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Activist monk ‘in hiding’, says friend

But Buntenh, leader of the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice, at Kem Ley's funeral in Takeo province earlier this week.
But Buntenh, leader of the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice, at Kem Ley's funeral in Takeo province earlier this week. Heng Chivoan

Activist monk ‘in hiding’, says friend

But Buntenh, an activist monk and member of the funeral committee for slain political analyst Kem Ley, has gone into hiding after receiving a tip off that he was being hunted by authorities, according to a friend and local media reports.

Tim Malay, head of the Cambodia Youth Network, said he had spoken to his friend Buntenh on the phone at about 3pm yesterday. He said the outspoken founder of the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice had told him he was in a “safe place”.

“This is the issue of those who want to threaten freedom of our expression,” Malay said, adding Buntenh was still in Cambodia when he made the call.

It came after a report from outlet Voice of Democracy, which quoted Buntenh as saying he had received a call from an unknown man claiming to be a police officer at 7am yesterday, warning him to go into hiding as police were seeking his arrest.

According to another story by Radio Free Asia yesterday, authorities in Siem Reap province’s Varin district had visited Buntenh’s mother’s home to obtain his birth certificate.

Speaking to RFA, Buntenh said the village chief told his mother that they wanted to make an identification card for him.

Buntenh, local and national authorities were unreachable yesterday. However, on Facebook, the activist monk wrote he was “living in fear”. “I cannot live peacefully in hiding,” he wrote.

Buntenh’s decision to go into hiding comes almost two weeks after activist brothers Chum Huor and Chum Huot, who met Ley a day prior to his murder at a gas station in Phnom Penh, fled the country claiming they feared for their safety.

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