Khmer Krom Groups Protest Monks’ Defrocking

Nine Khmer Kampuchea Krom organizations and some 300 villagers from Svay Rieng province’s Rumduol district issued a petition Tuesday protesting the defrocking and deportation of two ethnic Khmer Vietnamese Buddhist monks last week.

The monks, Sren Soung, 68, and Pov Socheat, 24, were de­frocked Nov 12, accused of illegally entering Cambodia and were sent back to Vietnam soon after, officials said.

The Khmer Krom organizations and villagers from Rumduol district, where the monks were residing, condemned their deportation as unjust in the petition, addressed to the Ministry of Interior and dated Tuesday.

“Both monks will be tortured or imprisoned in Vietnam,” said opposition Senator Thach Setha, head of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community and a signatory of the petition, said Wednesday.“This is unfair for the Khmer Krom.”

In the petition, the groups urged the Ministry of Interior to take legal action against the officials responsible for the monks’ deportation, calling it an “abduction.”

According to the statement, both monks originally hailed from Rumduol district, but fled Cam­bo­dia during the Khmer Rouge regime to live in Vietnam in the area formerly held by Cambodia, known as Kampuchea Krom.

They returned to Rumduol district in June and were living there until they were accused of illegally entering the country, the petition added.

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