(Updated with Foreign Affairs ministry lodges complain with U.N, casualties of both sides, ICJ judgment of Preah Vihear)
By Ek Madra
PHNOM PENH, February 5, 2011– Cambodia’s ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation lodged complain to the United Nations after Thai troops resumed firing mortar rounds into Phnom Trap hill of Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province early Saturday.
“Around 6:15 a.m Thai soldiers fired rounds of mortars at Cambodia’s Phnom Trap,” said the official who works for Press and Quick Reaction Unit (PRU) of the Office of the Council of Ministers.
The Thai shelling “at Phnom Trap hill lasted for about 20 minute,” said the ministry of foreign Affairs.
Military commanders of both sides agreed to hold talks at the border check point around noon on Saturday.
Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry also said that Thai forces have moved up to 1.6 km into Cambodia’s territory. The Thais launched 130 mm and 155 mm artillery barrage up to 20 km inside Cambodia.
“Their attacks have caused many serious damages to the Temple of Preah Vihear, a World Heritage, as well as death and injury of more than ten Cambodia’s troops and villagers were killed or wounded,” said the ministry’s statement, which petitioned to the President of the United Nations Security Council.
“Facing this flagrant aggression, Cambodian troops had no option, but to retaliate in self-defense and in order to safeguard Cambodia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said the release.
At least 16 Thais have been reportedly killed, including civilians. Cambodia also captured 5 Thai soldiers including 4 in the battle on Friday, said the officials.
Since UNESCO listed the Temple of Preah Vihear as World Heritage Site on 7 July 2008, and prior to Friday’s clashes, Thailand had committed to several acts of aggression against Cambodia on three occasion; 15 July 2008, 15 October 2008, and 3 April 200 in the areas of the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda, Veal Entry, Phom Trap hill and Ta Sem of all which are in the vicinity of the Temple of Preah Vihear, said the ministry.
The repeated acts of aggression against Cambodia by Thailand violated the following legal instruments;
1) The Judgment of International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 15 June, 1962
2) Article 2.3, 2.4, and 94.1 of the United Nations’ Charter
3) The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia, Article 2 in which Cambodia and Thailand are parties, provides for: Mutual respects for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identities of all nations; settlement of differences and disputes by peaceful means; renunciation of the threat or use of force.
4) The Agreement Concerning the Sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and inviolability, neutrality, and national unity of Cambodia, Article 2.2.c, 2.2.d, of the Paris Peace Accord in 1991.
Thai soldiers rushed into the buffer zone and moved up to 500meters into Cambodian territory at Phnom Trab, Sambok Khmum, Chak Chreng, Veal Intrei, Ta Thao, Ta Sem and fired vigorously into Cambodian forces defending sovereign Cambodian territory.
The Thai army also shelled the Cambodian village of Svay Chrum. Villagers from the Svay Chrum and the Eco-global Museum were evacuated to a safe zone in the wake of Thai artillery fire. Thai shells were fired deeper and deeper into Cambodia’s territory. Thai artillery bombardment has caused damages to the UNESCO heritage of Cambodia’s Preah Vihear temple, putting the 900-year-old temple in imminent danger of destruction.
Cambodian Army yesterday had battled to repel invading Thai forces at six locations well inside Cambodia’s territory near the U.N. listed Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple. The fighting had temporary ceased around 6 p.m on Friday.
The UN legal institution of International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1962 ruled that: the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia.
The court found that Thailand is under obligation to withdraw any military or police forces, or other guards or keepers, stationed by her at the Temple, or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory.
Thailand is under an obligation to restore to Cambodia any objects of the kind specified in the Cambodia’s fifth submission which may, since the date of the occupation of the Temple by Thailand in 1954, have been removed from the Temple or the Temple area by the Thai authority, said the ICJ’s Judgment.
(Reporting by Ek Madra in Phnom Penh)