Khmer Krom Buddhist laymen and relatives of missing Khmer Krom monk Tim Sakhorn traveled to Phnom Penh on July 18 to petition Prime Minister Hun Sen, the National Assembly and the Royal Palace to ensure the monk’s safe return.
Ang Chanrith, executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Organization, said that the 36 laymen and relatives plan to gather in front of the National Assembly at 9 am July 20 to deliver their petition and then do the same at the Royal Palace and Hun Sen’s house near Independence Monument.
“We want the prime minister and the National Assembly to intervene to find the monk Tim Sakhorn,” Ang Chanrith said.
The 36 hail from Phnom Den commune in Takeo province’s Kiri Vong district, which is where Tim Sakhorn headed a pagoda until he disappeared June 30, after being defrocked on the orders of Great Supreme Buddhist Patriarch Tep Vong.
Tep Vong accused Tim Sakhorn of undermining ties with Hanoi by trying to establish a religious movement out of his pagoda.
Officials have given conflicting accounts of what then happened to Tim Sakhorn, including conformation that he was sent to Vietnam, allegedly voluntarily. But several other officials have denied knowing anything of the missing monk’s current location. Human rights workers believe the monk was abducted and deported and is being held against his will.
“I want to meet Prime Minister Hun Sen to ask for his intervention to seek justice for my son,” Tim Sakhorn’s father Tim Tean said in Phnom Penh on July 19. “My son has been missing for a month already. I don’t know whether he is alive or dead.”
Tim Tean also said that claims broadcast on the state-run TVK claiming that his son had had an affair with a woman were false.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said that the group could submit their petitions. He also claimed that Tim Sakhorn asked to be sent to Vietnam and that he did not know his whereabouts now.