More than 15,000 flag-waving Cambodian youths joined senior government officials at Olympic Stadium yesterday to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the ancient Preah Vihear temple being granted UNESCO world heritage status.
In front of a dramatic backdrop featuring the cliff top temple surrounded by storm clouds, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, Phnom Penh
Municipal governor Pa Socheatvong and president of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia Hun Many presided over the ceremony.
The temple’s 2008 listing led to an outbreak of protests in neighbouring Thailand, which disputes colonial-era maps used by Cambodia to claim the temple, with intermittent border clashes culminating in fighting in 2011 that left 18 dead.
“Now we are waiting for the last verdict of the International Court of Justice,” Sok An said, referring to 4.6 square kilometres of adjacent land that remains disputed and was the subject of ICJ hearings in April. “We welcome the fifth anniversary and it is a proud moment for Cambodia.”
Nineteen-year-old student Kong Sovannarom said that although he did not know much about the ICJ case, he was proud.
“I am happy and proud for my country that it has a temple listed as a world heritage site.”