02 May 2011 22:08
Source: reuters // Reuters
* Cambodia files application to ICJ over temple dispute
* Cambodia asks ICJ to ban Thai military from disputed area
AMSTERDAM, May 2 (Reuters) - The International Court of Justice on Monday said Cambodia had filed an application over a temple dispute with Thailand, and has asked it to order the Thai military to withdraw from the area.
The fighting between Thai and Cambodian troops over the 12th century Preah Vihear temple has turned into Southeast Asia bloodiest border dispute in years, resulting in several deaths and forcing more than 50,000 to seek safety in evacuation centres.
The ICJ, based in the Hague, ruled on the dispute nearly 50 years ago, in 1962, awarding the temple to Cambodia, but both countries lay claim to a 4.6 sq km (1.8 sq mile) patch of land around it.
The temple was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008, a decision fiercely opposed by Thailand on the grounds that the land around Preah Vihear was never demarcated.
The ICJ said on Monday that the filing of the application gives rise to the opening of a new case.
Cambodia said it is seeking an explanation from the ICJ over the meaning and scope of its judgment, and that the explanation, "which would be binding on Cambodia and Thailand, . . . could then serve as a basis for a final resolution of this dispute through negotiation or any other peaceful means".
"Serious armed incidents are continuing at the time of filing of the present request, for which Thailand is entirely responsible," Cambodia said, asking the court to order an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Thai forces from Cambodian territory in the temple area.
Preah Vihear has been a source of tension for generations, and the two countries. Many experts consider the fighting to be fuelled by political interests as the two governments seek to discredit each other.
Thailand says it wants a bilateral solution to the dispute, whereas Cambodia is seeking international mediation and independent monitors in the disputed area as agreed by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers in Jakarta in February.
Sovereignty over the ancient, stone-walled Hindu temples -- Preah Vihear, Ta Moan and Ta Krabey -- and the jungle of the Dangrek Mountains surrounding them has been in dispute since the withdrawal of the French from Cambodia in the 1950s.
Thailand says the temples perched on an escarpment in landmine-laid terrain are in its Surin province according to a 1947 map. Cambodia says they are on its territory.