Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Border killing prompts demand

Border killing prompts demand

Border killing prompts demand

Cambodia’s government has demanded Thailand investigate the killing of a Cambodian women shot in the head by Thai soldiers after straying across the border in search of food.

In a fiercely worded letter sent to the Thai Embassy in Cambodia, the Kingdom’s Foreign Affairs Ministry condemned the shooting and called for Thailand’s government to stop its soldiers from killing Khmer citizens in the border region.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia strongly protests against the barbarian acts committed by the Thai soldier(s) and requests the Thai authorities to conduct an investigation into the case and bring murder[ers] to justice,” the letter reads.

Phorn Chem, 55, from O’Smach commune in Oddar Meanchey’s Samrong town, was killed December 9 after she and two of her daughters crossed the border while foraging for food.

The ministry’s letter, delivered Wednesday, said that Chem was unaware she had crossed into Thailand when she went looking for mushrooms and cassava.

According to local police, Chem was initially buried by Thai soldiers but her corpse was later dug up and returned to her family.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has recently attempted to improve relations with the Thai military.

In October, while receiving coup leader and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on his maiden visit to the Kingdom, Hun Sen asked that the Thai military arrest people that stray over the border instead of shooting them.

However, the tone of the recent letter marks a shift away from the goodwill on display during the leaders’ talks.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia would like to request again and again the Thai authorities to stop these atrocious acts against innocent Cambodian people,” it reads.

Fatal and non-fatal shootings by soldiers on the Thai side of the border are frequent, although the countries disagree on the figures.

In September, Thai authorities reported no loggers – who are often the ones injured or killed – were killed between January 1 and September 1.

However, Cambodia’s Ministry of Interior reported a dozen were killed in a single day in March.

Although welcoming the reaction, Ny Chakrya, head of the human rights monitoring section of NGO Adhoc, said he didn’t expect Thai authorities would listen, adding that the government should file a complaint to an international court.

Ou Virak, chairman of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, agreed, suggesting the matter be taken to the UN’s special rapporteur for extrajudicial killings.

“The Thai military has behaved badly for a long, long time. They’re getting away with crimes, they get away with murder. Many, many people have become victims, this is not the first incident and never once has there been accountability.”

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,