A group of 48 Khmer Kampuchea Krom monks, ethnic Khmer originally from southern Vietnam, had convened in front of the Vietnamese Embassy to submit a petition (Photo: Licadho)The Ministry of Interior deployed a large contingent of police and anti-riot forces who arrived armed with shields, electric batons and guns (Photo: Licadho)The anti-riot unit brutally charged the Khmer Krom monks with their shields and electric batons (Photo: Licadho)The Khmer Krom monks scattered and tried to run away to avoid further injury (Photo: Licadho)The police continued to violently attack the monks even after they dispersed (Photo: Licadho)The police continued to violently attack the monks even after they dispersed (Photo: Licadho)Surprised passers-by were told by the police "those who we are beating are not real monks." (Photo: Licadho)Anti-riot Police chased the monks four blocks down various side-streets in the area around the Vietnamese Embassy (Photo: Licadho)18 December 2007
By Kim Pov Sottan
Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Socheata
On Tuesday, human rights representatives organized an urgent meeting with monks residing in Samaky Raingsey pagoda in Phnom Penh, to look for a way to move monks to a safe place after the violence perpetrated by the city cops on demonstrating Khmer Krom monks.
Uch Leng, a representative of the Adhoc human rights organization, said that based on past experience in the defrocking of a monk, and the murder of another Khmer Krom monk, there are renewed concerns over the present situation.
Uch Leng said: “The case of Venerable Ieng Sok Thoeun from the Tronum Chroeung pagoda, when he came back from the demonstration, at about midnight, he was murdered and burnt alive, he was accused of possessing drug etc… Therefore our human rights group is concerned and we are looking for a strategy to prevent a clash with the authority.”
The meeting participants include representatives of the Licadho and Adhoc human rights organizations, the Khmer Krom Human Rights Organization, and UN representatives.
Last Monday, about 50 monks, the majority of whom are Khmer Krom native, from Samaky Raingsey pagoda, have gathered in front of the Vietnamese embassy to hand over a petition demanding that the Vietnamese authority releases former Venerable Tim Sakhorn, and 5 other Khmer Krom monks who are jailed there for several months already.
The Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh refused to accept the petition and a clash between the monks and the police led to 6 serious injuries among the monks, as well as a number of light injuries sustained by the monks also.
After the police attack on the monks, Touch Naroth, the Phnom Penh city police commissioner, said that the actions taken by the monks are those of hoodlums and most likely, they are fake monks, and the authority will carry out investigations to arrest them. However, now, Touch Naroth, indicated that the ministry of cult should resolve this issue instead.
Touch Naroth said: “I cannot check the identity of the monks because I am with the police force, only the Buddhist clergy can perform the checking. Therefore, in this case of fake monks, if we can find them, we will apply the law. For this case, we will conduct the investigation with the ministry of cult.”
Chhon Iem, the secretary of state at the ministry of cult, could not be reached for comment on the same day.
Currently, within the perimeter of the Samaky Raingsey pagoda, groups of police officers are seen going in and out of the pagoda very frequently. In spite of the human rights group concerns, and their pleas for the monk to flee, Venerable Yoeung Sin, the abbot of the Samaky Raingsey pagoda said that all the monks will stay put in order to continue their demands.
Following the attack on the monks, human rights groups have issued a statement condemning the rights violation on a religion worshipped by several million of Cambodian citizens.