BANGKOK, July 20 – Thailand’s yellow-clad protest movement, the People’ Alliance for Democracy (PAD), on Wednesday issued a statement opposing the ruling of the United Nation’s highest court ordering both Thai and Cambodian troops to withdraw from the disputed area near Preah Vihear temple.
PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul read the group’s statement saying the July 18 ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) puts Thailand at a disadvantage as Thai troops must withdraw deeper into their own territory despite Cambodian communities, Cambodian-constructed buildings and roads still occupying Thai territory.
“Thailand can solve this problem by rejecting the ICJ order, refusing to withdraw its troops, at the same time pushing the Cambodians back to their country and urgently restoring ties, especially with members of the United Nations Security Council.” Mr Sondhi stated.
The PAD has staged prolonged rallies against the stance of Thai government on the Thai-Cambodian border dispute and urged it to revoke the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Cambodia in 2000, which it claimed put Thailand at risk of losing territory.
Another key PAD leader, retired-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, condemned the army for not doing its duty to protect the country’s sovereignty and urged the troops not to withdraw from the disputed border as ordered by the World Court.
The ICJ on Monday ordered Thailand and Cambodia to immediately withdraw all military personnel currently present in the provisional demilitarised zone, as defined by the court, and to refrain from any military presence within that zone, and from any armed activity directed at it.
Thailand was ordered to not obstruct Cambodia’s free access to the temple, and to not prevent it from providing fresh supplies to its non-military personnel.
The court also said both countries must continue to cooperate within the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and, most pointedly, allow ASEAN-appointed observers to have access to the provisional demilitarised zone.
PAD leader Pibob Thongchai read a statement calling on the new government led by the Pheu Thai Party to continue protecting the kingdom’s sovereignty and announced its opposition to the court’s order.
Mr Pipob also urged the next government to speed up help for two Thai activists of Thailand Patriots Network, Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, both jailed in Cambodia on spying charges, as soon as possible.
A Cambodian court on Feb 1 ruled that the pair were guilty of espionage, illegal entry, and trespassing in a military zone. Mr Veera was sentenced to an eight-year jail term while Ms Ratree was handed a six-year jail term.