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Pagoda exodus: Guns used to order us out: monk

A majority of the Buddhist monks living at a pagoda in Kandal’s Muk Kampoul district were pressured into abandoning their monkhood yesterday out of fear they would be arrested and defrocked by local authorities.

Thirteen of the 22 monks who live at Keo Monyvoan pagoda walked away from monasticism after authorities allegedly threatened to arrest the monks if they did not leave the pagoda, in similar fashion to the former chief of the pagoda, who was arrested and has not been seen since November.

Lann Vanthorn, a monk at the pagoda, said yesterday that authorities threatened the monks with guns.

“The monks in this pagoda are afraid for their safety,” he said.

Former Sambour Meas commune chief Nuon Sophut, who was fired for supporting the former chief monk, said she had lost all confidence in the local authorities.

“[Villagers and I] suggest the monks stay in the pagoda and we will protect them,” she said.

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