The border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia has always haunted and worried me. I once experienced the horrific movement, when thousands of people from both sides were ousted from their houses and forced to abandon their farmland and belongings.
The dispute heated up in July 2008, when the World Heritage Committee listed Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site. This was over 40 years after the International Court of Justice awarded the 6th century temple to Cambodia in 1962.
Thailand sent troops to areas around the temple, including a steady road leading to the hilltop temple, and claimed ownership. The stand-off between Cambodian and Thai troops lasted several years with armed exchanges, including the strongest one in February 2011, which damaged the temple.
From late April to early May 2011, the clashes between the two countries extended to another area along the border, which is around 300 kilometers west of the temple.
Covering those clashes was the most difficult experience of my journalism career. I witnessed over ten thousand Cambodian families evacuated from their beloved hometowns near the border for survival and seeking safety from the artillery’s shells. Likewise, on the other side of the border, thousands of Thai villagers also evacuated themselves for safety. Continue reading The nightmare of Thai-Cambodian border dispute