Khmer Krom Ask Heng Samrin To Help Monks

Two Khmer Krom support groups sent a letter to National Assem­bly President Heng Samrin on Monday asking him to intercede with Vietnamese authorities on behalf of 13 Buddhist monks they allege have been defrocked and three who have gone missing in Vietnam in recent weeks.

“We do hope Samdech Heng Samrin could help us by speaking to Vietnam’s National Assembly,” said Tang Sarah, president of the Cambodia chapter of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, which co-wrote the letter with the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Budd­hist Monk Association.

Heng Samrin said Monday that he had not yet received the letter, but added that Khmer Krom monks are not a Cambodian issue. “We all know Kampuchea Krom is in Vietnam,” he said.

The call for political intervention came on the heels of two violent episodes involving Khmer Krom monks in Phnom Penh.

On Friday civilians and local Buddhist monks clashed with ethnic Khmer monks from southern Vietnam as they protested outside Phnom Penh’s Wat Ounalom. On Saturday a Khmer Krom monk, Seon Hay, 26, was beaten by a group of young men attending a dance at Wat Kork Chambok in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district, said Thach Setha, president of the Khmer Krom Association in Cam­bodia.

The monk suffered head and chest injuries, said Man Sop­heara, a physician for rights group Licadho who treated him.

Mam Hau, the deputy police chief for Dangkao district’s Choam Chau commune, said a young man with a hand injury filed a complaint Monday accusing the monk of starting the fight. “Police will begin an investigation today,” he added.

Yoeun Sin, 72, who heads the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Bud­dhist Monk Association, said Khmer Krom monks in Cambodia feel they have no protection from the government.

“We really suffer,” he said. “We don’t feel safe.”


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