News / Asia

International Court to Rule on Thai-Cambodia Temple Dispute Soon

FILE - A Cambodian temple security guard stands at Preah Vihear temple, Cambodia.
FILE - A Cambodian temple security guard stands at Preah Vihear temple, Cambodia.
The prime ministers of Cambodia and Thailand are vowing to comply with an international court verdict regarding a small chunk of disputed territory along their shared border. Nevertheless, analysts in both countries are expressing concerns that Monday's legal decision has the potential to provoke violence.
 
Cambodia’s prime minister, Hun Sen, explained to the Cambodian people that he and his Thai counterpart, Yingluck Shinawatra, have agreed in advance to comply with the decision by the International Court of Justice and maintain peace and stability along the disputed border.
 
The prime minister also implored Cambodia’s armed forces to fulfill their duty to protect the border in the name of peace and avoid any action that could lead to further tension or clashes.
 
The ICJ will announce its verdict on Monday of which country should get the land surrounding an ancient Hindu temple. The court, in The Hague, awarded the Preah Vihear temple site to Cambodia in 1962.
 
The Khmer kingdom temple in 2008 was named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
 
As recently as two years ago, Cambodia and Thailand exchanged artillery fire along the border. Clashes that year killed dozens of people and forced tens of thousands to flee nearby villages.
 
In Thailand, Chulalongkorn University associate professor Panitan Wattanayagorn is among those worried about the ramifications of the verdict.
 
“If one country gains it will mean one country loses... We may see more complications or even more violence within the countries or between the two countries,” said Wattanayagorn.
 
Another Thai academic, Thammasat University professor Chanvit Kasetsiri, explained that the verdict could quickly become a rallying cry for the demonstrators who have been on the streets of Bangkok in recent days concerning a controversial amnesty bill.
 
“It’s very difficult to separate the Preah Vihear issue from domestic politics of Thailand, because in the past few years many rallies and demonstrations exploit the nationalistic sentiment among the people concerning loss of territory to Cambodia,” said Kasetsiri.
 
An independent Cambodian analyst, Lao Monghay, expressed hopes that his compatriots will accept the verdict in a mature manner should it be perceived as a loss.
 
The political analyst cautioned that an escalated dispute with Thailand would likely cause hardship for the hundreds of thousands of Cambodians who cross back and forth across the border to work.
 
Monghay hopes a calm outcome can lead to the two countries also resolving their disputed maritime border; the nearby waters are rich in natural resources.
 
The territorial dispute originated in the early years of the 20th century, when Cambodia was part of French Indochina. In its 1962 decision, the ICJ referenced agreements between the French and Siam (as Thailand was internationally known until 1939) that awarded the temple itself to Cambodia but left unresolved the ownership of 460 hectares of land surrounding the sacred site.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs