Tim Sakhorn, a Khmer Buddhist monk who was defrocked in Cambodia and then deported and jailed in his birth country of Vietnam, is struggling to get assurance from authorities that he will not be deported again.
Having been told by Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak to take the matter up with Takeo provincial police, Mr Tim Sakhorn met with provincial police chief Ouk Samnang on Thursday, said Ang Chanrith, executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Organization. However, Mr Ouk Samnang told Mr Tim Sakhorn, as well as members of the Kampuchea Khmer Krom community and a UN rights official who joined him on the trip, that he could not help and told Mr Tim Sakhorn to try talking to the Interior Ministry, Mr Ang Chanrith said.
“We asked the Interior Ministry officials to compromise with Tim Sakhorn and they referred us to provincial police,” Mr Ang Chanrith said. “We were so sad when the police did not respond.”
Mr Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment Thursday, and Ouk Samnang told a reporter several times he was too busy to speak.
Speaking by telephone Thursday, Mr Tim Sakhorn called on King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow him to remain in Cambodia since he “did not want to live alone in Vietnam.”
Although he could not be reached by telephone for comment Thursday, Christophe Peschoux, country representative of the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said this week the office would meet with Mr Tim Sakhorn to “ascertain his situation, his rights and find out what he wants to do, and how his rights should be best protected,” he wrote in a Tuesday e-mail. “Being a Cambodian national, Mr Tim Sakhorn should be able to remain in Cambodia if he wishes so, and his citizen’s rights and safety should be protected by the Royal Government,” Mr Peschoux wrote.
(Additional reporting by Frank Radosevich)