Sunday, November 10, 2013

UN's top court to rule in Thai-Cambodia temple spat

UN's top court to rule in Thai-Cambodia temple spat

| 10 November 2013
THE HAGUE - The UN's top court will on Monday hand down its verdict in a dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over a flashpoint temple that threatens to reignite nationalist tensions.

The Hague-based International Court of Justice is to rule in the bitter border conflict between the two Asian neighbors, over which at least 28 people were killed in clashes in 2011.

Tens of thousands of people were displaced in the fighting over the patch of land around the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, leading Cambodia to ask the ICJ for an interpretation of an original 1962 ruling.

Thailand does not dispute Cambodia's ownership of the temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, but both sides claim an adjacent 4.6-square-kilometre (1.8-square-mile) patch of land.

Leaders of the two countries have appealed for calm ahead of the ruling by 17 international judges but residents on the border have been building bunkers in anticipation of renewed violence.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thursday he had spoken with his Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra and the two agreed to accept the verdict and to maintain peace along the border.

"I would like to appeal to all armed forces who are fulfilling their duties protecting the border to remain calm, show restraint and to avoid any activities that could cause tension or clashes," he said on state television.

The verdict poses a particular challenge for the Thai government, which is already grappling with mass street demonstrations over a controversial political amnesty bill.

If the ICJ rules against Thailand, the country's opposition is likely to direct public anger towards the government.

The dispute has touched a raw nerve in Bangkok, with Thai censors briefly banning a documentary film on the issue, saying it could "cause disunity among Thais and jeopardize national security".

Monday's ruling will be broadcast live on Thai national television and Yingluck is scheduled to address the nation shortly afterwards, according to government spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi.

Tensions between the two nations have calmed since mid-2011 when Yingluck, the sister of exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, became Thai prime minister.

Thaksin and Cambodia's Hun Sen are close friends.

Last year, the ICJ ruled that both countries should withdraw forces around the ancient Khmer temple, which is perched on a clifftop in Cambodia but with access much easier from the Thai side.

Access from the Cambodian side was so difficult that in the 1970s it was the last place to fall to the Khmer Rouge regime, and also the communists' last holdout in the 1990s.

Cambodia and Thailand finally pulled hundreds of soldiers from the disputed area in July 2012, replacing them with police and security guards.

But Cambodia told the ICJ earlier this year that Thailand must withdraw its security personnel from the temple so as to respect the 1962 judgment.

Thailand in turn said Phnom Penh's request did not meet ICJ criteria and therefore should be declared inadmissible.

It also wants judges to rule that the 1962 decision did not determine "with binding force" where exactly the boundary between the two countries lay.

The roots of the dispute lie in maps drawn up in 1907 during French colonial disengagement.

Residents in the area said they were nervously preparing in case the ruling sparked renewed fighting.

Phumsarol Wittaya, deputy head of a school in the Thai border province of Si Sa Ket told AFP he and his students were clearing bunkers in front and behind the school in preparation.

On the Cambodian side, Pen Chheng, a soldier based a few kilometers from Preah Vihear, said the situation was normal but the army was on heightened alert. — Agence France-Presse


Anonymous said...

the key to settling this issue once and for all is to focus on the legal map from 1907. preah vihear happens to locate on the dangrak mountain range, thus it is an exceptional rule for the treaty map of 1907 not to follow the watershed line like the rest of the northern borders with siem. yes, there are exceptions to the rule. siem have to understand this rule! law and rules are never absolute, there are rooms for exceptions in certain areas. in this case, cambodia's preah vihear temple is locate there and its accessway must be included in with the temple. siem apparently lost the case since 1962 ruling, but they tried to unilaterally claim the access surround lands in order to cut cambodia off from acess to our temple. how evil clever they are, but fortunately cambodia and the world can see that evil intention of siem and say no way! the court awarded the temple to cambodia not just by using the map, they took into consideration the fact that khmer kings built it, and it is a khmer architectural design as well. why siem lost, period! siem want cambodia to share it and the lands surround it with them. cambodia can never accept that! to khmer people, just because the franco-siam treaty happened to put the preah vihear temple on the border, doesn't mean siem can get the share of it, wrong! any if anything khmer people think what france and siam treaty did was injustice to cambodia when they should've include sisaket, surin and buriram and more provinces with cambodia, instead of siam then. so preah vihear would be far away from the border line, not like it is today. so 1907 map is the only map that is legal and accept by cambodia, not siem's unilateral map! get it right already!

Anonymous said...

Well, my opinion regarding the Temple, is that we don't have to let the ICJ to reexplain about the border or the Temple itself; the Temple and the land surrounding was and is always belong to us since 1962 verdict, period. If we let the ICJ reexplain, it means that the current government doesn't know where the border line is? This is Cambodia weakness.