Jul 24, 2009

Dams in China Turn the Mekong into a River of Discord



US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton




Rivers know no borders, but dams do
By Michael Richardson
Back in 1986, when China began building the first of a series of dams on the Mekong River, hardly anyone in the downstream countries of Southeast Asia paid attention. But today, as China races to finish the fourth dam for generating electricity on the upper reaches of Southeast Asia’s biggest river, concerns about possible environmental impacts in the region are rising fast. Moreover, fear about antagonizing China and Southeast Asia’s internecine dispute might make any concerted move unlikely.

The sheer scale of China’s engineering to harness the power of the Mekong and change its natural flow is setting off alarm bells, especially in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, the four countries of the lower Mekong basin where more than 60 million people depend on the river for food, water and transportation.

A report in May by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) warned that China’s plan for a cascade of eight dams on the Mekong, which it calls the Lancang Jiang, might pose “a considerable threat” to the river and its natural riches. In June, Thailand’s prime minister was handed a petition calling for a halt to dam building. It was signed by over 11,000 people, many of them subsistence farmers and fishermen who live along the river’s mainstream and its many tributaries.


Some analysts say that if the worst fears of critics are realized, relations between China and its neighbors in mainland Southeast Asia will be severely damaged. But mindful of the growing power and influence of China, Southeast Asian governments have muffled their concern. Meanwhile, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand have put forward plans to dam their sections of the Mekong mainstream, prompting Vietnam to object and undermining the local environmentalists’ case against China.

Although the Mekong is widely regarded as a Southeast Asian river, its source is in the glaciers high in Tibet. Nearly half of the 4,880 kilometer river flows through China’s Yunnan province before it reaches Southeast Asia. Since there is no international treaty governing use of trans-boundary rivers, China is in a dominant position, controlling the Mekong’s headwater. It has the right to develop its section of the river as it sees fit, and has done so without consulting its neighbors, let alone seeking their approval.
Massive Chinese Dams

The Mekong River basin drains water from an area of 795,000 square kilometers. The Mekong River Commission (MRC), an inter-governmental agency formed in 1995 by the four lower basin countries estimates that the sustainable hydropower potential of the lower basin alone is a massive 30,000 megawatts. But it also says that there are major challenges in balancing the benefits of clean electricity, water storage and flood control from the dams against negative impacts. These include population displacement, obstruction to fish movements up and down the river, and changes in water and sediment flow.

The cascade of dams being constructed in Yunnan will generate over 15,500 megawatts of electricity for cities and industries, helping to replace polluting fossil fuels, particularly coal and oil. The eight Yunnan dams will produce about the same amount of electricity as 30 big coal-burning plants.

The fourth of China’s Mekong dams, at Xiaowan, is due to be completed by 2012 at a cost of nearly US$4 billion.

Rising 292 meters, the dam wall will be the world’s tallest. Its reservoir will hold 15 billion cubic meters of water, more than five times the combined capacity of the first three Chinese dams. Since the end of 2008, when the river diversion channel of the Xiaowan hydropower dam was closed by Chinese engineers, the reservoir has been filling with water, paving the way to start the first electricity generating turbine in September. When full, the reservoir will cover an area of over 190 square kilometers. With a capacity to generate 4,200 megawatts of electricity, Xiaowan will be the largest dam so far on the Mekong.

However, by 2014, China plans to finish another dam below the Xiaowan at Nuozhadu. It will not be quite as high but will impound even more water, nearly 23 billion cubic meters, and generate 5,000 megawatts of power.

Chinese officials have assured Southeast Asia that the Yunnan dams will have a positive environmental impact. They say that by holding some water back in the wet season, the dams will help control flooding and river bank erosion downstream. Conversely, releases from the hydropower reservoirs to generate power in the summer will help ease water shortages in the lower Mekong during the dry season.

However, the UNEP-AIT report said that Cambodia’s great central lake Tonle Sap, the nursery of the lower Mekong’s fish stocks, and Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, its rice bowl, were particularly at risk from changes to the river’s unique cycle of flood and drought. The Cambodian lake is linked to the Mekong by the Tonle Sap River. Scientists are concerned that reductions in the Mekong’s natural floodwater flow will cause falls in the lake’s water level and fish stocks, already under pressure from over-harvesting and pollution.

Vietnam worries that dwindling water volumes will aggravate the problem of sea water intrusion and salination in the low-lying Mekong Delta, where climate change and sea level rise threaten to inundate large areas of productive farm land and displace millions of people by the end of this century.
Lack of Cooperation

The MRC says it has been discussing technical cooperation with Chinese experts to assess downstream river changes caused by hydropower development. But China has refused to join the MRC or to agree to observe its resource management guidelines, preferring to remain a “dialogue partner”. Full membership would intensify scrutiny of its dam plans by downstream Southeast Asian states and increase pressure on Beijing, which controls 21 percent of the water, to take their interests into account.

While China’s program to dam the Mekong is moving ahead on schedule, proposals to do the same on the Southeast Asian section of the river have been put on hold. Before the global credit crisis and economic slow-down hit Asia’s export-oriented economies with full force this year, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand had announced plans to follow China’s lead on the upper Mekong by building a series of dams on the mainstream of the river in the lower basin.

There are now over 3,200 megawatts of electricity being generated on Mekong tributaries in Laos. But that too is being hurt by the crisis as Thailand, the main consumer of electricity in the lower Mekong, has announced that because of the global economic downturn, it expects to cut substantially the amount of power it imports from Laos.

A woman weaves cotton for fabric in China's southwest Yunnan province. Environmentalists have warned that China's dam building threatens fish stocks and will add to the pollution in the Mekong River. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)


The slowdown, however, provides a breathing space for Southeast Asian countries to assess how the Mekong mainstream dam projects will affect the interests of people in the river basin. But without China’s full participation, no Mekong management plan can be effective.

Beijing is intent on forging closer economic integration with mainland Southeast Asia through trade, investment, communication, transport and energy cooperation with its neighbors in the Greater Mekong Subregion. But this strategy may backfire if the region concludes that Chinese dams are having an adverse impact on their future development prospects.

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) kicks off “Mekong Delta and Angkor Wat” tours in Vietnam and Cambodia


Live-PR.com (Pressemitteilung) (Pressemitteilung




ATA aims to introduce the great combination of the two exotic lands and cultures. Travelers will experience great boat trip on the mighty river and walk on village roads, visit to local houses and take ferry to cross the Mekong River and colorful market of Mekong Delta. Cruising upto Phnom Penh, travelers start our journey to the majestic beauty of Angkor Wat.


(live-PR.com) - First and second day, travelers take a city tour to see the different faces of this bustling city on a full day tour with extensive visits to the Re-Unification Palace, the Central Post Office, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Jade Emperor Temple and the Ben Thanh market. Then travelers drive to the famous Cu Chi underground tunnel system to experience


how the Viet Cong lived and fought during the American War.

Third day, travelers drive to Cai Be travelers board a boat for a journey through the town’s floating market. Travelers see how river life goes on, trading bettravelers en merchant ships and local farmers and cruise through secluded canals and over the Mighty Mekong to island where travelers stop to enjoy seasonal fruits

Fourth day, travelers take a boat trip to Cai Rang floating markets, one of the most lively and colorful markets in Southeast Asia. After the market travelers cruise back to town. Travelers will try a xe loi, the local colonial-era cab pulled by motorbike, to see the town.

Fifth day, travelers go head Phnom Penh. The boat approaches Vinh Xuong border gate where passengers complete entry procedures. Continue to Cambodia cruising on Tone Le Sap River, travelers would reach Phnom Penh International Port (Sisowath Street) around12.30.Travelers take a short city tour of Phnom Penh visiting to the National Museum where travelers would see the world’s most wondrous collection of Khmer sculture.

Sixth day, travelers take an excursion to Tonle Batie, which is 40 km from Phnom Penh, visiting to a pair of old Angkorian-era temple of Ta Prohm and Yeay Poev. In the afternoon, travelers visit the harrowing Tuol Sleng Museum before continuing to the Killing Field of Choeung Ek where prisoner from Security Prison 21 travelers re taken for execution. It is grim afternoon, but essential for understanding just how far Cambodia has come in the intervening years.

Seventh day, travelers take a short fly to Siem Riep.Then travelers visit to the world wonder of Angkor Wat include Southern Gate of Angkor Thom and the unique temple of Bayon. It is a collection of 54 gothic totravelers rs decorated with 216 coldy smiling, enormous faces glaring down from every angle. Travelers continue to the Baphoun temple, which would have been one of the most spectacular of Angkor’s temples in its heyday. Travelers move on to the Terrace of Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King. Complete the day with sunset watching from Phnom Bakheng Hill.

Eightth day, travelers continue to the enchanting temple of the Banteay Srei, the jetravelers l in the crown of Angkorian art. Banteay Srei means ‘Citadel of the Women’ and it is said that it must have been built by a women, as the elaborate carvings are too fine for the hand of a man.
In the afternoon, travelers visit the Banteay Samre, which dates from the same period as Angkor Wat. The temple is in a fairly healthy state of preservation due to some extensive renovation work and continues to visit the monuments of Rolous, which served as Indravarman I’s capital.

Last day, travelers continue to discover Angkor Wat. In the morning travelers visit the fabulous Ta Prohm embraced by the roots of enormous fig trees and gigantic creepers and Pre Rup temple, East Mebon temple, and Neak Poan temple. In the afternoon, travelers visit to Krovan temple, Royal Bath of Srah Srang and Banteay Kdei temples.

This Cheaper Option is offered to those who seek for good travel experience at an affordable budget. Travelers offer the finest 2-star hotels instead of 3-star hotels in all destinations. These 2-star hotels are chosen for good location, clean, comfortable room and nice staff.


Obama Unveils Race for School Billions

Seattle Post Intelligencer





Obama Unveils Race for School Billions
By MARY BRUCE and YUNJI DE NIES
President Obama today announced the steps states must take to compete for their cut of an unprecedented $4.35 billion in discretionary federal stimulus funding for education.
"This is one of the largest investments in education reform in American history," Obama said at the Department of Education this afternoon. "And rather than divvying it up and handing it out, we are letting states and school districts compete for it. That's how we can incentivise excellence and spur reform and launch a race to the top in America's public schools. That race starts today."

The controversial "Race to the Top" program offers one of the first glimpses into how far the Obama administration is willing to go to create reform. The program centers of four basic "assurances" that states must meet to qualify for a piece of the pie -- turning around low-performing schools, in part by expanding charter schools; enacting rigorous, common academic standards; improving teacher quality and beefing up state data systems.

States will be judged based on their progress in each of the four areas and -- given the way several states have been using education stimulus money to fill budget gaps rather than to innovate -- it is clear that not all states will be awarded funding.
"I'm issuing a challenge to our nation's governors, to school boards and principals and teachers, to businesses and non-for-profits, to parents and students: if you set and enforce rigorous and challenging standards and assessments; if you put outstanding teachers at the front of the classroom; if you turn around failing schools -- your state can win a Race to the Top grant that will not only help students out-compete workers around the world, but let them fulfill their God-given potential," Obama said.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News on Thursday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan explained the dire need for reform.

"We have as a country, I think, have lost our way educationally. We have to educate our way to a better economy. To me, education is the civil rights issue of our generation," he said.

"This is a fight for social justice," he added, "and we want to work with those states that are literally going to lead the country where we need to go." With more discretionary money at his disposal than all education secretaries in the last three decades combined, and a close personal ties to the president, Duncan may be the most powerful education secretary to date.

Through "Race to the Top," Duncan hopes to prop up states that innovate -- and inspire those that have not. Duncan admitted not all states will qualify, but said that a competitive spirit will drive reform. In this race, there will be clear winners and losers.

"I think there'll be tremendous pressure on states, state legislatures where things aren't happening, by parents saying exactly that: 'Our children deserve a slice of the pie, and we want that pressure,'" Duncan said.

* 1


Obama regrets choice of words in scholar's arrest

President Barack Obama pauses as he talks to the media in the briefing room at the White House in Washington,





WASHINGTON – Trying to tamp down an uproar over race, President Barack Obama said Friday he used an unfortunate choice of words in commenting on the arrest of black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. and could have "calibrated those words differently."

The president said he had telephoned the white policeman who arrested Gates, and he said the conversation confirmed his belief that the officer was a good man and an outstanding officer.

Obama said later that he had spoken to Gates as well.

The president caused a stir when he said at a prime-time news conference earlier this week that Cambridge, Mass., police had "acted stupidly" by arresting Gates, a Harvard scholar and friend of the president's, for disorderly conduct.

On Friday, Obama made an impromptu appearance at the daily White House briefing in an effort to contain the controversy. He said he continued to believe that both the officer, Sgt. James Crowley, and Gates had overreacted during the incident, but the president also faulted his own comments.

"This has been ratcheting up, and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up," he said. "I want to make clear that in my choice of words, I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge police department and Sgt. Crowley specifically. And I could've calibrated those words differently."

Seeking to lighten the situation further, he said he had invited both Crowley and Gates for "a beer here in the White House."

The incident began when police went to Gates' home last week after a passer-by reported a potential break-in. It turned out that Gates had tried to jimmy open his own door, which was stuck, and there was no intruder. Gates protested the police actions and was arrested, although the charges have since been dropped.

Before Obama's appearance Friday, a multiracial group of police officers stood with Crowley in Massachusetts and asked Obama and the state's governor, Deval Patrick, to apologize for comments they called insulting. Patrick has said Gates' arrest was "every black man's nightmare."

Dennis O'Connor, president of the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, said Obama's remarks were "misdirected" and the Cambridge police "deeply resent the implication" that race was a factor in the arrest.

Sgt. Leon Lashley, a black officer who was at Gates' home with Crowley at the time of the arrest, said he supported his fellow officer's action "100 percent."

Gates has said he returned from an overseas trip, found the door jammed and he and his driver attempted to force it open. Gates went through the back door and was inside the house when police arrived. Police say he flew into a verbal rage when Crowley asked him to show identification to prove he should be in the home. Police say Gates accused Crowley of racial bias, refused to calm down and was arrested.

Gates, 58, maintains he turned over identification when asked to do so. He says Crowley arrested him after the professor followed him to the porch, repeatedly demanding the sergeant's name and badge number because he was unhappy over his treatment.


House Dems threaten floor vote to break impasse

FOXNews





By ERICA WERNER
WASHINGTON — Dissension within Democratic ranks over President Barack Obama's health care initiative all but paralyzed the House Friday, typifying just how many political land mines are littering the path to enactment.

The Obama White House figured on some pushback from congressional Republicans, but leaders of his own Democratic Party struggled to get things moving. A powerful House committee chairman threatened to force a floor vote to break the impasse within Democratic ranks — a drastic step that could roil the House.

Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said negotiations with fiscally conservative Democrats on his panel cannot continue indefinitely. But a floor vote would put fellow Democrats in an exposed position, having to cast a vote on a $544-billion upper-income tax increase that the Senate is unlikely to embrace to help pay for covering the millions of uninsured Americans.

The problems on the House side of the Capitol come a day after Senate Democratic leaders announced they would not go ahead as planned with a floor vote before Congress departs for its August recess. Senate Democrats are also divided. While some are negotiating with Republicans, others want to plow ahead on their own.

"We're going to have to look at perhaps bypassing the (Energy and Commerce) committee because we've got to get moving on this legislation," Waxman said. "I hope we don't come to that conclusion."

Two House panels have already passed legislation. Waxman is stymied because seven conservatives on his committee — part of a group called the Blue Dog Democrats — are sticking together.

Negotiations are continuing, but Waxman said he's running out of patience.

"We're not going to let them empower the Republicans to control the committee," he said.

"This can't be an interminable discussion," Waxman added. He's agreed to a study to address why Medicare rates are lower in rural areas in hopes of mollifying the Blue Dogs, many of whom represent small town constituencies. Billions of dollars are potentially at stake. Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he hoped the talks would end on a positive note and the bill could proceed through Waxman's committee.

As lawmakers continued to haggle, the White House said Obama will keep working on health care in August even if Congress goes home.

"Nobody in planning meetings decided we should just take August off," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "For a long time we planned to continue the discussion on the issues that are important, be it the economy, health care ... education. That had always in many ways been priced into the scenario."

Obama envisions legislation that would, for the first time, require all Americans to be insured. A new government insurance program would compete with private insurers, and insurance companies would be barred from excluding people with pre-existing conditions. The goals are to hold down costs and extend coverage to most of the 50 million uninsured. The price tag: $1 trillion-plus over a decade.

Obama met Friday morning at the White House with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont. Reid said Thursday that the panel will push to complete a bill before the Senate breaks Aug. 7. Baucus has been negotiating with the panel's Republicans in hopes of producing a bipartisan bill.

Finance Committee negotiators are looking at a bill that probably won't satisfy Democratic liberals. One of their top goals is a new government-sponsored insurance plan, and that was a centerpiece of legislation passed by the Senate's health committee. But Finance Committee members are looking at nonprofit co-ops instead.

In the House, the Blue Dogs want more done to try to control rising medical costs.

Democratic leaders say the back-and-forth is a normal part of the legislative process, but Republicans are latching on to the disarray in delight. The Republican National Committee has taken to issuing news releases headlined "Chaos" that highlight disagreements within the Democrats' ranks.

In a Tweeter post on Friday, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, gave a shout-out to the Democratic dissidents: "bludogs keep barkin." Grassley is Baucus' counterpart in the Senate health care negotiations.

Associated Press Writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.

Union chief: Obama should apologize to Cambridge police

New York Times





CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (CNN) -- President Obama should apologize to members of the Cambridge Police Department for saying they acted stupidly, the president of the city's police union said Friday.
Dennis O'Connor, president of the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, said at a news conference that Obama should not have criticized officers' actions in last week's arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Sgt. James Crowley, the officer who arrested Gates for disorderly conduct, has previously said he was dismayed by the president's remarks and that Obama had offended police in Cambridge and elsewhere.

"I was a little surprised and disappointed that the president, who didn't have all of the facts by his own admission, then weighed in on the events of that night and made a comment that really offended not just officers in the Cambridge Police Department but officers around the country," Crowley told CNN affiliate WHDH-TV in Boston.

Obama, however, stood by his comment, saying he is "surprised by the controversy surrounding" it.

"I think it was a pretty straightforward commentary that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home," Obama told ABC's "Nightline." Video Watch Crowley's boss defend the arrest »

When Obama waded into the story by answering a question about it during his news conference Wednesday night, he admitted that he "may be a little biased" because Gates is a friend.
Don't Miss

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* Read Gate's arrest report (PDF)
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* Charge dropped against Harvard professor

"I don't know all the facts," he also conceded.

He said he did not know what role race played, but "the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home." iReport.com: Arrest sparks debate

Crowley, in the police report about the incident, said Gates refused to cooperate with him and repeatedly accusing him of racism when he went to Gates' home following a report of a possible break-in July 16.

Crowley said he tried to determine whether there was someone else at the home and wanted to ensure Gates' safety.

Gates, however, told him "that I had no idea who I was 'messing' with" and was being so loud that he could not give pertinent information to the department when he was calling in, the sergeant said.

Authorities have said they may release tapes of the officer calling in, in which Gates is heard in the background

Crowley's report said that when he asked to speak with Gates outside, the professor at one point responded, "I'll speak with your mama outside." Video Watch Crowley's response »

Gates' attorney, Charles Ogletree, said the professor never made such a remark.

The full story will show that Gates did nothing wrong -- and that Crowley did not identify himself at first, Ogletree said.

Gates said Wednesday he would listen to Crowley "if he would tell the truth about what he did, about the distortions that he fabricated in the police report. I would be prepared as a human being to forgive him."

Crowley has said he will not apologize. The police incident report states that Crowley twice provided his name to Gates, who subsequently asked for it two more times.

Gates ultimately was arrested for disorderly conduct, but the department later dropped the charges.

Cambridge police Commissioner Robert Haas said he "deeply regrets" the arrest but stands by the procedures his department followed.

"I trust [Crowley's] judgment implicitly. He is a stellar officer," Haas said.

He added the department is "very proud about its diversity within this community and how hard we've worked over the years to build a strong, solid relationship [between] the department and the community."

Haas said he agreed with Crowley about Obama's remarks.

"I have to tell you the officers take that very personally and basically feel hurt by that comment. We truly are trying to do the best service we can to the community and sometimes we make mistakes. We're human. But we learn from those mistakes and we move on," he said.

Numerous police officers, including African-Americans, have spoken up on Crowley's behalf and portrayed him as a good and fair officer. Crowley, who is white, had once been chosen by a black police officer to teach a police academy course on ways to avoid racial profiling.

Obama said he had heard of Crowley's record, saying, "I don't know all the extenuating circumstances, and as I said, I respect what police officers do. From what I can tell, the sergeant who was involved is an outstanding police officer, but my suspicion is probably it would have been better if cooler heads prevailed."

Gates' legal team argues that authorities are misrepresenting the professor and the officer, and Gates has said he is determined to keep the issue alive despite the charges being dropped.

"This is not about me; this is about the vulnerability of black men in America," he said this week.

Ogletree said Gates might sue the department and would bring forward witnesses who say they've had similar experiences with Crowley.
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When asked for examples, Ogletree said only that they may come out in time depending on how the police department handles the situation moving forward.

"I think you will be hearing much more complex and different perspective on him [Crowley] in the coming days and weeks," Ogletree said, alleging that Crowley "is well-known among people, particularly young people, for some of his police practices

Jul 20, 2009

Reports on U.S. Detention Policy Will Be Delayed

Washington Post





vBy Peter Finn
Washington Post Staff Writer By Peter Finn
Washington Post Staff Writer
The Obama administration is delaying completion of reports examining U.S. detention and interrogation policy, officials said Monday, in a sign of the formidable issues it faces in grappling with how to handle terrorism suspects as it prepares to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

The work of a Justice Department-led task force, which had been scheduled to send a report on detention policy to President Obama on Tuesday, will be extended for six months, according to senior administration officials. A second task force examining interrogation policy will get a two-month extension to complete its work, which had also been due Tuesday.

"These are hard, complicated, consequential decisions," one official said in a White House briefing in which four officials spoke to reporters on the condition that the officials not be named. "What we are trying to do is to make sure that we make the right decisions. And so they are looked at, they are reviewed and re-reviewed. By teeing them up to the president, we want to make sure that we have looked at every single angle, because he will challenge us on these issues."

The officials said the administration remains committed to closing the prison in Cuba by January 2010, as Obama ordered, but the delays are an indication of the political and legal complexities of making good on the president's timeline.

Some of the Guantanamo Bay detainees may be deemed too dangerous to release but also too difficult to prosecute in federal court or before a military commission.
Officials said Monday that it is still unclear how many Guantanamo Bay prisoners might be placed in some system of prolonged detention, and how that system might be structured. But they said that Obama will seek congressional backing for any system and not unilaterally assert his authority to hold detainees indefinitely under the laws of war. Officials had previously said they were considering an executive order to establish a system of indefinite detention.

"There is no intent in the administration to rely on anything other than congressional authority," said one senior administration official. He said any system of prolonged detention would include periodic follow-up reviews on whether a detainee continued to pose a threat to national security.

A separate interagency task force is examining the cases of the 229 detainees who remain at Guantanamo Bay, and is on track to complete its work by October. Officials said more than half those cases have been reviewed, with recommendations to transfer more than 50 detainees home or to third countries, and to prosecute others.

While the task force report focusing on detention policy has been delayed, officials released an interim report on Monday evening. It said the decision on where to prosecute detainees will be made by lawyers from the Justice Department's national security division, along with personnel from the Defense Department, including military prosecutors. Various factors will be considered, including the need to protect intelligence sources and methods, and "evidentiary problems that might attend prosecution in the other jurisdiction," according to the report.

The report does not specify what kind of evidentiary problems might arise. Human rights groups argue that military commissions, even if restructured, offer a lower standard of justice because of the ability, in some circumstances, to allow in evidence obtained under duress.

The six-month delay in deciding on detention policy, coupled with the need to craft and pass legislation, suggests that the closing of Guantanamo Bay will come down to the wire. In separate interviews, some administration officials have said they fear the closing date could slide.

One official said that, in its efforts to resettle detainees, the government is making "good progress with a number of European countries and countries outside of Europe." He cited, in particular, the Pacific island of Palau, which has offered to settle Chinese Uighurs held at Guantanamo Bay who have been ordered released by the courts. Four Uighurs have been resettled in Bermuda.

The official said some countries are willing to help the administration even though Congress has barred the administration from resettling any detainees in the United States.

"If there are constraints, that's the terrain we have to deal with, and we will," one official



RAF jet crashes in Afghanistan as four NATO troops killed

Britain has around 9,000 troops in Afghanistan





By Nasrat Shoaib (AFP)
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A British fighter jet crashed in Afghanistan on Monday injuring two pilots, while four NATO troops were killed in a bomb blast as foreign casualties soar in the war-torn country.

The crash and the unrelated killing of a British soldier in a bomb attack Sunday -- bringing to 17 the number killed so far this month -- was likely to spark renewed political debate in London over Britain's role in the conflict.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) meanwhile said that four soldiers were killed in a bomb blast Monday in the east of the country, but gave no details on their nationalities.


Western military casualties have hit record levels in Afghanistan as foreign governments scramble extra troops to the war-torn nation hoping to ease an increasingly virulent Taliban insurgency ahead of elections on August 20.

Mohammad Aslam Yar, a spokesman for the southern Kandahar air base, said an ISAF fighter jet crashed early Monday at the airfield, which is at the biggest military base in the south, a Taliban stronghold.

"There were two pilots who ejected and were taken to a military hospital inside the base for treatment. Apart from that there are no other casualties. No enemy fire was involved," Yar told AFP.

A defence ministry spokeswoman in London told AFP the jet was a Royal Air Force Tornado GR4, but ruled out insurgent activity as the cause of the crash. "Their next of kin have been told that they have been injured. The assessment's going on at the hospital in the base," the spokeswoman said.

On Sunday, a civilian-contracted helicopter crashed on take-off at Kandahar airbase, killing 16 civilians. On Saturday, two US crew were killed when their jet went down in the southeastern province of Ghazni, a Taliban hotbed.

Officials denied that either crash was caused by enemy fire, although Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for another helicopter crash that killed seven people last Tuesday in the southern province of Helmand.

Air traffic has increased recently in the south with the arrival of thousands of extra Western troops on a mission to stabilise the country with the Taliban insurgency at its deadliest since the 2001 US-led invasion.

Military casualties have surged in recent weeks as about 4,000 US Marines and thousands of British and Afghan forces battle their way into Taliban strongholds in the south in separate assaults launched in June and July.

The defence ministry in London confirmed that a British soldier from The 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers was killed by an explosion while on a foot patrol Sunday in Helmand.

The death brings to 186 the number of British troops who have died in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion. Of these, at least 154 were killed in hostile action and 17 have been killed this month.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has faced stinging criticism from the main opposition party that his government is denying troops vital resources, after Britain suffered eight deaths within 24 hours in Afghanistan last week.

There are about 90,000 foreign troops, mainly US, British and Canadian, deployed in Afghanistan to help Kabul fight the Taliban insurgency.

According to the independent www.icasualties-org website, which tracks military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, around 208 foreign soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this year without counting the ISAF deaths Monday.

In other unrest, 11 civilians were killed and two others wounded Sunday when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb planted by insurgents in southwestern Farah province, deputy provincial governor Mohammad Yunus Rasouli told AFP.

In northern Kunduz province, two civilians were killed and two others wounded Sunday when German and local forces opened fire on a car that failed to slow down at a checkpoint, a press release from the German forces said.

Clinton says US will do everything to free soldier

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States will do everything it can to find and free an American soldier captured in Afghanistan and whose detention was aired on video.





WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States will do everything it can to find and free an American soldier captured in Afghanistan and whose detention was aired on video.

The video, portions of which were posted on YouTube on the Internet, shows Private Bowe Bergdahl, 23, of Idaho in traditional Afghan dress, being prompted in English by his captors to call for U.S. forces to be withdrawn from Afghanistan.



"We are attempting to do everything we can to locate him and free him," Clinton, who is in India, said in an interview aired on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday.

"It's just outrageous," she said. "It's a real sign of desperation and inappropriate criminal behavior on the parts of these terrorist groups, so we are going to do everything we can to get him."

The U.S. military has denounced the video as Taliban propaganda that violated international law.

(Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Eric Beech)


Photos from Phnom Trop, Preah Vihear province

(337 miles) north of Phnom Penh,





Cambodia soldiers patrol on the top of Phnom Trop, near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 19, 2008. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Thai troops stand guard on the top of Phnom Trop mountain near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 19, 2008. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea


Cambodian soldiers stand guard while Cambodian and Thai commanders have a negotiation about a reset of soldier zones of the Cambodian-Thai border at the frontline on top of the mountain Phnom Trop about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) east of the famed Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008. Thai and Cambodian field commanders worked Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008, to strengthen a fragile truce following a deadly gun battle between their soldiers stationed on the border. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)


A Cambodian soldier carries Thailand's B-40 rocket that he found on the ground last week back to Thai soldiers during a negotiation about a reset of soldier zones of the Cambodian-Thai border at the frontline on top of the mountain Phnom Trop about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) east of the famed Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008. Thai and Cambodian field commanders worked Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008, to strengthen a fragile truce following a deadly gun battle between their soldiers stationed on the border. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)


A Cambodian soldier carries a cow's leg on the way up to Phnom Trop mountain near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 19, 2008. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea


Cambodian troops patrol on the top of Phnom Trop mountain near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 19, 2008. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea


Cambodian troops patrol on the top of Phnom Trop mountain near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 19, 2008. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian troops patrol on the top of Phnom Trop mountain near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 19, 2008. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea



Photographer Showcases Legendary Khmer Temple Preah Vihear

Photo of Preah Vihear by Jon Ortner





Guarded by giant seven-headed serpent gods high on a mountain, on the border between Thailand and Cambodia, is an ancient sacred site that's often been at the center of conflict.
Jon Ortner, photographer and author of the book "Angkor, Celestial Temples of the Khmer Empire," shares his first encounters and impressions of the thousand-year-old sanctuary Preah Vihear in this essay of words and photos composed especially for NatGeo News Watch.





By Jon Ortner

Special Contributor to NatGeo News Watch

"Sir, you cannot go!" My heart sank as the harsh voice of a Thailand border patrol officer rang out, "If you go...boom, boom, boom."

I looked through the military binoculars the guard handed me. Across the valley, surrounded by thick piles of sand bags, was a bunker. In it was a group of young soldiers, members of the feared Khmer Rouge.

Casually smoking cigarettes, they were aiming a machine gun directly at us.

No other explanation necessary.

Our disappointment, hard to accept, was tempered by the stern and rugged faces of the men behind the machine gun. We needed no reminder that this place had a history of serious conflict.


My wife Martha and I were traveling along the rugged Dangrek Mountains where Thailand and Cambodia share a much-disputed border--and which is also home to some of the most magnificent temples in Asia.

It was March 1997, and we were approaching our objective, the reason we had traveled so far.

Our driver had stopped the car and motioned for us to start walking. Strangely alone, we walked down the empty road for 20 minutes.

After about a mile we approached what appeared to be a military border post. Partially dug into the ground, it was protected by walls of sand bags.

Across a forested valley we could see a mountain. A long flat plateau ran up its flank leading to the summit.

Scattered along the plateau, glinting in the harsh afternoon sun, were ancient ruins. Through the forest we could discern fragments of massive walls, terraces and piles of huge stones scattered about.

We were getting our first tantalizing glimpse of the legendary temple of Preah Vihear.


Translated as the "holy monastery," Preah Vihear is one of the great architectural treasures of the world. Some experts consider it the most spectacularly situated of all the Khmer monuments.

We had been drawn there by the faintest of rumors that had been floating around Bangkok: We had heard that it might be possible to visit Preah Vihear, a remote shrine famous for its fine carvings.

I had long dreamt of an opportunity to explore and photograph Preah Vihear. I had heard it described as a premier repository of Hindu art and architecture and a masterpiece of the Khmer civilization.

But as I took a last glance at Preah Vihear in the distance, the Thai officer reminded me that visiting this unique and beautiful place was forbidden, and that no attempt should be made to cross the border a few hundred yards away.

A monk stands beside the collapsed tower (prang) of the innermost sanctuary. The courtyard is enclosed by galleries.

Photo by Jon Ortner

Tragically, Preah Vihear had been taken over by the last desperate vestiges of the Khmer Rouge. Their notorious leader, Pol Pot, accused of murdering perhaps as many as two million of his countrymen, was hiding nearby in the small village of Anlong Veng. It was not until his death in April of 1998 and the surrender of the last Khmer Rouge forces that the area became safe to visit once again.

Attributed to the reign of Yasovarman I, who ruled from AD 889-910, the temple was maintained and embellished over a 300-year period by as many as seven kings.

Lord of the Summit

Constructed as a monastic sanctuary, it was dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva in his manifestation as the Shikhareshvara, Lord of the Summit.

Preah Vihear sits atop a 1,700-foot cliff named Pey Ta Di, The promontory on which it is built is part of a chain of heavily forested peaks that form the border of Thailand and Cambodia. And it is this geography that has put Preah Vihear at the center of conflict.

Although Preah Vihear was originally placed clearly within Cambodia on the first border maps drawn up in the early 1900s, its precarious location on the top of a peak has traditionally made access easier from the Thai side.


The pediment on the gopura of the second level illustrates the Hindu myth of creation, "The Churning of the Sea of Milk."

Photo by Jon Ortner

Thailand has had a long history of disagreement with the placement of the border with Cambodia, which has led to repeated armed clashes between the two nations. The matter was brought to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and in July 1962 Cambodia was awarded official ownership of the temple and its precincts.

Civil war broke out in Cambodia in 1970 and by May of 1977 Preah Vihear was fully controlled by the Khmer Rouge.

Invasion by Vietnam

From 1979 through 1989 Vietnam invaded and occupied Cambodia, trying to rescue the country from the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge.

The continuation of guerilla warfare throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, and the planting of land mines in the area surrounding Preah Vihear, kept it completely off limits.

During those decades no one knew if warfare or theft had severely damaged or even destroyed the delicate and irreplaceable art and architecture of the shrine.

A stable government was seated in Phnom Penh by September 1998, and by 2000 Preah Vihear was again open for visits from the Thai side.

The gopura, or entrance pavilion, of the first level is ornamented with an unusual diamond-shaped decoration at the top of the gable."

Photo by Jon Ortner

In November 2000, finding ourselves once more based in Bangkok, Martha agreed to try to visit Preah Vihear again. We flew from Bangkok to Ubon, then drove toward the border.

After staying overnight in the town of Kantharalak, we approached the first Thai check post early the next morning. My knees were weak with anticipation as we passed through in the direction of Cambodia. Again we were let off by the driver and told to start walking.

Soon we were crossing a footbridge across a small stream. We opened a wire gate and walked through. Chain-link fences heavily festooned with barbed wire extended from us. Our attention was immediately drawn to the ominous warning signs of land mines. They directed us, convincingly, not to step off the path.

Photo of Martha and Jon Ortner courtesy Jon Ortner

We crossed the actual border, then, walking uphill, we soon came to a small market. We were practically alone, didn't see any other westerners, and had to ask where we could find the Cambodian border guard to stamp our passports.

After paying visa fees and getting our papers stamped, we were on our way.

Just ahead we could see the beginning of an ancient stone stairway, almost 30 feet wide at its base. Its massive steps were made of single slabs, some hewn directly out of the mountain.

At the top we emerged onto a platform, flanked by a pair of giant seven-headed Nagas, or snakes. Protectors of the underworld, granters of the monsoon rains, controllers of the sacred rivers, they guarded and sanctified the grounds we were about to enter.


Naga, a seven-headed serpent god, at the entrance of Preah Vihear.

Photo by Jon Ortner

When we reached the lowest pavilion we were greeted by a group of young Cambodian soldiers. Very friendly and eager to practice their English, they welcomed us to Cambodia and to Preah Vihear.

Our first impressions of the temple were overpowering. The carving was some of the most beautiful and detailed that we had ever seen, reminding us of the intricate work we had observed at the miniature pink temple of Banteay Srei, near Angkor. At Preah Vihear the colors of the stone glowed richly in shades of tan, yellow, and russet. Faint traces of the original red paint were visible.

Lichens and mosses fed by the persistent cool and foggy conditions had grown over everything. A living patina covered the crumbled ruins of towers, walls and colossal foundations. It had the appearance of great age, and as we wondered through it we imagined we heard echoes of prayers and the chants of veneration accorded it over the centuries.

Spiritual Power

Slightly overgrown with tall grasses swaying in the breeze, Preah Vihear gave us a vision of a place that still resonates with an indescribable spiritual power. We felt as if we had entered a forgotten paradise whose sanctity somehow still infuses every stone, every leaf, and each moment in time.

For two glorious days we explored, discovered and were mesmerized by the complexity, the elegance, and the overpowering beauty of the location and the shrine itself.

Aside from a few Thai tourists, we were almost completely by ourselves. Only now do we realize what an extraordinary experience it truly was.

As we walked through immense hallways, giant stone colonnades arranged in rows spoke of the power and grandeur of these structures.

When we reached the main sanctuary situated on the summit of the mountain, what struck us so notably was that, unlike most of the other Khmer temples we had studied and photographed, this one was not enclosed by vegetation.

Surprisingly it was neither overgrown by dense jungle nor shaded by tall tropical trees. Instead, it was open to the sky, with expansive views in all directions.

Yet the temple faced south, and its purpose was not for the enjoyment of scenic views, but for introspection, meditation, and worship of the Hindu gods. The cliff upon which it sat was sheer and extended far out over the plain below. The main shrine was built at the very tip of this triangular promontory.

The courtyard enclosed by galleries contained a cruciform-shape mandapa or pavilion, and the ruins of a large prang or tower. It was likely that only the king and certain high priests would have been allowed in this inner sanctum.

Here we found a solitary monk, standing quietly, as delicate and shy as a forest deer.

Illuminated by the late afternoon light, his robe glowed deep orange, the color sacred to both Hindu and Buddhist ascetics. He kindly gave us blessings for having arrived at the end of our journey, the very heart of Preah Vihear.

Its inaccessible location on top of the peak gave the whole complex a feeling of mystical isolation. It was an earthly representation of the mythological abode of Shiva on celestial Mount Meru high in the Himalaya.


On the fourth level, square pillars once supported a tiled, wooden roof of a grand hall leading to the inner enclosure.

Photo by Jon Ortner

Unlike the gargantuan temple-cities of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, monuments that projected the unlimited power of the gods and the kings, Preah Vihear was constructed as a monastic retreat, a hermitage and the distant outpost of the empire.

The levels of the temple symbolize the progressive stages of spiritual evolution through the higher states of consciousness, and ultimately to nirvana.

As we ascended the levels of the shrine, we were aware of the deeply held belief that the levels of the temple symbolize the progressive stages of spiritual evolution through the higher states of consciousness, and ultimately to nirvana or enlightenment.

Almost everywhere we looked, carved into the lintels and pediments above each doorway were scenes of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, the trinity of great Hindu gods.

Looking down upon us they were forever frozen in time, enacting their elaborate roles in the cosmic drama, the stories of creation, destruction, war and love, from the Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

World Heritage Site

In 2008 Preah Vihear was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which should have brought additional protection to the site.

But by July 2008 there were renewed tensions as the boundary issue flared again. Sporadic fighting has continued, and in April 2009 Thai rockets fired across the border destroyed a Cambodian market. At least 11 soldiers have died in the last year during this series of skirmishes.

Currently the temple is again off limits.

Perhaps some kind of international park with the shrine open from both Thailand and Cambodia may be the only way to resolve the stand-off.

We can only hope that soon the thousand-year-old Preah Vihear and its sacred mountain will once again be open to elevate the aspirations of mankind and to inspire with its beauty all who are privileged to see it.


Jon Ortner is the photographer and author of a number of photography books, including "Angkor: Celestial Temples of the Khmer Empire" (Abbeville Press, 2002).

The book contains more than 200 photographs (shot with 6x7cm medium-format cameras and Fuji Velvia 50 film), historic illustrations, maps, crhonology of sites, and floor plans. The photographs were created over a six-year period, starting in 1995 and ending in 2001, on numerous extended journeys to Cambodia and eastern Thailand.

Preah Vihear, Phnom Kulen, Kbal Spean, and Beng Mealea--areas closed for decades because of the activities of the Khmer Rouge--are among the many seldom-visited locations of Khmer sacred sites included in the book.





Cambodia, Thailand: Preah Vihear dispute continues

Two boys sit in the Temple. Photo by paniek at Flickr.




The ancient Temple of Preah Vihear, which, according to UNESCO, dates back to the eleventh century and is dedicated to Shiva, rests on the Cambodian and Thai borders. Exactly which country can claim Preah Vihear has been a source of contention between the neighboring countries. In 1962, the International Court of Justice, acting on an application by the Cambodian government, ruled that the Temple is within Cambodian territory. In July 2008, UNESCO listed the Temple as a World Heritage Site, citing its “unique architectural complex.”

Photo below by paniek at Flickr.
Since the July 2008 inscription by UNESCO, there has been violence in the region between Cambodian and Thai soldiers. However, as The Mirror reports, various Cambodian government officials have denied that the UNESCO listing is the reason behind the violence. Thailand has urged that UNESCO re-list the Temple so that it would be jointly managed by Thailand and Cambodia. The Mirror notes:


Based on the relevant UNESCO documents, and referenced here point by point, we bring additional information related to the procedures of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee and the listing of the Sacred Site of the Temple of Preah Vihear, which led to military confrontations, the loss of human life on both sides, and a sharp decline of tourism – all this has been reflected in different degrees in the Mirror during the last year.

Unfortunately, and to our surprise – in spite of the wide emotional concerns related to the Preah Vihear listing – the press in Cambodia has not reported much about the delicate and detailed legal and contractual arguments at the basis of the listing as a World Heritage Site, and the future obligations entered into by the Cambodian government.


But if the Cambodian press is failing to report on the implications of the listing, the Cambodian government is very much aware of the UNESCO designation. The Cambodian government recently recognized the one-year anniversary of UNESCO’s listing with singing, dancing and speeches. Photos of the event are available on Monkgol’s blog and at Khmerization.

Video of the festivities is available as well.
TVK Khmer News- 7 July 2009-2 Preah Vihear (UNESCO)
Uploaded by KampongSpeu.

The animosity between the two countries has manifested online as well, as Kounila Keo points out in her post entitled “I Love Khmer vs. I Love Thailand” about competing websites ilovethailand.org
and ilovekhmer.org.

Details are Sketchy, with comments from ThaRum, reports that the ilovethailand.org site is blocked in Cambodia, but it is unclear which side is censoring the site.

As hostilities continue, Sopheap Chak charges the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (”ASEAN”) for not fulfilling its duty to “promote regional peace and stability.” In an editorial published in UPI Asia, Chak writes that ASEAN’s passivity in the Preah Vihear matter is unacceptable. Chak writes that “[i]t seems that ASEAN is simply irrelevant when it comes to member states’ security…[and that continued lack of action will mean] ASEAN cannot continue to be considered a crucial regional body.”
Proceedings in the case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear, between Cambodia and Thailand, were instituted on 6 October 1959 by an Application of the Government of Cambodia; the Government of Thailand having raised two preliminary objections, the Court, by its Judgment of 26 May 1961, found that it had jurisdiction.

In its Judgment on the merits the Court, by nine votes to three, found that the Temple of Preah Vihear was situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia and, in consequence, that Thailand was under an obligation to withdraw any military or police forces, or other guards or keepers, stationed by her at the Temple, or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory.

By seven votes to five, the Court found that Thailand was under an obligation to restore to Cambodia any sculptures, stelae, fragments of monuments, sandstone model and ancient pottery which might, since the date of the occupation of the Temple by Thailand in 1954, have been removed from the Temple or the Temple area by the Thai authorities.

Judge Tanaka and Judge Morelli appended to the Judgment a Joint Declaration. Vice-President Alfaro and Judge Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice appended Separate Opinions; Judges Moreno Quintana, Wellington Koo and Sir Percy Spender appended Dissenting Opinions.

*

* *

In its Judgment, the Court found that the subject of the dispute was sovereignty over the region of the Temple of Preah Vihear. This ancient sanctuary, partially in ruins, stood on a promontory of the Dangrek range of mountains which constituted the boundary between Cambodia and Thailand. The dispute had its fons et origo in the boundary settlements made in the period 1904-1908 between France, then conducting the foreign relations of Indo-China, and Siam. The application of the Treaty of 13 February 1904 was, in particular, involved. That Treaty established the general character of the frontier the exact boundary of which was to be delimited by a Franco-Siamese Mixed Commission

In the eastern sector of the Dangrek range, in which Preah Vihear was situated, the frontier was to follow the watershed line. For the purpose of delimiting that frontier, it was agreed, at a meeting held on 2 December 1906, that the Mixed Commission should travel along the Dangrek range carrying out all the necessary reconnaissance, and that a survey officer of the French section of the Commission should survey the whole of the eastern part of the range. It had not been contested that the Presidents of the French and Siamese sections duly made this journey, in the course of which they visited the Temple of Preah Vihear. In January-February 1907, the President of the French section had reported to his Government that the frontier-line had been definitely established. It therefore seemed clear that a frontier had been surveyed and fixed, although there was no record of any decision and no reference to the Dangrek region in any minutes of the meetings of the Commission after 2 December 1906. Moreover, at the time when the Commission might have met for the purpose of winding up its work, attention was directed towards the conclusion of a further Franco-Siamese boundary treaty, the Treaty of 23 March 1907.

The final stage of the delimitation was the preparation of maps. The Siamese Government, which did not dispose of adequate technical means, had requested that French officers should map the frontier region. These maps were completed in the autumn of 1907 by a team of French officers, some of whom had been members of the Mixed Commission, and they were communicated to the Siamese Government in 1908. Amongst them was a map of the Dangrek range showing Preah Vihear on the Cambodian side. It was on that map (filed as Annex I to its Memorial) that Cambodia had principally relied in support of her claim to sovereignty over the Temple. Thailand, on the other hand, had contended that the map, not being the work of the Mixed Commission, had no binding character; that the frontier indicated on it was not the true watershed line and that the true watershed line would place the Temple in Thailand, that the map had never been accepted by Thailand or, alternatively, that if Thailand had accepted it she had done so only because of a mistaken belief that the frontier indicated corresponded with the watershed line.

The Annex I map was never formally approved by the Mixed Commission, which had ceased to function some months before its production. While there could be no reasonable doubt that it was based on the work of the surveying officers in the Dangrek sector, the Court nevertheless concluded that, in its inception, it had no binding character. It was clear from the record, however, that the maps were communicated to the Siamese Government as purporting to represent the outcome of the work of delimitation; since there was no reaction on the part of the Siamese authorities, either then or for many years, they must be held to have acquiesced. The maps were moreover communicated to the Siamese members of the Mixed Commission, who said nothing. to the Siamese Minister of the Interior, Prince Damrong, who thanked the French Minister in Bangkok for them, and to the Siamese provincial governors, some of whom knew of Preah Vihear. If the Siamese authorities accepted the Annex I map without investigation, they could not now plead any error vitiating the reality of their consent.

The Siamese Government and later the Thai Government had raised no query about the Annex I map prior to its negotiations with Cambodia in Bangkok in 1958. But in 1934-1935 a survey had established a divergence between the map line and the true line of the watershed, and other maps had been produced showing the Temple as being in Thailand: Thailand had nevertheless continued also to use and indeed to publish maps showing Preah Vihear as lying in Cambodia. Moreover, in the course of the negotiations for the 1925 and 1937 Franco-Siamese Treaties, which confirmed the existing frontiers, and in 1947 in Washington before the Franco-Siamese Conciliation Commission, it would have been natural for Thailand to raise the matter: she did not do so. The natural inference was that she had accepted the frontier at Preah Vihear as it was drawn on the map, irrespective of its correspondence with the watershed line. Thailand had stated that having been, at all material times, in possession of Preah Vihear, she had had no need to raise the matter; she had indeed instanced the acts of her administrative authorities on the ground as evidence that she had never accepted the Annex I line at Preah Vihear. But the Court found it difficult to regard such local acts as negativing the consistent attitude of the central authorities. Moreover, when in 1930 Prince Damrong, on a visit to the Temple, was officially received there by the French Resident for the adjoining Cambodian province, Siam failed to react.

From these facts, the court concluded that Thailand had accepted the Annex I map. Even if there were any doubt in this connection, Thailand was not precluded from asserting that she had not accepted it since France and Cambodia had relied upon her acceptance and she had for fifty years enjoyed such benefits as the Treaty of 1904 has conferred on her. Furthermore, the acceptance of the Annex I map caused it to enter the treaty settlement; the Parties had at that time adopted an interpretation of that settlement which caused the map line to prevail over the provisions of the Treaty and, as there was no reason to think that the Parties had attached any special importance to the line of the watershed as such, as compared with the overriding importance of a final regulation of their own frontiers, the Court considered that the interpretation to be given now would be the same.

The Court therefore felt bound to pronounce in favour of the frontier indicated on the Annex I map in the disputed area and it became unnecessary to consider whether the line as mapped did in fact correspond to the true watershed line.

For these reasons, the Court upheld the submissions of Cambodia concerning sovereignty over Preah Vihear.

Invading Thai troops are now inside Preah Vihear temple compound

Thai soldier stand inside a cambodia Buddhist temple near the Preas Vihear




A Thai army soldier stands inside a Cambodian Buddhist temple near the Preah Vihear temple, in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Wednesday, July 16, 2008. Cambodian officials said more Thai troops crossed into their country's territory Wednesday in the second day of alleged incursions amid tensions over disputed border land near the historic Preah Vihear temple. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)





Cambodian soldiers (L and 2nd R) hold radios as they stand guard over a group of soldiers from Thailand (background and R) in the Preah Vihear temple compound, 245km north of Phnom Penh, July 16, 2008. Thailand and Cambodia moved on Wednesday to ratchet down tensions on their border where hundreds of troops face each other over a disputed ancient temple. Senior Thai and Cambodian officials were trying to negotiate an end to the stand-off, triggered by Thai protests against the the listing of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site earlier this month, Thailand's Supreme Commander, Boonsrang Niumpradit, told Reuters. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea



Cambodian soldiers are deployed in the Preah Vihaer temple compound, 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 16, 2008. Thailand and Cambodia moved on Wednesday to ratchet down tensions on their border where hundreds of troops face each other over a disputed ancient temple. Senior Thai and Cambodian officials were trying to negotiate an end to the stand-off, triggered by Thai protests against the the listing of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site earlier this month, Thailand's Supreme Commander, Boonsrang Niumpradit, told Reuters. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian Army soldiers walk as they guard near Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Wednesday, July 16, 2008. Cambodian officials said more Thai troops crossed into their country's territory Wednesday in the second day of alleged incursions amid tensions over disputed border land near a historic temple. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)


Cambodian soldiers are deployed in the Preah Vihaer temple compound, 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 16, 2008. Thailand and Cambodia moved on Wednesday to ratchet down tensions on their border where hundreds of troops face each other over a disputed ancient temple. Senior Thai and Cambodian officials were trying to negotiate an end to the stand-off, triggered by Thai protests against the the listing of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site earlier this month, Thailand's Supreme Commander, Boonsrang Niumpradit, told Reuters. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian soldiers stand guard in Preah Vihear temple compound, 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 16, 2008. Thailand and Cambodia moved on Wednesday to ratchet down tensions on their border where hundreds of troops face each other over a disputed ancient temple. Senior Thai and Cambodian officials were trying to negotiate an end to the stand-off, triggered by Thai protests against the the listing of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site earlier this month, Thailand's Supreme Commander, Boonsrang Niumpradit, told Reuters. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea


A Cambodian soldier (R) takes a photo of Thai soldiers on his cellphone at the Cekakiri Svarak pagoda in the Preah Vihear temple compound near the Cambodian-Thai border, 245km (142 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 16, 2008. Thailand and Cambodia moved on Wednesday to ratchet down tensions on their border where hundreds of troops face each other over a disputed ancient temple. Senior Thai and Cambodian officials were trying to negotiate an end to the stand-off, triggered by Thai protests against the the listing of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site earlier this month, Thailand's Supreme Commander, Boonsrang Niumpradit, told Reuters. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea


Thai soldiers rest in the Preah Vihear temple compound, 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 16, 2008. Thailand and Cambodia moved on Wednesday to ratchet down tensions on their border where hundreds of troops face each other over a disputed ancient temple. Senior Thai and Cambodian officials were trying to negotiate an end to the stand-off, triggered by Thai protests against the the listing of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site earlier this month, Thailand's Supreme Commander, Boonsrang Niumpradit, told Reuters. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea


A Cambodian man watches a soldier from Thailand (R) in the Preah Vihear temple compound 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 16, 2008. Thailand and Cambodia moved on Wednesday to ratchet down tensions on their border where hundreds of troops face each other over a disputed ancient temple. Senior Thai and Cambodian officials were trying to negotiate an end to the stand-off, triggered by Thai protests against the the listing of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site earlier this month, Thailand's Supreme Commander, Boonsrang Niumpradit, told Reuters. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea