Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Logger deaths in Oddar Meanchey soar in 2012

Logger deaths in Oddar Meanchey soar in 2012

Logger deaths in Oddar Meanchey soar in 2012

Though nationwide figures remain elusive, the number of Cambodian loggers killed or injured by Thai soldiers along the border in Oddar Meanchey province in 2012 was up more than 110 per cent from 2011, provincial police officials said yesterday.

Sun Korng, director of the statistics office at the Oddar Meanchey provincial police, said 19 Cambodians were shot dead by Thai soldiers last year and 16 were injured after crossing the border illegally – up from only eight deaths and eight injuries in 2011 – and that the number incidents in which shots were fired had risen as well.

“In 2011, Thais shot at Cambodians 12 times, and [shot at them] 21 times in 2012,” he said.

Repatriations of Cambodians back to the province by Thai authorities, he added, rose 42 per cent to 376 from 265 in 2011.

According to provincial police deputy chief of staff Chhet Chhorn, Oddar Meanchey police and border police themselves arrested nearly 400 Cambodians last year before they managed to cross the border into Thailand to look for work, or illegally log.

“Most of them attempted to cross the border wherever they could, but our forces arrested and educated them before freeing them to go home,” he said.

Despite the arrests, Srey Naren, provincial co-ordinator for the rights group Adhoc, criticised police for what he characterised as weak measures in cracking down on the luxury timber trade.

“We noticed that the death toll is increasing, and it is a concern. The price of timber keeps going up, and traders need more workers to log illegally. Police arrested workers, but not brokers or traders,” said Naren, who maintained that police had undercounted shooting deaths in 2012.

“I visited and investigated all the families whose members were shot death by the Thais. There were more than 30 in 2012,” he added.

Oddar Meanchey provincial authorities declined to comment on the matter.

Pich Vanna, chief of the Cambodian-Thai Border Relations Office, said that while he did not have an official report yet, he was optimistic that the shootings and other incidents along the entire border would prove to have declined in 2012.

“Our Cambodians are not so aware of local work. We have jobs locally for them, but they prefer working in Thailand,” he said. “Our police are trying to stop them from doing so, and the cases are down now.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Phak Seangly at [email protected]
 

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