Khmer Krom To Protest for Defrocked Monk

More than 100 Khmer Krom activists and monks plan to protest Friday in Phnom Penh’s Mean­chey district in an effort to press the Cambodian government to intervene in the imprisonment of defrocked Khmer Krom monk Tim Sakhorn in Vietnam.

The protest will be held inside Stung Meanchey commune’s Samakei Ransei pagoda on Aug 10 morning, Khmer Kampuchea Krom Coordination Committee Executive Director Kim Vannch­heng said Aug 15, adding that participants will stay within the compound with banners and signs rather than march.

“We have no choice because we have requested for the government to intervene [for] Tim Sak­horn to return to Cambodia. There is no response and no re­ply,” he said. “We have decided to gather to show the public that Tim Sakhorn is innocent.”

Kim Vannchheng said he had requested government permission to protest, but added that the demonstration would continue regardless of whether permission is granted.

Tim Sakhorn, who was chief of Phnom Den pagoda in Takeo province’s Kiri Vong district, disappeared June 30, the same day that he was defrocked for allegedly damaging relations with Hanoi.

The Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh announced Aug 2 that the missing monk was being detained in Vietnam and would be tried for political crimes resulting from his allegedly assisting the US-based Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong said that City Hall asked the Interior Ministry to consider granting permission for the protest, as it would take place within the confines of a pagoda. “[I]t is a small number of people, so there should not be a problem,” he said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu So­pheak said his ministry had not yet received the request from City Hall.

Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kan­harith said that the Cambodian government could not intervene with the Vietnamese government to bring Tim Sakhorn back to Cambodia.

“Do we allow the Vietnamese government to intervene and [bring] Vietnamese who commit crimes in Cambodia to Vietnam? Each county has its own sovereignty,” he said.

Khieu Kanharith added, however, that he will write to Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry to ask them to inquire about the case through diplomatic channels. He said the Cambodian consulate in Vietnam was still waiting for Vietnamese officials to reply to questions that were posed to them about the charges against the monk.

Vietnamese Embassy spokes­man Trinh Ba Cam said that groups had the right to protest because Cambodia is a free country, but reiterated that his government could not send Tim Sakhorn back.

“Tim Sakhorn is a Vietnamese citizen,” Trinh Ba Cam said. “He committed a crime in Vietnam and cannot be sent back to Cambodia.”


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