Cambodia. It was stretched along the border with Thailand in the spring. Several dozen people were killed in a fire near a disputed area near the Preah Vihear Temple ruins in February, and in fighting further west in April. Cambodia appealed to the UN for assistance and requested clarification of a ruling in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1962 which stated that the temple area belonged to Cambodia but was vague in detail. In July, the ICJ ordered both parties to withdraw their troops from the area. The tension in the area has increased since 2008 when UNESCO included Preah Vihear on its World Heritage list.
No party obeyed the ICJ’s call, but at the end of the year, the countries reached their own agreement to withdraw troops from the disputed area, under the supervision of Indonesia observers.
According to Countryaah official site, the trial of the four leaders charged with the terrorist rule of the Red Khmer in the 1970s formally opened in June. When the actual negotiations began in November, Ieng Thirith, former Minister of Social Affairs, had been declared too demented to participate. The other three – the chief ideologist Nuon Chea, the head of state Khieu Samphan and the foreign minister Ieng Sary – were between 80 and 86 years old. The trial was expected to last for several years and many feared that the defendant would have the time to die before it was finalized. The crimes they are charged with are among the worst of the 20th century: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Up to two million Cambodians are estimated to have lost their lives under the Red Khmer through murder, torture, starvation and hardship.
In August, the World Bank halted loan disbursements to Cambodia in protest of thousands of people being forced out of their homes because of a huge construction project in Phnom Penh. Entire villages were obliterated by a lake that was dried to prepare space for an exclusive residential and business area. According to human rights organizations, the victims had been threatened and offered no reasonable compensation. The World Bank runs a program that aims to give people ownership of the land on which they live, but had failed in the area of Lake Boeung Kak. The bank provides the country with up to $ 70 million a year. But Cambodia is attracting more and more investors from China and the government had already made it clear earlier that they did not necessarily care about the World Bank’s requirements.
In July 1997, Prince Ranariddh was ousted by government forces loyal to “Second Prime Minister” Hun Sen. He was charged with treason and for planning civil war along with the Khmer Rouge. From China, the King gave his approval to Hun Sen’s proposal to appoint Foreign Minister Ung Huot of Funcinpec as Prime Minister. In March 1998, the king pardoned his son, who had been sentenced to 30 years in prison. The decision was seen as an attempt to curb the political chaos that arose with Ranariddh’s departure, and also as an attempt to secure international financial support that had been frozen as a result of the coup.
Despite international efforts to rebuild Cambodian society, it remains deeply affected by the impunity enjoyed by state officials, despite their interference with serious human rights violations. Amnesty International has condemned the murders of hundreds of opposition politicians and the weak, corrupt and inactive nature of the judiciary.
Pol Pot died in Thailand on April 15, 1998, without ever having been brought to justice. He left behind a ruined land that has not yet recovered from his horror regime.
One month after Pol Pot’s death, Ranariddh returned to Cambodia to take part in an election won by only a narrow margin by Hun Sen. Both Ranariddh’s Funcinpec and the leader of the other major opposition party, Sam Rainsy, criticized the irregularities in the election. Voters had disappeared, pressure was put on the voters, made mistakes during the count, and there were not enough observers in place. Acc. the 600 international observers, however, the choice was perfect.
While the crisis in Southeast Asia’s economy peaked, in May 1999 Cambodia was admitted to ASEAN. However, the shooting triggered polemics internally in ASEAN. Well, that term was the end of decades of instability triggered by the Cold War, but some also feared that Cambodia would bring its own problems into the forum because of the economic crisis and differing views on democracy and human rights. In Cambodia, opposition leader Sam Rainsy expressed fears that ASEAN would destroy the Cambodian industry that would be more difficult to compete. If that happened, Cambodia would be reduced to exporters of rice and gems.