A dispute between the abbot of Stung Meanchey pagoda and three monks reignited yesterday after the monks were apparently due to be ordered to leave the pagoda because of their support for land-grab victims.
No official letter was issued to the monks, but the abbot yesterday said the issue had been raised in a meeting with the authorities and it was decided that that they would have to leave.
The monks, however, have refused to be expelled.
The monks – Yen Rotanak Sotheavy, Ly Chan Nen and Sin Hay – drew the ire of the authorities after supporting about 300 families of handicapped former Khmer Rouge soldiers from Banteay Meanchey province’s Malai district in September.
“[The abbot] issued a letter to expel me, but I will not go. We just help people locked in land disputes,” Rotanak Sotheavy said.
“Banning people from staying in the pagoda creates insecurity and that is not right,” said Hay, claiming that the pagoda was run by drug users.
“Where there is suffering, monks have a duty to seek justice for people of all races without discrimination,” Hay added.
Thai Bunthoeun, the abbot of Stung Meanchey pagoda, said that the monks should be defrocked for criticising his stance on the issue.
“[They are] contemptuous against me, but I am the abbot. Is it reasonable? They are not suitable to be monks. I never have any disputes at all,” he said.
“Why do they curse me? It is not right and they should be punished. I won’t let them stay, because they curse me. Why should they stay here?” he said.