Exactly two months after agreeing to the stationing of neutral observers along the Thai-Cambodian border near the Temple of Preah Vihear to prevent renewed fighting, the Thai government has once again confirmed the worst suspicions: that it has repeatedly prevented the arrival of Indonesian observers in order to give its military a free hand to commit aggression against Cambodia.
For five hours beginning at 6 o’clock on the morning of 22 April, Thai forces conducted a large-scale attack, including the use of DK75, DK82, 105 mm, and 155 mm artilleries, damaging three ancient Khmer Temples that are part of Cambodia’s cultural heritages: Ta Krabei, Ta Moan Thom and Ta Moan Touch. It is not yet known whether the Thais again used cluster munitions, as they did in February, as well as shells containing toxic gas.
As in the February attacks, some of the artillery shells landed deep inside Cambodia — in this case hitting the village of Kork Moan in Oddar Meanchey province, 21 kilometres from the border, forcing thousands of civilians to flee. As well, a Thai warplane intruded into Cambodian airspace.
The renewed fighting was not touched off by a nervous soldier on either side accidentally squeezing the trigger of his rifle. It began quite deliberately when Thai troops, under cover of darkness, crossed the border, penetrated deep into Cambodia and then attacked Cambodian forces from the rear, from Ta Krabei to the Chub Koki area.
This was deliberate, premeditated act of aggression. It was prepared, among other ways, by the refusal of the Thai government and military to implement the agreement signed in Jakarta on 22 February. Cambodia has on four occasions promptly agreed to Terms of Reference for the Indonesian observers proposed by the Chair of ASEAN, which was acting in accordance with a United Nations Security Council call for a permanent cease-fire. By contrast, Thailand continues delaying, objecting to the terms of reference even when these are modified as it requested.
Over the past two months, Cambodia has repeatedly urged the prompt stationing of observers as the Thais conducted a large military build-up near the border. Now the Thai government and military are seeking to establish de facto control over the areas of Cambodia that they began claiming in recent years based on their unilateral and secret map which lacks the international legitimacy.
Source: Commentary of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit Office of the Council of Ministers (Letter attached in Khmer Language)