Editorial by Ek Madra
Now, more than ever, the international community must stand up, take heed of the perils facing Cambodia’s Preah Vihear temple at the hands of the Thai army. The international committee has a moral and legal obligation to undertake this intervention as it had jointly decided to inscribe the 900-year old monument as a World Heritage site. This is because, since the inscription of the temple in July 07th 2008 during the World Heritage Council meeting at Quebec, Canada, Thai forces had staged repeated attacks in and around the vicinity of the world heritage, inflicting irreparable damage to the temple and its surroundings.
Despite numerous ceasefire agreements and dialogue, Cambodia’s Preah Vihear temple continues to be the focal target for Thai forces and recalcitrant politicians to divert attention of their people away from their domestic political issues.
Thai armed forces attempts to invade Cambodia and forcibly evict her citizens from its own territory. This is tantamount to a scorched earth policy as Thai army firing has been indiscriminate and deliberate, probably aimed at discouraging the committee from discussing further the development of the Preah Vihear temple and its vicinity in line with the inscription of the said temple to the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Evidently, Thai soldiers had again, on Friday and Saturday, launched artillery bombardment deep into Cambodia’s territory at three locations, all of which are within the vicinity of the Temple. Stern preventive measures must be taken now without delay to ensure that Thai troops respect the international cultural heritage status bestowed on the Preah Vihear temple.
The protection and safe guarding of the temple benefits not only Cambodia but also its feuding neighbor Thailand which has defined the International Court of Justice decision which clearly warded the temple and its surroundings to Cambodia in1962. Thailand stands to benefit from a peaceful and safe Preah Vihear temple in all aspects – development of tourism and economic activities as well as people to people exchange. Thus, it is very important that the international community moves immediately to assist Cambodia to ensure the full and complete preservation of the temple, one which is free from damages caused by armed conflict.
I, therefore, called on the international community to pay close attention to the current armed clashes provoked by Thais to ensure that the Temple will never ever be damaged again by Thai gunfire. Thus the World Heritage Committee should call on all concerned parties to set up an ADHOC committee to work with Cambodia and Thailand to make sure that the Temple will no longer be part of the battle ground between the two Asian nations.
I am deeply shocked again after hearing that the latest Thai attacks had caused many serious damages to the Temple of Preah Vihear as stated by Cambodia’s ministry of foreign affairs.