in Lamine Sub-Township in the southern part of Mon State.

The Rehmonnya group officially aligned itself with the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) in mid-October of 2009; the group also reportedly plans to accept the SPDC’s offer to make the group a Border Guard Force.

According to a New Mon State Party (NMSP) Chairman from Taung pyin village in Lamine Sub-Township, Nai Shaung’s group has asked permission from the SPDC to construct its base in an area near the villages of Taung pyin, Taung bone, Kaw dood and War gyi villages.

NMSP Chairmen from the area told IMNA’s reporters that they will work to prevent a clash between their own armed wing, the Mon National Liberation Army (NMLA), and the Rehymona group and in the name of preserving stability in the region.

The Rehmonya group first earned attention from the NMSP in February of this year, when the NMSP officially designated the group as a “Mon Splinter Group”. Since then, reports of Rehmonya activity have surfaced intermittently; the group repeatedly harassed villagers living on the Thailand-Burma border for funds during the summer of 2009. Until Nai Shaung’s meeting with South East Commander Thet Naing Win in Moulmein this October, the group was chiefly located in Tenasserim Division and Ye Township southern Mon State.

IMNA’s October 20th report covered the alliance between Nai Shaung’s group and the SPDC. New Mon State Party officials quoted in the story expressed their concern about the potential for an outbreak of violence between Mon splinter groups (like the Rehmonya group) and the NMSP; hostility between various Mon groups could potentially threaten the largely united Mon front that exists within Burma.

“Happy New Year 2104!” Poem by Shan friend YT posted by Feraya

Where the town surrounded by Mountains

When the winter wind step in

In the heart of her peoples’ hope

Out of the reach of the world’ awareness

Near the eyes of stranger’ control

Away from the history’ spirit

In front the mouth of swallowing

Behind the right of justice

With the native with beautiful mind

Without their national authority sponsor

On the street of cold night

Under the misty sky

You’ll hear the songs with great feeling

The youths are grouping Carol singing

Under Culture and Literature Association

By greeting and wishing for New Year

By return as receiving donation fund

For their Traditional Great New Year Festival Continue reading ““Happy New Year 2104!” Poem by Shan friend YT posted by Feraya”

ကရင့္ေပါင္းစည္းေရး အလွမ္းေဝး

ၾကာသပေတးေန႔၊ ႏုိဝင္ဘာလ 12 ရက္ 2009 ခုႏွစ္ 16 နာရီ 35 မိနစ္

ခ်င္းမိုင္ (မဇၥ်ိမ) ။ ။ အၿငိဳးႀကီးလွေသာ ကရင္အဖြဲ႔ကြဲ ႏွစ္ခုအၾကား ျပန္လည္ေျပာင္းစည္းေရး ႀကိဳးပမ္းမႈမ်ားမွာ ေအာင္ျမင္မႈမရဘဲ ျဖစ္ေနသည္ဟု ကရင္အမ်ဳိးသားအစည္းအ႐ံုး (KNU) ဗဟို သတင္းရပ္ကြက္တခုက ေျပာသည္။

ေကအန္ယူ၏ တပ္ျဖစ္ေသာ ကရင္အမ်ဳိးသား လြတ္ေျမာက္ေရး တပ္မေတာ္ (KNLA) မွ စစ္ဦးစီးခ်ဳပ္ ဗိုလ္ခ်ဳပ္ မူးတူးေဆးဖိုးႏွင့္ ဒီမိုကရက္တစ္ တိုးတက္ေသာ ဗုဒၶဘာသာ ကရင္တပ္မေတာ္ (DKBA) မွ ကိုယ္စားလွယ္ ၿမိဳင္ၾကီးငူ ဆရာေတာ္ ဦးသုဇနတို႔ ထိုင္း-ျမန္မာနယ္စပ္တြင္ ေအာက္တိုဘာလ ၁၉ ရက္ေန႔က လွ်ဳိ႕ဝွက္ေဆြးေႏြးၾကေသာ္လည္း တစံုတရာ သေဘာတူညီမႈမရဘဲ ၿပီးဆံုးသြားခဲ့ျခင္း ျဖစ္သည္။

“ေတြ႔ဆံုေဆြးေႏြးပြဲကလည္း ဘယ္မွ ခရီးမေရာက္ဘူးေပါ့ေလ။ ဘုန္းႀကီးအေနနဲ႔ကလည္း ႀကိဳးစားတာပဲ။ ဒါေပမဲ့ သူတပ္ေတြကလည္း သူစကားကို နားေထာင္တာရွိတယ္။ နားမေထာင္တာရွိတယ္။ ဘာျဖစ္လို႔လဲဆိုေတာ့ သူ႔တပ္ေတြက နအဖ ေနာက္ကို လိုက္သြားၿပီေလ။ တခ်ဳိ႕တပ္ခြဲေတြကလည္း သူ႔စကား နားမေထာင္ေတာ့ဘူးဗ်။ အဲဒါက သူ ဒီေဆြးေႏြးပြဲအတြက္ အခက္အခဲျဖစ္တာေပါ့” ဟု သတင္းရပ္ကြက္က မဇၥ်ိမကို ေျပာသည္။ Continue reading “ကရင့္ေပါင္းစည္းေရး အလွမ္းေဝး”

Karen refugees told to leave Thai camps

Nov 12, 2009 (DVB)–Refugees who fled to Thailand in June after fighting broke out in eastern Burma’s Karen state have been told by Thai authorities to leave the makeshift camps they had been living in.

Up to 5,000 Karen civilians are thought to have crossed into Thailand, where many found shelter in makeshift camps along the border. The exodus began as Burmese troops launched an offensive against the Karen National Union (KNU).
An official at one of the settlements near to Nu Po village in Thailand’s western Tak province said that Thai authorities had asked the refugees to leave their makeshift settlements.
“The Thai authorities have given a deadline for the refugees to move to Mae La refugee camp within 15 days,” he said. “They said that those who didn’t want to move to the new refugee camp may go back home [to Burma].”
Many of the refugees that left Burma spoke of repeated instances of forced recruitment by the Burmese army’s proxy militia, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA).
The official said only four of the 29 families have gone back to Burma while the rest remained in Thailand at the houses of Thai-Karen sympathizers. Continue reading “Karen refugees told to leave Thai camps”

Suu Kyi to release ‘procedure for the nation’

Nov 12, 2009 (DVB)–Detained Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is soon to release a statement reportedly offering constructive guidelines for a better future in Burma, her party spokesperson said.

Nyan Win, spokesperson for the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, met with Suu Kyi yesterday and said the statement would be released on 17 November.
“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has outlined a work procedure beneficial for the nation and we drafted [a statement] based on it,” he said. [Yesterday] we had an approval from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on the statement.”
He added that the statement had been submitted to the NLD’s central executive committee for final approval before it is released.
Further details of what is contained in the statement are unknown, but Nyan Win said it was something “that could bring a positive outcome” for Burma, which has been under military rule for nearly five decades. Continue reading “Suu Kyi to release ‘procedure for the nation’”