A fresh call for United Nations observers to be placed on the Thai-Cambodia
border to monitor trade and other links with the Khmer Rouge, has come from an
Oxfam America, in a report released last month, said that
ending Thai commercial and military collaboration with the KR was the best way
to bring peace to Cambodia.
It said the international community, despite
its $2.6 billion investment in the UNTAC peace operation in Cambodia, remained
guilty of "tacit acceptance" of a clandestine Thai-KR alliance.
America's report, entitled Cambodia: Still Waiting for Peace, singled out the
United States for scathing criticism for accepting Thai assurances that it does
not assist the KR.
It called for the US to demand independent
corroboration of such assurances, saying: "To fail to do so will mean either
that the US continues willingly to be 'taken for a fool', or that it is willing
to share responsibility for continued war in Cambodia."
The report said,
despite the US' close diplomatic and military links with Thailand, "the State
Department has done nothing in the face of Thailand undermining the largest and
most expensive international peacekeeping operation in history".
NGO's Asia Regional Manager, Michael Bedford, said Oxfam believed responsibility
for ensuring an end to any foreign support for the KR lay with the international
community as a whole
But countries such as the US should use their
influence to put pressure on Thailand.
Bedford said the placement of UN
monitors on the border - in line with a request from the Cambodian government
last year - would demonstrate a much-needed international commitment to cutting
outside support for the KR.
The government requested that 30 UN military
observers be placed on the border in May last year, after the KR had re-captured
The request, which came as a team of 20 UN military observers in
Phnom Penh were being phased out, was rejected by the UN Security
Benny Widyono, the UN Secretary-General's Representative in
Cambodia, said the Security Council agreed to only three observers remaining in
Phnom Penh. That was recently reduced to one observer.
Widyono said the
Cambodian government had not repeated its call for observers on the border, and
had never filed an official UN complaint about Thai support for the
Oxfam America's report is essentially a compilation of information
from media reports on allegations of Thai complicity with the KR between 1991
and early 1995.
It concludes that there is an overwhelming public record
of evidence that "Khmer Rouge aggression is being funded through cross-border
trade with business interests in Thailand and this illegal support is
facilitated by the Thai military".
Oxfam America criticized a report by
the US secretary of state to Congress earlier this year on the issue, which
concluded that Thailand was moving to stem private and unofficial links with the
The Secretary's report - ordered by Congress following press reports
of ongoing Thai-KR collaboration - was presented in February as a classified
document, not for public release.
However, according to a declassified
one-page summary of its contents provided to Oxfam, the report said there was no
official Thai government or military contact with the KR.
Thai military officials still did business with the KR at "a diminished level",
while private cross-border trade continued.
"Unauthorized and occasional
shipments of rice, fuel, medicine and small consumer goods to KR-controlled
areas, much of which probably goes to civilians, still occur," the report
"The Thai government has begun efforts to stop such contacts and
trade," it said.
It added that the logging and gem mining industries were
areas of significant Thai investment and the most important sources of revenue
for the KR, but made no mention of whether Thailand was making efforts to stop
Oxfam America said the US report ignored "credible charges" against
Thailand made by Cambodian army officers, as well as the "uniform judgment of
informed international observers that Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge remain a threat to
Cambodia's peace and development only because of Thailand".