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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thais protest Cambodian flags, signage at Preah Vihear

Thais protest Cambodian flags, signage at Preah Vihear

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Bangkok cries foul, claiming Cambodian officials violated Thailand's sovereignty during a November 7 temple ceremony

Photo by:
HENG CHIVOAN

A Cambodian Unesco Commission flag flies over Preah Vihear temple.

THE Thai government has lodged an official complaint with Cambodia for having put up flags and signs at the hotly disputed Preah Vihear temple, saying they were raised in Thai territory.

"The Royal Thai government will not tolerate the construction or erection  of signpost/emblem or any structure outside" the area defined as belonging to Cambodia by the World Heritage Committee in July, the Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a letter obtained Tuesday.

A separate statement posted on the Thai foreign affairs website called the move "a flagrant and willful violation of Thailand's sovereignty and territorial integrity".

Cambodian officials on November 7 raised Cambodian and World Heritage flags at the  11th-century monument and unveiled signs declaring the temple international cultural property under special protection, in a ceremony not attended by UN officials.

They said the effort was to protect the temple and accused Thai troops of damaging it during a border clash the previous month.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan defended Cambodia's action, saying, "Raising the national flag and  Unesco flag was proper to protect that area because it has been listed as Cambodian, and as a World Heritage site".

"Since 1962, the map accepted by the International Court of Justice has been used and shows this land belongs to Cambodia, so we're not sure why they should be complaining."

But he was confident the latest spat would not interrupt progress in negotiations over border demarcation.  

Preah Vihear, which sits on an escarpment on the Thai border, was given heritage status in July.

A tense military standoff over contested border territory has followed.

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