Villagers, Police Clash Over Prey Veng Monk’s Defrocking

Four people were wounded on Tuesday after more than 100 people began fighting with military and district police at a pagoda in Prey Veng province over the de­frocking of a monk, police said.

The fight, which wounded two military police officers and two protesters, broke out after police tried to remove chief monk Ry Sophea from the Udom Sama­kum pagoda in Peam Ro district, Prey Veng province, said Chan Sophal, Peam Ro district deputy police chief.

“People threw stones and sand at the military officials when we tried to [implement] the Prey Veng provincial court order,” Chan Sophal said, adding that the warrant ordered Ry Sophea to resign from the monkhood.

The warrant stemmed from a complaint filed by two Udom Samakun pagoda members, Loek Samouen and Ros Ngoun, who accused Ry Sophea of stealing 300,000 riel (around $75) from the pagoda and for allowing local children to fish on the pagoda grounds, Chan Sophal said.

Ry Sophea on Tuesday denied the accusations. “This is politically motivated,” he said. “The CPP is behind this because most people here do not support the CPP.”

Previously, Ry Sophea said he was accused of being a supporter of the Sam Rainsy Party and then of Funcinpec.

“I am not a political member and I welcome all people who come to the pagoda and assist the pagoda,“ he said.

The clash on Tuesday at the pagoda lasted for about an hour, with Ry Sophea’s supporters throwing stones at the authorities while the police allegedly used bats and guns to suppress the fight, said one villager who de­clined to be identified.

Ry Sophea also said that police used bats and guns to stop the fighting and compared the police to Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot.

Police arrested two people and are detaining them at the Peam Ro district military police post because “they are involved in beating military policemen,“ Chan Sophal said.


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