Monk Expelled by Clergy From Pagoda Over Alleged Attack

An activist monk has been given 48 hours to vacate Phnom Penh’s Wat Neakavorn after allegedly attacking a fellow monk on Thurs­day evening, according to the pagoda’s chief monk.

Keo Somaly, 34, a member of the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice, has been or­dered to leave the pagoda by midnight Saturday after allegedly kicking and punching fellow monk Long Chheng Hy, 29, said chief monk Ngin Khim. 

“First we stripped him of his position as the head of a dormitory and we ordered him to leave the pagoda within 48 hours for causing injury to another monk,” said Ngin Khim, adding that he would take “further action” if the monk had not vacated the premises in time.

Ngin Khim said the decision to expel Keo Somaly was made during a meeting Friday with officials from the Ministry of Cult and Re­ligion, local authorities and senior monks at the pagoda.

Keo Somaly denied the accusations of assault and claimed he was being framed for the attack.

“I didn’t beat the injured monk; how can I accept this unfair decision to expel me and strip me from my position as the dormitory head?” he said, adding that Long Chheng Hy had actually attacked him.

“The pagoda chief is trying to frame me because I don’t listen to them when they tell me to keep my mouth shut,” Keo Somaly said.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for rights group Licadho, who attended the meeting between officials and clergy, called for further review of the decision and noted the targeting of activist monks by authorities in recent days.

“There should be further investigation before making a decision to expel him,” said Mr. Sam Ath. “It seems there is a plan to target those who are activist monks who are actively participating in social work and advocating for victims of housing and land rights abuses.”

Phorn Thavy, head of the mu­nicipal department of cult and religion, could not be reached for comment.

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