Seven monks and one former monk at the Samaki Rainsy pagoda were to file a complaint today with the Ministry of Cults and Religion against three top monks, accusing them of assault, mistreatment and intimidation.
Dated January 27, the complaint accuses abbot Sieng Sovannara, first vice monk chief Thach Ha Sam Ang and his assistant Lay Lat of “beating, life threats and indecent insults”.
The multiple abusive incidents, which date back to 2013, drove young monk Ly Toeung to stab his superior Venerable Thach Khan to death in January, the complaint says.
“The group of chief monks thrust knives on my left hand, but I never had any problems with them before that, because I have just lived in the pagoda for more than two months,” said complainant Sot Chhaya. “I think the reason they used violence against me is because they are afraid of me seizing power since I am the son of the former abbot.”
The accused monks, however, denied the allegations.
“He wants to grab power from the pagoda,” Ha Sam Ang said of Chhaya. “[When he was not living here], he used to come and take money from our pagoda when his father was alive.”
Prior to the complaint, Phnom Penh municipality spokesman Long Dimanche said on Friday that an investigation will be launched into the pagoda, home to dozens of politically active Kampuchea Krom monks, due to complaints of “anarchic activity.”
The monks were at the forefront of protests at the Vietnamese Embassy last year over comments contesting their historical claims to land in what is now southern Vietnam.