As dozens of armed police officers stood watch, relatives and friends of missing Khmer Krom monk Tim Sakhorn delivered a petition Friday morning to the National Assembly seeking help from the government in the hunt to find him.
Earlier, around 50 uniformed and plainclothes officers took up position outside the headquarters of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Organization’s office in Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district where a news conference was held to appeal for assistance in locating Tim Sakhorn.
“I went everywhere, [but] I still could not find him,” Tim Sakhorn’s father, Tim Theam, told reporters. “Whether my son is alive or already dead, I don’t know…please help me find justice,” the 80-year-old said.
Yoeung Sin, president of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Buddhist Monks Association, said the campaign to locate Tim Sakhorn would continue until he is found—dead or alive. “If he is dead, please show the body, and if he is alive, please show the man,” he said.
After the half-hour news conference, about 10 Khmer Krom petitioners accompanied by observers from local human rights groups and the UN’s human rights office set out on foot to the nearby National Assembly building.
The petitioners path to the Assembly was blocked by a police truck and another 50 or so policemen armed with AK-47s and batons, who prevented all but three people through to file their petition with lawmakers.
National Assembly and Honorary CPP President Heng Samrin said by telephone later that he was unsure what to do with the petition. “I don’t know where to send it to,” he said. “[Tim Sakhorn] is missing, I don’t know where he is. Maybe he went to his hometown in Kampuchea Krom—I don’t know,” he added.
Municipal police chief Touch Naruth said that the heavy police presence was to “protect” the petitioners. “Police went to protect them—not to crack down on them,” he said.
Tim Van, Tim Sakhorn’s younger brother, said that his family demands that the government assist them in finding his brother, but they fear that he is already dead.
“We have only the smallest hope that he would be alive,” he said.
Tim Sakhorn disappeared June 30 after being defrocked under orders by the country’s Great Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong.