Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Cambodian temple dispute continues

Preah Vihear temple (


Thailand withdraws support for World Heritage listing

The dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple has reignited.

The 11th-century Hindu temple, which lies on the two countries’ borders, was awarded to Cambodia by the International Court in 1962 following years of dispute.

Many people in Thailand still feel aggrieved by the decision. Bowing to pressure, the Thai government has now withdrawn its backing for a bid to have the temple listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.

The current dispute centres around a 4.6 square kilometre area near the temple. A number of Cambodian people have now moved into this area.

Opposition politicians in Thailand claimed that the Thai government was ceding this land to Cambodia by supporting the World Heritage bid.

Cambodia closed the temple and the border after around 100 Thai people marched to the temple to protest at their government’s backing for the bid.

This isn’t the first time that a row over a temple has led to acrimony and even violence.

In 2003, a Cambodian newspaper falsely claimed that a Thai actress had said that the world-famous Angkor Wat temple belonged to Thailand. This led to riots in Phnom Penh, including the burning of the Thai Embassy.

UNESCO is meeting this week to discuss new World Heritage sites.

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