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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Both sides cool down after violent street clash

Both sides cool down after violent street clash

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No more protests planned, says chief abbot of Wat Samaki Raingsey

Riot police and Khmer Krom Buddhist monks clashed outside the Vietnamese Embassy on December 17. Both sides accused the other of inciting the melee. The monks had gathered in protest over the incarceration of fellow Khmer Krom Buddhist monk Tim Sakhorn, who has been jailed in Vietnam since June.

Eleven days after Phnom Penh police used electric batons to break up a demonstration

of about 40 Buddhist monks outside the Vietnamese Embassy, one monk involved in the

clash remained in serious condition at the pagoda and no further protests were planned.

Ly Vunny, 24, was one of six monks injured December 17 during a demonstration to

protest Vietnam's persecution of Buddhist monks.

The event was staged in the wake of the jailing of Khmer Krom monk Tim Sakhorn, 39,

who was defrocked by Cambodian Buddhist authorities and deported to Vietnam where

he was convicted of violating Vietnamese national unity.

The Khmer Krom monks called for the relase of Sakhorn and others who have been defrocked

and jailed in Vietnam.

"Monks cannot sit or walk. If they wants to move, two monks must carry him,"

said Young Sin, Chief of Khmer Krom Buddhist monks at Wat Samaki Raingsey.

Sin said there are no plans for further demonstrations. He said that although police

have been stationed outside the pagoda, no monks have been arrested or bothered since

the demonstration.

Touch Naroth, Chief of Phnom Penh Municipal police, said the incident is closed and

denied that police provoked the violence. He said the monks started the problem by

throwing plastic water bottles and swinging their orange bags at police.

"Those monks were insulting the police. It is not the rule of the monk to allow

such activities. It is wrong," Naroth said. "The police just tried to ensure

security for the Vietnamese Embassy."

He said if there is another demonstration, the police will order the monks to calm

down.

He said it was unfair to compare the violence to what is happening with the monks

in Burma.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) blasted the Cambodian government for responding to a peaceful

protest with brutality.

The New York based HRW issued a statement December 21 expressing concern for the

safety of Khmer Krom monks who protest in either Cambodia or Vietnam.

"Human Rights Watch is concerned that Cambodian authorities will now arrest,

defrock and forcibly send the monks who protested to Vietnam, where they could face

severe reprisals," said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at HRW.

Sun Kim Hun, secretary of state of the Ministry of Cults and Religions said that,

"We didn't see the demonstration. We only received information through the media."

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