Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provincial police say Thailand is not invading Cambodia after a series of social media posts about fences being built on the border raised alarms.
Banteay Meanchey police chief Ath Khem said on Tuesday the information on social media on Sunday and Monday was not true. The fences were erected on land far away from the border and did not affect Cambodia.
The Thailand side erected the fences on its land along national roads and at some corridors to block people from going in and out illegally.
“They erected [barbed wire fences] on their roads, not the border. When they cannot guard at checkpoints, they erect the fences. They do so, on their land very far away from the borders. Nothing is being reported to us,” Khem said.
He said illegal crossings remain a problem in Banteay Meanchey and the provincial police have tried to block Cambodians from crossing into Thailand in secret.
“According to news from inside [Thailand], Cambodian citizens made appointments to work there. Border officials here [Cambodia] have difficulty blocking them, especially at the Poipet border checkpoint to the northern Dangrek Mountain chains,” Khem said.
Battambang provincial deputy governor Soeum Bunrith said on Tuesday that Cambodians still secretly migrated to Thailand in his area.
“We asked for understanding from the Thailand side on this matter. If Cambodians get caught we ask that they be sent back to Cambodia and then we keep them in quarantine as advised by the government,” he said.
Bunrith said the border in Battambang has not seen barbed wire fences.
International Chaom Border Police Chief Touch Ra said on Tuesday there is commercial trade on the Cambodia-Thai border, but citizens are not allowed to enter.
“We talked with the Thai side already that there must not be any changes from the original state ... Everything must be the same,” Ra said.
Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun said there are two reasons behind deploying barbed wires. The first is that Thailand is concerned about Covid-19 and some Cambodians went to work there illegally.
“The second reason, as Khmer people, we all know that barbed wire is for preventing illegal border crossing. Some of us have faced this before,” he said.