Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thai-Cambodian border clashes break brief ceasefire as death toll rises

At least 16 dead in violence that has caused nearly 100,000 villagers to flee disputed area
A Thai child who fled clashes between Thai and Cambodian soldiers at an evacuation center in Surin province, northeastern Thailand. Photograph: Wason Wanichakorn/AP
Thai and Cambodian troops broke a brief ceasefire and clashed for an eighth day, shattering hopes of a quick end to a long-running border conflict that has forced nearly 100,000 villagers to flee. The death toll rose to 16.
Fighting erupted in the morning and again briefly on Friday night, both countries' troops said, as displaced residents on each side waited to see if the worst skirmishes in years might finally end.
"I wish both sides could talk, so that there is no more fighting," said Boonteung Somsed, a Thai construction worker who fled to the village of Prasat, about 20 miles from the border. "Every time a soldier picks up a weapon, a village has to run away from home."
Thailand and Cambodia have clashed six times since 2008 over the border, where several crumbling Hindu temples built nearly 1,000 years ago during the Khmer Empire sit atop cliffs and in jungles mined in wars past. The land has been disputed for more than half a century, but analysts say domestic politics on both sides are driving the conflict as much as any real disagreement between the countries.
Field commanders agreed to the brief truce on Thursday in a meeting at the disputed border. But a Cambodian colonel, Suos Sothea, said the Thai army again fired artillery shells into Cambodia early Friday and small arms fire crackled again around the Ta Krabey temple, which is in a disputed area.
"We cannot trust the Thais," he said. "Yesterday they said they'd stop fighting and now they are attacking us again."
Thai army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd blamed Cambodia for breaking the deal, saying its "local units might not agree to the talks as easily as their commanders did."
He told reporters in Bangkok the Thai army sent a 10-member delegation of middle-ranking officers across the border ito meet their Cambodian counterparts again. "The first step is to sustain the truce, then we can take further steps for talks," he said.
The director of Phanom Dongrak hospital, about 12 miles from the border, confirmed one Thai soldier was killed late Thursday, bringing the total dead to 15 soldiers and one civilian.
Thai authorities say the fighting has uprooted 51,000 people from their homes while Cambodia's Red Cross says more than 45,000 people there have fled over the past week.
"I want both countries to stop fighting, so that I can go home," said Saman Yingnaram, 37, a farmer in Prasat. "My cassava field will be sabotaged (by insects) by the time I return."
On Thursday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said his Thai counterpart had agreed to allow Indonesian observers, but there was no word on when they would arrive. Cambodia had already agreed to the deployment.
Indonesia, which currently chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, offered to provide the observers after the last round of fighting in February.
Few believe the conflict will lead to full-scale war and neither side appears to be trying to capture territory.
Some believe Thailand's military fears the possible outcome of elections expected in June or July and is trying to rally Thais behind it. Thai media have suggested Cambodia's Hun Sen, who has been in power since 1985, was fomenting border tensions to distract his public

Thai-Cambodian border dispute heads to Hague as commanders meet again

Deadly skirmishes overnight on the Thai-Cambodian border broke a tentative cease-fire, but army commanders are holding talks again today as Cambodia simultaneously took the case to The Hague.

Thai soldiers ride a pickup during clashes between Thai and Cambodian soldiers in Surin province, northeastern Thailand, on Friday, April 29. A brief cease-fire between the two countries broke down Friday, shattering hopes for a quick end to the border conflict as the two sides exchanged fire for an eighth day.
Wason Wanichkorn/AP

By Simon Montlake, Correspondent / April 29, 2011
Bangkok, Thailand As army commanders held talks today on the Thai-Cambodian border after six days of clashes that have left 16 dead in the worst fighting in nearly three years, Cambodian officials simultaneously opened a new diplomatic front in the battle for an 11th century Khmer temple.
Cambodia's government said Friday it has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to clarify its 1962 ruling that awarded the temple to Cambodia, a request prompted by Thailand’s “repeated armed aggression to exert its claim to Cambodia’s territory."
Hundreds of troops from both nations have been camped out around the temple for years. After repeated deadly skirmishes and with United Nations and regional mediators repeatedly stifled in their attempts to negotiate a permanent cease-fire, Cambodia's bid to take the case back to The Hague after 50 years injects a new note of uncertainty into the border crisis.
Deadly gunfights early Friday broke a tentative truce agreed on late Thursday, with each side blaming the other for firing first. Thai military spokesman Col. Samsern Kaewkamnerd said the overnight exchanges of artillery and small arms fire killed one Thai soldier and injured four others, but he downplayed it as “sporadic clashes."
Thani Thongpakdee, a spokesman for Thailand’s Foreign Ministry, said Cambodia had instigated the latest fighting in order to “lay the ground for their decision to submit their request [to the ICJ].” He told a press conference Friday that Thailand had already anticipated this strategy and was preparing its legal defense.
Perched on a tall cliff, Preah Vihear is a contemporary of Angkor Wat, the renowned Cambodian temple that appears on the Cambodian national flag and has become a major tourist attraction.
Fighting also erupted this week around two other ancient temples, though analysts say the border dispute seems driven as much by domestic politics as strategic interests.
In recent days, politicians in both countries have toned down nationalist rhetoric, allowing local military commanders to pursue a cease-fire. The US and other allies have urged an end to the fighting and a resumption of negotiations. Thailand’s Army chief is in Beijing and is expected to brief his Chinese counterparts on the situation during the prearranged visit, say Thai officials.
Thai officials said the two countries’ foreign ministers would meet next week on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit held in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta.
Indonesia, as the current ASEAN chair, has tried to facilitate talks between the warring parties and to send military observers to the border. But Thailand has dragged its feet on allowing Indonesian observers into the disputed area, to the frustration of Cambodia, which has appealed to the UN to intervene in the conflict.
Thai government officials argue that bilateral talks are the best way to end the fighting. “We hope that Cambodia will return to the negotiating table,” said government spokesman Panitan Wattanyagorn.
Opposition politicians have accused Thailand’s powerful military of stirring trouble on the border as a pretext to crack down on dissent at home. Military chiefs have denied rumors of a coup to derail elections due by July.
Mr. Panitan insisted that civilian officials were in charge of border affairs. “The government has set guidelines for the military to follow,” he said.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fighting-on-Thai-cambodian-border spreads to site of previous clashes

BM-21 mobile rocket launchers and a military convoy heading to the frontline.
Tuesday, 26 April 2011
By Cheang Sokha
Phnom Penh Post

DEADLY clashes on the Thai-Cambodian border spread yesterday to a new front near Preah Vihear temple, as fighting 150 kilometres away in Oddar Meanchey province raged for a fifth straight day.

Pen Song, a soldier of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces based at Preah Vihear, said fighting broke out around 1:20pm yesterday at Veal Entry and Phnom Trop, areas roughly two and three kilometres, respectively, from the temple. “We exchanged rifle fire and rocket artillery,” he said.

Yim Phim, commander of RCAF Brigade 8, said the clashes near Preah Vihear had lasted roughly 30 minutes. He accused Thailand of flying aircraft over the area and provoking the clashes by firing on Cambodian soldiers. Thailand's The Bangkok Post reported that the clashes started after Cambodian troops fired on Thai F-16 fighter jets. No casualties had been reported near the temple as of yesterday evening.

Meanwhile, the death toll from clashes along the border near Oddar Meanchey climbed to 13 after one Cambodian soldier was reported dead from fighting on Monday night. Hostilities stretched into the evening yesterday, with both sides continuing the use of heavy artillery, though no new deaths had been reported when The Post went to press.

The electricity cut out yesterday evening as rain came down in Oddar Meanchey’s Samroang town, where many of the 20,000 plus Cambodians displaced in the fighting have gathered in pagodas and other public areas. “Now the situation is very terrible because we don’t have electricity, and it’s also raining,” said Uy Sam Ath, director of the disaster management department at the Cambodian Red Cross. The source of the power outage could not be confirmed, though state media in Bangkok reported yesterday that Thai Energy Minister Wannarat Channukul had said he was “ready to comply” with a government order to cut power to Cambodia.

Cambodia and Thailand have accused one another of touching off the clashes in Oddar Meanchey, which have seen thousands of civilians displaced on both sides of the border. The fighting has centred largely around the centuries-old temples of Ta Moan and Ta Krabey, which are claimed by both sides. The latest round of conflict follows similar clashes near Preah Vihear temple in February that left 10 soldiers dead.

Reurn Heng, an RCAF soldier stationed at Ta Moan temple, said Cambodian troops had begun using long-range BM-21 rocket launchers in the face of the continuing onslaught from Thailand.

Cambodian officials say at least nine civilian homes have been destroyed by Thai artillery since last week. Yesterday, Cambodian troops continued accusations that Thailand had deployed shells filled with “poisonous gas” along the border in Oddar Meanchey. Phoeuk Amrith, deputy chief of the military hospital in RCAF Region 4, said yesterday that he had treated nine Cambodian soldiers feeling the after-effects of the gas.

“Some were unconscious before they were sent here and others could not see clearly or had pain in their arms, legs and back,” he said, adding that the troops had also complained of difficulty in breathing. Thailand has called the gas claims “groundless”.


Cambodia: Thai threat 'tantamount to a declaration of war'

Phnom Penh - The Cambodian government on Wednesday condemned Bangkok's threat to use military action to force Cambodian troops from areas that Thailand considers in dispute.
Phom Penh "considers the above decision of (the Thai) government as tantamount to a declaration of war against Cambodia," Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said.//DPA

Cambodia PM welcomes talks after Thai border clashes

Reuters – A Thai army tank drives down a road near the disputed border area between Cambodia and Thailand in Surin …
A Thai army tank drives down a road near the disputed border area between Cambodia and Thailand in Surin provincePHNOM PENH (Reuters) – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen offered Wednesday to meet one-on-one with his Thai counterpart after six days of sporadic fighting that has killed at least 14 people, raising hopes of a ceasefire in Southeast Asia's bloodiest border dispute in years.
Both sides remained on high alert near two disputed 12th-century Hindu temples following a night of shelling that killed a Thai villager and exchanges of heavy artillery that began before dawn and lasted several hours.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, in his first public comments on the conflict, called Thailand's premier a "thief" whose government committed "terrorism," but said he was willing to discuss clashes at the two temples in one-on-one talks.
"Cambodia wants to solve the issue peacefully with talks," Hun Sen, a fiery orator and former soldier, said in a speech, adding he would raise the issue with Abhisit and other Southeast Asian leaders during a summit in Indonesia on May 7-8.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said he would welcome talks if Cambodia "ends the use of violence."
"If they want talks, the easiest thing to do would be to stop the attacks and return to talks within the framework that already exists," Abhisit told parliament.
The fighting has killed eight Cambodian and five Thai soldiers, and one Thai civilian. More than 60,000 people have taken refuge in emergency evacuation centers.
A meeting between Thai and Cambodian defense ministers expected Wednesday was abruptly canceled after Cambodian media reports suggested Thailand had admitted defeat, said Thai Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd.
Sovereignty over the ancient, stone-walled Hindu temples -- Preah Vihear, Ta Moan and Ta Krabey -- and the jungle of the Dangrek Mountains surrounding them has been in dispute since the withdrawal of the French from Cambodia in the 1950s.
But many experts say the fighting is fueled more by political interests than territorial claims, as each government seeks to discredit the other by appealing to nationalists at home, especially ahead of a Thai election due by July.
A change in government could be in Cambodia's interests.
Analysts said the Thai military could also be flexing its muscles to preserve its sizeable stake in Thailand's political apparatus and to satisfy conservative elites at odds with the country's powerful opposition forces.
Thailand says it wants a bilateral solution, while Cambodia has sought international mediation and the deployment of independent monitors in the disputed area as agreed by Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers in Jakarta in February.
Those differences are posing a major test for ASEAN, a 10-member bloc with ambitions to become a regional community by 2015 and a viable counterweight to China's growing clout.
It is also a potential embarrassment for Indonesia, whose foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, had brokered the U.N.-backed ceasefire pact in February that would have placed unarmed Indonesian military observers along the disputed border.
The Thai army objected and the deal never went through.
Thailand's foreign minister is due to meet with Natalegawa Thursday in Jakarta.
(Additional reporting by Ambika Ahuja in Bangkok and Sukree Sukplang in Surin. Writing by Jason Szep; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Thai-Cambodian conflict claims 14

Thailand Cancels Ceasefire Talks with Cambodia

Wednesday, 27 April 2011
A man walks through rubles at the destroyed silk factory following the clash between Thailand and Cambodia in Surin province, northeastern Thailand, April 27, 2011
Photo: AP
A man walks through rubles at the destroyed silk factory following the clash between Thailand and Cambodia in Surin province, northeastern Thailand, April 27, 2011.
"They refuse to accept the presence of Indonesian observers along the border. They always reject and then they start to fight us and they accuse us to fight them first."
Thailand has canceled plans for ceasefire talks with Cambodia, scuttling hopes for an early end to the worst fighting along their disputed border in decades.  Each side blames the other for the breakdown and clashes that have killed 14 people since Friday, including at least one civilian.
The abrupt pull-out deflates hopes for a truce to end a deadly border fight.
Thai Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan was to meet in Phnom Penh with his Cambodian counterpart, Tea Banh to discuss ending a week of clashes between their militaries.
But, as shelling between the two sides continued in the early morning, Thai authorities canceled the negotiations.
Thai media reports quote an army spokesman saying they called off the talks after Cambodian media claimed victory over a defeated Thailand.

However, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Prawit had conflicting meetings in China and blamed Cambodia for not creating the right atmosphere for talks.

He says Cambodia wants to talk but does not stop attacking, so it is difficult to negotiate.  He says Thailand’s defense minister had to go to China for scheduled meetings and is there now.  He says Thailand wants to hold talks, but Cambodia must first stop its attacks.

Abhisit’s comments were made to reporters while traveling Wednesday in the border province, Surin, to visit the wounded.

Thai authorities say the first Thai civilian was killed overnight in this latest round of clashes.

Wednesday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen called again for peace talks.

Cambodia says Thai troops are responsible for the ongoing hostilities, which have sent tens of thousands of villagers on both sides fleeing the border.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong says the border is still tense because Thai troops keep attacking Cambodia.  He says Thailand should honor an agreement to allow Indonesian observers to be sent to the border.

"They refuse to accept the presence of Indonesian observers along the border.  They always reject and then they start to fight us and they accuse us to fight them first," said Kuong.

Indonesia brokered an agreement to send its observers to help restore peace, but the process has stalled because of objections from the Thai military.

Cambodia wants international assistance to end the conflict while Thailand says it must be resolved bilaterally.

The fighting began Friday when Thai and Cambodian soldiers exchanged fire near disputed temples along the border.

Clashes also erupted Tuesday, near a 900-year-old Khmer Hindu temple called Preah Vihear in Cambodia and Phra Viharn in Thailand.

The two countries fought there for four days in February, killing several people on both sides.

It is not clear what started the skirmishes, but each side blames the other.

The border between Cambodia and Thailand is poorly defined and both claim territory around the temples.

Politicians on both sides have been accused of using the dispute to raise nationalist sentiment.

More troops sent to Thai-Cambodian border as fighting goes on

Peace talks cancelled and prime ministers of both countries engage in war of words
cambodian villagers evacuate
Cambodian villagers forced to leave their village near the Thai border in Oddar Meanchey province on Wednesday. Photograph: Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP/Getty Images
Military reinforcements, including heavy artillery and trucks packed with soldiers, poured into the area along the Thai-Cambodia border as fighting between the two countries entered into its sixth day with neither side showing signs of backing down.
Shelling and mortar fire between the two sides has led to tens of thousands of refugees evacuating to border camps with at least one civilian and 13 soldiers reported killed in the firefight.
The conflict is the most serious fighting between the two nations in decades and stems from a demarcation carried out in the 1950s by an international court which left the 12th-century Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temples and surrounding jungle areas in Cambodian territory.
Early on Wednesday morning mortar fire could be heard near the temples after fighting broke out at 5.15am and lasted nearly an hour. The fighting destroyed seven homes and injured more than 40 civilians.
"We are preparing for fighting in the early evening," Thai military spokesman Colonel Prawit Hookaew said from his busy makeshift headquarters. "This is the worst fighting we have had for a very long time."
In Thailand, heavy artillery and trucks packed with well-equipped soldiers could be seen travelling along empty highways towards the frontline. On the Cambodian side, truck-mounted rocket launchers are reportedly being deployed to the border.
In order to protect civilians from the mortar fire, more than 50,000 refugees on both sides of the border have been moved to camps away from the fighting. Cambodian military have reported villages being hit by mortar nearly 20km from the border.
Previous hope for an end to the fighting was lost when planned peace talks between Cambodia and Thailand were cancelled on Wednesday.
At a surprise visit to Koke Klang temporary refugee camp – home to more than 3,000 villagers who have escaped the fighting – Thailand's prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, blamed Cambodia for the postponed meeting.
"We are ready to have talks with Cambodia, they said they wanted to, but then they continued to attack Thai troops so we had to cancel the meeting," he told refugees as they sat around on straw mats in the school-cum-camp. "Thailand will not invade Cambodia but if they attack us then we are prepared to fight back in order to save the country."
Cambodia said on Tuesday it would refuse bilateral talks until the meeting of Asean countries in Jakarta in May and are seeking international mediation.
Making some of his first comments on the conflict, Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen said in a speech to a women's group on Wednesday that Abhisit was to blame. "The current Thai leader likes war, provokes war," he said. "Cambodia is a small, poor country and has fewer forces, but don't you forget that an ant can make an elephant not get any sleep," he said. "Cambodian's weaponry is not just slingshots."
Despite the official line of conflict over sovereignty, experts believe domestic politics in both countries are to blame for the conflict. The Thai army is said to be dragging on the conflict by rejecting Indonesian observers, in order to exert its power and retain relevance in Thai politics.
In Cambodia, some believe Hun Sen is attempting to wield nationalist sentiment to gain support for his son. It is also believed that he could be attempting to discredit Abhisit and therefore boost support for opposition parties in the forthcoming elections.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Trip to Six Flags

My kids, Justin, Samantha and I went to Six Flags New England in Springfield,Massachusetts today. It was quite fun. My kids had a blast. We did a lot of rides and it was exhilerating.
Samantha's favorite ride is the "Pandamonium." It was fast and furious.
We did not have a chance to ride the "Flashback", Batman, and Superman as well as Bungie because my daughter is not tall enough for the rides.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I Went to Wat Triratanaram

I went to the temple this morning with my family with food and money to offer to our love ones who passed away.  It was a sunny morning. A little cool due to windy. But it was something we could tolerate. Thank goodness it was not raining.
There were many people at the temple who were doing the same thing we did. We had the food bang skol (blessed) by the monks and then we rup baht by putting rice in many bowls and also money for each bowls. During the rup baht, we have to remind and think of our love ones to come to the temple to receive food and money.

The Great Khmer Empire

Khmer Empire

Khmer Empire

802–1431 →

900 CE
Red: Khmer Empire
Light Green: Haripunjaya
Yellow: Champa
Capital Yasodharapura, Angkor
Language(s) Old Khmer
Religion Hinduism, Buddhism
Government Monarchy
 - 802-850 Jayavarman II
 - 1113-1150 Suryavarman II
 - 1181-1218 Jayavarman VII
 - 1393-1463 Ponhea Yat
Historical era Middle Ages
 - Succession from Chenla 802
 - Succession to Lovek 1431
 -  est. 3,000,000
History of Cambodia

This article is part of a series
Early history of Cambodia
Funan Kingdom
Chenla Kingdom
Khmer Empire
Dark ages of Cambodia
Loss of Mekong Delta to Vietnam
French Colonial Rule
Japanese occupation of Cambodia
Post-Independence Cambodia
Coup of 1970
Khmer Republic
Vietnam War Incursion of 1970
Khmer Rouge Regime
Cambodian–Vietnamese War
People's Republic of Kampuchea
1992–93 UNTAC
Modern Cambodia
Cambodia Portal
The Khmer Empire was one of the most powerful empires in Southeast Asia, based in what is now Cambodia the empire flourished from the 9th to the 13th century. The empire, which grew out of the former kingdom of Chenla, at times ruled over and/or vassalized parts of modern-day Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Malaysia.[1] Its greatest legacy is Angkor, the site of the capital city during the empire's zenith. Angkor bears testimony to the Khmer empire's immense power and wealth, as well as the variety of belief systems that it patronised over time. The empire's official religions included Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism, until Theravada Buddhism prevailed, even among the lower classes, after its introduction from Sri Lanka in the 13th century.[2] Modern researches by satellites have revealed Angkor to be the largest pre-industrial urban center in the world.[3]

The history of Angkor as the central area of settlement of the historical kingdom of Kambujadesa is also the history of the Khmer from the 9th to the 13th centuries.[4]

From Kambuja itself - and so also from the Angkor region - no written records have survived other than stone inscriptions. Therefore the current knowledge of the historical Khmer civilization is derived primarily from:

archaeological excavation, reconstruction and investigation
stone inscriptions (most important are foundation steles of temples), which report on the political and religious deeds of the kings
reliefs in a series of temple walls with depictions of military marches, life in the palace, market scenes and also the everyday lives of the population
reports and chronicles of Chinese diplomats, traders and travellers.
The beginning of the era of the Khmer Empire is conventionally dated to 802 AD. In this year, king Jayavarman II had himself declared chakravartin ("king of the world", or "king of kings") on Phnom Kulen.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Khmer Contributions to Civilizations

There are many contributions to world civilization. For one thing, the great Angkor Wat, Preah Vihear temple, bokator martial arts, and classical dance and musics are just a few things that Khmer people contribute. Second, we've helped Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam during the great Khmer empire.