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Cambodia garment workers protest turns deadly

Posted by Nuttapon_S On November - 14 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

At least one person killed as police clash with demonstrators demanding better working conditions, rights groups say.

At least one person has been killed and 20 others injured after police in Cambodia clashed with protesting garment workers, according to rights groups.

Tuesday’s protest took place outside the capital, Phnom Penh, where a bystander selling rice was struck by a bullet, the activists said.

Chan Soveth and Am Sam Ath of the rights group Licadho both confirmed a woman had been hit by a bullet.

Six protesters were injured, Chan Soveth said, adding that five Buddhist monks were hurt when police fired tear gas into a Buddhist pagoda where protesters had sought refuge.

Nine other people were hurt, including youths who jumped into the clashes and bystanders.

“The crackdown conducted by police this morning against workers was very cruel and unacceptable,” said Kong Athith, a spokesman for the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, which organised the protest.

“Workers were unarmed. Why did police use live ammunition to crack down on them?”

Months of protests

Hundreds of workers from the SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd Factory clashed with hundreds of riot police sent to block a march from the factory to the Phnom Penh residence of Hun Sen, the prime minister, according to rights groups.

Workers from the factory, which makes clothing for Gap, H&M and other international brands, have been protesting for months for better working conditions and pay.

The violence erupted after police sent five officers to negotiate with the protesters, who surrounded and threatened to beat up the policemen, investigator Chan Soveth said.

It was unclear which side started the attacks, which included police firing live bullets and tear gas to rescue their colleagues, and protesters throwing rocks and wielding iron bars and wooden sticks, Chan Soveth said.

National Police officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The garment industry is Cambodia’s biggest export earner, employing about 500,000 people in more than 500 garment and shoe factories. In 2012, the Southeast Asian country shipped more $4bn worth of products to the United States and Europe.

Pay is low and working conditions are usually uncomfortable. In May, the ceiling of a Cambodian footwear factory collapsed, killing two people and injuring seven.

Govt urges restraint on Preah Vihear ruling

Posted by Nuttapon_S On November - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Good relations with Cambodia called crucial after world court verdict

The government and military have held back on making definitive comments on the Preah Vihear case, waiting to see what transpires from a meeting with the Cambodian side.

As villagers living along the border cheered and welcomed the restoration of peace after the International Court of Justice’s verdict, heavy discussion took place on Facebook. Some calculated the loss of land to Cambodia after the World Court’s verdict on the promontory of the Hindu temple. A few postings were about the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area, which will be jointly developed by Thailand and Cambodia.

The court on Monday ruled that the vicinity of the Preah Vihear Temple in accordance with the Annex I map was under the sovereignty of Cambodia. The territory in question does not correspond to the disputed 4.6 square kilometres, and its exact dimensions remain unclear.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Deputy Defence Minister General Yuthasak Sasiprapha pleaded that Thai citizens first think about Thai-Cambodian relations rather than the disadvantages inherent in the verdict, while urging politicians not to use this for political gain.

The Thai-Cambodian joint committee will convene as soon as possible, Yingluck said after the Cabinet meeting yesterday. Fo-reign Minister Surapong Tovicha-kchaikul will hold talks with his Cambodian counterpart and when they are ready, the committee will meet. For now, soldiers are guarding their posts until the joint committee reaches an agreement.

Yingluck brushed aside the question of how long it would take to find out how much land Thailand would lose to Cambodia under the redefined promontory.

Regarding foreign media re-ports that Thailand had lost land to Cambodia, she said it was not a matter of win or lose, but this was a win-win ruling for both countries. “Two neighbours live together without a fight or violence. This should be what all want,” she said.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said Thailand had not lost its land, as the “small area” that the court ruled on was not yet specified. He said that while all were free to comment on the verdict, people should be careful, with the knowledge that one bad word could provoke a war.

“Soldiers are fully deployed to the South and disaster relief … We can’t afford another fight.”

Late on Monday, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong told reporters in The Hague: “We could say we both win the judgement. By asking the court to interpret the 1962 judgement, Cambodia has only one will – to settle the dispute with Thailand peacefully and to have Thailand stay as a good neighbour. We are close to each other, we cannot stay away,” he said.

Surapong and Yuthasak arrived in Bangkok from the Netherlands yesterday, while Virachai Plasai, Thai ambassador to The Hague, will return today. Led by Yingluck, all of them will testify before Parliament today and take questions from MPs and senators.

Saying the translation and in-terpretation of the verdict was under way, Surapong said it was important that all Thais had a single message, for the peace of both nations. He noted that this understanding would facilitate Thai-land’s stand at the joint committee meeting.

“These [efforts] are to allow both countries to move forward. We must preserve our relations with Cambodia, as our co-existence will be forever. People of both nations are happy with the verdict,” he said.

Professor Chaiwat Khamchoo of Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of political science urged that Thais to maintain unity and not drag the Preah Vihear issue into politics. He said the case went to the court again because it was politicised at home. The university on Friday will host a seminar on the ruling, with Ambassador Virachai as a speaker.

Preah Vihear temple: Disputed land Cambodian, court rules

Posted by Nuttapon_S On November - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Cambodia should have sovereignty over most of the disputed land around the Preah Vihear temple on the border with Thailand, the UN’s top court has ruled.

The International Court of Justice in the Hague said Thailand must withdraw troops from around the hilltop temple.

But it did not give Cambodia all the disputed land, saying it had no jurisdiction to rule on a hill nearby.

Both governments welcomed the ruling, with the Thai prime minister calling on her people to accept the verdict.

In a televised address, Yingluck Shinawatra told Thais that both countries would work together to achieve peace.

Her Cambodian counterpart, Hun Sen, also addressed his nation, repeating a promise to work with Thailand to keep the border peaceful and “not do anything that will lead to tension”.

“This is a significant step forward… towards a peaceful resolution,” he said.

The BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Bangkok says the ruling was a qualified victory for Cambodia, and the two sides will now have to negotiate.

The 900-year-old Hindu temple is perched on a cliff in Cambodia, but more easily accessed from the Thai side.

Fears of violence

The long-standing rift has previously led to clashes between the two nations, which both lay claim to the land.

A 1962 verdict by the court declared the temple to be Cambodian, but did not rule on the area around it.

Cambodia sought a clarification of the ruling two years ago, after fighting erupted.

Delivering the judgement, Peter Tomka, president of the International Court of Justice, said the court had decided “that Cambodia had sovereignty over the whole territory of the promontory of Preah Vihear”.

“In consequence, Thailand was under an obligation to withdraw from that territory the Thai military or police forces or other guards or keepers that were stationed there,” he said.

Both sides agreed to withdraw troops from the disputed area in December 2011.

On Saturday, the chief of Cambodia’s military forces on the Thailand border called an emergency meeting after Thai aircraft were seen flying low around disputed land near the temple.

However, Cambodian regional commander General Srey Deuk told the BBC he expected no problems with the Thai military after Monday’s verdict.

He said no troop reinforcements had been brought up to the temple.

But fears remain about possible violence in border villages, stirred up by nationalist groups.

One Thai nationalist group, the Thai Patriotic Network, has said it will reject any judgement from the ICJ, according to The Nation newspaper. The group has already petitioned the court to throw out the case.

The territory has been a point of contention for over a century.

Map

The decision to award the temple to Cambodia in 1962 rankled Thailand, but the issue lay largely moribund due to Cambodia’s civil war, which only ended in the 1990s.

It came to the forefront again when Cambodia applied for Unesco World Heritage status in 2008, which it won – angering Thai nationalists. Both sides began a build-up of troops in the area.

The ICJ ruling is an interpretation of the 1962 judgement and cannot be appealed.

SA KAEO, Oct 28 – Thailand and Cambodia confirmed today that the judgement by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Cambodia’s request for interpretation of its 1962 ruling concerning the Preah Vihear temple   would not jeopardise relationship between the two countries.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul told a press conference at the Thai border province that he held a one-hour talk with his Cambodian counterpart Hor Nam Hong on pre- and post-verdict preparations to ensure peace along the border.
He said Thailand and Cambodia agreed that the two countries would remain on good terms no matter what ICJ  judgement on November 11 will be.
The regular meeting of Thailand-Cambodia Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JC) is a significant mechanism for the two countries bilateral relationship and the foreign ministries of both countries have played their roles in preventing misunderstanding among the Thai and Cambodian people after the ICJ’s ruling, he said.
Mr Hor Nam Hong also gave assurances that the bilateral relationship would not be affected after the ICJ judgement and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on all parties to be patient and accept the verdict for the sake of peace between the two countries.
Thai Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said Thailand recently informed a meeting of army chiefs of 29 countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim of the Thai-Cambodian legal dispute currently pending the World Court decision.
The meeting urged Thailand and Cambodia to solve the conflict in a peaceful manner, he said, adding that Thai people should not over-react prior to the court’s ruling and the military would adhere to the law as well as avoid clashes on the border. (MCOT online news)

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