Friday, October 17, 2008

Preah Vihear

You may have heard or read in the news that there is something going down between the Cambodians and the Thais at the moment at a border zone. In fact on 15 October things got a little more serious and 2 cambodian soldiers have now been killed and 2 more injured. Reports are that 5 Thais are also injured.
The reason for the stand off is an historic temple - Preah Vihear - a source of national pride for Cambodians. The temple is only accessible from Thailand and the area around it is heavily mined. An international court awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but land surrounding it remains the subject of rival territorial claims. So... Thailand and Cambodia both claim they own the area around the temple, which recently became a Unesco World Heritage site. There has been a bit of a military stand off at the area since July but things now have got more heated and violent.

Officials ahve been trying to negotiate a ceasefire but on Tuesday the Cambodian Prime Minister threatened to turn the area into a "death zone" if the Thai troops did not withdraw...
Thais are leaving Cambodia as they have been urged to do by their governement.

The dispute is a little concerning as it could have repercussions closer to the capital. A spat in 2003 over Cambodia's Angkor Wat temple (a Thai actress claimed the ruins were owned by Thailand!) sparked a night of riots in Phnom Penh by nationalists, in which Thailand's embassy and several Thai-owned businesses were torched and looted.

Reuters reported yesterday that the dispute had " triggered a wave of patriotism in the Cambodian capital on Thursday, with many ordinary people saying they were willing to take up arms to protect their country." However, one Cambodian newspaper, Rasmei Kampuchea, Cambodia's largest circulation paper, also ran a front-page government appeal for Thai businesses and people to be left alone in the capital.

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