Protest Threatened Over Teacher’s Removal for Anti-CPP Lesson

The Cambodia Independent Teachers’ Association has threatened to burn car tires in front of the Ministry of Education if it does not reinstate a teacher who was removed for allegedly encouraging his students to dislike Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling CPP, officials said Friday.

“This is not an empty threat; I am going to protest and burn tires in front of the Ministry of Education within a week or two,” CITA President Rong Chhun said by telephone Friday, adding that 150 teachers are scheduled to take part in the protest.

In a petition sent Thursday to Education Minister Im Sothy, which was obtained Friday, Rong Chhun demanded that 39-year-old Sun Thun be reinstated at Treal High School in Kompong Thom province, where he taught morality and civic education for about two decades.

Sun Thun, who is also director of the Kompong Thom chapter of CITA, was officially removed from his position by the ministry on Jan 27 for “unprofessional behavior.”

He was then ordered to begin teaching at Hun Sen Kreoul Andoung Por Junior High School, located about 15 km from his previous school.

More than 700 villagers and students have thumbprinted a petition seeking the reinstating of Sun Thun, Rong Chhun said, but that number was not confirmed by the ministry.

Education Ministry spokesman In The said by telephone Friday that the threat of protest would not affect the ministry’s decision to remove Sun Thun from his post.

“The removal of Sun Thun was done properly,” In The said.

“Before we made the decision, inspection officials had conducted investigations in the field several times and uncovered wrongdoing,” he said.

“It is within [Rong Chhun’s] rights to organize the protest, but this country has laws and our ministry also has its own disciplinary procedures,” he added.

Contacted by telephone Friday, Sun Thun said that he has visited his new workplace once to attend a meeting, but he does not want to validate the ministry’s decision for removing him by teaching there.

“I am struggling for the enforcement of freedom of expression,” Sun Thun said.

Treal High School Principal Te Kimsean said by telephone Friday that he would not allow Sun Thun to stir up anymore trouble at his school.

“[Sun Thun] did wrong and abused his professional position,” Te Kimsean said.

 

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