I feel duty bound to refute the misinformation presented in the letter "UNTAC
Agitprop" with the author's "name withheld at own request" in the
Phnom Penh Post dated Sept. 12, which challenges the figures of cantoned troops provided
by the UNTAC spokesman during his press briefings.
Of course, I have no idea where the anonymous author drew his or her data. However,
at the time of writing (Sept. 22) the actual figure of soldiers cantoned from CPAF,
KPNLF, and ANKI, in accordance with the Paris Agreement, is over 52,000, not 16,000
as your misinformant would have us believe. Of these, some 38,000 have been released,
following disarmament, on temporary leave under an agreement reached in the Mixed
Military Working Group forum.
In addition, UNTAC has now taken control of over 52,500 weapons. These range from
MiG fighters to rifles and pistols and include many of the heavy weapons previously
held by the Cambodian parties. UNTAC continues to place a high priority on bringing
the maximum number of weapons under its control, even before the full cantonment
process commences. This is an important contribution to the reduction in hostilities
throughout Cambodia and should have a positive effect on reducing the capabilities
available to bandits as well.
UNTAC's cantonment details are no secret and can be easily verified. Indeed, we are
currently going to considerable effort to put mechanisms in place for full verification
of the cantonment process by the four signatory Parties to the Paris Agreement. It
is UNTAC's intention, where possible, to extend this quadripartite involvement to
other aspects of the implementation of the withdrawal, cease-fire and related measures
as explained in Annex 2 to the Agreement. This is consistent with the spirit of the
Agreement, and the return of the NADK representatives to the Mixed Military Working
Group has helped UNTAC to move forward with this project.
I note also that the anonymous author of the letter seems confused about the meaning
of the word "cantonment" and relies on Webster's dictionary to suggest
that UNTAC is using the word in an intentionally misleading way. Nothing could be
further from the truth. The meaning is well explained in the Agreement, in a manner
of which I'm sure Mr. Webster would approve.
After regroupment, the Agreement requires the armed forces to be escorted to "cantonment
areas" where they will lay down their arms and hand over their ammunition and
military equipment. When this process is completed to the satisfaction of the parties
and UNTAC, demobilization from the cantonment areas can commence. It remains UNTAC's
intention to implement these provisions of the Agreement at the earliest opportunity.
Finally, I must express my concern over the type of misinformation spread by anonymous
authors such as "name withheld" who do not have the confidence to attach
their name to their assertions. The truth is readily accessible and UNTAC staff officers
are available for interview by anyone sincerely in search of it. The apparently shy
author's attempts to discredit the efforts of impartial and hard-working UNTAC military
personnel to date, apart from being based on untruth, serve no useful purpose and
suggest a mischievous motive.
- Damien Healy, Lieutenant Colonel, UNTAC Headquarters