Upwards of 500 people turned up for the first-ever national celebration to mark the International Court of Justice’s 1962 ruling that the Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia.
The celebration was held outside Wat Botum in Phnom Penh and aired live on CTN television. Dancers and musicians re-enacted the temple’s history, showing Thai soldiers storming the 11th-century cliff-top structure on the Cambodia-Thai border in 1954 and then retreating in 1962 under the authority of the International Court of Justice.
Speakers praised then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk’s diplomacy leading up to The Hague’s 1962 ruling and urged the World Heritage Committee to inscribe the temple as a World Heritage Site when it convenes in July.
“We just want to show the world that Preah Vihear temple belongs to the Khmer people,” said Khieu Kola, a member of the event organizing committee.
Prime Minister Hun Sen personally gave $10,000 for the celebration, said Moeung Sonn, president of the Khmer Civilization Foundation, which organized the event.
“Many young people don’t know the history, but, now, today, I think the international community and the Cambodian young people, they know,” he said after the celebration.
Thai Embassy First Secretary Chaturont Chaiyakam said the embassy received an invitation Friday but declined to attend.
The celebration came a day after Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said the Thai Cabinet would this week approve Cambodia’s proposal for the temple’s World Heritage List inscription, according to Thai newspaper The Nation.
“There is no problem now,” Noppadon Pattama said Saturday, The Nation reported.
“We appreciate what Noppodan said,” Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said by telephone Sunday.