>Thai soldiers prevent Cambodian civilians from entering Ta Moan Thom temple

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Thai black-clad soldiers near Preah Vihear temple on 19 July 2008 (Photo: Savyuth, RFA)

August 9, 2008
By Sophal Mony Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Socheata of Ki-Media

Thailand prevented Cambodian civilians from entering the perimeter of the Ta Moan Thom temple located on the Dangrek Mountain Chain in spite of request made by Cambodian army commander.

Colonel Neak Pung, the commander of the Cambodian army unit 42 defending the Dangrek Mountain Chain, declared that Thai black-clad soldiers refused the access to the perimeter of Ta Moan Thom temple in the morning of 08 August 2008. He added that Thai troops based their refusal on the fact that their army commander was not present there, therefore, the lower ranking Thai soldiers refused access to the temple. Colonel Neak Pung said: “We asked them already, we told them in advance, however, they told us to wait until they received their orders from their higher ups in about two weeks.”

Nevertheless, Colonel Neak Pong indicated that Thailand announced that the waiting time is two weeks before Cambodian Buddhist visitors can enter the temple.

More than 30 Cambodian civilians traveled along the Drangrek Mountain Chain on 08 August 2008, in order to celebrate a Brahmin prayer demanding that the power and the might of the spirits of Khmer ancestors and Khmer Kings who reside there, chase away the Thai aggression army from the Ta Moan Thom temple. Thai troops prevention of their access to the temple deceived and angered all the Cambodian civilians.

Mrs. Preab Sinra declared that she was extremely deceived because Khmer civilians cannot enter or touch a Khmer temple: “I am very happy to see Khmer temple, but I am very angry to see the Khmer temple but could not enter it. The Siamese do not respect Khmer rights, they do not respect the law, they do not respect the international (convention). We are all part of ASEAN, therefore Thailand should at least respect ASEAN rule.”

More than 10 Thai black-clad soldiers came out of their barracks, one after another, to prevent the more than 30 Cambodian civilians from burning incense sticks and candles outside the fence surrounding the temple set up by Thailand. Colonel Soum Khuon, the commander of Thai black-clad soldiers declined to comment or answer questions asked by RFA reporter.

According to Cambodian soldiers defending the Dangrek Mountain Chain, Thai black-clad soldiers started their occupation of the Ta Moan Thom temple not just since 03 August, but they have started to bring in their troops in advance since 26 July, one day before the Cambodian general election date, to prepare for this occupation.

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