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Thursday, March 20, 2008

US State Department Examines Cambodian Rights Record


Looking back over the past year the US State Department has found repeated instances of intimidation and violence against Khmer Kampuchea Krom monks and citizens. The report goes on to show the lack of rights in both Cambodia and Vietnam, with religious rights bearing the brunt of abuses reported.

Below is an excerpt from the US State Department Human Rights Report for Cambodia in 2007:

Political activists continued to be the victims of killings. On February 27 [2007], Eang Sok Thoeurn, a Khmer Kampuchea Krom monk, was found dead […] in the Tronum Chhroeung Monastery in Kandal Province. The deceased monk was discovered the morning after he participated in a demonstration in front of the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh for the rights of Khmer Kampuchea Krom persons living in Vietnam. Police quickly declared the death a suicide and disposed of the body without further investigation. NGOs and Khmer Kampuchea Krom groups suspected the killing was politically motivated.


On June 30 [2007], Khmer Kampuchea Krom monk Tim Sakhorn, head of a pagoda in the Kirivong District of Takeo Province for more than 10 years, disappeared. Previously, on orders of the country's top Buddhist leader, Great Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong, monks from Phnom Penh had defrocked Tim Sakhorn, after which unidentified persons believed to be attached to the MOI [Ministry of Interior] pushed him into a vehicle and drove away. The defrocking order stated Tim Sakhorn "broke the solidarity" between Cambodia and Vietnam by using pagodas to spread propaganda that affects the dignity of Buddhism. The monk was known locally for providing food and shelter to Khmer Kampuchea Krom coming from Vietnam. The MOI stated that Tim Sakhorn volunteered to go to Vietnam after he was defrocked, and ministry officials produced a document stating this intent. While signed by Tim Sakhorn, the handwritten document appeared not to be in his writing. On August 2 [2007], Tim Sakhorn reappeared in court custody in Vietnam, held on charges of destroying political solidarity. In September [2007] the Information Ministry stated that the Cambodian consulate in Ho Chi Minh City was investigating Tim Sakhorn's condition in detention. On November 8 [2007], a Vietnamese newspaper reported that a court in Vietnam convicted Tim Sakhorn of undermining solidarity between Cambodia and Vietnam and sentenced him to one year in prison.


On February 27 [2007], police and military police dispersed 60 Khmer Kampuchea Krom Buddhist monks demonstrating at the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh during a state visit by the Vietnamese president. Demonstrators assembled to support Khmer Kampuchea Krom monks in Vietnam who had been defrocked and arrested, urging their release and reinstatement as monks. The next morning one monk protester was found dead […] On March 16, police and local authorities in Kandal Province prevented the deceased monk's Khmer Kampuchea Krom community members and monks from holding his funeral.


On April 20 [2007], police and municipal authorities dispersed 80 Khmer Kampuchea Krom monks assembled at the Vietnamese embassy trying to deliver a petition in protest of alleged Vietnamese government rights abuses of Khmer Kampuchea Krom living in Vietnam. The protesters decided to go to another embassy to present the petition. On the way a group of unidentified, non-Khmer Kampuchea Krom monks and laypersons aggressively intercepted the demonstrators and attempted to disperse them. In the ensuing scuffle, one of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom monks was injured. Authorities did not intervene in the confrontation and did not conduct an investigation. On December 17 [2007], 40 monks sought again to deliver a petition to Vietnamese embassy officials for the release of Tim Sakhorn and other Khmer Kampuchea Krom monks imprisoned in Vietnam, and also for the return of land that they claimed the Vietnamese government seized from Khmer Kampuchea Krom persons in southern Vietnam. Police attempted to disperse the crowd, but the monks refused to disband, and violence broke out […] A local NGO reported that six monks were injured; police stated that some of the police sustained minor injuries.



Please use the link below to access the full report:
US State Department Human Rights Report for Cambodia (2007)

US State Department

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