'Patriots' to sue over temple row

A civic group affiliated with the yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy will file a petition in the Criminal Court accusing the Foreign Ministry of providing false information to the public in the Thai-Cambodian Preah Vihear Temple dispute.

The petition will be lodged with the court on Monday, Jan 14, said political campaigner Chaiwat Sinsuwong, leader of the Khon Thai Rak Chart Raksa Pandin (Thais who love the nation and the land) group.

Chaiwat Sinsuwong. Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

The move came after Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul cautioned people to be prepared for any outcome, including a loss, when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) makes its decision on the temple in October. He suggested the court case was a “no-win'' situation for Thailand.

"If we lose the case, we lose [territory]. Even if we don't lose the case, it goes back to square one. That is, the temple belongs to Cambodia and the area surrounding it remains as it is," Mr Surapong said.

Critics of the government have interpreted Mr Surapong's remarks as a concession of defeat to Cambodia in the decades-old border dispute near the ancient Khmer temple.

Mr Chaiwat said on Jan 21 his group will organise a demonstration that will involve a march to military bases to submit petitions to leaders of the armed forces, urging them not to accept the jurisdiction of the ICJ. The march was likely to start from  Makkhawan Rangsan bridge on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue.

Mr Chaiwat, one of 36 People's Alliance for Democracy figures wanted over the 2008 airport seizure, said his group had collected 570,000 signatures to back its cause and expected the number of supporters would reach one million by Jan 21. 

The ICJ will hear oral arguments from Thailand and Cambodia from April 15-19 in The Hague. It took up the case at the request of Cambodia, which sought an interpretation of the 1962 ICJ ruling that confirmed the temple was on Cambodian soil.

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