CALLS TO ACTION: 2011
The Illicit Rhino Horn Trade
Following a recent surge in museum heists targeting rhinoceros horn, LCCHP has joined with conservation organizations in warning that the illegal trafficking of art and wildlife is a threat to the public, as well as the world’s natural and cultural heritage.
The Temple of Preah VihearLCCHP is alarmed by the escalating conflict between the Southeast Asian nations of Cambodia and Thailand over the ancient Hindu temple of Preah Vihear. On 22 February 2011, we launched an appeal drawing attention to the crisis. For the latest updates on the situation at Preah Vihear, a full text of our statement, and a complete list of signatories, stay tuned to this page.
UNESCO Envoy Due On Sunday
According to the Phnom Penh Post, UNESCO is sending five-member delegation to Cambodia, which will arrive on Sunday. The PPP quotes Koichiro Matsuura — the head of the delegation and the former head of UNESCO — as saying that “The meetings will focus on the role of the international community, mainly UNESCO itself, in taking action to protect Preah Vihear temple.” Contrary to earlier reports, the delegation will visit the temple of Preah Vihear.
PM: No Troop Withdrawal from Border
The Bangkok Post quotes Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as saying that he will not withdraw Thai troops from the Cambodian border, even though Indonesia is about to send a team of observers there. He said Thailand has the right to protect its sovereignty and to retaliate if its rights are violated.
We commend Cambodia and Thailand for agreeing to a ceasefire on 7 February 2011 and trust that they will continue to honor it. We also urge both nations to fulfill their obligations as States Parties to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, as well as the 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Lastly, we petition the World Heritage Committee to place Preah Vihear on its List of World Heritage in Danger and call on UNESCO to fully investigate the damage that the recent conflict has inflicted on the site.ASEAN Brokers Preah Vihear Deal
PM: UNESCO Special Envoy to Visit Bangkok, Phnom Penh Next Week
The Thai News Agency MCOT reports that UNESCO will not proceed with its management plan of Preah Vihear until the border between Thailand and Cambodia is demarcated. UNESCO's special envoy undefined Mr Koichiro Matsuura, former Director-General of the organization undefined will visit Bangkok and Phnom Penh next week to discuss the conflict between the two countries.
Hun Sen Playing High Stakes Game
According to the Bangkok Post, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has asked the International Court of Justice to reopen the case between Cambodia and Thailand over the temple of Preah Vihear. Thailand is still pushing for the matter to be settled without outside involvement.
Thailand: Too Early for Ceasefire
UPI.com quotes Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as saying that it is too soon to sign a ceasefire agreement with Cambodia, which he accuses of starting a "fight."
Hun Sen Seeks Ceasefire
According to the Phnom Penh Post, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that Cambodia will petition for a permanent ceasefire with Thailand to be monitored by ASEAN observers. Cambodia will formally make the request when ASEAN meets next week in Jakarta. Thailand has dismissed Cambodia's previous requests for monitors from ASEAN or the UN.
Cambodia Turns to ASEAN
The Bangkok Post reports that Thailand will oppose any effort by Cambodia to bring in ASEAN peacekeepers, but is open to bilateral talks.
Accusations Fly Over New Skirmish
Speaking to the Phnom Penh Post, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong accused Thailand of violating the ceasefire. In a statement, the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also alleged that Thailand had fired grenades and 81mm mortars into an area close to Preah Vihear. The statement continued:
This violation of the ceasefire by Thai armed forces clearly shows that the real intention behind Thailand’s insistence on resolving the matter bilaterally is to use its overwhelming superior military forces to take over Cambodian territory in the vicinity of the temple of Preah Vihear.
It added that Cambodian troops did not respond to the Thai “provocation.”
Army: Border Post Attacked Overnight
According to the Bangkok Post, a spokesman for the Royal Thai Army has accused Cambodia of violating the ceasefire, by firing on Thai soldiers at Phu Ma Khua. There were no Thai casualties, but civilians in the area were forced to flee their homes.
...calls on Cambodia and Thailand to clarify if their armed forces have used cluster munitions in the recent border conflict, and urges both countries to refrain from using cluster munitions and to prevent future civilian suffering by acceding to the Convention on Cluster Munitions without delay.
Caught in Thailand-Cambodia Crossfire: Preah Vihear Temple
After the engagement last weekend, the portion of the temple closest to Thailand showed the marks of the fighting, with chips and chunks cut out of a column and of a wall of the fourth gopura, or entrance building, along the temple’s causeway.
A trail of blood through a carved stone doorway traced the last steps of a Cambodian soldier who was killed.
At the fifth and last gopura, chips from the walls were scattered on the ground, along with the tail fins of a rocket. There was no sign of the collapse that the Cambodian government had claimed.
"Because of the border issue, I believe that we can rank it among the most difficult,” he told The Cambodia Daily in July 2008. “The question was not simply to demonstrate its value but to understand the implications of its inscription for management and ensure that the parties concerned would be ready to cooperate for its protection.”
Australia Network Newsline has produced an excellent short documentary on the unfolding conflict at the Cambodia-Thai border (you must scroll down to the video).
UNESCO to Send Mission to Preah Vihear
Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, called for Cambodia and Thailand to show restraint at Preah Vihear and stated that "I intend to send a mission to the area as soon as possible to assess the state of the temple."
A Holy Dispute
Time Magazine has released a photo essay on the Preah Vihear conflict, tracing it from 1962 to present day.
Preah Vihear Temple a Lightning Rod for Thai-Cambodian Tension
Reuters has published a fact sheet on Preah Vihear, including information on the temple's violent history:
The Khmer Rouge occupied the site for years, and rusting artillery pieces can still be found lying amid the ruins.In June 1979, Thai soldiers forced 45,000 refugees from Pol Pot's "Killing Fields" to descend the heavily mined escarpment back into Cambodia. "Several thousand died, either shot by Thai soldiers to prevent them trying to cross back, or blown up in the minefields," British historian Philip Short wrote in a seminal biography of Pol Pot.
Emergency in Egypt
Along with the world, LCCHP is following the cultural heritage crisis in Egypt. On 31 January 2011, we released an appeal drawing attention to the emergency, which 19 other institutions have now joined. For the latest updates on the situation in Egypt, a full text of our statement, and a complete list of signatories, stay tuned to this page.
Brave actions taken by the citizens of Cairo and the military largely protected the Cairo Museum. However, the numerous sites, museums and storage areas located outside of Cairo are even more vulnerable. As the prisons are opened and common criminals are allowed to escape, the potential for greater loss is created. A recent report from Egyptologist Professor Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama in Birmingham states that damage has been done to storage areas and tombs in Abusir and Saqqara and that looting is occurring there and in other locations.
We call on the Egyptian authorities to exercise their responsibilities to protect their country’s irreplaceable cultural heritage. At the same time, we call on United States and European law enforcement agencies to be on the alert over the next several months for the possible appearance of looted Egyptian antiquities at their borders.
Other Sites Following the Situation in Egypt
UNESCO Director-General Launches Heritage and Press Freedom Alert for Egypt
Irina Bokova - the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) - launched an appeal to protect cultural heritage and to respect freedom of expression in Egypt.
Egyptian Army Boosts Security at Museums and Archaeological SitesThe National reports that "the Egyptian military has stepped up security for the country's museums and archaeological sites in the wake of looting and vandalism that has his some of the world's most renowned repositories of antiquities."
Blue Shield Releases Statement on Egypt
Egypt Treasures Looted, But Public Strikes Back
According to National Geographic News, "Egyptologists and everyday Egyptians" are "banding together to protect local historic sites."
Egypt's Treasures: Assessing the Damage
Discovery News warns that smugglers may take advantage of the political crisis in Egypt by trafficking antiquities from the country.
Archaeologists Assess Tut Tragedy
NBC's Kate Snow reports on the damage done to Egypt's antiquities.
Egyptians Survey Damage to Priceless Artifacts