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Cambodia: Major News Items, 6/24/94 - 8/31/94

Coup Plot Foiled
Early on July 3, an attempted coup was halted without bloodshed by the government. Approximately 300 armed soldiers were confronted near Phnom Penh by government troops, who persuaded the soldiers to return to their homes. The suspected leaders of the coup, Prince Norodom Chakrapong and former Interior Minister Sin Song, were arrested a short time later. Others subsequently arrested included Interior Ministry Secretary of State Sin Sen. Several other officials, including Deputy Defense Minister Chhay San Yun, are said to have fled to Vietnam. Chakrapong was later allowed to depart to Malaysia. On August 5 he travelled to Bangkok, although he is not said to be applying for asylum there. The French have suggested that he may be granted refuge in France. Fourteen Thai nationals are also being held on suspicion of involvement in the coup, and two other Thais wanted for questioning are presently in Thailand. The two have agreed to be questioned by Cambodian authorities in Thailand, but have refused Cambodian requests to travel to Phnom Penh for investigation. The dispute has increased tensions between Thailand and Cambodia. (Indochina Digest, 7/8/94, 7/15/94, and 8/5/94; America Online, Pac Rim Intelligence Reports, 8/8 and 8/9.)

Khmer Rouge Announce Provisional Government
The Khmer Rouge announced in early July the formation of a "provisional government" with its seat in Preah Vihear province. Khieu Samphan is named as the government's Prime Minister. The creation of the "government" is contrary to an earlier assurance that the rebels had given to Prince Sihanouk rejecting the partitioning of the country. From Phnom Penh, Prince Norodom Ranariddh observed that "'...a so-called provisional government in our Khmer territory is contrary to the constitution Ð they have absolutely placed themselves outside the constitution.'" (America Online, Leo Dobbs, DPA, 7/13/94.)

Khmer Rouge Outlawed
On July 7, Cambodia's parliament unanimously passed a measure outlawing the Khmer Rouge. The vote came after months of negotiation with the guerrillas stalled. After lengthy debate, the law was passed when supporters agreed to include amnesty provisions. Under the law, anyone found guilty of acts of secession or inciting armed violence may be jailed for up to 30 years. (Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, 7/8/94; Indochina Digest, 7/8/94.)

Rebel Attacks
The Khmer Rouge mounted a series of hit-and-run attacks during July. On July 4, guerrillas attacked a government convoy near the Thai border, killing two government soldiers and wounding three. On July 8, seven civilians were killed and 21 injured when the Khmer Rouge shelled a crowded market near Poipet, and on July 12 Poipet was shelled again, killing three and wounding 14 more. The bloodiest incident occurred on July 26, when an estimated thirty guerrillas attacked a train in Kampot province. Nine people were killed and an unknown number were injured. Several hundred passengers were initially detained by the guerrillas, who forced them to carry items looted from the train to the group's base camp. All but 17 of the hostages were later released. Of the 17, eleven are Cambodian, three are ethnic Vietnamese, one is French, one British, and one Australian. On August 3 the guerrillas released a tape recording and photos of the three Westerners, saying that they will be killed unless a ransom of $46,000 is paid for each man. King Sihanouk has asked in a letter to Khieu Samphan that the hostages be freed. (Indochina Digest, 7/8/94, 7/15/94, and 8/5/94; America Online, Seng Kimseang, Reuter, 7/29/94.)

More Vietnamese Civilians Killed
In July five Vietnamese were murdered while on their way to the market in Kompong Chhnang province. Three of the dead were children, the youngest only one year old. The five were shot by an unknown group of gunmen. ( America Online, Pac Rim Intelligence Report, 7/18/94.)

Hostages Believed Dead
Two Britons and an Australian kidnapped in April by suspected Khmer Rouge guerrillas are believed to have been murdered by their captors. Cambodian police have found "fragmentary human remains" and clothing near a guerrilla camp in southern Cambodia. The three had managed a restaurant in Sihanoukville. (America Online, Reuters, 7/17/94.)

Sihanouk Receives More Treatment
King Sihanouk announced on July 17 that he would remain hospitalized in Beijing for more radiation therapy for bone marrow cancer. He is also suffering from arteriosclerosis and liver problems. (America Online, Reuter, 7/18/94.)

Flooding Forces Evacuations
Flooding in central Cambodia has forced over 20,000 Cambodians to leave their homes. Prime Minister Ranarridh surveyed the damage and requested aid from international organizations. There have been no reported fatalities. (Indochina Digest, 8/5/94.)

Prostitution Crackdown
On July 22 Phnom Penh authorities announced plans to close down the city's brothels. The brothels will be given 30 days to close after recieving notification. Some aid workers have expressed fears that a crackdown will make it more difficult to work with prostitutes to prevent the spread of AIDS. (Indochina Digest, 8/5/94.)

Dance Instructor Dies
Chea Sami, a former member of the Royal Ballet and a senior instructor for the National Ballet during the 1980s, died of illness in Phnom Penh on June 7. She was 75 years old. Sami was one of the few members of the Royal Ballet to survive the Khmer Rouge period. (Indochina Digest, 6/24/94.)

Cambodia To Aid Rwanda
Cambodian Foreign Minister Norodom Sirivudh has promised $10,000 for emergency aid to Rwanda. "A government official said that because of Cambodia's tortured history they understand the problems facing Rwanda and appreciate the importance of international generosity." (Indochina Digest, 8/5/94.)

U.S. Aid Pledged
The United States has pledged to provide $24 million in aid to Cambodia. Fifteen million will go to NGOs and other aid organizations, 2.8 million will go to technical support for the government, and the bulk of the remainder will go to road and bridge rebuilding. Also, fourteen U.S. soldiers arrived in Phnom Penh on July 14 to train Cambodian troops in demining techniques. (America Online, DPA, 7/27/94; Indochina Digest, 7/15/94.)

Editor Jailed
Nguon Noun, editor of the Khmer-language Morning News was arrested on July 8 after publishing several articles implicating several high government officials and military officers in connection with the coup attempt. The United Nations' special representative on human rights in Cambodia, Michael Kirby, criticized the action. The Overseas Press Club of America also cricized the government's response, and also protested threats directed at Diep Ly, the publisher and editor of the Angkor Borei News in Anaheim, California. Ly had been threatened with death if he tried to re-enter Cambodia. (America Online, Maja Wallengren, Reuter, 7/18/94; and PRNewswire, 7/25/94.)

UPS To Cambodia
United Parcel Service has announced that in September it will extend it package handling service to include Cambodia. (America Online, 7/28/94.)

 

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