Friday, July 30, 2010

Thai civil network demands Cambodian pushback from contested Preah Vihear zone

ANGKOK, July 30 – The “Thais Love Nation” network called on the government to push back Cambodian troops and residents from the area around the Preah Vihear temple and not to support the listing of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage SIte until the border demarcation is clarified inline with the natural watershed.

Chaiwat Sinsuwong and Karun Sai-ngam led their civil society group to gather at Government House Friday and submitted a letter to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva through Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The protesters called on the government to revoke all agreements that put Thailand at a disadvantage with Cambodia after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee (WHC) on Thursday postponed discussing Cambodia’s management plan for the Preah Vihear temple to its meeting next year in Bahrain.

They gave the government a seven day deadline to act on their demand and said they will come back to hear the government's answer.

Mr Chavanond said the Thai government was adamant that the border demarcation under the 2000 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Cambodia must be completed before the endorsement of the management plan for the area around Preah Vihear.

He said it was not certain that the border demarcation will be finished in one year.

The issue has to be considered by Parliament and bilateral talks between Thailand and Cambodia will be arranged later.

He said the postponement of management plan consideration by the WHC would not have an impact on Thai-Cambodian relations.

One year from now, Thailand will clarify the issue to the WHC members to understand that Thailand does not want to have conflict but it asks only for fairness and opportunity to explain the matter to all sides, he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Permanent Secretary for Culture Somsuda Leeyawanit, one of 21 WHC members, said from Brasilia where the WHC is meeting that all Thai related parties including foreign affairs, culture, natural resources, and environment ministries and security agencies discuss the issue seriously on returning to Thailand.

Mrs Somsuda said an operations office may be set up to consider the issue thoroughly, such as whether the map Cambodian used is correct or how Cambodia's move affects Thailand.

She said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti will lead the Thai working team as he has been monitoring the issue from the beginning.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice awarded the temple and the land it occupies to Cambodia.

The site of the historic structure, on the disputed Thai-Cambodian border has long been a point of contention between the two neighbours.

On July 7, 2008, Preah Vihear temple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Under the terms of the listing, Cambodia is required to submit a management plan for WHC approval. (MCOT online news)

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