Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New temple on the World Heritage List escalates border dispute

On July 8th, UNESCO decided to let Preah Vihear temple, near the Thai border, to join Angkor Wat on the World Heritage List. Happy news for Cambodia, everyone talks about it here. One of our friends said she screamed out loud at work when the news reached her.

Many Thai people are not as happy, since this seems to reinforce the 1962 border which puts Preah Vihear in Cambodia. On early morning July 15th three Thai protesters jumped the wire fence at the temple entrance, reports Cambodia Daily. Cambodian authorities detained the protesters, which had more than 100 Thai soldiers to enter Cambodian territory to claim their release. Since then tension has escalated. Both Cambodian and Thai troops have gathered near the temple.

On Cambodian TV there have been shows requesting people to donate money to the soldiers and monks staying by the temple. Last week Cambodia Daily reported that both sides agreed not to send any more troops until Monday's (yesterday's) intergovernmental negotiation. The negotiation seemed to lead nowhere though, which has led to a Cambodian request for a UN intervention, according to Cambodia Daily. Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong will fly to New York this week to personally ask for assistance.

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