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Opposition slams Thai gov’t

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha walks past an honour guard in Beijing
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha walks past an honour guard in Beijing last year. Senior lawmakers from the CNRP sent Prayuth a letter condemning the recent killings on the Thai-Cambodia border. AFP

Opposition slams Thai gov’t

More than a dozen opposition party officials have accused Thailand of encouraging extrajudicial killings of Cambodians along the border.

In a strongly worded letter sent to Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Monday, the Cambodia National Rescue Party MPs asked for an independent investigation into an incident in early January where two Cambodians were allegedly burned alive by Thai soldiers across the border from Battambang province.

“Your government has so far denied the nationality of the bodies although the parents of the two young men have claimed for [sic] the bodies of their sons,” they wrote.

The MPs, which include deputy CNRP leader Kem Sokha and a number of senior lawmakers, also condemned the “savage killing” of 55-year-old Phorn Chem on December 9 after she crossed the border to find food.

The more than 100 Cambodians killed by Thai “state agents” in recent years “are continued acts of utter barbarity against Cambodian nationals”, they said. Another three illegal loggers were fatally shot last week.

The MPs added that they consider “the failure of the [Thai] State to take legal action on those responsible for those [extra-judicial] killings as tantamount to the State’s encouragement of such extra-judicial killing.”

Thai Embassy spokespeople could not be reached for comment. Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Thailand had still not officially confirmed the nationality of the burned bodies and were still investigating.

He said the opposition had the right to pen such letters but emphasised the government always sends strongly worded protest notes to Thailand after Cambodians are shot on the border.

Border officials say they have already been informed that the burnt corpses were Thai.

“[The Thai side] does not recognise the bodies as Khmer,” said Muong Rithya, an official in the research and information unit of the Sampov Loun district military police.

Paul Chambers of the Institute of South East Asian Affairs in Chiang Mai, said the tone of the opposition’s letter would “antagonise” the Prayuth regime.

“If the opposition comes to office in the next election, Thai-Cambodian relations, which have improved since Prayuth’s recent visit [in October], will sink to icy depths,” he said in an email.

CNRP president Sam Rainsy’s signature was not on Monday’s letter, but he said he fully backed the initiative.

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