Sunday, 12 April 2009

Thai declared a state of emergency in the capital Sunday and ordered armored vehicles into the streets

Supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra celebrate after seizing an armoured personnel carrier in Bangkok April 12, 2009 a day after the ASEAN Summit was cancelled. Troops fired into the air as Thai anti-government protesters stormed the country's interior ministry on Sunday after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in the capital.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND POLITICS CONFLICT)

Supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra ride motorcycles beside an armoured personnel carrier returning to a military base in Bangkok April 12, 2009 a day after the ASEAN Summit was cancelled. Troops fired into the air as Thai anti-government protesters stormed the country's interior ministry on Sunday after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in the capital.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND POLITICS CONFLICT MILITARY)

Supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra watch armoured personnel carriers returning to a military base in Bangkok April 12, 2009 a day after the ASEAN Summit was cancelled. Troops fired into the air as Thai anti-government protesters stormed the country's interior ministry on Sunday after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in the capital.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND POLITICS CONFLICT)

Anti-government demonstrators capture a Thai Army armored personnel carrier near the Foreign Ministry Sunday, April 12, 2009, in Bangkok, Thailand. Bands of anti-government protesters are roaming areas of Bangkok as a state of emergency was announced, with some smashing a car carrying Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, and others beating up motorists who hurled insults at them.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, center, arrives for a meeting before declaring a state of emergency at Interior Ministry in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, April 12, 2009. Thailand's embattled government, humiliated by demonstrators who shut down a 16-nation Asian summit, declared a state of emergency in the capital Sunday and ordered armored vehicles into the streets to stem a tide of protest across the country.(AP Photo)

A Thai Army armored personnel carrier waits for instructions near the government house in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, April 12, 2009. Thailand's embattled government, humiliated by demonstrators who shut down a 16-nation Asian summit, declared a state of emergency in the capital Sunday in an attempt to stem the tide of protest across the country.(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

A Thai Army armored personnel carrier waits for instructions near the government House in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, April 12, 2009. Thailand's embattled government, humiliated by demonstrators who shut down a 16-nation Asian summit, declared a state of emergency in the capital Sunday in an attempt to stem the tide of protest across the country.(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

A Thai Army armored personnel carrier waits for instructions near the government House in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, April 12, 2009. Thailand's embattled government, humiliated by demonstrators who shut down a 16-nation Asian summit, declared a state of emergency in the capital Sunday in an attempt to stem the tide of protest across the country.(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Thai anti riot-policemen stand guard on the streets near Government House in Bangkok on April 12, 2009. Tanks and armoured vehicles rolled through the streets of Bangkok on Sunday as premier Abhisit Vejjajiva cracked down on anti-government protesters in the most serious crisis yet of his rule.(AFP/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

Soldiers stand guard with weapons as supporters of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra block the main road during a state of emergency in Bangkok April 12, 2009. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told anti-government demonstrators on Sunday to end their protests or face tough measures allowed under a state of emergency that he declared earlier in the capital.REUTERS/Kerek Wongsa (THAILAND POLITICS CONFLICT)

Supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra beat up an occupant of a government vehicle after dragging him out of the car at the interior ministry in Bangkok April 12, 2009. Troops fired into the air as Thai anti-government protesters stormed the country's interior ministry on Sunday after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in the capital.REUTERS/Stringer (THAILAND POLITICS CONFLICT)

Red-shirted anti-government protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra circle to attack the car of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as Abhisit's security guards, black jackets, try in vain to stop them after Abhisit declared a state of emergency at Interior Ministry in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, April 12, 2009. Thailand's embattled government, humiliated by demonstrators who shut down a 16-nation Asian summit, declared a state of emergency in the capital Sunday and ordered armored vehicles into the streets to stem a tide of protest across the country.(AP Photo)

Soldiers watch a TV broadcast of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's speech during a news conference at the Government House in Bangkok April 12, 2009. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told anti-government demonstrators on Sunday to end their protests or face tough measures allowed under a state of emergency that he declared earlier in the capital.REUTERS/Kerek Wongsa (THAILAND POLITICS CONFLICT MILITARY)

Red-shirted anti-government protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra attack the car of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva with clubs and various objects as Abhisit's security guards, black jackets, try in vain to stop them after Abhisit declared a state of emergency at Interior Ministry in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, April 12, 2009. Thailand's embattled government, humiliated by demonstrators who shut down a 16-nation Asian summit, declared a state of emergency in the capital Sunday and ordered armored vehicles into the streets to stem a tide of protest across the country.(AP Photo)

Thai anti-government demonstrators gather round a vandalized car leaving the Thai Interior Ministry on Sunday, April 12, 2009, in Bangkok, Thailand. The country's embattled government, humiliated by demonstrators who shut down a 16-nation Asian summit, declared a state of emergency in the capital Sunday and ordered armored vehicles into the streets to stem a tide of protest across the country.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Vietnamese, Cambodian youths promote exchange

VOV News
04/12/2009

A sports delegation from Cambodia’s Mondulkiri province is joining Vietnamese youth in an exchange programme in the Central Highland province of Dak Nong from April 9-11.

Vietnamese and Cambodian representatives shared experiences in boosting youth movements and affirmed the youth’s key role in preventing crimes, social evils and abolishing backward customs to ensure peace for the people.

They pledged to actively take part in social activities and poverty reduction, as well as providing assistance to underprivileged people, overcoming the aftermath of natural calamities and protecting the environment. They also held cultural exchange and sports competitions to strengthen friendship.

Dak Nong and Mondulkiri share a 130 km long border. People of ethnic minority groups in the two provinces regularly hold joint activities to promote their unity, friendship and cooperation.

Cambodian nationals arrested for drug trafficking

VOV News
04/12/2009

The criminal investigation department under the Ministry of Public Security on April 10 prosecuted and arrested four drug traders and traffickers, including two Cambodian nationals.

The detainees were Ho Minh Loi, 33, and Pham Thai Son, 37, both from Long An province, Khuon Khmoi, 29, and Kim Phuc, 42, both Cambodian nationals.

The four established a ring to transport synthetic drugs from Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City across the Tho Mo border gate in Long An province to be distributed in caf├ęs, bars and discos.

According to initial investigations, the ring, led by Khuon Khmoi, had been operating for nearly 10 years.

In March 2009, the criminal investigation department caught Pham Thai Son and Ho Minh Loi red handed trafficking 200 amphetamine tablets and 100gr of powdered drugs.

Son and Loi confessed that they were hired by Khuon Khmoi to transport the drugs to Vietnam. Later, police arrested Khuon Khmoi and Kim Phuc in Long An province.

Thai protesters storm interior ministry

Reuters; Thai riot police
TVNZ (New Zealand)
Sunday April 12, 2009
Source: Reuters

Troops fired into the air as Thai anti-government protesters stormed the country's interior ministry after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in the capital.

About 50 protesters broke through security at the interior ministry in Bangkok while Abhisit was in the building, but the prime minister escaped by car, a TV channel said.

Reuters journalists at the scene said soldiers initially made no effort to stop the protesters from entering the building but later fired into the air to prevent more from joining them.

Red-shirted protesters were also gathering at the capital's police headquarters while a crowd at Government House had grown to over 4,000.

The latest unrest comes a day after protesters stormed the venue of a summit of Asian leaders, forcing the event to be cancelled and seriously undermining confidence in the government.

In a weekly address to the nation, Abhisit said arrest warrants were being drawn up for those responsible for the unrest.

Police said they had already arrested Arismun Pongreungrong, a popular singer prominent in the summit assault, and were holding him at a police station north of Bangkok.

"In the current situation, what I have to do is to bring peace to the country, bring back governance and have a process of political reform," Abhisit said.

Political humiliation

Abhisit suffered a political humiliation when the summit he had presented as a sign of the country's return to normality had to be cancelled after red-shirted supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra broke into the venue, sending Asian leaders fleeing by helicopter.

Thaksin's supporters say Abhisit only became premier because of a parliamentary stitch-up engineered by the army. They want new elections, which they would be well placed to win.

The events will pile more pressure on an economy teetering on the brink of recession, especially if foreign tourists are put off by the scenes of chaos.

Thai financial markets are closed until Thursday for a holiday. After months of falls, many Asian stock markets have rallied in recent weeks but the Thai market has been held back by the political unrest and is flat on the year.

Patareeya Benjapolchai, president of the Stock Exchange of Thailand, was concerned.

"It's really up to the government now how it manages the situation within this five-day break. What happened was a loss for the country. The Asean summit was supposed to be a step-up for our economy," Patareeya told Reuters.

Newspapers were outraged both by the pro-Thaksin supporters' insult to foreign leaders and by the government's inability to put proper security in place. Police and soldiers put up little resistance as the demonstrators marched towards the summit hotel.

"Yesterday was a truly shameful day for our country, which had its international image destroyed," the Bangkok Post said in a front-page editorial.

Khmer Rouge survivors give voice to their 'silent suffering'

Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times
Born Pach, 40, survived a Khmer Rouge work camp in Cambodia and made it to Long Beach in 1989.


Los Angeles Times
By Joe Mozingo
April 12, 2009

At night, the old woman hears the voices of her children crying out for her. She knows they will never stop.

Um Sath is 89, and it has been three decades since the Khmer Rouge laid waste to Cambodia. But she shuts her eyes and furiously taps her temples to show exactly where the genocidal regime still rules with impunity. "We miss you, Mama," the voices cry.

Viasnah Cragn, 58, recalls the executions, the dead bodies, the screaming — and how soldiers killed children with clubs to save bullets.
(Ann Johansson / Los Angeles Times) April 9, 2009

Um Sath, left, at a Cambodian New Year celebration, lost her sons and husband.
(Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times) April 2, 2008


Sath spends much of her day sitting in silence and fighting her mind. For years she rarely left her old clapboard house in central Long Beach. Though she now finds slivers of peace chatting with the other haunted figures at her senior center, she has mostly kept the caroming echoes of the "killing fields" sealed tightly inside her head.

One bright spring morning last month, she let them out -- joining dozens of survivors at a recreation center in Long Beach to face their memories head-on. They wanted to see just a bit of reckoning for the perpetrators of one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.

Since February, a United Nations-backed tribunal in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh has been trying the first of five Khmer Rouge leaders charged with crimes against humanity, for the brutal experiment in communism that took at least 1.7 million lives between 1975 and 1979.

Activists in the United States are trying to get refugees outside Cambodia to submit their testimonies to the tribunal, in an effort to spur a judicial process beset by delays, limited funds and allegations of corruption. They hope, along the way, that they can relieve the emotional torture of survivors who rarely speak about what happened.

"I'm hoping it will allow them to tell the world what happened 34 years ago," said Leakhena Nou, an assistant professor of sociology at Cal State Long Beach, who is leading the outreach effort in Southern California, home of the largest Cambodian refugee community in the world. "The Khmer Rouge leaders are getting old, the victims are getting old. This is their chance to have their voices be heard before it's too late."

Nou has found that survivors of the Khmer Rouge era living in Cambodia and the U.S. have endured what she calls a prolonged "silent suffering."

"What we're seeing with Cambodians is anomie -- a state of hopelessness and helplessness and this feeling of being disconnected from society."

In a children's day-care room at the rec center in McBride Park, Nou explains to Sath and other victims the importance of submitting their written testimony to the tribunal.

Nou understands this tribunal has huge problems. She knows it won't touch even a small fraction of the era's killers. She knows political forces in Cambodia are trying to limit the tribunal's reach. She knows survivors' memories are fragmented and muddled by trauma and time. And she knows that asking them to condense incomprehensible horrors of that time -- the irrevocable turning point in all of their lives -- into a few quotidian lines in tiny boxes on a government form borders on cruel farce.

Description of crime. Date. Who do you believe is responsible for these crimes and why do you believe this?

Nou hasn't even been assured that prosecutors will read the forms. But she still hopes this could be a starting point for Cambodians around the world to rally for justice.

She asks the survivors whether, before filling out the forms, they want to get their stories out into the open and tell them to the group.

A slight, pale figure in a checkered coat stands up. Sath's eyes crinkle before she speaks.

She and her husband were farmers and merchants in the rich land along the Mekong River, south of Phnom Penh. In the middle class, with enough money to own a modest brick house, they were targets when the Khmer Rouge swept into power in 1975, brutally turning the country into a collective society of farm peasants. Intellectuals, teachers, doctors, businessmen, government bureaucrats and army soldiers were executed en masse.

Khmer Rouge soldiers showed up at Sath's home with rifles, took her husband away and told her to start walking with her eight children. "Just walk," she recalls. Mother and children had nothing but their clothes.

The countryside was crowded with people treading the rutted roads. Sath held her 6-year-old boy's hand. Everyone was silent.

For days they wandered, following orders. Anyone who complained or asked questions was dismissed by a bullet to the back of the head.

The soldiers barked questions about her husband at Sath: Why did he travel to Phnom Penh so often? Did he work for the national police?

She told them they were just poor people, doing nothing.

They let her and her children return to where she had lived. The family reunited with her husband and stayed for a month. Their house had been burned to the ground -- just a pile of bricks and the skeleton of a stairway. They slept on the ground. There was no food, and they nearly starved, eating only watery rice soup.

The soldiers forced them back on the road, this time to a work camp near Pursat, where they lived on the dirt floor of a straw hut. The family was emaciated, working to exhaustion in the rice fields day after day.

There were no clocks or calendars, just a malignant silence. Time was elastic and unmoored, like in a nightmare.

The smell of death

One day, soldiers came and locked Sath in chains and took her husband away. She said nothing. Days later she overheard soldiers casually mention his execution. She reeled, but kept it inside for her children.

They came again, in the rice paddy. They asked the children all sorts of questions about their parents. They were kids; they didn't know what they needed to lie about. They said their dad traveled back and forth. They said they had had servants.

The soldiers took her three sons -- two in their late teens, and the 6-year-old.

Some time later, Sath heard that other villagers had seen the boys' clothes in the plowed-up dirt where bodies were routinely buried.

They came for her next. They took her to the same field and beat her unconscious. She woke up naked, amid decaying bodies and the smell that, decades later, could bring every fine grain of this horror back to life. She made it back to her hut, surviving several more near-death moments before Vietnamese soldiers ousted the Khmer Rouge in 1979.

So now she stands in this children's playroom, with its drawings of Cookie Monster and Nemo the clown fish, and the words pour out too fast for the translator to keep up. Sath's eyes are fixed on the middle distance.

"I lost my sons, my grandson. They took my husband away right in front of me. They killed my husband. They took my brothers and sisters away. They were all killed by the Khmer Rouge."

The anguish in her face tells of the unspeakable loss in her heart. A man in a gray suit pulls a handkerchief from his pocket and wipes his eyes. Another takes his glasses off and pinches the bridge of his nose. Women choke back sobs.

Sath thanks everyone profusely for listening.

A stout little woman in a red floral dress and white sandals takes the microphone next. Her face is swollen with emotion before she can speak.

Born Pach, now 40, was a child when the black-clad soldiers came for her parents. They told her they needed to be "re-educated."

They sent Pach to a camp in the province of Battambang to cut rice. She begged to see her parents. But they shouted at her, no, she would not see them again.

One day, the guards accused her of stealing a rooster and beat her. Another time, when she was ill, they accused her of being lazy and sliced the top and side of her head with a knife, and then stuck a burning piece of metal in her rectum.

She saw them slit other children's throats, or club them to death.

Dreams, nightmares

Pach survived the Khmer Rouge and made it to Long Beach in 1989. She lives alone in a tiny Section 8 apartment, watching Cambodian karaoke shows behind a steel security screen door, venturing out mostly just to collect cans. She had a boyfriend for several years. They had a wedding ceremony in Las Vegas, but they never made it official and he left her for someone else years ago. The photos of his family hang on her wall. They're all she ever had.

On her mini-fridge, she has a small shrine for her parents, with Buddhist statuettes, incense she keeps burning and cans of soda for them to drink. She dreams that her mother is talking to her, telling her to take care of herself. She can still see her face.

Pach has sought counseling for depression, but never kept up with it. She has nightmares that she is being burned alive. She thinks Khmer Rouge spies live in her building and record her every word.

But she says she is not afraid of them. She wants her torturers to go to prison.

"The Khmer Rouge killed my parents when I was 5 or 6 years old," she cries at the rec center. "I wanted to see my parents so much, but the Khmer Rouge wouldn't let me. They tied me up. They said, 'No, you can't see your parents.' "

She recounts her injuries, in between shallow breaths, and sits down.

Viasnah Cragn, 58, steps up and tells how the Khmer Rouge shot her sister-in-law in the head as she begged for her husband's life. Her story follows no chronology, just the messy onslaught of images in her head.

She recalls someone executed for complaining about mosquitoes. She tells of giving birth twice, being forced into the rice paddies immediately and coming home to find the newborns unfed -- and dead. She remembers dead bodies left unburied for the dogs to eat, and the carnivores' otherworldly howling at night. She remembers the ghostly silence of daylight.

She describes her husband, starving, falling off a footbridge into the water while carrying a bag of rice.

"I asked for him to be rescued," she says. "They said, 'Why are you so possessive? Your husband is no longer your husband! Your children are no longer your children! You just need to focus on your work.' "

She describes how they killed children with clubs to save bullets. The adults quickly learned to be silent. The children couldn't help themselves. Cragn constantly hears their screaming -- Mommy, Daddy, help me! -- to this day.

Cragn looks at everyone, desperate, beseeching, alone.

"I live here," she says. "I walk around. But I feel like I'm a person living without a soul."

Digging deep

The levee is broken and the stories are pouring out. One woman gets a roll of paper towels to hand around to wipe the tears.

When they get to the forms, 21 people fill them out. No one remembers dates. Places are vague. Only one victim names an alleged perpetrator. The rest do not remember their tormentors' names, never knew them, or are still scared.

A week later, Cragn says she feels that a great pain -- a physical pressure she carried in her chest -- has been lifted by telling her story that day.

"Ever since I did what I did Friday, I feel like there's nothing left of it," she says. "I don't know where it all goes."

But pain has its own strata, and some layers are too deep to unearth. She didn't tell everything that day. She told of other people getting tortured. When asked about her own torture, tears stream down to her jaw before her face is wrung in agony.

"I can't talk about that," she cries.

Protests Against Asia Summit

Armed security officers draw their weapons after supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra tried to enter one of the venues of the 14th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Pattaya April 11, 2009. A summit of Asian leaders in Pattaya, Thailand, has effectively been cancelled after anti-government protesters broke into part of the conference venue, a Thai government spokesman said on Saturday.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND POLITICS CONFLICT MILITARY)

Anti-government demonstrators storm through the 14th ASEAN convention hall Saturday, April 11, 2009, in Pattaya, Thailand, at the 14th ASEAN summit. A Thai government officials say a summit of Asian leaders has been canceled for security reasons. The announcement Saturday came after more than 1,000 anti-government protesters smashed through glass doors to storm into the convention hall where some of the meetings were scheduled to take place.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

Thai anti-government demonstrators bash their way into the venue of the 14th ASEAN summit on Saturday, April 11, 2009, in Pattaya, Thailand. Visiting Asian leaders got a taste of Thailand's political turmoil when thousands of anti-government protesters converged on the venue of a regional summit, threatening to disrupt it unless the Thai prime minister resigns.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra gather inside one of the venues of the 14th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Pattaya April 11, 2009. A summit of Asian leaders in Pattaya, Thailand, has effectively been cancelled after anti-government protesters broke into part of the conference venue, a Thai government spokesman said on Saturday.REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom (THAILAND POLITICS CONFLICT)

Supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra sit outside one of the venues of the 14th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits as an armed security officer keeps watch in Pattaya April 11, 2009. A summit of Asian leaders in Pattaya, Thailand, has effectively been cancelled after anti-government protesters broke into part of the conference venue, a Thai government spokesman said on Saturday.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND POLITICS MILITARY CONFLICT)

An armed security officer aims his weapon after supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra tried to enter one of the venues of the 14th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Pattaya April 11, 2009. A summit of Asian leaders in Pattaya, Thailand, has effectively been cancelled after anti-government protesters broke into part of the conference venue, a Thai government spokesman said on Saturday.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND POLITICS CONFLICT MILITARY)

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva walks as he arrives at U-Tapao military airport in Sattahip April 11, 2009. A summit of Asian leaders in Thailand was cancelled on Saturday after hundreds of anti-government protesters broke through a cordon of troops and swarmed into the meeting's venue. About half of the Asian leaders attending the summit were evacuated by helicopter to a nearby military airbase. REUTERS/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/Pool (THAILAND POLITICS BUSINESS HEADSHOT IMAGE OF THE DAY TOP PICTURE)
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva addresses a press conference at the venue of the 14th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits, in Pattaya some 180 km southeast of Bangkok. Thai protesters smashed their way into a major Asian summit Saturday, forcing the country's embattled prime minister to cancel the meeting and evacuate foreign leaders by helicopter.(AFP/Christophe Archambault)

Vietnamese, Cambodian youths exchange views

11/04/2009

VietNamNet Bridge – About 100 representatives of the Youth Union and the Education and Training Department in Dak Nong Central Highland province and a youth and sports delegation from Cambodia’s Mondulkiri province participated in activities to exchange experiences on youth movement in Gia Nghia Commune, Dak Nong Province from Apr. 9-11.

The two neighbouring provinces of Dak Nong and Mondilkiri share a 130 km long border. People of ethnic minority groups in the two provinces have close economic, cultural and social relations and regularly hold joint activities to promote their unity, friendship and cooperation.

In the integration and globalisation process, the young people from the two provinces are required to raise local people’s awareness about the law and border regulations as well as the demarcation and landmark planting between the two countries.

The two delegations affirmed the youth’s key role in preventing crimes, social evils and abolishing backward customs to ensure peace for the people.

The young people pledged to actively take part in social activities, contributing to poverty reduction, assistance to underprivileged people, overcoming aftermath of natural calamities and environmental protection.

Youth from the two provinces also held cultural exchange and friendship sports events to strengthen friendship.

VietNamNet/VNA

ASEAN summit cancelled




itnnews

Anti-government protesters force their way inside the ASEAN summit in Thailand.

Cambodian PM returns home after ASEAN summits cancelled in Thailand

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sengreets before his departure back home at U-Tapao military airport, Saturday, April 11, 2009. Anti-government protesters stormed a building where leaders of Asian nations were to meet Saturday, prompting Thailand's government to cancel the summit and declare a state of emergency in the seaside city that was to host it.(AP Photo/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul, Pool)

www.chinaview.cn
2009-04-11

PHNOM PENH, April 11 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen arrived home from Thailand Saturday afternoon, after the ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summits in Pattaya were cancelled due to security reasons.

"The delegations could not enter the meeting place, and we delayed the meetings time after time. The time for the meetings was soon over and finally we decided to return home," Sry Thamrong, adviser for Hun Sen, told reporters at the airport.

"The protesters controlled the meeting place," he said.

It has been scheduled that Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will visit Cambodia on April 18, but the plan might change because it depends on the internal situation of Thailand, he added.

While in Thailand on Friday, Abhisit Vejjajiva met with Hun Sen and handed over a piece of ancient Khmer artifact to him as a symbol of the bilateral friendship.

When Abhisit Vejjajiva visits Cambodia, at least 7 out of 24 pieces of ancient Khmer artifacts will be returned to Cambodia, according to Sry Thamrong.

These Khmer artifacts were stolen and trafficked out of Cambodia, but finally arrested by the Thai authorities.

Tha Cambodian delegation left for Thailand on Friday. Hun Sen was originally scheduled to meet with Chinese premier, UN secretary general, Malaysian prime minister and Australian premier over issues of bilateral cooperation.

According to an official press release, the Cambodian delegation for the ASEAN summits included Prime Minister Hun Sen, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Nam Hong, Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh and other governmental officials.

Editor: Wang Guanqun

Protesters force Thailand to cancel Asia summit

A military helicopter takes off from the venue of the ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Pattaya April 11, 2009. With protesters still roaming around the sprawling summit venue, about half of the leaders were evacuated by helicopter to a nearby military airbase.REUTERS/Vivek Prakash (THAILAND TRANSPORT CONFLICT POLITICS MILITARY)


Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong walks as he departs from U-Tapao military airport in Sattahip April 11, 2009. A summit of Asian leaders in Thailand was cancelled on Saturday after hundreds of anti-government protesters broke through a cordon of troops and swarmed into the meeting's venue. About half of the Asian leaders attending the summit were evacuated by helicopter to a nearby military airbase.REUTERS/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/Pool (THAILAND POLITICS BUSINESS)

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo walks before departing from U-Tapao military airport in Sattahip April 11, 2009. A summit of Asian leaders in Thailand was cancelled on Saturday after hundreds of anti-government protesters broke through a cordon of troops and swarmed into the meeting's venue. About half of the Asian leaders attending the summit were evacuated by helicopter to a nearby military airbase.REUTERS/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/Pool (THAILAND POLITICS BUSINESS)

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) walks before departing from U-Tapao military airport in Sattahip April 11, 2009. A summit of Asian leaders in Thailand was cancelled on Saturday after hundreds of anti-government protesters broke through a cordon of troops and swarmed into the meeting's venue. About half of the Asian leaders attending the summit were evacuated by helicopter to a nearby military airbase. REUTERS/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/Pool (THAILAND POLITICS)

South Korea President Lee Myung-Bak, left, talks with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva prior to Lee's departure at U-Tapao military airport, Saturday, April 11, 2009. Anti-government protesters stormed a building where leaders of Asian nations were to meet Saturday, prompting Thailand's government to cancel the summit and declare a state of emergency in the seaside city that was to host it.(AP Photo/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul, Pool)

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, center, walks to a plane for departure at U-Tapao military airport, Saturday, April 11, 2009. Anti-government protesters stormed a building where leaders of Asian nations were to meet Saturday, prompting Thailand's government to cancel the summit and declare a state of emergency in the seaside city that was to host it.(AP Photo/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul, Pool)

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen gives a traditional greetings as he depart from U-Tapao military airport in Sattahip on April 11, 2009. A summit of Asian leaders in Thailand was cancelled on Saturday after hundreds of anti-government protesters broke through a cordon of troops and swarmed into the meeting's venue. About half of the Asian leaders attending the summit were evacuated by helicopter to a nearby military airbase.REUTERS/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/Pool (THAILAND POLITICS)

A man is carried away after he was injured when supporters of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra stormed the ASEAN summit. Thousands of Thai anti-government protesters have smashed their way into a major Asian summit, forcing the country's embattled prime minister to cancel the meeting and evacuate foreign leaders by helicopter.(AFP/Nicolas Asfouri)

Anti-government protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra react to the speech of Thaksin who addresses the crowd via telephone from an undisclose location during a protest outside the government house in Bangkok, Thailand Saturday, April 11, 2009. Anti-government protesters stormed a convention center where leaders of Asian nations were to meet Saturday, smashing doors and searching room by room for the prime minister. Thailand's government canceled the summit and airlifted the leaders by helicopter from the seaside city. The red-shirted protesters, who are calling for the resignation of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, declared victory and walked away from the complex after about an hour.(AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

A helicopter takes off from a roof of the hotel hosting the ASEAN summit after protestors stormed the venue in Pattaya. Thai protesters smashed their way into a major Asian summit Saturday, forcing the country's embattled prime minister to cancel the meeting and evacuate foreign leaders by helicopter.(AFP/Christophe Archambault)


Supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra force their way past soldiers through a shattered glass door at one of the venues of the 14th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Pattaya April 11, 2009.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Miami Herald Media
By AMBIKA AHUJA
Associated Press Writer

PATTAYA, Thailand -- Thailand evacuated Asian leaders by helicopter after hundreds of anti-government protesters stormed into their summit site, forcing the country's embattled prime minister to cancel the meeting.

The latest fiasco in Thailand's political crisis increased the threat of violence and a possible military crackdown.

More than 1,000 demonstrators broke through a wall of unarmed soldiers, smashed through the convention center's glass doors and ran through the building, blowing horns, waving Thai flags and shouting demands for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign.

They declared victory after Abhisit was forced to cancel the 16-country summit, where leaders of regional powers China, Japan and India, and the U.N. secretary-general and president of the World Bank, planned to discuss the global financial crisis.

Abhisit later denounced the protesters on national television as the "enemies of Thailand."

The country's political tension has simmered since former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was removed by a military coup in 2006. Thaksin opponents marched last year to remove Thaksin's allies from power, even shutting down the country's main international airport for about a week in November. After a court ordered the removal of the previous government, Abhisit was appointed by Parliament in December - sparking Thaksin supporters to take to the streets.

Their numbers grew to 100,000 in the capital, Bangkok, last week, and some in Pattaya smashed the window of a vehicle carrying the prime minister, who was unharmed.

Seizing the international spotlight of the East Asia Summit this weekend, protesters converged on the seaside city of Pattaya to push for Abhisit's resignation - seeking to embarrass him in front of other Asian leaders.

"We have won. We have stopped them from holding a summit," Jakrapob Penkair, a protest leader, said in Bangkok. "But we have not achieved our goal yet. We will continue to protest in Bangkok until Abhisit resigns."

Abhisit imposed a state of emergency after the summit was overrun, but revoked it six hours later after regional leaders were safely airlifted to a nearby military airport.

The ongoing protests could prompt the military to intervene - a high possibility in a country that has experienced 18 military coups since the 1930s.

"The situation has gotten completely out of hand. Violence and bloodshed is very much possible" if Abhisit does not resign or dissolve Parliament, said Charnvit Kasetsiri, a historian and former rector of Bangkok's Thammasat University. "If the government cannot control the situation, military intervention is not out of the question."

The incident raises questions about the government's ability to enforce law and order. Despite the presence of hundreds of soldiers in riot gear, the protesters met little resistance as they approached the summit venue. Government supporters believe elements within the police are sympathetic to the protesters, partly because Thaksin was himself an officer.

"Deep down, some government and military leaders also suspect some police have sympathy for Thaksin," said Thitinan Pongsidhirak, a political scientist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University.

"No one seems to be in charge within the establishment, the government and the military," Charnvit said.

Tens of thousands of the Thaksin supporters continue to ring Government House, the prime minister's office. They say Abhsit took power illegitimately and want fresh elections. They also accuse the country's elite - the military, judiciary and other unelected officials - of undermining democracy by interfering in politics.

The anti-government protests have already spread to rural provinces, where Thaksin remains popular due to his social welfare policies such as cheap health care.

"Right now, there are two possibilities - either a crackdown on the protesters or Abhisit dissolves Parliament," said Charnvit. "The situation has been pushed forward to a dead end."

A tense-looking Abhisit, speaking on national television, promised to restore the country to "peace and stability" as soon as possible.

"That would be my only goal," he said.