>Joint statement urges quick resolution of territorial disputes

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By Touch Yuthea

The Mekong Times

Cambodian human rights and development organizations, as well as trade unions and intellectuals, have united to call for a peaceful but speedy resolution of the territorial disputes between Cambodia and Thailand. The statement reiterates Cambodia’s claims over the disputed areas, asking that the international community be ready to intervene should bilateral negotiations fail.
The appeal came after a joint statement from Thai politicians, academics, human rights committees, students, soldiers and nationalists claiming that the ancient temples of Prasat Preah Vihear temple, Ta Moan Toich and Ta Moan Thom belong to Thailand.
All three sites are claimed by Cambodia, with documentary evidence – including the unequivocal June 15, 1962 the International Court of Justice decision in favor of Cambodia – tending to undermine Thailand’s repeated claims.
Cambodian civil society is deeply concerned about troop deployments that have resulted in a tense standoff between substantial contingents of black-clad Thai troops and the rag-tag Cambodian military.
The Cambodian statement notes the negative consequences of a clash, said Sok Sam Oeurn, director of the Cambodian Defenders Project (CDP) and director of Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC).
“If the military confrontation over the border dispute near Preah Vihear temple continues, the two countries will lose economic advantages including revenues from tourism,” he warned.
But, though he advocated a peaceful solution, Sok Sam Oeurn urged Cambodia to stick to the agreement between Thailand and France in 1904 that was signed by Thai King Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V).
Ath Thun, director of the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said Cambodia should file a lawsuit with the UN if Thailand drags its feet over withdrawing troops from the Preah Vihear area. He stressed that Thailand is violating Cambodian territory.
A Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center (CWCC) spokesman also urged legal arbitration citing the International Court of Justice’s 1962 ruling that awarded Cambodia control of Preah Vihear temple and its surroundings.
The Cambodian statement came as Xinhua – the official Chinese English lanuage school news service – careported yesterday that Thailand welcomed Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s reported stance regarding the Preah Vihear dispute. Hun Sen apparently supports peaceful solutions through bilateral mechanisms, a Thai Foreign Ministry statement said Friday.
The Thai Foreign Ministry welcomed the Cambodian Prime Minister’s stance, “which is in line with Thailand’s own.”
“Thailand wishes to find a solution to the issue of the Temple of Preah Vihear in a peaceful and amicable manner, making full use of the existing bilateral mechanisms, including meetings between the two Foreign Ministers, the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) and the General Border Committee (GBC),” said the statement, Xinhua reported
Citing the shared 798- km-long Thai-Cambodian land border, the statement claimed that “differences of views on boundary issues between two neighboring countries are not unusual,” and that “this issue is just one small part of the overall relations between Thailand and Cambodia.”
Thailand reiterated a second meeting between newly appointed Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong, slated for the third week of August in the Thai central coastal province of Hua Hin, should make good progress and pave the way for a solution.
The first ministerial meeting took place July 28 in Siem Reap. Both sides agreed to adjust their military deployment but no troops have yet been withdrawn.
The joint Cambodian statement requested that Thai government officials, academics, intellectuals, nationalists and citizens study the International Court’s judgment, but asked the international community, especially Asean and the UN, to be ready to step in should bilateral negotiations fail.
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