Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thailand says zero loggers harmed

Thailand says zero loggers harmed

A man reveals the entry wound on his leg where he was shot by a Thai soldier while illegally logging earlier this year
A man reveals the entry wound on his leg where he was shot by a Thai soldier while illegally logging earlier this year. Heng Chivoan

Thailand says zero loggers harmed

Thai government figures obtained by the Post this week state that no Cambodian nationals have been harmed this year while illegally felling luxury timber across the border, contesting numerous accounts of both shootings and fatalities from Cambodian officials and loggers.

Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Post that, according to information from the Border Defence Command, between January 1 and September 2 “there have been no reports of clashes or losses of life” of loggers on either side of the border.

“Thailand has no policy to use any forms of violence against illegal loggers and we stand firm on respecting human rights and relevant international laws,” Dana Darongsuwan, third secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of Information, said in an email this week.

Darongsuwan added that 149 Cambodian illegal loggers were arrested within the nine-month period.

“Most Cambodian illegal loggers who have hitherto been arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the Thai judicial system have been found to commit minor offences and received minor punishments according to the law, such as fines or suspension of sentences. They are subsequently released to go back to Cambodia,” she said.

But Srey Naren, a coordinator for local rights group Adhoc in Oddar Meanchey province – a common entry point for Cambodians seeking lucrative wood across the border – said Thailand was merely trying to escape accountability.

“The Thai government just doesn’t want to be responsible for what it has done to Cambodian people,” he said. “We have the family members of the victims – it is proof.”

According to the Ministry of Interior, 69 Cambodians were shot dead while illegally crossing the Thai border last year.

Cambodian officials said in March that Thai soldiers had shot dead 12 Cambodian loggers in a single day.

While Bangkok denied the shootings, in the same month, a district governor in Preah Vihear province told the Post that the Thai military had admitted to killing three people accused of illegal logging and burning their corpses.

Members of a logging cartel in Oddar Meanchey province told the Post in May of regular shootings; one logger showed evidence of a bullet still embedded in his thigh.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Cambodia had urged Thailand to “arrest, not shoot”.

But 19-year-old Mom Phearum told the Post yesterday that just last week, black-uniformed Thai paramilitary forces opened fire as he attempted to carry illegally logged rosewood into Cambodia.

Phearum said he was travelling in a group of 20 loggers back to his home in Battambang’s Samlot district when the soldiers opened fire and subsequently arrested three members of the group, including his two brothers.

The Thai soldiers “saw us and started to shoot at us from the mountain. My brothers told me to drop the wood and escape, but they kept carrying the wood.… Both of them and another villager were arrested,” he said.

Lieutenant General Prak Phan, director of border communication at checkpoint 400, said that Thailand had denied shooting or arresting any loggers.

“We are still suspicious,” he said, adding that he would press Thailand for more answers on the incident and the whereabouts of the three missing men.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MAY TITTHARA

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Thy Sovantha threatens new suit

    Social media celebrity and card-carrying CPP member Thy Sovantha yesterday said she will file a lawsuit against wildlife NGO head Suwanna Gauntlett alleging discrimination after the latter allegedly denied her access to an ecotourism program the group is launching today in Koh Kong province. The

  • Police raid Siem Reap party, arrest 10 foreigners over ‘pornographic’ images

    A group of 10 foreign tourists appeared in court today after being arrested for producing “pornographic” photos in Siem Reap town on Thursday, while dozens more were detained temporarily and let go after being lectured on their behaviour, according to authorities. A report posted to the

  • Hun Sen’s in-law removed from RCAF after cockfighting rings raided

    Thai Phany, the nephew-in-law of Prime Minister Hun Sen who is accused of running two large cockfighting rings, has been removed as a general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. Phany, formerly a one-star brigadier general, was removed by royal decree on December 19, according to

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially