Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Army aided loggers: US cable

Army aided loggers: US cable

Army aided loggers: US cable

110722_3
Royal Cambodian Armed Forces soldiers patrol in Oddar Meanchey province earlier this year.

An American diplomatic cable from the United States embassy in Bangkok claims that armed Cambodian soldiers have been used to protect loggers working illegally in Thai territory.

The cable, made public this month and originally obtained by the anti-secrecy organisation WikiLeaks, dates from December of 2009 and recounts an incident near the border from that month during which one Cambodian logger was killed by Thai troops.

Then-US Ambassador to Thailand Eric John wrote in the cable that a source had told the embassy “that Cambodian soldiers were protecting the loggers when shots were exchanged between the two sides, resulting in the death of one of the loggers, who suffered from shotgun and grenade wounds”.

“Patches confiscated from the Cambodians involved suggested involvement by security personnel, who were presumably moonlighting in this other role,” John wrote.

Dy Phen, director of the Cambodian-Thai border relations office in Banteay Meanchey province, yesterday denied allegations of military involvement in illegal logging across the border.

“As a soldier at the border, I can assure you that individual soldiers would not dare to cross the border illegally to protect loggers because that is a violation of the sovereignty of Thailand,” he said.

“I think those allegations are just to defend Thai soldiers who performed their duties wrongly and shot unarmed Cambodian civilians.”

The shootings of Cambodian loggers near the Thai border have been a persistent problem in recent years.

Chan Soveth, a senior investigator with the local rights group Adhoc, said yesterday that his group had confirmed the deaths of 22 Cambodian loggers shot by Thai forces in 2010, and is investigating roughly a dozen cases from this year.

In January of 2010, just over a month after the shooting described in the US cable, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong accused Thai forces who fire on Cambodian loggers of breaching international law.

“If Cambodian people do something wrong, [Thai authorities] can punish them by using international law and the principle of human rights,” he said, adding that Cambodia had sent Thailand “many diplomatic notes” on the issue.

Last week, WikiLeaks released all 777 diplomatic cables from the American embassy in Phnom Penh that the group has in its cache of over 250,000 leaked US State Department documents.

MOST VIEWED

  • Man arrested for fake PM endorsement

    The owner of currency exchange company GCG Asia Co Ltd was temporarily detained by the court yesterday for attempted fraud after Prime Minister Hun Sen reacted to the company using his name and pictures to allege his endorsement of the firm. Phnom Penh Municipal Court

  • Archeologists find ancient phallic statue

    An archeological team has found a metre-long tipless stone linga (penis) of the Hindu deity Shiva in the foundations of a temple in Kratie province’s historical Samphu Borak area, a former capital of the pre-Angkor Empire Chenla period. Thuy Chanthourn, the deputy director of

  • Sihanoukville authority orders structure dismantled

    The Preah Sihanouk provincial administration has ordered owners of two unauthorised construction sites to immediately dismantle them and warned of legal action if the owners failed to comply. Ly Chet Niyom, development management and construction bureau chief at the provincial hall, told The Post on

  • Police seek arrest of Chinese ‘gang’

    Cambodian police remain on the lookout for 20 Chinese nationals who earlier this month posted a video clip threatening to stoke insecurity in Preah Sihanouk province, though the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh maintained the group posed no threats to Cambodia’s national security. National Police