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Rally after officials call monk for questioning

Hundreds of monks gathered at Sansam Kosal pagoda in Meanchey district
Hundreds of monks gathered at Sansam Kosal pagoda in Meanchey district yesterday after municipal officials called a monk to a meeting that monks feared was in retaliation for recent protests outside the Vietnamese Embassy. Hong Menea

Rally after officials call monk for questioning

More than 100 monks turned out to protest at Sansam Kosal pagoda in Meanchey district yesterday after a Khmer Krom monk who took part in recent nationalist protests outside the Vietnamese Embassy was called to a meeting with district religious authorities.

The meeting was purportedly called by the municipal department of cults and religion to talk about administrative matters in the Stung Meanchey pagoda, where monk Yen Dara lives, but demonstrators feared he was going to be defrocked for his political activities.

Dara is a member of the Denmark-based Khmer National Liberation Front – the leader of which, Sam Serey, is wanted for arrest and has been sentenced in absentia for conspiring treason – and said he had distributed hundreds of books critical of the Vietnamese invasion in 1979 during Khmer Krom protests earlier this month.

“This is the history to share with Cambodians to know the real history, because today [they learn] the fake one,” Dara said yesterday, adding that he believed authorities were trying to intimidate him to keep him away from future protests.

National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith could not be reached for comment, but Sok Bunthoeun, a monk who serves as head of pagoda discipline in Meanchey district, denied the meeting was called to warn Dara about his politics.

“This is just administrative management,” he said.

Stung Meanchey pagoda chief Thai Bunthoeun said that he knew nothing about Dara’s book distribution and said he had only been called to a meeting because the room he shared with 10 other monks had seen too many outside visitors.

“People and monks from outside come every day and we don’t know who they are,” he said. “We see that he’s the most powerful in the [room], after the room chief, so we want him to help bring order to Room 45. It’s guidance from the district monk [authorities]. We have to sort out any rooms where there is anarchy and we have done the same for Room 11.”

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