TVK Reports on Defrocked Monk’s Alleged Affair

Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said July 4 that he ordered the state-run TVK channel to air a news report on the alleged lover of a Khmer Krom monk who rights workers say has been abducted.

The Interior Ministry and Bud­dhist officials said July 2 that Tim Sakhorn, chief of Phnom Den pagoda in Takeo province’s Kiri Vong dis­trict, had been defrocked June 30 for damaging Cambodian-Viet­namese relations and had willingly returned to Vietnam.

However, local rights group Ad­hoc on July 3 accused Cam­bo­dian authorities of having forcibly de­ported Tim Sakhorn to Vietnam. Officials have denied the accusation.

“I ordered the broadcast be­cause people are blaming the government for defrocking the monk,” Khieu Kanharith said of the 15-minute program that aired July 3 and July 4.

The TVK segment shows a wo­man whom a voiceover describes as Tim Sakhorn’s lover, though the woman is not named and is not heard to speak.

In interviews, people identified as local villagers by the re­port say they believe Tim Sakhorn had an affair.

Khieu Kanharith said the broadcast was intended to clear the government’s name, adding that he doubted politics had played a role in the defrocking. He added that he too was unaware of the missing monk’s whereabouts.

TVK Director-General Kem Gun­­awadh was traveling July 4 and could not be reached for comment.

In a statement July 4, the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, a coalition of 22 rights NGOs, denounced what it called Tim Sakhorn’s abduction.

“[Tim Sakhorn] was forced to defrock [himself] and immediately after the defrocking he was taken away by an armed group in a car and then disappeared,” CHRAC said in the statement.

“The Committee urges all au­thorities and the Ministry of Cults and Religions to intervene.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieu­tenant General Khieu Sopheak on July 4 reiterated official denials that Tim Sakhorn had been forced out of Cambodia.

“I am not interested in the guy, because he was defrocked and he has gone,” Khieu Sopheak said.

In a June 16 statement, which was also signed by Buddhist Su­preme Patriarch Non Nget, Great Su­preme Patriarch Tep Vong accused Tim Sakhorn of undermining diplomatic ties between Cam­bo­dia and Vietnam by trying to establish a religious movement based out of his Phnom Den commune pagoda.

“Tim Sakhorn has breached the Buddhist discipline and caused a split in national and international unity, especially between the two countries of Cambodia and Viet­nam,” Tep Vong wrote in the statement

In a statement July 4, legal analyst Lao Mong Hay, senior researcher at the Asian Hu­man Rights Commission in Hong Kong, said Non Nget had violated the Buddhist monastic code by de­frocking Tim Sakhorn without evidence.

“The defrocking of [Tim Sak­horn] is very arbitrary and very much un-Buddhist,” Lao Mong Hay wrote.

Non Nget said July 4 that he had received convincing information about Tim Sakhorn’s al­leged romance from other monks in Takeo.

This, and Tim Sakhorn’s political activities were the cause of the defrocking, he added.

Khmer Kampuchea Krom Com­munity Executive Director Thach Setha described the TVK broadcast as a comedy.

“It was just theater. It is very funny,” he said.

 

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