Vietnam has required Thailand to investigate a case in which a Thai police boat attacked some Vietnamese fishing ships last week, leaving a fisherman dead and two others injured, according to the Vietnamese foreign ministry.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Le Hai Binh made the statement during a press meeting in Hanoi on Thursday, emphasizing what the Thai police boat did to Vietnamese fishermen on September 11 was inhuman.
“In any circumstances, Vietnam strongly condemns the inhuman treatment of Vietnamese fishermen by the threat or use of force,” Binh said.
Besides promptly probing the case and handling those involved, Thailand must compensate for the human and property losses of the Vietnamese fishermen, the spokesman underlined.
Thai authorities are required to prevent similar incidents from recurring in order to avoid causing adverse impacts on the two countries’ strategic partnership, he said.
Immediately after receiving reports of the attacks, the ministry worked with relevant agencies, including the Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand, to verify them, Binh said.
On Thursday, the ministry sent a diplomatic note to the Thai Embassy in Hanoi, voicing deep concerns over the incident and asking Thailand to probe it, the spokesman added.
The Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand cited the Thai Foreign Ministry as saying that Bangkok is verifying the incident and will provide an official report on its investigation results as soon as possible, Binh said.
“On this occasion, we also extend condolences to the family of the dead victim, Ngo Van Sinh, and kind regards to the two injured fishermen,” he added.
Colonel Pham Van Sang, commander of the Headquarters of Border Guard of Kien Giang Province in the southern region, on Thursday rejected explanations by the Thai Coast Guard that their vessel – the ship Thai Police 528 – had opened fire on the Vietnamese fishing boats for self-defense purposes.
“It is unacceptable to say so,” Col. Sang said.
Investigation results showed that at 3:00 pm on September 11, three pairs of Vietnamese fishing boats were operating in the Kien Giang waters that border Thailand’s sea when they were approached by the Thai police boat, armed with a machine gun.
The Thai boat firstly detained the captain of a local boat, Nam, and took him to their ship before moving on to chase the other fishing vessels, Col. Sang said.
When the foreign ship approached another pair of fishing boats – KG-94811 TS and KG-94812 TS – its crew used a walkie-talkie to broadcast an order in Vietnamese: “Yêu cầu tàu Việt Nam dừng lại, không dừng sẽ bắn chết…” (“The Vietnamese ships are required to stop or you will be shot dead…”).
As soon as the order was given, the foreign ship fired at the boat KG-94811 TS.
After seeing the local boat’s captain and steersman, Nguyen Hung Cuong, suffer injuries in his right thighbone, the foreign ship began to run after the other boat, KG-94812 TS, and then shot at it.
The foreign ship later chased and opened fire on the last pair of fishing vessels, KG-94058 TS and KG-94059 TS.
After finding that one of the two captains of the local boats, Ngo Van Sinh, 38, died in his cabin, the foreign ship left the waters.
Sinh died after receiving three shots in his face and head, Col. Sang said.
Captain Cuong, one of the two injured victims in the September 11 attacks, affirmed that it is unacceptable to say that the ship Thai Police 528 shot at the Vietnamese vessels for self-defense reasons.
“In fact, the Thai ship wanted to stop our boats, but we kept running away, so it opened fire on our vessels,” Cuong said while being treated at the Kien Giang General Hospital.
He added that he undertakes to be responsible to the law for his statements related to the case.
Vietnam never uses force against fishermen
In boundary waters between countries, there exists a common situation in which fishermen of a country encroach on the territorial waters of another during their fishing activities, said Colonel Doan Bao Quyet, deputy political commissar of the Vietnam Coast Guard.
However, Vietnamese coast guard forces have never opened fire to drive away fishermen of any other countries when finding them violating Vietnamese waters, Col. Quyet asserted.
Vietnamese forces always respect and protect fishermen, including foreign ones, and absolutely do not use force against them in every form, the official said.
When detecting any foreign fishing ships in Vietnamese waters, local coast guards will inform them of their violation, broadcast to them relevant provisions in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and in the Vietnamese Law on the Sea, and provide them with guidance to get out of the waters, he said.
Vietnam’s coast guards only capture foreign fishermen who deliberately violate Vietnamese waters and hand over them to competent agencies for handling, the official added.