Posted by admin on Feb-3-2009
By THANIDA TANSUBHAPOL
Negotiations between Thailand and Cambodia over Preah Vihear have stumbled over the spelling of the name of the famed ancient temple.
A Thai official said yesterday officials of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission were trying to find a way around the problem so border negotiations could proceed.
Vasin Teeravechyan, who chairs the commission, said a solution acceptable to the two countries would be found.
Thailand insists on using “the Temple of Phra Viharn-Preah Vihear” on documents used in the negotiations. Cambodian officials strongly object, saying Preah Vihear is internationally accepted.
Mr Vasin, who is a retired Foreign Ministry official, said the name proposed by Thailand was very common in international negotiations on the issue.
The Temple of Phra Viharn-Preah Vihear has been approved by parliament for the framework negotiations with Cambodia. Thailand will use it in documents to be signed with Cambodia.
The meeting will be concluded today.
The two countries have been unable to settle on a plan to reduce troops in the disputed area which covers 4.6 square kilometres between Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket and the Cambodian province of Preah Vihear.
Mr Vasin refused further comment on the issue. But earlier he said Cambodia had told the meeting it had no soldiers stationed in the area.
The Cambodia delegation is led by Senior Minister Var Kim Hong.
Despite the disagreement over the name of the temple, the two countries will set up another team to survey the borderline for demarcation between Nam Yuen district in Ubon Ratchathani and Phu Sing district in Si Sa Ket, which is 195km long.
Thailand and Cambodia have already formed a survey team to study the disputed area near the ancient temple which was the scene of a military clash last year.
A plan to reduce the number of soldiers near the disputed area is expected to be included in talks when Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan visits Phnom Penh on Friday.
Archive for June, 2009
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The Bangkok Post
Published: 30/06/2009 at 12:00 AM
Thailand will not withdraw its troops from the disputed border area near the Preah Vihear temple, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva says.
The prime minister yesterday reiterated the government’s stance against the World Heritage Committee and Unesco’s approval of Phnom Penh’s unilateral listing of the Preah Vihear temple ruins as a World Heritage site.
Mr Abhisit said he did not want the Preah Vihear issue to affect relations and other areas of cooperation between Bangkok and Phnom Penh.
However, he said Thai troops would remain in the 4.6 square kilometre area claimed by the two countries close to the temple.
The prime minister said the government felt the need to reserve the right to maintain its opposition to the temple listing.
The government is renewing its campaign against the listing of the 11th century Hindu temple ruins as Cambodia was due to submit a progress report to a World Heritage Committee meeting in Seville, Spain, after it successfully pushed for the ancient temple to be put on the World Heritage list last year.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti is in Seville seeking a review of the temple listing at the WHC meeting there.
Mr Abhisit said he was waiting for the outcome of talks between the Thai delegation and the WHC.
Mr Abhisit said he had just learned that Unesco had decided to postpone consideration of the request for a review of Preah Vihear’s World Heritage status until next year because it had not received information from Cambodia.
Mr Abhisit said although Thailand was required to comply with a 1962 International Court of Justice ruling, which awarded the temple to Cambodia, it could still reserve its right to express opposition to the ruling.
In July last year, Unesco granted Preah Vihear World Heritage site status, despite Thai objections.
Mr Abhisit said new information or evidence regarding the temple could lead to a review of the ruling.
“I insist that the Thai government will maintain the country’s rights,” Mr Abhisit said.
“We have inherited this problem from the past. Now we need to talk about the present and the future.”
Norachit Singhaseni, Thailand’s permanent representative to the United Nations in New York, said the UN was concerned about the military stand-off between the two neighbouring countries, although the issue was not yet an item on the UN agenda.
Mr Norachit backed the proposal to set up joint development and management areas for Preah Vihear so the two countries could avoid clashes over their unsettled boundary.
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The Bangkok Post
Published: 28/06/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News
Cambodia has reportedly deployed 500 commandos to guard the Preah Vihear temple and disputed border area even though Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban claimed success over the issue in his visit to Phnom Penh.
ON GUARD: Cambodian soldiers standing guard near the Preah Vihear temple.
The deployment of the corps from the 911 Para-Commando Battalion comes after Mr Suthep made a one-day visit to Phnom Penh yesterday in a bid to ease tension on the border.
The renewed tension follows Thailand’s decision to ask for a review of Cambodia’s unilateral listing of the Preah Vihear temple with Unesco.
The commandos have been put under the direct supervision of Lt Gen Him Bunhieng, a close aide of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who gave a warm welcome to Mr Suthep at his residence yesterday. Former Khmer Rouge soldiers have also been reportedly deployed at military bases along the border, said a source.
It is estimated that about 2,000 Cambodian soldiers are deployed in the disputed territories.
The source said there has been no reinforcement of troops or artillery on the Thai side, only routine troop rotations.
However, the source added that Thai troops have been put on 24-hour alert and are ready to carry out operations.
After returning to Thailand yesterday, Mr Suthep said both countries agreed to reduce the military stand-off near the temple.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen asked me to convey the message to Prime Minister Abhisit [Vejjajiva] and the Thai people that Cambodia will try to reduce tensions to facilitate economic cooperation between the two countries.
“We should let bygones be bygones, forget the nightmare of the past and look forward to a positive future for both countries,” he said.
Originally, Mr Suthep was to clarify Thailand’s opposition to the listing, but he had a change of plan after Mr Hun Sen refused to discuss the issue.
Meanwhile, para rubber farmers are still allowed to enter Khao Phra Viharn National Park to look after their plantations, even though the park remains closed to tourists.
However, they have been asked to register and leave their identification cards with security forces and are allowed inside between 7am and 4pm.
Former foreign minister Noppadon Pattama said he doubted Mr Suthep would get any results from the visit.
Citing Mr Hun Sen’s strong refusal to discuss the temple listing, he said Thailand’s decision to seek a review of the listing would be the last straw for Cambodia and steer the country to war.
He also noted that army commander Gen Anupong Paojinda must have felt uncomfortable with the government’s move, saying the general agreed with the controversial Thai-Cambodian joint statement on the listing endorsed by the Samak administration.
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Written by VONG SOKHENG AND THET SAMBATH
Friday, 26 June 2009
But Preah Vihear’s Heritage status is not on agenda, Hun Sen says.
PRIME Minister Hun Sen on Thursday announced plans to hold unofficial talks with Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan on Saturday, but said they would be limited to discussions of Thai troop withdrawals.
“I will only welcome an explanation about the withdrawal of Thai soldiers out of Cambodia’s territory,” Hun Sen said in a speech at a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh, adding that the World Heritage status of Preah Vihear temple would not be on the agenda.
“I would like to reaffirm in principle Cambodia’s position not to accept an explanation by Suthep Thausuban over the Preah Vihear issue,” he said.
On Wednesday UNESCO rejected Thai demands to place the Preah Vihear issue on the agenda of the World Heritage Committee’s annual meeting in Seville, Spain.
Giovanni Boccardi, chief of UNESCO’s East Asia and Pacific Unit, said the Preah Vihear issue would not be raised because the meeting would “strictly” adhere to an agenda already in place.
Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Thai attempts to put the temple on the agenda one year after its World Heritage inscription were improper.
“Thailand’s aim was dismissed, but the Thais still continue, and we don’t know when they will stop,” he told reporters Thursday at the Foreign Ministry.
Hun Sen said Cambodia was willing to risk conflict over the issue and ordered soldiers at the border to protect the country against Thai incursions.
Srey Doek, commander of RCAF Division 3, said Thursday that the situation at the border was normal but that troops were on alert.
“We have raised Thai troop withdrawals with the Thai military commanders many times but have received no positive response,” he said.
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Published: 25/06/2009 at 12:24 PM
Thai soldiers have been put on full alert along the disputed border with Cambodia and been warned that an armed clash is possible, Second Army Region commander Viboonsak Neepal said on Thursday.
Lt-Gen Viboonsak said the Cambodian army had begun deploying more troops and artillery, including 10 large cannons and six tanks, near Preah Vihear temple.
The new Cambodian troops were dressed in new uniforms and armed with new rifles. They had set up camp about two kilometres across the border from Chong Sa Ngam in Si Sa Ket.
Thai troops stationed along the border now had units on alert around the clock, he said.
“If there are bullets coming from the other side, the Thai army is ready to retaliate by any means necessary.
“I have ordered all troops to show patience but be alert, and reminded them not to underestimate the situation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cambodian villagers continued to buy goods at the Thai market as usual.
Defence Ministry spokesman Chittisak Charoensombat said both countries had dispatched their troops to the border, but they had no intention to clash.
He said each country only wanted to protect its own soveriegnty.
“The Thai army is capable and ready for battle, but we will not invade or be the first to start using force,” Maj-Gen Chittisak said.
Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon will make an official visit to Cambodia on Saturday to discuss the border dispute, he said.
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation chief Kasem Jinnawaso announced that the Khao Phra Viharn National Park in Si Sa Ket would remain closed. It was shut to the public on April 3.
Mr Kasem said the department had talked with the Si Sa Ket governor and the Second Army, and they all agreed it should stay closed because they could not guarrantee the safety of visitors to the park.
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Written by SEBASTIAN STRANGIO AND THET SAMBATH
Thursday, 25 June 2009
Cambodian officials say UNESCO rejected Preah Vihear complaint.
UNESCO has refused to hear a complaint by Thailand over Preah Vihear temple’s listing as a World Heritage site at the annual meeting of its World Heritage Committee in Seville, Spain, Cambodian officials said Wednesday.
Last week, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announced that Thailand would use the 33rd session of the committee to contest its July 2008 inscription of the temple.
“The Thais tried to put Preah Vihear on the agenda, but the World Heritage Committee won’t consider [it]. They are moving ahead with the main agenda,” Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Wednesday.
Local civil society groups applauded the committee’s move.
“It is good news that UNESCO has rejected the Thai government’s request. UNESCO doesn’t dare to violate Cambodian sovereignty by following the Thai PM’s request because Cambodia is backed by the 1962 [World Court] decision,” said Union leader Rong Chhun, a vocal critic of Thai moves over the temple.
Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said that any other ruling would have undermined the committee’s own decision to inscribe Preah Vihear last year.
He added that Bangkok, pressured by domestic opinion, had actually created more problems for itself by forcing the issue. “I think the fact they [objected] unsuccessfully just undermines the credibility of their own position,” he said.
But following the decision, border troops say they remain on alert for any Thai incursions.
“We welcome the news that UNESCO has refused Thailand’s request for a discussion about Preah Vihear temple,” said Brigade 8 commander Yim Phim. “If [the Thais] … do not try any more moves into Cambodian territory, there will be no clashes.”
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Written by VONG SOKHENG AND THET SAMBATH
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Cambodian officials said Tuesday they had yet to receive official notification of a visit this weekend by Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, reportedly to hold talks with Hun Sen on the growing dispute over Preah Vihear temple’s World Heritage listing, according to Thai media.
“We haven’t received an official letter from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs informing us about the visit,” Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said, adding that Cambodia welcomed any negotiations on the issue.
The Bangkok Post reported Tuesday that Suthep would arrive Saturday to clarify Thailand’s position on the temple, following Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s announcement last week that Bangkok would challenge the temple’s World Heritage status at this week’s UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Seville, Spain.
Abhisit’s announcement prompted Hun Sen to accuse Thailand of “infringing” on Cambodia’s sovereignty.
Union leader Rong Chhun, a vocal critic of Thailand’s moves on the frontier, said Tuesday that he has no plan to protest against Suthep’s proposed visit, but said the machinations of the Thai government showed it has no real intention of resolving the border standoff with Cambodia.
“I think that Thailand’s activity has clearly infringed on Cambodia’s sovereignty, and the visit of the Thai government is just to lobby and prolong the conflict, in order to bide their time and take our land,” he said.
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said Tuesday that the 33rd Session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, which opened Monday, was yet to address Thai complaints about the inscription of Preah Vihear.
The temple was listed in July 2008, prompting an escalation of tensions between Cambodia and Thailand and a troop buildup along the border. Thailand has long sought the joint listing of the site.
Cambodian border troops remain on alert, reporting that Thailand brought up tanks, artillery and infantry to Phnom Trop, a few kilometres from Preah Vihear.
An RCAF officer stationed at the temple, who declined to be named, said the Thai action had forced Cambodia to bolster its own forces at the front.
“We held a tank exercise [Monday] at the hillside near the temple,” he said. “It is just an exercise. We want to show Thailand that we have everything ready for battle. If they dare to come into Cambodian territory, we will resist them.”
According to Thai media reports, Thai army chief General Anupong Paojinda made a visit to the Thai-Cambodia border near Preah Vihear temple Tuesday morning, following reports Cambodia had sent re-inforcements of troops, 130mm artillery pieces and T-54 tanks to the border.
Yim Phim, commander of Brigade 8, said he did not meet Anupong, but added that the Cambodians, in pulling up additional armed forces, were only reacting to Thai moves.
Kamrob Palawatwichai, first secretary of the Thai Embassy, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
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Source: Khmer Sthapana newspaper
Reported in English by Khmerization
Thai soldiers are seen here trying to position their artillery guns.
Cambodian military officials said that Thailand continues to beef up its military strengths in the disputed zone, despite talks between Thai and military commanders on 23rd June, reports Khmer Sthapana.
According to Cambodian military, the Thai military had sent more than 3,000 troops, nearly 20 pieces of heavy artillery and many tanks to the disputed zone.
Gen. Srey Doek, Cambodian commander for the Preah Vihear region, said that Cambodian military had also strengthened its troop numbers, backed up by 130mm artillery pieces and T-54 tanks. He said Cambodia has no intention of violating Thailand’s sovereignty, but said that Cambodia is determined to defend its sovereignty.
Deum Ampil reported that Gen. Anupong Paojinda, the Thai Army Chief, told Thai media that he had ordered 12 artillery pieces and one batallion of special forces to be moved to the disputed zone. However, he said that the military reinforcements are just to defend Thailand’s sovereignty.
One unnamed Cambodian military officer said that the scenes and situations at the disputed borders are like a war zone.
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Written by Mark Roy and Thet Sambath
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON
* 1904, 1907: Franco-Siamese treaties create an ambiguous frontier, leaving sovereignty of Preah Vihear in doubt
* 1954: Thai troops occupy Preah Vihear
* October 1959: Cambodia applies unilaterally to the International Court of Justice for a decision on the sovereignty of Preah Vihear and surroundings
* June 1962: The ICJ awards temple to Cambodia, but the surrounding land remains undesignated. Thai troops leave the temple site
* 1970s-1990s: Khmer Rouge occupy the site
* September 1993: The Constitution of Cambodia declares national and World Heritage sites neutral zones with no military activity
* 2001-2002: Thai military blocks access to Preah Vihear over water dispute
* July 2008: Preah Vihear temple receives World Heritage listing
* July 2008: Both sides move troops to the temple area
* October 2008: Troops exchange fire, leaving two Cambodian soldiers dead
* April 2009: Further military exchanges damage the temple
* June 2009: Thailand announces it will protest the World Heritage listing
INCE decades-old tensions over Preah Vihear erupted into violence last July, images of heavily armed Cambodian soldiers standing guard over the 11th-century ruins have been beamed across the globe.
The photographs of battle-hardened Cambodian soldiers, often ex-Khmer Rouge, in dark green uniforms with well-used AK-47 rifles, sitting on the lichen-covered stones of the ancient Khmer sanctuary, have come to epitomise the conflict. Such images have prompted a frenzy of media attention from overseas, and a huge domestic fundraising drive to support the nation’s troops on the Kingdom’s new front line.
But allowing armed troops into the temple at Preah Vihear is a direct violation of the Kingdom’s Constitution, and the soldiers should leave immediately, according to one of the country’s most respected heritage conservationists.
“Preah Vihear should also be free of military presence,” said former president director general of the Apsara Authority, Vann Molyvann, in an interview with the Post earlier this month.
Too many archaeological sites, including Angkor Wat, have been destroyed or damaged in the past by military conflict, he said.
Legally, Vann Molyvann is in the right. Article 71 of Chapter VI of the Constitution of Cambodia, inscribed in 1993 under the auspices of the United Nations, states: “The perimeter of the national heritage sites, as well as heritage that has been classified as world heritage, shall be considered neutral zones where there shall be no military activity.”
Preah Vihear was formally listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in July 2008.
But Thai officials will ask UNESCO to reconsider its decision to inscribe Preah Vihear temple, as ownership of land surrounding the ruins is still in dispute, at a meeting of the world heritage body in Spain also attended by a Cambodian delegation.
For its part, the Cambodian military claims there is no troop presence within the actual perimeter of the World Heritage site.
“Our soldiers got out of the temple a long time ago,” Sao Socheat, deputy commander of Military Region 4, said Sunday. He explained that soldiers were not stationed within the World Heritage site, but based around its perimeter.
Colonel Om Phirom, chief of Heritage Police for Preah Vihear, agreed, telling the Post Monday there were no soldiers in the actual temple compound.
“Soldiers do not violate the World Heritage site,” Om Phirom said. “They left the temple site many months ago and they have stood 30 metres away from protection site.”
Om Phirom said the boundary for the World Heritage site was 30 metres from the edge of the temple’s stonework.
“They can’t dig a trench at the temple site because it is full of stone, and it is prohibited to do this,” Om Phirom said.
They can’t dig trench at the temple site because it is full of stone, and it is prohibited to do this.
However, it is a moot point whether the military is obeying the spirit, or even the letter of the law by digging in their trenches so close to a protected site.
Only last month, Cambodian soldiers were photographed on the temple steps armed with machine guns. A section of the temple was also being used at that time as a bunker to store munitions, including B-42 rockets.
Referring to Article 71, Vann Molyvann said its inclusion in the Kingdom’s Constitution had been “a specific decision made by Cambodia because of its experience” of war impacting national heritage.
He said Preah Vihear area should be demilitarised and placed under the control of the Ministry of Culture.
In a written response to the Post to questions on heritage law, Vann Molyvann pointed to how the Angkor site had been damaged after it was drawn into the Vietnam war in 1970 and taken over by guerrillas fighting in resistance to the Lon Nol regime.
“Angkor became a point of dispute between all military factions,” he wrote. “A shell hit the extremely fine bas-reliefs of the temple’s first-floor southern gallery. Several shells fell in a temple courtyard, provoking the collapse of the southern porch of the second-floor gallery.”
Between 1975 and 1979, Angkorian temples, spiritual havens since the dawn of Khmer history, were abandoned as such, Vann Molyvann wrote.
“Objects of religious worship were considered without value. Buddha statues from Angkor Wat’s ‘Gallery of a Thousand Buddhas’ were broken off their pedestals, decapitated and reduced to dust.”
Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads over the land around Preah Vihear temple for decades, but tensions spilled over into violence last July following the UNESCO World Heritage listing.
Thailand has long argued that only a joint Thai-Cambodian World Heritage site is suitable for Preah Vihear. In Spain currently, the Thais are asking that the temple grounds be placed under joint Thai-Cambodian maintenance, arguing that most visitors approach the temple from the Thai side.
Everyone is responsible
“Ensuring the protection of a World Heritage site is the collective responsibility of the international community,” said UNESCO’s head-of-office in Phnom Penh, Teruo Jinnai, via email Sunday. However, overseeing a demilitarised Preah Vihear was “not our mandate”, he added.
Officials from the Ministry of Culture could not be contacted this week as they were in Spain for the UNESCO meeting.
However, Cambodia’s Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Sunday that Cambodian soldiers were in Preah Vihear to protect the site from the Thai military.
“Now it is one year since Thai soldiers have invaded Cambodian territory, and they do not withdraw from it,” Phay Siphan said.
“It is because of the Thai soldiers’ invasion into Cambodian territory that our soldiers have been there, to protect our heritage.”
However, it is questionable whether the presence of a military force will protect the heritage site or cause it more damage.
Following a brief military encounter in April, an exchange of gunfire left bullet pits in the temple, prompting UNESCO to study the damage and NGOs to call for compensation from the Thai government.
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Written by Thet Sambath
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Thailand is threatening to challenge the listing of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site, but officials say they will not be drawn into a fight
DESPITE threats of a challenge from Thailand, officials say they will avoid discussing the tense border situation during a meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee that began in Seville, Spain, on Monday.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan told the Post that Deputy Prime Minister Sok An would seek to avoid conflict, instead telling attendees about the Kingdom’s plans for conserving and developing the 11th-century temple and the surrounding areas.
But he added that Cambodia “reserves the right to respond to questions from country members and defend itself against provocations from the Thai delegation on issues relating to Preah Vihear”.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announced Wednesday that Bangkok would use the committee’s 33rd session to challenge the validity of its July 2008 decision to list Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.
UNESCO OFFICIALS ARE WONDERING AT THE THAI PRIME MINISTER’S ATTITUDE.
The committee’s decision to inscribe the temple scuttled Thai hopes for a joint Thai-Cambodian submission to UNESCO and triggered a troop buildup and an escalation of tensions at the border.
Phay Siphan also quoted Sok An as saying that Abhisit had threatened UNESCO staff over the issue of Preah Vihear.
“Minister Sok An told me that [Abhisit] … said the [World Heritage] status is the source of the border dispute,” he said.
“UNESCO officials are wondering about the Thai prime minister’s attitude. He has no right to threaten them because they work for the UN.”
Bun Uy, a secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, said on Monday that the decision to award the status was made by UNESCO, and that as Cambodia had done nothing wrong, there was no reason to de-list the temple.
“Why does Thailand demand that UNESCO withdraw it?” Bun Uy asked. “What the Thai prime minister wants is just to show his party and supporters that he has tried to regain the temple.”
Cambodia was awarded Preah Vihear temple by the World Court in 1962, but possession of the border area around the temple was never settled. At least seven soldiers on both sides have died in clashes in the area in the past year.
The government has sent reinforcements to the contested area on the northern border with Thailand. Sem Sophally, a resident of Sa Em village near the temple, said Monday that he had seen numerous RCAF trucks carrying soldiers heading to Preah Vihear the previous day.
“I was told they were sent there to reinforce the front line in the event of armed clashes with Thai soldiers,” he said.
The army has constructed a number of military bases in villages near the temple, a source of national pride, over the past year. Srey Doek, the commander of RCAF Division 3, said Monday that the current situation is normal, but that his soldiers are on alert.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY NETH PHEAKTRA
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Written by CHEANG SOKHA AND THET SAMBATH
Monday, 22 June 2009
Thai PM refuses to back down over Preah Vihear comments.
THAI Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Sunday defended his request that UNESCO reconsider its listing of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site after being harshly criticised by Cambodian officials and accused of bolstering Thai military forces along the border.
“We are concerned that the moves by UNESCO may speed up conflicts, tensions or a border clash,” Abhisit said during his weekend television programme.
But Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said that if UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee decides to de-list the Preah Vihear temple complex, it would heighten border tensions, where gunbattles between Thai and Cambodian soldiers have left at least seven people dead over the last year.
“We don’t understand these comments, whether they want to threaten Cambodia or want to send a message to the UNESCO committee, which will meet on June 23 in Spain,” Hor Namhong told reporters at a press conference on Saturday. “I do not understand whether these speeches were made with a lack of thought or out of ignorance or because they want to cause trouble.”
Cambodia and Thailand have never fully demarcated their 805-kilometre-long shared border, in part because the area is littered with land mines.
Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya told Thai media Saturday that Thailand’s objection to the unilateral World Heritage listing of the 11th-century temple is an issue between Thailand and UNESCO, and does not involve Cambodia.
Abhisit also said on Friday he would send his deputy prime minister, Suthep Thaugsuban, to meet Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to explain their objections.
Hor Namhong said that the Thai comments have been backed up by a Thai military buildup, and that if the border dispute requires a military solution, Cambodia is ready.
“I heard that the Thai commander of Region 2 added more troops along the border, and they are on alert. I would like to stress that Cambodia is also prepared. If they want to seek a political resolution peacefully, if they want to use international laws, or if they want to seek a military resolution, we are already prepared in all ways.” he said.
“Border fights have occurred twice, and if they want to send their troops to Cambodia for a third time, we welcome it,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An departed for Seville, Spain, on Saturday to attend the UNESCO meeting.
Colonel Om Phirom, chief of Heritage Police for Preah Vihear temple, said Sunday that tensions were growing along the border as Thai soldiers prepared heavy weapons and tanks.
“We can’t conclude what will be happen at the front line because both sides are full of heavy weapons and ammunition. We are concerned that the explosions will be bigger this time, if a clash does occur,” Om Phirom said.
“We are worried about the temple’s safety because it was damaged by Thai soldiers’ bullets in many places in the clashes between Thailand and Cambodia over the last year,” he added.
Sao Socheat, deputy commander of military Region 4, said the activity started about two weeks before Abhisit’s request to delist the temple.
“The Thai military right now at the front line and behind their front line is busy in their territory. Their activities for the last two weeks have been strange in this area, but we know what they want to do here,” Sao Socheat said.
The World Court in 1962 ruled that Preah Vihear temple belonged to Cambodia, but 4.6 square kilometres of land surrounding the ruins remains in dispute.