A THAI government spokesman said there is no proof Thai soldiers have killed innocent Cambodian civilians along the disputed border area, even as a local rights group stepped up calls Wednesday for Thai authorities to end what it described as a “brutal” series of recent slayings.
Ny Chakrya, senior investigator of the rights group Adhoc, said his organisation has firsthand evidence that Thai troops have shot and killed at least 20 Cambodian civilians in the border area over the last two years.
“We have enough evidence, such as eyewitness victims who are still alive, for the Thai embassy to push their government to step up investigations of Thai troops,” Ny Chakrya said during a press conference Wednesday.
WE WILL ACCUSE THE THAI GOVERNMENT OF DELIBERATELY KILLING OUR CIVILIAN PEOPLE.
The group, as well as Cambodian authorities, says Thai soldiers have shot, killed and, in some cases, “brutally tortured” civilians.
“If the Thai government still ignores us, we will accuse the Thai government of deliberately killing our civilian people,” Ny Chakrya said.
Cambodian authorities have reported multiple cases of Thai soldiers shooting at civilians.
Many of the alleged attacks have involved people accused of illegal logging in Oddar Meanchey province, including a September case in a 16-year-old boy was shot and then burned alive by Thai soldiers, according to his relatives.
Thai authorities denied the allegation.
Thai ministry of foreign affairs spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said there have been no verified instances of Thai soldiers firing on innocent civilians.
“We have in all these cases coordinated with the military forces on the ground to verify the facts of the matter, and I think, so far as we have been told, there have not been any cases as alleged,” he said.
Thani said Thai soldiers have only confronted people they believed were encroaching on Thai territory to engage in illegal logging.
“Many times, these people are armed groups.... We try to apprehend and prosecute them according to the law,” he said.
However, villagers who Adhoc brought to Phnom Penh for a press conference Wednesday say that they were shot at by Thai soldiers.
Phal Sokha, 22, said he was shot after venturing into Thai territory to find wood. “I will be paralysed for my whole life,” he said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY IRWIN LOY