Friday, 18 July 2008

PM Hun Sen's letter to Thai PM Samak

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Sacravatoons :" The Bomb ? "

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Sacravatoons :" Siem-Drunks "

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Cambodia-Thailand border dispute worsens

Cambodian Buddhist monks walk near the Cekakiri Svarak pagoda in the Preah Vihaer temple compound, along the Thai-Cambodian border July 18, 2008. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday a border row with Thailand was "worsening" and urged the immediate withdrawal of Thai troops from a disputed ancient temple. In a letter to Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, Hun Sen said the stand-off at the Preah Vihear temple was "very bad" for relations, but he still hoped to "resolve the problem through negotiations" at a border meeting on Monday.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian soldiers talk while on patrol at Cekakiri Svarak pagoda in the Preah Vihaer temple compound, along the Thai-Cambodian border July 18, 2008. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday a border row with Thailand was "worsening" and urged the immediate withdrawal of Thai troops from a disputed ancient temple. In a letter to Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, Hun Sen said the stand-off at the Preah Vihear temple was "very bad" for relations, but he still hoped to "resolve the problem through negotiations" at a border meeting on Monday.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Soldiers from Thailand fill water bottles at the Cekakiri Svarak pagoda in the Preah Vihaer temple compound, along the Thai-Cambodian border July 18, 2008. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday a border row with Thailand was "worsening" and urged the immediate withdrawal of Thai troops from a disputed ancient temple. In a letter to Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, Hun Sen said the stand-off at the Preah Vihear temple was "very bad" for relations, but he still hoped to "resolve the problem through negotiations" at a border meeting on Monday.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian Buddhist monks walk through a temple gate where Thai soldiers have occupied the temple near Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Friday, July 18, 2008. A Cambodian general said a border standoff between his soldiers and Thai troops came close to a shoot-out overnight as the confrontation over disputed territory surrounding the ancient temple entered its fourth day Friday.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Soldiers from Thailand patrol the Cekakiri Svarak pagoda in the Preah Vihaer temple compound, along the Thai-Cambodian border July 18, 2008. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday a border row with Thailand was "worsening" and urged the immediate withdrawal of Thai troops from a disputed ancient temple. In a letter to Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, Hun Sen said the stand-off at the Preah Vihear temple was "very bad" for relations, but he still hoped to "resolve the problem through negotiations" at a border meeting on Monday.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A Cambodian soldier, right, watches Thai soldiers walk from from the Thai border to a Cambodian Buddhist temple where their colleagues have occupied a temple near Preah Vihear temple, in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Friday, July 18, 2008. A Cambodian general said a border standoff between his soldiers and Thai troops came close to a shoot-out overnight as the confrontation over disputed territory surrounding Preah Vihear temple entered its fourth day Friday.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian soldiers guard the Preah Vihear temple beneath a Cambodian flag, on the border with Thailand, July 18, 2008. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday a border row with Thailand was "worsening" and urged the immediate withdrawal of Thai troops from a disputed ancient temple. In a letter to Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, Hun Sen said the stand-off at the Preah Vihear temple was "very bad" for relations, but he still hoped to "resolve the problem through negotiations" at a border meeting on Monday.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian soldiers stand guard as Buddhist monks watch at the Cekakiri Svarak pagoda in the Preah Vihaer temple compound, 245 km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 18, 2008. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday a border row with Thailand was "worsening" and urged the immediate withdrawal of Thai troops from a disputed ancient temple. In a letter to Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, Hun Sen said the stand-off at the Preah Vihear temple was "very bad" for relations, but he still hoped to "resolve the problem through negotiations" at a border meeting on Monday.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A fresh group of Thai soldiers walk from the border to a Cambodian Buddhist temple complex where their colleagues have occupied a temple near Preah Vihear temple, in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Friday, July 18, 2008. A Cambodian general said a border standoff between his soldiers and Thai troops came close to a shoot-out overnight as the confrontation over disputed territory surrounding Preah Vihear temple entered its fourth day Friday.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A fresh group of Thai soldiers walk from the border to a Cambodian Buddhist temple complex where their colleagues have occupied a temple near Preah Vihear temple, in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Friday, July 18, 2008. A Cambodian general said a border standoff between his soldiers and Thai troops came close to a shoot-out overnight as the confrontation over disputed territory surrounding Preah Vihear temple entered its fourth day Friday.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Thai soldier uses his mobile phone to takes a picture of a Cambodia flag in front of a Buddhist temple where Thai soldiers have occupied, near Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Friday, July 18, 2008. A Cambodian general said a border standoff between his soldiers and Thai troops came close to a shoot-out overnight as the confrontation over disputed territory surrounding an ancient temple entered its fourth day Friday. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)


By SOPHENG CHEANG

PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia (AP) — A Cambodian general said a border standoff between his soldiers and Thai troops came close to a shoot-out as the confrontation over disputed territory surrounding an ancient temple entered its fourth day Friday.

The dispute, centered around Cambodia's 11th century Preah Vihear Hindu temple, came to a head last week when UNESCO approved Cambodia's application for World Heritage Site status for the site. Thai activists fear the new status will undermine Thailand's claim to nearby land.

Thai soldiers entered the surrounding area on Tuesday, staking out positions at a nearby Buddhist temple compound. However, some resident Cambodian monks remained and Cambodian soldiers have continued to visit them even after the Thais arrived.

A large group of Cambodian troops came to the compound Thursday planning to spend the night, and the two sides raised their rifles at each other when the Thais moved to evict them in an incident lasting about 10 minutes before the Cambodians departed, Cambodian Brig. Gen. Chea Keo said.

"We exercised patience to prevent weapons from being fired," he said.

The standoff is the latest in a long-standing conflict over border territory that has never been fully demarcated.

The U.S. Embassy, in a statement Friday, recommended that American citizens "defer travel to this area until the situation has been resolved."

To avoid military action, both countries have agreed to hold defense minister talks next Monday in Thailand.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen wrote a letter to Thailand's Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on Thursday saying that relations have been "worsening" since Thai troops "encroached on our territory," and asked Samak to pull them back.

"The deteriorating situation is very bad for the relations between our two countries," Hun Sen wrote.

The Thai government sent troops to the area after anti-government demonstrators made an issue of the disputed territory near the temple, decrying the government's endorsement of Cambodia's UNESCO application.

The demonstrators appear to be playing to nationalist sentiment to gain support for their larger goal of unseating Samak, whom they accuse of being a proxy for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup for alleged corruption and abuse of power.

About 400 Thai troops are in the temple area, facing about twice as many Cambodians, Cambodian Brig. Gen. Chea Keo said Thursday.

Thursday night's incident, the first time the two sides pointed weapons at each other, occurred after 61 monks along with 13 nuns and lay people came to the Buddhist temple to celebrate the start of Buddhist Lent.

Chea Keo said about 50 Cambodian troops entered the pagoda hoping to stay the night to provide security for the monks and nuns, but the Thai soldiers moved to evict them, prompting the gun-pointing.

The only clashes so far have been between Thai protesters and Thai villagers who resent their land becoming the site of a political battle.

Samak has accused the Thai protesters of "trying to ignite a conflict." But he has not said anything about why the Thai troops moved to the border or the orders they have been given.

Adding to the unpredictability of the situation is ongoing political instability in Thailand, including possible splits within the military.

Some senior commanders, including army chief Gen. Anupong Paojionda, have played down the conflict, stressing that a diplomatic rather than military solution should be sought. Others, like Air Chief Marshal Chalit Phukbhasuk, have taken a more strident stance.

Associated Press writers Sutin Wannabovorn and Ambika Ahuja in Bangkok, and Ker Munthit in Phnom Penh contributed to this report.

Parkes MP to observe Cambodian elections

ABC Central West

The Federal MP for Parkes, Mark Coulton says he is looking forward to a visit to Cambodia next week where he will be observing the general elections as part of an international UN team.

Mr Coulton will be accompanied by MPs from Australia's major political parties who will represent the Government on the six-day trip.

The team will meet with election officials as well as monitoring voting and counting in a bid to make sure the elections are fair.

Mr Coulton says he has never done election monitoring before and hopes the trip will help strengthen Australia's relationship with Cambodia.

"[We're going] to show the Cambodian people that we are watching and that it's important to conduct the election properly, but also to show the support of Australia for an emerging nation and I think that's a good thing to do for your neighbours," he said.

Preah Vihear - Get over it

Do people really want to be prisoners of the past?
Whipping up this issue could easily result in chaos if not handled carefully and properly.

The Bangkok Post
By Piyaporn Wongruang

Even though Preah Vihear has joined the ranks of places listed as World Heritage sites, former Cambodian soldier Wan, 60, may not play his fiddle in exchange for money from tourists at the temple.

Due to fears of a Thai-mobilised rally against Cambodia's inscription of the temple on the World Heritage List, the border around the temple has been closed. No tourists are allowed until further notice. It is not difficult to imagine how tough the life of the ex-soldier could become. He only has one leg, his musical talents and Preah Vihear to rely on after the war in Cambodia some 30 years ago.

Uncle Wan is but one among the potential losers from this conflict at the moment. Many more are likely to follow his path as resentment among people in both countries has heightened to the point that some academics believe no side can afford to be seen as losing, now that the 11th-century Hindu temple has been listed as a new World Heritage site.

Since the Cambodian government first lodged its application for World Heritage status in 1991, people of the two countries have been drawn into a conflict they did not directly cause. Amid the increasingly politicised dispute, a boundary line which has never been clearly seen on the site has emerged as the crux of the problem caused by the past, unsettled border demarcation.

Historian Srisakra Vallibhotama believes that the site at the temple of Preah Vihear conformed to the ancient concept of using landmarks associated with spiritual belief as boundary marks.

Considering the landscape, the promontory of Dangrek Range where Preah Vihear is located, clearly separates the Cambodian plain from the Korat plateau stretching down towards the Thai side.

Historical evidence suggests that the area had long been used as a sacred site before Preah Vihear was built on top of it around the early 11th century.

The ancient concept of organic boundary started shifting toward one that is more fixed - a line on a map - when Western imperialists arrived in the region and took over some parts of it, according to Surachart Bamrungsuk.

The political scientist and military expert at Chulalongkorn University added that the concept of a modern state and clear demarcation lines was a crucial tool for the Western powers to differentiate between states that came under their protection.

"What happened was that those imperial countries tended to have more power over other states in the region. The imbalance led to a forced acceptance of some disadvantages in demarcation, and Thailand, or Siam back then, was no different," said Dr Surachart.

The Preah Vihear case reflects the larger demarcation problem left over from the past. It is a common problem in several areas around the world, Dr Surachart said.

Even though some people keep referring to the fact that Thailand had reserved the right to revive the case regarding ownership of Preah Vihear temple (which it lost to Cambodia in 1962) should new evidence emerge, Dr Surachart cautioned that it is virtually impossible to try to claim lost territory back.

The country functions as a modern state at present. It is bound by international legal and diplomatic mores which it has to respect, or face the consequences.

These "consequences" can take the shape of sanctions, or even war. A war between neighbouring countries could be very painful as the conflict and suffering will be passed on from one generation to another. Such a rift cannot be healed in a short space of time, Dr Surachart said.

The academic views the court case concerning Preah Vihear as being over, especially after Thailand itself drew another boundary line in compliance with the watershed line which excludes the temple, following the 1962 ruling of the International Court of Justice.

Instead of letting emotions run high and clouding the issue, Dr Surachart called on both Thai and Cambodian people to exercise reason and find the wisdom required to get out of the conflict.

Whipping up this issue could easily result in chaos if not handled carefully and properly.

He reminded society that there are established diplomatic channels for countries with overlapping boundaries to explore to settle their disputes. The process can result in a re-drawing of the boundary line. In cases where a dispute cannot be settled, options are available for different ways of joint management. One of the concepts can be applied to the case of Preah Vihear, the surrounding area of which remains disputed as it is claimed by both Thailand and Cambodia.

"I have to emphasise here that the listing of the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site will not affect any country's boundary as the World Heritage Convention clearly sets such a condition to prevent conflicts between concerned countries," said Dr Surachart.

In fact, the two countries have 15 more overlapping locations which need to be settled, and they need to move on with the work, he said.

"The question we have to ask ourselves really hard is whether we really want a war, and whether a war would really bring us back territory perceived as being lost," said Dr Surachart.

"Do we still want to be 'a prisoner of the past'? Or do we want to help one another break the 'barrier' imposed by the past?"

Nerves on edge at disputed temple

Thai and Cambodian soldiers have been engaged in a tense stand-off [AFP]

AL JAZEERA
Friday, July 18, 2008

A border standoff between Cambodian and Thai troops has come close to a shootout as the confrontation over disputed territory surrounding an ancient temple entered its fourth day.

Thai soldiers entered the area surrounding the Preah Vihear temple on Tuesday, staking out positions at a Buddhist temple compound nearby.

A large group of Cambodian troops went to the compound Thursday planning to spend the night, and the two sides raised their rifles at each other when the Thais moved to evict the Cambodians, Cambodian Brigadier-General Chea Keo said.

The incident lasted about 10 minutes before the Cambodians left, Cambodia's top army commander at Preah Vihear said.

"We exercised patience to prevent weapons from being fired," he said.

The standoff is the latest in a long-standing conflict over frontier territory that has never been fully demarcated.

Both countries have massed troops in the area despite the two sides agreeing to hold talks on Monday in the Thai capital aimed at soothing tensions and averting military action.

Reports said more than 800 Cambodian soldiers armed with assault rifles and rocket launchers and some 400 Thai soldiers had been deployed.

'Bad for relations'

Hun Sen, the Cambodian prime minister, wrote to his Thai counterpart, Samak Sundaravej, on Thursday saying that relations had been "worsening" since Thai troops "encroached on our territory" on Tuesday.

"The deteriorating situation is very bad for the relations between our two countries," Hun Sen wrote, asking Samak to pull back his troops.

The confrontation comes after Unesco, the UN's cultural body, declared the 11th century Preah Vihear temple a World Heritage site last week.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice awarded the Preah Vihear ruins and the land it occupies to Cambodia, a decision that still rankles many Thais.

Thai activists and some government officials fear the temple's new status will jeopardise their country's claims to land adjacent to the site.

The border area of 4.6 square km has been at the centre of a long-running territorial dispute as the temple's main compound lies inside Cambodia but its most accessible entrance is at the foot of a mountain in Thailand.

The temple dispute has also led to heightened political tensions in both countries.

Cambodia is preparing for general elections on July 27 during which Hun Sen is expected to extend his grip on power after 10 years iin office.

In Thailand, there have been weeks of streets protests and severe criticism of the government led by Samak for supporting Cambodia's Unesco bid.

Vietnam refugees protest in Cambodian capital

PHNOM PENH, July 18 (Reuters) - Ethnic minority asylum seekers protested in the Cambodian capital on Friday against the forced return of their friends and relatives to neighbouring Vietnam.

Around 60 Montagnards, the mainly Christian tribespeople from Vietnam's Central Highlands, stormed out of their refugee camp in Phnom Penh to stage the demonstration triggered by the repatriation of 28 refugees.

The four-hour protest ended when 40 riot police armed with automatic rifles, batons and shields arrived on the scene and threatened to break up the rally.

"We do not want to go back to Vietnam because they will imprison us. Some of our friends are dying in Vietnam's jails," Kosal Xuan, 21, told Reuters.

The group, including children and woman carrying babies, shouted "freedom, freedom!". One of their banners said: "Demonstration! We have the right to ask for freedom and justice.

"Vietnam's government, accused of rights abuses against the Montagnards who sided with the Americans during the Vietnam War, has given assurances that returnees will not face discrimination. Some 450 Montagnards are in United Nations holding centres in Phnom Penh while their refugee claims are being processed. A spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said 28 had been repatriated to Vietnam early on Friday.

"They are upset that their friends have to go back to Vietnam," UNHCR spokesman Toshi Kawauchi said at the scene of the protest.

The Montagnards fled to Cambodia in 2001 following anti-Vietnamese government demonstrations in the Central Highlands over their ancestral lands and religious freedoms.

(Reporting by Ek Madra; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Valerie Lee)
((ek.madra@thomsonreuters.com; +855 23 216977; Reuters Messaging ek.madra.reuters.com@reuters.net))

The crazy man that willing to make war between Cambodia and Thai


PAD leader blames officials for allowing clash near Preah Vihear
BANGKOK, July 18 (TNA) - A leader of the Bangkok-based People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) on Friday blamed government officials for failing to prevent a clash between members of his group with local residents a Thai province bordering Cambodia due to different opinions regarding the disputed ancient temple.

Pipop Thongchai, a core leader of the PAD, claimed that the clash which took place Thursday between members of his group and local people in Si Sa Ket province near the Preah Vihear temple occurred because politicians in the province wanted it to happen.

"It is the duty of the Si Sa Ket provincial governor and police to prevent the clash in which a number of persons from both sides were injured," Mr. Pipop said, adding that the authorities must find the instigators and take legal action. The PAD protesters on Thursday traveled in a cavalcade of over 100 vehicles heading for Preah Vihear temple to protest against Cambodia's listing of the 11th century temple as a World Heritage Site, awarded by UNESCO World Heritage Committee earlier this month. But the intending protesters were confronted with local people before reaching the temple and the clash ensued.

Referring to three Thais who were briefly detained by Cambodian soldiers after they had crossed into Cambodia, Mr. Pipop said Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej should not see the issue as an insane matter and former governments and senior military officers were to blame for not solving the border demarcation problem.

Mr. Samak, also defense minister, on Thursday publicly admonished those three Thais -- two Buddhist laymen and a monk -- who purposely crossed the disputed Thai-Cambodian border at Preah Vihear of thoughtlessly inciting a military standoff, while adding that the PAD is behaving in a similar manner in attempting to provoke a military coup.

"Up till now the prime minister hasn't shown any policy towards solving the disputed 4.6 square kilometres surrounding the temple to the UNESCO or to the Cambodian government, even after the court issued an injunction against the cabinet resolution endorsing the Thai-Cambodian joint communiqué," Mr. Pipop said.

It is now about time for the Thai military to confer with the government that the barbed wire installed by soldiers must be moved closer to the border and away from the disputed zone otherwise the government in Phnom Penh will consider that the area belongs to Cambodia, Mr. Pipop said.
(TNA)

Gen Tea Banh to head Khmer side in talk with Thailand on military stand off

Cambodia's Defence Minister Gen Tea Banh will head Khmer delegation to talk with the Thai side to resolve the military stand off at Preah Vihear Temple.

The talk of General Border Committee is scheduled to be at Sa Kaew province of Thailand on Monday 21 July.

It is still unclear who will represent Thailand. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is head of the committee but he could assign others to do the job on his behalf.

Thai-Cambodian border talks to begin soon

Source: CCTV.com
07-18-2008

The Cambodian and Thai governments have agreed to hold a top-level meeting in Thailand's border province of Sa Keaw next Monday to ease border tensions. Both countries have increased their troops build-up in areas near the Preah Vihear temple since the ancient Cambodian temple was designated as a World Heritage site a week ago.

The listing of the 900 year-old Khmer-style Hindu temple is a source of great pride for Cambodians, but much annoyance to Thais. The Thai government's endorsement supporting Cambodia's bid has only earned itself criticism that it is jeopardizing the country's claim to land near the temple. Massive protests since then have forced Thailand's Foreign Minister to resign and prompted the government to take action in line with the surge of nationalism.

Thai troops near the Preah Vihear Temple had increased to 400 on Thursday. And the number of Cambodian troops patrolling there is twice as many.

Such a stand-off is creating a nervous situation in the border area. On Thursday, clashes broke out between a group of anti-government demonstrators and local villagers on Thai side of the border about 8 kilometers from the temple. Authorities say at least 10 people were injured.

Sam Sothavry, the Cambodian Commander at Preah Vihear Temple says, "I suggested that we should stop moving troops into the areas in order to keep the situation normal while waiting for solutions from the top leaders and not allowing civilians to enter."

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is pinning hopes on the two country's high-level meeting slated for Monday. In a letter to his Thai counterpart Samak Sundaravej, he says the stand-off is very bad for the bilateral relations and has urged Thai troops to withdraw immediately.

For Monday's meeting, the Cambodian delegation will be led by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Tea Banh. And the Thai side will probably be headed by Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej. Both countries want to get things back to normal in the area soon.

The temple has been a source of tension for over forty five years since the International Court of Justice ruled that it belongs to Cambodia.

Editor:Zhang Yue

Pictures of the day 4 from Preah Vihear Temple. View on Thai Site (The Crazy People)

A villager lies on a highway to block a convoy of anti-government protesters heading toward the 900-year-old Hindu temple in Kantaralak district, 600 km northeast of Bangkok July 17, 2008. Thai police and angry villagers blocked nationalist protesters on Thursday from rallying at an ancient temple at the centre of a diplomatic row with neighbouring Cambodia.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Police try to move a villager lying on a highway to block a convoy of anti-government protesters from heading to the 900-year-old Hindu temple in Kantaralak district, 600 km northeast of Bangkok, July 17, 2008. Thai police and angry villagers blocked nationalist protesters on Thursday from rallying at an ancient temple at the centre of a diplomatic row with neighbouring Cambodia.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

A villager gestures at a convoy of anti-government protesters heading to the disputed 900-year-old Hindu temple, in Kantaralak district, 600 km northeast of Bangkok July 17, 2008. Thai police and angry villagers blocked nationalist protesters on Thursday from rallying at an ancient temple at the centre of a diplomatic row with neighbouring Cambodia.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

A villager's face is covered in blood after skirmishes with nationalist protesters whom were marching to a disputed Hindu temple on the Cambodian border July 17, 2008. Thai police and angry villagers blocked nationalist protesters on Thursday from rallying at an ancient temple at the centre of a diplomatic row with neighbouring Cambodia.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Thai army soldiers guard in a Cambodian Buddhist temple where Thai soldiers occupied near Preah Vihear temple, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Friday, July 18, 2008. A Cambodian general said a border standoff between his soldiers and Thai troops came close to a shoot-out overnight as the confrontation over disputed territory surrounding the ancient temple entered its fourth day Friday.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Thai soldiers walk from the Thai border to a Cambodian Buddhist temple where Thai soldiers have occupied a temple near Preah Vihear temple, in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Friday, July 18, 2008. A Cambodian general said a border standoff between his soldiers and Thai troops came close to a shoot-out overnight as the confrontation over disputed territory surrounding an ancient temple entered its fourth day Friday.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Thai riot police try to stop Thai nationalist protesters attempting to break through a blockade on a highway to the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple on the Cambodian border July 17, 2008. A ruling by the U.N. agency for culture and education to list the temple as a World Heritage site has angered many nationalist Thais and threatens to cause a diplomatic row with Cambodia. Picture taken July 17, 2008.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Thai nationalist protesters march along a highway leading to the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple along the Cambodian border July 17, 2008. A ruling by the U.N. agency for culture and education to list the temple as a World Heritage site has angered many nationalist Thais and threatens to cause a diplomatic row with Cambodia. Picture taken July 17, 2008.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Thai nationalist protesters march along a highway leading to the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple along the Cambodian border July 17, 2008. A ruling by the U.N. agency for culture and education to list the temple as a World Heritage site has angered many nationalist Thais and threatens to cause a diplomatic row with Cambodia. Picture taken July 17, 2008.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Police and villagers block a convoy of nationalist protesters from reaching a disputed ancient temple on the country's border with Cambodia, 700 km (435 miles) northeast of Bangkok July 17, 2008. A political uproar in Thailand over Cambodia's listing of the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site has been stoked by anti-government groups seeking to oust Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's shaky ruling coalition.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Thai nationalist protesters march along a highway leading to the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple along the Cambodian border July 17, 2008. A ruling by the U.N. agency for culture and education to list the temple as a World Heritage site has angered many nationalist Thais and threatens to cause a diplomatic row with Cambodia. Picture taken July 17, 2008.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Pictures of the day 4 from Preah Vihear Temple. View on Cambodia Site

A Cambodian soldier, left, speaks to Thai soldiers at a Cambodian Buddhist temple near Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Thursday, July 17, 2008. Cambodia and Thailand escalated their troop buildup Thursday at disputed territory near the historic border temple despite their agreement to hold talks next week to defuse the tensions, a Cambodian general said.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian Buddhist monks walk past guarding Thai soldiers at a Buddhist temple near Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Thursday, July 17, 2008. Cambodia and Thailand escalated their troop buildup Thursday at disputed territory near a historic border temple despite moves to hold talks next week to defuse the flare-up in tensions, a Cambodian general said.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian Buddhist monks sit inside a Buddhist shelter which Thai soldiers have occupied near Preah Vihear temple, in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Thursday, July 17, 2008. Cambodia and Thailand escalated their troop buildup Thursday at disputed territory near Preah Vihear temple despite moves to hold talks next week to defuse the flare-up in tensions, a Cambodian general said.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian Buddhist monks enter a Buddhist shelter where Thai soldiers have occupied near Preah Vihear temple, in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Thursday, July 17, 2008. Cambodia and Thailand escalated their troop buildup Thursday at disputed territory near the historic border temple despite moves to hold talks next week to defuse the flare-up in tensions, a Cambodian general said.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian soldiers guard Preah Vihear temple, 245 km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 18, 2008. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday a border row with Thailand was "worsening" and urged the immediate withdrawal of Thai troops from a disputed ancient temple.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian men sit together with Buddhist monks, behind, as Thai soldiers, far right, stand during the Buddhist Lent in a Buddhist shelter where Thai soldiers occupied near Preah Vihear temple, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Friday, July 18, 2008. A Cambodian general said a border standoff between his soldiers and Thai troops came close to a shoot-out overnight as the confrontation over disputed territory surrounding the ancient temple entered its fourth day Friday.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian Buddhist monks walk in Preah Vihaer temple, 245 km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 18, 2008. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday a border row with Thailand was "worsening" and urged the immediate withdrawal of Thai troops from a disputed ancient temple.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian man prepares a breakfast for Buddhist monks, rear, who stay in a Buddhist shelter where Thai soldiers have occupied near Preah Vihear temple, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Friday, July 18, 2008. A Cambodian general said a border standoff between his soldiers and Thai troops came close to a shoot-out overnight as the confrontation over disputed territory surrounding the ancient temple entered its fourth day Friday.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian villagers walk back to their village near a Buddhist temple where Thai soldiers occupied in Preah Vihear, Cambodia, Friday, July 18, 2008. The temple is located near Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple. A Cambodian general said a border standoff between his soldiers and Thai troops came close to a shoot-out overnight as the confrontation over disputed territory surrounding the ancient Cambodia's temple entered its fourth day Friday.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian Buddhist monk, right, talks with a Cambodian police during the Buddhist Lent in a Buddhist shelter where Thai soldiers occupied near Preah Vihear temple, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Friday, July 18, 2008. A Cambodian general said a border standoff between his soldiers and Thai troops came close to a shoot-out overnight as the confrontation over disputed territory surrounding an ancient temple entered its fourth day Friday.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Wern Champasak (L), Thailand's chief of border communication, talks to Colonel Som Bopharath, Cambodia's military commander of the Preah Vihear province at the Cekakiri Svarak pagoda in the compound of the Preah Vihaer temple, 245 km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 17, 2008. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday a border row with Thailand was "worsening" and urged the immediate withdrawal of Thai troops from the disputed ancient temple. A political uproar in Thailand over Cambodia's listing of the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site has been stoked by groups seeking to oust Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's shaky ruling coalition.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)
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Thai fight with Thai at the border; Border row 'getting worse'

BLOODY ROW: A man's face is bloodied after skirmishes with Thai protesters marching towards Preah Vihear temple. The protesters were blocked by hundreds of villagers in Thailand's Sisaket province. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Cambodian PM urges Thai counterpart to pull out troops ahead of talks

PREAH VIHEAR (CAMBODIA) - CAMBODIAN Prime Minister Hun Sen said a border row with Thailand was 'worsening' and urged the immediate withdrawal of Thai troops from a disputed ancient temple.

Although the two countries had agreed to hold talks on Monday to resolve the stand-off, Mr Hun Sen wrote to Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej yesterday asking him to 'ease the tensions and order the Thais to withdraw from the area'.

'The situation has worsened due to the continuing increase of the number of Thai military inside and around the area,' he wrote in the letter, which was shown to reporters.

'The deteriorating situation is very bad for the relations between our countries,' he said.

The incident comes amid heightened political tensions in both countries after the United Nations cultural agency Unesco awarded the Preah Vihear temple World Heritage status earlier this month.

Thai protesters have revived nationalist sentiments over the issue, fearing the temple's new status will jeopardise claims to the land nearby.

But Thais living just across the border affected by the loss of cross-border trade sought to calm the situation.

Hundreds of villagers in Thailand's Sisaket province blocked a group of Thai anti-government protesters from marching to Preah Vihear yesterday.

Some shouted at the protesters to 'go home' and stop fomenting trouble, as police stood by a barricade blocking the road to the temple.

One protest leader, Mr Pramoj Hoimook, said Cambodians have settled on Thai soil 'and we want to correct that'.

'We want to get to Preah Vihear to read a statement, asking for our land back,' he said.
In Cambodia, military officials said 70 per cent of local villagers had fled their homes, fearful of violence erupting.

But those who remained were defiant.

'I am not afraid to make war with the Thais. Even if death is one step ahead, I won't leave here,' said Mr Seoung Pisith, 27.

'If any order comes from the top, I can launch my rocket immediately. I am protecting my territory and temples,' said soldier Lorm Trouk.

Mr Samak told reporters yesterday that he blames the tension at the border to the three Thai protesters who were briefly detained on the Cambodian side for trying to plant a Thai flag there.

'Those crazy three people who crossed the border sparked the problem. They nearly achieved their aim by causing the military on each side to face one another,' Mr Samak said.

Cambodia accuses Thailand of sending troops across the border following the incident.

But Thailand continues to deny the trespass, insisting the soldiers remain on their own soil.

More than 400 Thai troops and 800 Cambodian soldiers remain assembled around a small Buddhist pagoda on the slope of a mountain leading to the Preah Vihear temple.

Yesterday, Cambodian soldiers laid razor wire across possible paths into Cambodia to prevent more Thais from sneaking across the border.

Thai troops defused landmines in the pagoda compound after one of their soldiers was injured by a landmine on Tuesday.

Groups of Cambodian soldiers based at the foot of the mountain were redeployed to the temple, armed with AK-47 rifles and rocket launchers.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, ASSOCIATED PRESS, REUTERS

PM to meet with chiefs of armed forces

The Bangkok Post

(BangkokPost.com) - Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is calling a meeting with chiefs of armed forces and heads of security units on Friday afternoon, according to deputy government spokesman Nuttawut Saikua.

It is expected that topics to be discussed are southern insurgency and conflicts concerning Preah Vihear temple with Cambodia.

"These two matters are expected to be discussed with army chief and related agencies," he said.

Villagers flee Thai-Cambodian border row

The Mercury
July 18, 2008

PREAH VIHEAR (Cambodia): Villagers living close to the Thai-Cambodian border where a military stand-off has entered its third day have fled their homes in droves.

Fearful of the more than 400 Thai and 800 Cambodian troops stationed at their door, 70% of the villagers had left, military officials said yesterday.

Keo Neang, overseeing a temporary wooden shelter at the top of the mountain next to the Preah Vihear temple, said that 134 people had found safety there, while only 200 people of the 319 families usually living in her village had remained.

"Many people are afraid and left their homes," she said.

But those who remained at the disputed border, near the ruins of the ancient temple, were defiant.

"I am not afraid to make war with the Thais," said Seoung Pisith, 27.

Cambodia Thailand diplomatic standoff - 17 July 2008



Al Jazeera English

While disputes at the Thai border are worsening, Hun Sen, Cambodia's prime minister, has called on his army to withdraw troops.

Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas reports on how the latest tensions focus on an ancient temple at the centre of a diplomatic standoff.

#3 - Preah Vihear - 18.07.2008

Temple of doom?

The Bangkok Post
Friday July 18, 2008

The current hoohah over the border temple of Khao Phra Viharn is an unnecessary disaster and by far the biggest loser is Thailand.

Virtually all tourist arrivals are from Thailand and they pay the same to pass through the national park on the Thai side as the Cambodians charge for entry.

Thailand should accept that the temple is irrevocably part of Cambodia and co-operate in developing the temple as a World Heritage Site.

A few disputed square kilometres are unimportant and developing tourism in Si Sa Ket, a poor province, and promoting good relations with Cambodia are far more important.

There is everything to lose from making the issue a political football and stirring up hysterical nationalistic fervour, and nothing to gain. The temple should become a symbol of a history and culture that can be equally shared between the two nations.

ANDREW HICKS

Cambodia To Produce 4,000 Tonnes Of Organic Rice In 2008

PHNOM PENH , July 18 (Bernama) -- Cambodia plans to produce 4,000 tonnes of organic rice this year for exports to EU and U.S., a 1,000 tonnes rise over last year, Xinhua news agency said quoting a report in the English-Khmer language newspaper, the Mekong Times, Friday.

The Center for Studies and Development in Cambodian Agriculture will undertake the task, which is expected as a key step to strengthen the agricultural sector, said the paper.

Around 10,000 families in eight provinces are producing the organic rice, said center director Yang Saing Koma.

"We think only organic rice production can help the economic sector because this kind of rice can be sold at a high price in local and international markets," he added.

Thanks to right climate and soil conditions, Cambodia used to be a major rice producer and exporter before war ravaged the country around 1970s. Currently, Vietnam and Thailand have surpassed Cambodia as the top rice exporters in the region.

-- BERNAMA

Cambodian, Thai soldiers reportedly draw weapons

Thai soldiers rest near the Preah Vihear temple close to the border with Cambodia

The Cambodian flag flies over the Preah Vihear temple

Cambodian soldiers stand guard at Preah Vihear temple

PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia (AFP) — Cambodian and Thai soldiers pointed their weapons at each other for the first time over a tense land dispute on their border, witnesses and officials said Friday.

More than 400 Thai troops and 800 Cambodian soldiers are stationed around a small Buddhist pagoda on the slope of a mountain leading to the ruins of 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

Witnesses said troops twice pointed their guns at each other during 10 tense minutes Thursday evening when 50 Cambodian troops entered the pagoda compound to protect food supplies for dozens of Cambodian monks.

"Our troops and Thai troops pointed their guns at each other. They were on alert," said Brigadier Chea Keo, commander-in-chief of the army at Preah Vihear .

"After that Cambodian military commanders and Thai commanders held talks for approximatly one hour. We solved our problems after talks with Thai commanders," he said. "The situation is stable now."

He said Cambodian troops agreed to stay outside the pagoda during the night to avoid confrontations.

The mood appeared to be less tense Friday morning as Cambodian soldiers went back inside the pagoda and were seen chatting and smiling with Thais.

But Cambodian Premier Hun Sen told his Thai counterpart Samak Sundaravej in a letter Thursday that the row was worsening and harming their relations.

Top officials from both countries plan to meet Monday to resolve the stand-off.

The troops are deployed in a small area claimed by both countries near the Preah Vihear temple.
Thai troops arrived after three Thai protesters illegally broke across on Tuesday vowing to reclaim the temple, which they say rightly belongs to them.

The World Court in 1962 determined the Preah Vihear ruins belong to Cambodia, even though the most accessible entrance lies in Thailand.

The issue has taken on national importance in both countries.

Cambodia is preparing for general elections on July 27, while Thailand has recently been rattled by anti-government protests, driven in part over the handling of the land dispute.

Cambodian, Thai troops come close to shoot-out in temple dispute

AP - 18.07.2008

A Cambodian army general says Cambodian and Thai troops has come close to a shoot-out as a tense confrontation over disputed border territory surrounding an ancient temple entered its fourth day Friday.

Brig. Gen. Chea Keo said soldiers of the opposing sides raised rifles at each other as the Thais tried to evict Cambodian troops sleeping inside the compound of another temple in the area Thursday night.

The incident lasted more than 10 minutes before the Cambodians pulled out of the compound, the general said.

The standoff is the latest escalation in a long-standing conflict over land that surrounds Preah Vihear temple, although both countries have agreed to hold talks next Monday to avoid military action.

Thai politics at heart of temple dispute

Radio Australia

Cambodia has urged Thailand to withdraw its troops from the border near the Preah Vihear temple, warning a that a territorial quarrel was damaging relations between the two neighbouring countries.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has written to his Thai counterpart Samak Sundaravej, asking him to "ease the tensions and to order Thai troops to withdraw from the area. More than 400 Thai troops and more than 800 Cambodian soldiers remain assembled around a small hilly Buddhist pagoda, near the ruins of an ancient temple at the centre of the dispute.

Presenter: Sen Lam
Speaker: Dr Milton Osborne, author, and former diplomat to Cambodia

OSBORNE:
To some extent I think that is correct, but at the present moment, I think much more important is the fact that it's become an issue in domestic Thai politics.

LAM:
Yes, indeed. Is domestic political consideration part of the problem here, the fact that the Thai Government is deeply unpopular at the moment and also there are general elections in a weeks time in Cambodia?

OSBORNE:
Yes, I think the elections in Cambodia, which of course are very important are not the real issue in terms of what's happening at the moment. It's much more the case that the People's Alliance for Democracy is looking for every possible opportunity to attack the Samak Government and this was particularly so in the demonstrations mounted against Prime Minister Noppadon Pattama who last week ruled that the joint communique was satisfactory and that he backed the Thai court in accepting that communique for the listing of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List and the fact that he has to resign, is a reflection of the extent which this whole issue has become central to the attack upon the Samak Government.

LAM:
But if the Samak Government wants to diffuse the situation, they can just quite easily withdraw the troops from the border?

OSBORNE:
They can, but of course to the extent that it has become an issue in domestic politics. All of the past resentments that have been present underlying the fact of the Preah Vihear temple being listed as Cambodian boiled to the surface.

LAM:
Well both prime ministers are scheduled to hold talks next week, assuming that they go ahead with the talks, do you think they might be able to sort something out?

OSBORNE:
I would think there's a real possibility that they can. It's in neither countries interest for the issue to escalate to the point where there might actually be actual conflict between the two armies.

LAM:
Have there been Thai-Cambodian skirmishes within recent years?

OSBORNE:
Nothing significant no. You have to go back really to the 60s to find any significant skirmishes. But the fundamental fact is there have been difficult relations between the two countries ever since they both claimed independence, or Cambodia attained independence in the 1950s.

LAM:
Well both sides as we've heard have troops assembled in the region. One young Cambodian soldier was quoted as saying that he was willing to die for the temple. Is such strong feelings about Preah Vihear common among Cambodians do you think?

OSBORNE:
I think that particular statement has to be read with a degree of reservation. There are strong feelings on both sides about this particular temple. It is in what might be described outside of legal terms as in an anomalous position. But legally, I don't believe there is any question about it being definitely under Cambodian sovereignty.

LAM:
Indeed I understand that some villages on the Thai side of the border were quite angry with Thai protesters for disrupting business?

OSBORNE:
Well, I think that's entirely possible and at least for the last 25-30 years, it's been an issue that has been left undisturbed and as a tourist site, it's been an area that's approached from the Thai side, rather than from the Cambodian side of the border.

Cambodia's displaced

The International Herald Tribune
18 July 2008
Robert James Elliott for the International Herald Tribune
Today, the scourge is prosperity, not war. As land prices rise, high-end developments like this guesthouse and restaurant grow dangerously close to the slums. Many fear that Phnom Penh's displaced will be forced to move again.

Robert James Elliott for the International Herald Tribune
Eviction and displacement are all too familiar to older Cambodians, who survived the mass evacuation of Phnom Penh in 1975, and a decade of civil war.

Robert James Elliott for the International Herald Tribune
In this village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, there is no clean water or electricity, nor paved roads or permanent buildings.

Robert James Elliott for the International Herald Tribune
Many people are evicted from slums only to find themselves trapped in worse conditions. Men Leak (left), 18, and his aunt, Seng Loak (right), 36, use tubs of water for dish washing and bathing at their makeshift home outside the city.

Robert James Elliott for the International Herald Tribune
Amnesty International estimates that forced evictions have displaced at least 30,000 families in Phnom Penh since 2003. "Expropriation of the land of Cambodia's poor is reaching a disastrous level," said Basil Fernando, executive director of the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission, in February.

Robert James Elliott for the International Herald Tribune
Cambodia' capital, Phnom Penh, is booming. But growth has sparked a frenzy of land grabs, pushing tens of thousands of people to squatter communities like this one on Boeung Kak Lake.

Officials of the Government and of Civil Society Organizations Are Concerned about Employment and Work in Cambodia

Posted on 18 July 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 569

“Phnom Penh: Civil society organizations and officials of the government have expressed different opinions regarding the right to get jobs in Cambodia in the first three months of 2008.

“An under-secretary of state of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, Mr. Um Mean, said that those who say that nowadays there are no jobs for its citizens in Cambodia, they are not blind, but they pretend to be blind and deaf, because now there are markedly more factories, and Cambodia has a broad range of industries, of tourism, and of transportation and communication jobs; those enterprises even lack workers.

“Though trade unions and garment factories’ representatives had agreed to increase the basic salary up to US$50 per month on 19 October 2006, this increase cannot match with the inflation in the markets.

“According to a 2007 report of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC], about 300,000 persons join the labor force every year, but only 16,000 among them are graduated students who are seeking jobs. However, only 10% of these graduates can get adequate jobs.

“The new laborers who join the labor force face difficulties to get jobs in the areas where they live, forcing 250,000 of them to migrate from rural areas to major cities, especially to Phnom Penh; a large number of them cross the borders illegally to neighboring countries to seek jobs. The garment sector in Cambodia absorbs about 300,000 workers, but it cannot employ all migrant workers.

“[The president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association] Mr. Rong Chhun said that most investors coming to invest in Cambodia have their own skilled workers and senior managers; their Cambodian staff can only work, for example, as unskilled construction workers.

Mr. Rong Chhun added that at the present time, the majority of Cambodian citizens has no paid employment, and this strongly affects their livelihood because of inflation, which makes the prices of all kinds of good skyrocket; this forces parents to stop sending their children to school, so that they rather help to seek additional income to cover daily expenses, and among them are many who work as scavengers at garbage dumps, though they are children.

“According to the survey by ADHOC, the shortage of employment for youth seriously affects children working at certain production areas that are not well organized, like rubber plantations, salt field, brick and tile kilns, and in general in Poipet. Most of the children working there are from 10 to 17 years old, and they do all kinds of work that normally adults do, such as rubber tapping, carrying heavy goods on racks on their shoulders, dragging carts, or carrying salt yokes.

“This ADHOC report added that part of this working situation exists because it does not seem to get proper attention, and nobody respects the rights of the working children, for example, in the work at some mines in Mondolkiri. There is no respect of workers’ rights, the workers get hit as punishment; moreover, those companies do not allow human rights organizations to gather information or to observe all kinds of abuse of workers’ rights. Furthermore, some mines broke in and workers were killed. Those companies can do so, because the government does not observe and check whether all contracts between the companies and the government are implemented, and the government is also not caring to monitor the abuses of workers’ rights.

“Mr. Rong Chhun said that at the present in Cambodia, Khmer citizens are facing many difficulties when seeking jobs. He said that if Cambodia had a lot of employment opportunities, Khmer citizens would not migrate to work in other countries; the majority of migration leads to Thailand and to Malaysia, and a smaller number people goes to work in South Korea. Among those who go abroad, some do it legally and some are illegal workers; they are mistreated, oppressed, and threatened, both mentally and physically, by people from those countries who accuse them of coming into their countries illegally; they may be detained, until there are interventions on their behalf to help them return to their home countries.”

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #51, 17.7.2008

Cambodia's premier calls for withdrawal of Thai troops

The Nation
Fri, July 18, 2008

By Agencies

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen have called for the immediate withdrawal of Thai troops from the disputed area at Preah Vihear Temple.

Hun Sen said his country's border dispute with Thailand is "worsening."

The Cambodian leader has described the three-day stand-off at the disputed Preah Vihear temple as "very bad" for relations.

His comments are contained in a letter to Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.

Earlier, the Cambodian military said Thai troops had again crossed the border, saying some 400 soldiers are now in the country.

Thailand has denied the allegation, insisting it has troops in the border area, but none in Cambodia itself.

Preah Vihear: has thailand been duped?

By Tulsathit Taptim
The Nation
Published on July 18, 2008

One of the key questions still left hanging after the Preah Vihear temple became a World Heritage site has to do with whether Thailand has been "duped", or whether the whole issue is highly charged and highly politicised nationalism gone awry.

Should we be genuinely concerned, or write it off as a political game and forget about it?

In a long, detailed article on the temple's history and the controversy surrounding it, to be published in The Nation starting on Monday, MR Pridiyathorn Devakula touches upon this question. He says a main point to look at is the acceptance statement of the World Heritage Committee after it decided to list the temple.

A main cause for concern, he says, is resolution number 14 that deals with how to mobilise international efforts to preserve the temple's universal values.

This particular resolution "requests the State Party of Cambodia, in collaboration with Unesco, to convene an international coordinating committee for the safeguarding and development of the property no later than February 2009, inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand and not more than seven other appropriate international partners, to examine general policy matters relating to the safeguarding of the outstanding universal value of the property in conformity with international conservation standards".

"The wording looks so harmless," says Pridiyathorn.

But "the safeguarding of the outstanding universal value of the property in conformity with international conservation standards" may contain far-reaching obligations that could cover the management of surrounding zones affected for decades by both countries' overlapping claims, or even undisputed areas on the Thai side, he says.

This, combined with the "unprecedented" requirement Cambodia enlist seven other appropriate international partners, may bode ill for Thailand, he cautions. Boldly put, it can be a case of eight against one when it comes to key matters where Thai and Cambodian interests clash.

Speculation about a "conspiracy" will live on, thanks to Unesco's connection with the French and France's role in the past Thai-Cambodian dispute over the temple. But it must be noted the World Heritage Committee is an intergovernmental panel for which Unesco serves only as a neutral, non-voting secretariat. Unesco Bangkok director Sheldon Shaeffer's insistence that the World Heritage Committee is by no means a Unesco committee underlines the extreme sensitivity of the whole issue.

Follow Pridiyathorn's take on the Preah Vihear temple controversy, on Monday.

Cambodia says temple row with Thailand escalating


Riot police try to stop Thai nationalist protesters from breaking through a blockade on a highway to the disputed Hindu temple on the Cambodian border. (REUTERS)

The Peninsula Online
7/18/2008
Source ::: AFP

preah vihear • Cambodian Premier Hun Sen urged Thailand yesterday to withdraw its troops, warning a "worsening" border row was damaging relations between the two
neighbours.

Hun Sen wrote to Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej asking him to "ease the tensions and order the Thais to withdraw from the area," as more than 400 Thai troops stood on the border.

"The situation has worsened due to the continuing increase of the number of Thai military inside and around the area," he wrote in the letter, given to reporters.

"The deteriorating situation is very bad for the relations between our countries."

More than 400 Thai troops and more than 800 Cambodian soldiers remain assembled around a small Buddhist pagoda on the slope of a mountain leading to the ruins of an ancient temple at the centre of the dispute.

Cambodia accuses Thailand of sending troops across the border after three protesters illegally broke across on Tuesday vowing to reclaim the Preah Vihear temple, which they say rightly belongs to them.

However Thailand continues to deny the trespass, insisting the soldiers remain on their own soil.
The two prime ministers spoke on Wednesday and agreed to hold talks next week to resolve the standoff, Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said.

Cambodia said it would send its defence minister to Monday's talks. Samak has yet to confirm whether he will attend or send his army chief.

He told reporters yesterday he blames the situation on the three Thai protesters.

Thai general calls for calm over temple row

Cambodian Buddhist monks are seen after a ceremony praying for peace at Preah Vihear temple compound on the top of Dang Reak mountain, 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 16, 2008. (REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea)

By Nopporn Wong-Anan
July 17, 2008

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand and Cambodia moved on Wednesday to ratchet down tensions on their border where hundreds of troops faced off over a disputed ancient temple.

Senior Thai and Cambodian officials were trying to negotiate an end to the stand-off, triggered by Thai protests against the listing of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site earlier this month, Thailand's Supreme Commander, Boonsrang Niumpradit, told Reuters.

"Please be calm and patient. We are talking with the senior people in Cambodia and we hope the situation will ease up in a few days," he said.

However, tensions might get worse on Thursday when Thai protesters plan to rally near the border "to protect our sovereignty," a protest leader said.

About 200 Thai soldiers and 380 Cambodian troops faced each other a day after three Thai activists were detained for several hours after trying to plant a Thai flag on the temple site.

Cambodian officials say Thai troops are occupying a patch of land on the border that belongs to Phnom Penh. The Thais deny this, and have accused the Cambodians of allowing illegal settlements on "disputed territory."

"I just do not understand why they are still stationed there," local Cambodian military commander Chea Mon said after the three Thais were released on Tuesday.

"Everyone has weapons, but I don't think there will be violence. No one would stand around like this if we were going to shoot at each other," Chea Mon told Reuters.

In Phnom Penh, government spokesman Khieu Khanarith said they wanted the Thais to withdraw to their positions before the incident. He said Prime Minister Hun Sen had appealed for calm and urged the media not to "inflame the issue."

DECADES-OLD DISPUTE

The only casualty so far was a Thai paramilitary ranger who lost part of his leg after stepping on a landmine near the border, which is littered with mines after decades of fighting.

Perched on top of a jungle-clad escarpment that forms a natural boundary between Cambodia and Thailand, Preah Vihear was off-limits for much of the 1970s to 1990s when it was a jungle outpost for Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge guerrillas.

Built by Khmer kings in the 11th century, it has been a source of tension since the International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the Hindu temple belonged to Cambodia, a decision that still rankles Thais.

Thailand's initial support for the temple's heritage listing has been used by anti-government groups to stoke nationalist fervor and protests against the government in Bangkok.

The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), a coalition of royalists, activists and businessmen which has led a nearly 2-month campaign against the government, called a rally for Thursday on the Thai side of the border.

"We want to tell the Cambodian government to withdraw trespassers on Thai territory or we will exercise our rights under the constitution to protect our sovereignty," PAD leader Veera Somkwamkit told Reuters.

Groups opposed to ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra have accused the pro-Thaksin government of selling out Thailand's heritage to help his business interests in Cambodia.

Phnom Penh and Thaksin have denied the charge, but the controversy forced Thailand's foreign minister to quit after a Thai court ruled Bangkok's support for the listing violated the constitution.

The political uproar in Thailand has raised fears the spat could turn into a major diplomatic row five years after a dispute over another Cambodian temple, Angkor Wat, resulted in a nationalist mob torching the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh.

(Additional reporting by Ek Madra in PHNOM PENH) (Writing by Darren Schuettler; Editing by David Fogarty)