Cambodian Troops Occupy Thai Farmer's Land in Sa Kaeo

Thai border patrol police and Cambodian soldiers negotiate over farmland in Sa Kaeo province, 11 June 2015.

SA KAEO — A small-scale territory dispute broke out along the Thai-Cambodian border today over a plot of land that currently belongs to a Thai farmer.

The 61-year-old rice farmer, Subin Thiangsan, said Cambodian soldiers arrived on her fields in Sa Kaeo province today and claimed the land is Cambodian territory.

A group of Thai officials and Border Patrol Police later arrived and negotiated with the Cambodian troops. Both sides were unarmed. 

Pol.Col. Rerk Panitcharoen, a local commander of the Thai Border Patrol Police, said he instructed Subin to stop working on her plot of land for one week while the two sides negotiate a solution. 

Suhari Channok, a local administrator, told reporters that Cambodian authorities have been installing new border markings in recent months, and have been encroaching deeper into Khok Soong district, which borders Cambodia.

He said a barbed wire fence had been placed near the border by Thai authorities many years ago, but does mark the exact border, and was only constructed to prevent illegal border crossings.

"So, as days go by, the Cambodians have claimed that the area beyond the barbed wire is their own territory," Suhari said, adding that some Cambodians had entered Subin's farmland and tried to plant rice in her fields.

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Subin Thiangsan with local Thai officials on her farmland in Sa Kaeo province, 11 June 2015.

Subin told reporters she had documents to prove her ownership of the land, and pays taxes to the Thai government every year.

"I'd like to ask Gen. Prayuth to help residents along the border whose lands are being intruded on by the Cambodians," Subin said, referring to junta chairman and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seized power in a military coup last May. 

Thailand and Cambodia have several long-running territory disputes along their border. The most prominent case involves the ruins of a stone temple, called Preah Vihear, located on a promontory near Si Saket province. 

Both Thai and Cambodian authorities have claimed ownership of the temple, but in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear and its surrounding area belongs to Cambodia. However, Thai authorities have disputed the ruling and continue to post troops in the vicinity of the temple. Skirmishes occasionally break out between Thai and Cambodian troops, with latest gunfight taking place in 2011. 

In November 2013, the ICJ affirmed its 1962 ruling and ordered Thai authorities to withdraw from the area. No fighting between the two sides has been reported in recent years. 

 

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