CCU Marks Anniversary of P Vihear Standoff With Protest

The Cambodian Confederation of Unions plans to host a protest Wed­­nesday marking what many see as the one-year anniversary of the Preah Vihear standoff, the confederation’s president said, adding it will happen regardless of whether Phnom Penh City Hall approves.

CCU President Rong Chhun on Mon­­day said he wrote to Munic­ipal Governor Kep Chuktema stating more than 150 participants would ga­ther at about 8 am in front of the for­mer National Assembly buil­ding on Sothearos Boulevard and urge Thai­land to pull out from the disputed border area. In an in­terview, he said the group would go ahead with the planned rally re­gard­less of what the municipality decided.

“We want to show our hatred against the Thai invasion and we want to demand the Thais withdraw im­mediately. We won’t do any­­thing against the government. We won’t prov­oke any social disorder,” he said.

“We just want to show our anger. The City Hall authorities must un­derstand us because we are doing it for our country,” he added.

Mr Chuktema could not be reach­ed Monday and Deputy Gov­ernor Pa Socheatvong said he was too busy.

On July 15, 2008, three Thai protesters entered the then locked-down temple and were briefly de­tained by Cambodian police. That move, Cambodia officials claimed, prompted as many as 100 Thai soldiers to enter the country, with some trek­king to the Cambodian-made Bud­dhist pagoda within 200 meters of Preah Vihear temple. Both sides es­calated their military presence and have remained there since that day.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokes­­man Koy Kuong said he did not be­lieve the politically-charged rally would help or hinder the ongoing neg­otiations between the neighboring countries. However, the decision to allow the demonstration is ultimately that of City Hall, he said.

“This protest would not speed up any solutions between Thailand and Cambodia,” he said. “This is to re­­mind [people of the] one-year an­ni­ver­sary. This is expressing nationalism.”

Defense Attache Chanavut Bud­kinnaree at the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh said he was too busy and had no comment.

(Additional reporting by Frank Radosevich)


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