Sunday, September 20, 2009

PAD calls off Preah Vihear temple protest

Veera: Accusations against Cambodia

Hard-liners vow to 'maintain the rage'

Published: 21/09/2009

The People's Alliance for Democracy has called off its protest to force Cambodians out of a disputed area near Preah Vihear temple, but is vowing to return should the government fail to ensure Thai sovereignty in the area.

Veera Somkwamkid, who led the protest in Si Sa Ket near the border with Cambodia, was allowed yesterday to read a protest statement at Pha Mor E Daeng inside Khao Phra Viharn National Park, which is close to the 4.6 square kilometres of disputed territory and stairway leading to the ruins of the ancient Hindu temple of Preah Vihear.

The permission followed Saturday's clash between PAD supporters and Si Sa Ket residents which left many injured. The movement demanded in its statement that Cambodian soldiers and villagers leave the disputed zone.

"We do not accept the World Heritage Committee's decision to grant Cambodia the right to list the Preah Vihear temple as well as land around it as a World Heritage site," the statement said.

The statement was read out in the presence of 2nd Army Corps commander Wiwalit Chornsamrit.

Mr Veera accused the Cambodian government of allowing its people to build houses, roads and temples in the disputed area, and said the protesters were only exercising their constitutional right in their struggle to protect Thai sovereignty.

He also accused Thai authorities of mobilising villagers to confront the PAD protesters in a clash which left scores injured on both sides.

Mr Veera later said army chief Anupong Paojinda should use martial law as a tool to push back the Cambodians into their own territory. He said protesters would return if the government failed to do what had been demanded.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday said the government was not turning a blind eye to the dispute and was using every possible channel to resolve the problem.

It had sought to nullify the joint statement a former government signed with Cambodia to back Phnom Penh's bid to have the temple listed as a World Heritage site, he said.

The prime minister said peaceful negotiations were being undertaken to achieve the ultimate goal of seeing Thailand and Cambodia withdraw their troops from the area.

He said Thailand had not lost an inch of territory to Cambodia.

Boonrerm Khobut, a village headman in tambon Phupha Mok in Kantharalak district, said villagers had warned the PAD not to return to renew its protest and stir up trouble between Thailand and Cambodia.

PAD coordinator Suriyasai Katasila said Chamlong Srimuang, a joint PAD leader, was misquoted in media reports as saying PAD leaders would distance themselves from Mr Veera after Saturday's protest turned nasty.

Although none of the PAD leaders sanctioned the Si Sa Ket protest, all five leaders backed calls to reclaim Thai sovereignty over the disputed area, Mr Suriyasai said.

If state officials had not coerced the villagers to turn against the PAD and mobilised them to confront the protesters, violence would not have broken out, he said.

The government should set a clear time frame for negotiations to settle the border dispute with Cambodia and the army needed to force Cambodians occupying the disputed area to move out, he said.

The PAD leaders will hold a meeting soon to discuss a plan to renew their struggle to reclaim Thai sovereignty over the area, Mr Suriyasai said.

What next?

You can also bookmark this post using your favorite bookmarking service:

Related Posts by Categories

Who Online?


Search This Blog