Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Final deal with Khmer Rouge stuck on Mok



Final deal with Khmer Rouge stuck on Mok

Final deal with Khmer Rouge stuck on Mok

NEGOTIATIONS with the remaining hard-line Khmer Rouge guerrillas have been underway

for several months, but the major sticking point in any final agreement to end almost

20 years of fighting is the fate of the rebels' leader, the one-legged Ta Mok.

The government, for its part, says that there could be no amnesty for Ta Mok who

has been accused of crimes against humanity during 1975-78 when the Khmer Rouge were

in power.

"People know about Ta Mok. He's an evil man, he killed a lot of people during

the Khmer Rouge time and after 1978," said Gen Neang Phat, director of the Ministry

of Defense's Department of Information.

"We cannot excuse him. There is only one way and that is to send him to court,"

Phat added.

The remaining hardline rebels have expressed a willingness to give up the fight and

cut a deal similar to that done with Ieng Sary in Pailin, but are fearful of retribution

against their senior leaders.

"If people keep talking about Ta Mok, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, then Ta has

no choice but to continue using the military option," a senior Khmer Rouge official

told the Post. "Everyone wants to follow the political option, the national

reconciliation option."

However, from the government's perspective Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan may be off

the hook.

"We're thinking about Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea," said Phat. "This

amnesty will be a process. If anyone can arrest Ta Mok it will effect the decision

about them. As Hun Sen mentioned in the past about Khieu Samphan, if he can arrest

Ta Mok the government will review the question on Khieu Samphan."

Estimates of the guerrillas remaining troop strength, who are strung out in remote

jungle areas along the Cambodian-Thai border, vary widely.

"We can field around 2,000 soldiers and have 40,000 civilians in our areas,"

said the Khmer Rouge official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"No way," says Gen Phat. "They have at most 200 soldiers left."

A western military analyst estimated that the remaining KR included anywhere from

500 to 1,000 fighters, but noted that it was difficult to know or sure.

"One day this guy is a soldier in the jungle and the next he's in the refugee

camp taking care of his family," the analyst said, referring to the camp on

Thai territory north of Anlong Veng which houses an estimated 15,000 refugees who

fled the fighting when the government captured the former guerrilla headquarters

last March.

Whatever the exact numbers, Ta Mok and his followers are in a situation more desparate

than anything experienced in the last three decades. Having lost their support base

of Anlong Veng, they must fend for themselves in rugged, malaria-infested jungle

terrain that offers little.

"We do not have enough medicine and food," said the Khmer Rouge official.

"The morale of our soldiers is low."

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and