Friday, 24 October 2008
Phnom Penh Post
THE UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) heritage committee expects to determine the boundary of Preah Vihear temple in late November or early December, officially marking the disputed area as a Unesco World Heritage site, according to a senior Cambodian official.
Phay Siphan, secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, said that despite the ongoing border dispute that has left two statues in the Preah Vihear temple complex damaged by gunfire, the area would be demarcated and signposted as a UN monument as planned.
Phay Siphan claimed that Thai soldiers violated international law by intentionally damaging the site during fighting that erupted last week over disputed border territory.
“The Preah Vihear complex and the surrounding areas were invaded by Thais, and the Thai soldiers intended to destroy the temple,” he said, referring to evidence that Thai rounds had pockmarked statues and a staircase at the temple.
Phay Siphan said that the Preah Vihear Authority has already complained to Unesco about the damage done to two naga statues, which were allegedly struck by rounds or shell fragments during the October 15 clash between Cambodian and Thai troops.
Min Sovann, a heritage police officer with the Preah Vihear Authority, told the Post Thursday, “We had to complain, because the temple is the world’s property”.
The 11th-century temple complex was listed as a UN World Heritage site on July 7 in a decision that angered Thai nationalists and escalated tensions over contested border areas.
Min Sovann confirmed that two naga statues and a stairway at the temple complex were slightly damaged by rounds fired from Thai M79 grenade launchers.
The naga statues sustained damage to their heads, necks and bodies, but the pockmarks will not cause the naga statues to collapse, he said.