Home > Local News > Thai Yellow Shirts Protest Against Leaders, UNESCO Temple Listing

Thai Yellow Shirts Protest Against Leaders, UNESCO Temple Listing

Photo: AP
Thailand’s royalist Yellow Shirts have protested outside the United
Nations Cultural agency in Bangkok, urging it to withdraw world heritage
status for a Cambodian temple near disputed territory. They also
paraded through the Thai capital encouraging people not to vote in July 3
elections.  The nationalist movement has stopped supporting the
current government, saying it is too weak on the border dispute.

At
least 2,000 yellow-dressed protesters demonstrated Friday outside of
the Bangkok office of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

They nationalists want UNESCO’s
World Heritage Committee, which meets Sunday in Paris, to de-list a
temple in Cambodia near disputed territory.

The 900-year-old
Khmer Hindu temple called Preah Vihear in Cambodia and Phra Viharn in
Thailand was declared a world heritage site in 2008.

The listing sparked nationalist fervor on both sides and sporadic and deadly clashes between Thai and Cambodian soldiers.

Protester
Vipida Thaisawat says Cambodia is using the world heritage status to
encroach on Thai land. Like some other nationalists, she claims the
temple is in Thai territory.

“Actually, [getting the] temple back
[to Thailand] or not is not the point,” Vipida noted. “But, the point
right now is they [Cambodia] want the land around Phra Viharn to
register as a world heritage [under Cambodia]. And, we can’t let that
happen.”

Cambodia has proposed a joint management plan for the
temple complex, which the World Heritage Committee is reviewing and may
decide on next week.

Thailand has urged the plan be delayed until a decision is reached on the land surrounding the temple, which both sides claim.

Cambodia
last month asked the International Court of Justice in The Hague to
rule on the disputed 4.6-square-kilometer area around the temple.

The
ICJ ruled in 1962 that the temple itself is in Cambodia, but made no
decision on the surrounding land. The court’s ruling is expected
sometime early next year.

The Yellow Shirts paraded Friday from the UNESCO office through Bangkok, directing most of their anger at Thai politicians.

They
urged Thai people not to vote in a July 3 election, saying none of the
parties have Thailand’s true interests at heart, including the ruling
Democrats they once supported.

The Yellow Shirts say the
government has been weak in the border dispute with Cambodia and are
demanding it stop cooperating with UNESCO and Phnom Penh.

The
Thai government has waffled on whether it wants the withdrawal of the
temple’s World Heritage status, but has also dismissed the Yellow Shirt
demands.

Meanwhile, the border remains tense with both
militaries on alert.  Clashes between the two sides killed at least 10
people in February. Another 18 died in fighting in April near another
ancient temple complex about 150 kilometers farther west.

Each side blamed the other for starting the fight.

VOA News
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Categories: Local News
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