Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Govt seeks answers in teenager’s burning

Govt seeks answers in teenager’s burning

Govt seeks answers in teenager’s burning

THE Cambodian government has formally approached Thailand to demand an explanation for the death of a teenager allegedly shot and burned alive by Thai soldiers.

In a strongly worded letter sent Tuesday to the Royal Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the death of Yon Rith, 16, an “act of cruelty” that breaks international law.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia considers these reported acts as a serious breach of internationally accepted humanitarian principle,
which should not be committed by any agent of a civilised state,” read the letter, according to a copy obtained Tuesday.

“Cambodia requests the authorities concerned in Thailand to take appropriate measures to prevent such atrocities from happening again,” it continued.

It is the first time the national government has officially weighed in on the death of the Oddar Meanchey province teenager, who was killed last week.

Provincial officials say Yon Rith and Mao Kleung, 18, were shot and “badly wounded” last Friday when they were allegedly caught logging illegally along the disputed Cambodia-Thailand border.

Mao Kleung escaped, but Oddar Meanchey officials claim Thai soldiers captured Yon Rith and burned him alive.

The boy’s father, Saing Yon, told the Post on Monday that he believed his son had been bound with rope to an ox cart before he was set alight.

Human rights activists Tuesday compared the Thai soldiers’ alleged actions to those of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

“They burned this man alive, just as Adolf Hitler did during World War II,” said Ny Chakrya, head of the investigation section of human rights group Adhoc. “This is an act of hatred that will be condemned by the international community.” The organisation is now planning its own probe into the death, he said.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for the rights group Licadho, called on the Cambodian government to launch a formal complaint with other neighbouring countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“The government should complain to ASEAN members and take legal action to prevent this from happening again,” Am Sam Ath said.

On Monday, the victim’s father vowed revenge and said he had no doubts that his son had been deliberately burned to death by Thai troops. “I will remember this, and I want revenge on the Thai soldiers, but I won’t tell anyone what I will do to them,” he said.

The scandal follows the arrest of several Cambodians accused of illegal logging in Thailand last month.

The 12 men, currently being detained in a Thai prison, were due to be visited by relatives in Thailand today, said Touch Ra, deputy chief of the Cambodia-Thailand Relations Office at the Chom International Border Gate. A further 16 men arrested in July along the Oddar Meanchey border in similar circumstances are still awaiting trial in Thailand.

Neither the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh would comment on Tuesday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group