Activist Monk Booted Out of Pagoda in Phnom Penh

The head monks at Phnom Penh’s Stung Meanchey pagoda on Sunday voted to kick out activist monk Soeung Hai, who was defrocked and jailed for participating in a protest in November and returned to the pagoda following his release last month.

Abbot Thai Bunthoeun said the pagoda’s head monks met Sunday afternoon and agreed to tell Mr. Hai to leave because he had been defrocked.

“He came to live at the pagoda illegally.

After he left prison, he did not become a monk again properly,” he said.

The decision followed a press conference that Mr. Hai held at the pagoda Sunday morning to denounce Cambodia’s judicial system and the conditions inside its prisons.

Mr. Hai is also an outspoken critic of Vietnam over its treatment of ethnic Khmer who live in the country’s south—a former territory of the Khmer Empire known as Kampuchea Krom and—and has led Vietnamese-flag-burning protests in front of the country’s embassy in Phnom Penh.

On Sunday, Mr. Hai said he would comply with the order to leave the pagoda, but that he disagreed with the decision because he still considered himself a bona fide monk.

“This is discrimination against Kampuchea Krom because I speak out against Vietnam,” he added.

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