Pagoda Warns of Protests Over Arrest of Monks

The chief monk at Phnom Penh’s Wat Samakki Raingsey said on Friday that he would organize protests in the capital if two former monks who were arrested earlier this month for possession of drugs and fake documents were not released next week.

Speaking at a press conference at the pagoda, Thach Ha Sam Ang said the arrests of ethnic Khmer Krom monks Dav Tep, 28, and Chea Vanda, 30, at Angtaminh pagoda on August 1 were politically motivated. 

“We see the arrested monks are from Kampuchea Krom, I think those monks were defrocked for the advantage of the Yuon government because they want the Khmer Krom in Vietnam to feel afraid of arrest,” he said, using an often derogatory term for Vietnamese.

“If the court doesn’t release the two monks, we will rally and demonstrate against the government until it releases them,” he said, giving Wednesday as a deadline.

The pair’s lawyer, Muth Piseth, said Mr. Vanda was scheduled to be questioned by the municipal court on Wednesday.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the monks must request permission to hold a demonstration or authorities “might take action.”

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