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Human Rights Watch Criticizes Cambodian Military, but Cambodia Dismisses the Criticism

By: The Mirror Posted: July-12-2010 in
The Mirror

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 672

“Phnom Penh: Human Rights Watch [“ Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world. We stand with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice”] criticized the Cambodian military for being involved in forced evictions.

“This criticism is made as Cambodian military forces cooperate with the US army to organize a big military exercise starting on Sunday next week.

“According to a report from New York issued on 9 July 2010, Human Rights Watch said that the joint military exercise, which the United States of America decided to organize in Cambodia, will affect the US commitment to promote human rights in Cambodia.

“Human Rights Watch said that Cambodian military forces are used to protect the interest of private companies [see Phnom Penh Post of 2 June 2010] and to evict Cambodian people by force in order to grab their land. In addition, Cambodian armed forces beat and sometimes shot at Cambodian innocent people over land disputes.

“Human Rights Watch asked the United States of America to suspend its military aid to Cambodia, where it granted about US$1.8 million in 2010 for the construction of a military training center.

“Anyway, high ranking officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia dismissed this criticism, adding that the cooperation between Cambodia and the United States of America continues.

“The spokesperson and Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of Defense, Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat, said that what was mentioned by the Human Rights Watch was without clear basis and thus it is unreliable. Cambodian troops have never committed anything as criticized [see Phnom Penh Post of 10 May 2010].

The Asian Human Right Commission (AHRC) has learned that on November 14, 2006, three villagers were allegedly assaulted in relation to a land dispute by members of the military from the ACO command headquarters (tank headquarters)

“The spokesperson of the government, Minister of Information Mr. Khieu Kanharith, said that the Cambodian armed forces are used to protect and to maintain security and social order, and every country uses armed forces, also the United States of America. But the government has never ordered troops to grab people’s land.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong, said that the criticism of Human Rights Watch is unnecessary and useless.

“He added that the relations of Cambodia and the United States of America are smooth in all sectors, both in such fields as diplomacy and military. These ties will continue without change.

“It should be noted that the criticism of Human Rights Watch was made a week before Cambodian forces start to cooperate with the US Pacific Command to jointly organize a big multi-national military exercise and training from 17 to 30 July 2010. Twenty six countries will join in this exercise which is named Angkor Sentinel 2010.

“The multi-national exercise is organized with the aim to strengthen the capacity of military forces for peacekeeping missions in the region and in the world.

“Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat said that twenty six countries will participate in the military exercise which is divided into two parts: a ‘command post’ exercise in Phnom Penh in the Intercontinental Hotel, and field training exercise at the area of the ACO ['allied command operations'?] Tank Command Post in Kompong Speu, along National Road 4.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5246, 10.7.2010

This article was first published by The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 672 - Saturday, 10.7.2010
Have a look at the last editorial - you can access it directly from the main page of The Mirror.

Norbert Klein is the Editor of The Mirror – The Mirror is a daily comprehensive summary and translation of the major Khmer language press - More about The Mirror

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