BURI RAM : Residents living near a disputed area of the Thai-Cambodian border have formed a group to protest against a government relocation order.
The locals, who live near the Preah Vihear temple in Ban Kruat district, have been ordered to vacate their land and move away from the border area for security reasons.
Calling themselves Kloom Khon Thai Mai Rub Kham Tadsin San Loke (a group of Thais who will not accept the International Court of Justice ruling), the residents say they are upset that the government has ordered them to move even though the ICJ has yet to rule on the border dispute.
An ICJ judgement in 1962 granted ownership of the Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia, but a 4.6-square-kilometre area around the temple remains disputed.
Cambodia asked the ICJ in 2011 to interpret its 1962 judgement and clear up the dispute following a series of deadly clashes between the two countries.
Oral hearings will take place on April 15-19, with a ruling due in October.
Meechai Jongkul, village headman of Ban Bueng Charoen, said residents of several villages which have been affected by previous border skirmishes in Surin, Buri Ram, and Si Sa Ket would not accept the ICJ ruling, whatever it might be.
He said locals were angry with the government for ordering them to leave their land. Most had lived there for many years, and were not even being given the chance to harvest their crops before they left, he said.
In the past, soldiers would warn locals of any impending clashes and would construct bunkers in the villages to defend them, he said.
"But things are very strange under this government. It has ordered us to leave, which will simply enable the Cambodians to move into the border areas and live here instead," he said.
"Why can't we continue living and working on our land?"
He said the villagers had lost faith in the government and state officials, and would stand up to defend the land on their own.
Samniang Suphanaphop, 50, a Ban Kruat district resident, said she is now the target of a libel suit filed by ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra after she spoke out about the temple dispute.
She said she had received a subpoena stating that a representative of the former premier had filed the lawsuit against her on Thaksin's behalf.
She also took part in last year's Pitak Siam anti-government rally at the Royal Turf Club in Bangkok.
She made a speech on stage at the rally criticising the government for failing to protect Thailand's territorial integrity.
The government should be blamed if Thailand loses the disputed land to Cambodia, she said.
About the author
- Writer: King-oua Laohong