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Kingdom marks 13th anniversary for Preah Vihear UNESCO status

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Tourists visit the Preah Vihear Temple in 2015. Heng Chivoan

Kingdom marks 13th anniversary for Preah Vihear UNESCO status

The Kingdom on July 7 celebrated the 13th anniversary of the world-famous Preah Vihear Temple’s induction as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

To commemorate the listing of the temple, built on a plateau atop the Dangrek Mountains next to the Thai border, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts released a documentary video titled The Wonderful Preah Vihear Temple of the Angkorian Empire.

July 7, 2008, is regarded by Cambodia as a historical date after a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands, on June 15, 1962, settled an ownership dispute between Cambodia and Thailand in the Kingdom’s favour.

In a public message, Prime Minister Hun Sen said: “Today is the 13th anniversary of the listing of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site. Please join in protecting all ancient temples … for the benefit of all Cambodians and future generations.”

Hun Sen stated that the sacred temple was placed on the heritage list at the 32nd session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Quebec City, Canada, from July 2-10, 2008.

Heng Samrin, president of the National Assembly, also celebrated the day and said Cambodia will also celebrate the 4th anniversary of Sambor Prei Kuk Temple that was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on July 8, 2017, in Krakow, Poland.

“The decision to list the two temples is not a coincidence, but a historical event that demonstrates the government’s efforts to preserve valuable national cultural treasures until UNESCO has included them on the World Heritage list,” he said.

Samrin also recalled the extraordinary efforts of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, who tirelessly worked at the ICJ until the court ruled in Cambodia’s favour.

“We are very proud of our former kings and ancestors who built the temples of Preah Vihear, Sambor Prei Kuk and many other ancient temples across the country for future generations. It makes the international community really admire Cambodians,” he said.

He added that to uphold the values of national cultural heritage as well as safeguarding national sovereignty, peace and political stability are indispensable.

Many other ministries and institutions also celebrated the anniversary by posting congratulatory comments and pictures online.

Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport secretary of state Sar Sokha recalled that as a child, he was very proud that Preah Vihear was placed on the heritage list, not only for this temple but also other cultural artifacts.

“These [cultural artifacts] raise Cambodia’s profile and makes the country even more famous on the international stage. Let the Cambodian people take care to protect all our ancient temples and ensure future generations of Cambodians can appreciate the sacred works of our Cambodian ancestors,” he said.

The UN in Cambodia also celebrated the anniversary. “Preah Vihear Temple is an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer Art, in terms of planning, detail of its decoration and relationship to the spectacular landscape environment,” it tweeted on July 7.

Chak Sopheap, executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, also celebrated the day and lauded efforts to reclaim the temple.

“Let us all join in preserving and leaving a good legacy as a source of pride for future generations,” she said.

The Preah Vihear Temple was built from the 9th century to the 12th century by six consecutive kings and dedicated to the god Shiva. The temple complex is located on the highest peak of the Dangrek Mountains at 625m.

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