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UNTAC Rebuts Critic

UNTAC Rebuts Critic

Editors:

I feel duty bound to refute the misinformation presented in the letter "UNTAC

Agitprop" with the author's "name withheld at own request" in the

Phnom Penh Post dated Sept. 12, which challenges the figures of cantoned troops provided

by the UNTAC spokesman during his press briefings.

Of course, I have no idea where the anonymous author drew his or her data. However,

at the time of writing (Sept. 22) the actual figure of soldiers cantoned from CPAF,

KPNLF, and ANKI, in accordance with the Paris Agreement, is over 52,000, not 16,000

as your misinformant would have us believe. Of these, some 38,000 have been released,

following disarmament, on temporary leave under an agreement reached in the Mixed

Military Working Group forum.

In addition, UNTAC has now taken control of over 52,500 weapons. These range from

MiG fighters to rifles and pistols and include many of the heavy weapons previously

held by the Cambodian parties. UNTAC continues to place a high priority on bringing

the maximum number of weapons under its control, even before the full cantonment

process commences. This is an important contribution to the reduction in hostilities

throughout Cambodia and should have a positive effect on reducing the capabilities

available to bandits as well.

UNTAC's cantonment details are no secret and can be easily verified. Indeed, we are

currently going to considerable effort to put mechanisms in place for full verification

of the cantonment process by the four signatory Parties to the Paris Agreement. It

is UNTAC's intention, where possible, to extend this quadripartite involvement to

other aspects of the implementation of the withdrawal, cease-fire and related measures

as explained in Annex 2 to the Agreement. This is consistent with the spirit of the

Agreement, and the return of the NADK representatives to the Mixed Military Working

Group has helped UNTAC to move forward with this project.

I note also that the anonymous author of the letter seems confused about the meaning

of the word "cantonment" and relies on Webster's dictionary to suggest

that UNTAC is using the word in an intentionally misleading way. Nothing could be

further from the truth. The meaning is well explained in the Agreement, in a manner

of which I'm sure Mr. Webster would approve.

After regroupment, the Agreement requires the armed forces to be escorted to "cantonment

areas" where they will lay down their arms and hand over their ammunition and

military equipment. When this process is completed to the satisfaction of the parties

and UNTAC, demobilization from the cantonment areas can commence. It remains UNTAC's

intention to implement these provisions of the Agreement at the earliest opportunity.

Finally, I must express my concern over the type of misinformation spread by anonymous

authors such as "name withheld" who do not have the confidence to attach

their name to their assertions. The truth is readily accessible and UNTAC staff officers

are available for interview by anyone sincerely in search of it. The apparently shy

author's attempts to discredit the efforts of impartial and hard-working UNTAC military

personnel to date, apart from being based on untruth, serve no useful purpose and

suggest a mischievous motive.

- Damien Healy, Lieutenant Colonel, UNTAC Headquarters

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