Thai right-wing group protests in capital against temple policy despite government warning

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong makes a point during a press conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Aug. 6, 2010. Namhong on Friday, criticized Thai authorities for continuing to challenge Cambodia's rights to administer a landmark temple on their border. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Saturday, August 07, 2010
By Kinan Suchaovanich (CP)

BANGKOK — About 1,500 members of a right-wing group ignored an emergency decree by demonstrating in the Thai capital Saturday, but heeded a government warning not to rally outside the prime minister's office, police said.

The number of demonstrators at the Thai-Japanese Sports Stadium was expected to swell to 3,000, but no violence was expected, said police Maj. Gen. Piya Uthayo.

The Center for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation said Friday that the Thailand Patriot Network's plan to protest government policy over a land dispute with neighbouring Cambodia was not allowed under a state of emergency governing Bangkok. It broadcast a specific ban on the action in a statement read over Thai television Friday night.

The state of emergency was declared in April after anti-government protesters broke into the Parliament building to press their demands for early elections. About 90 people died and more than 1,400 were injured during two months of protests, which the army quashed by force on May 19.

The Thailand Patriot Network claims that the government is failing to aggressively pursue Thai claims to disputed land along the border with Cambodia.

Thailand and Cambodia both claim land around the Preah Vihear temple, named a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2008 after Cambodia applied for the status. There have been small and sometimes deadly armed clashes in the area during the past few years.

Last week, Cambodia submitted a management plan for the temple, reviving the issue. The Thailand Patriot Network and other right-wing groups charge that the government should work harder to block the management plan.

In Cambodia Friday, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters that Thai attempts to claim Preah Vihear were pointless. One Thai suggestion is that that the two countries list Preah Vihear as a joint landmark with UNESCO.

"It is too late now to oppose the Preah Vihear temple being listed as a World Heritage site and also too late to ask for a joint listing of the temple," he said. "All of these demands are just dreaming, please, prime minister of Thailand, stop dreaming like this."
AP correspondent Sopheng Cheang in Phnom Penh contributed to this report.


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