Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Activist monk a wanted man

Activist monk a wanted man

Khmer Krom monk Soeun Hay (centre) cheers during a protest at the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh last year where Vietnamese flags were burned.
Khmer Krom monk Soeun Hay (centre) cheers during a protest at the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh last year where Vietnamese flags were burned. Vireak Mai

Activist monk a wanted man

Phnom Penh Municipal Court has issued a warrant for the arrest of a prominent activist and former monk currently living in self-imposed exile who it says has been found guilty of forging public documents and wearing monks’ robes after being defrocked.

The warrant, which was signed by presiding judge Khi Chher on November 3, calls on authorities to find Soeun Hay, who it says has been sentenced in absentia to two years in prison and fined 6 million riel (about $1,500) for forging documents declaring himself to be a monk and illegally wearing the religious robes.

Chher yesterday refused to elaborate on the charges or tell the Post when Hay was found guilty. He said only that the verdict was delivered “in accordance with [court] procedures and evidence”.

Hay has been a regular feature at protests in the capital, including those calling for Vietnam to recognise the history of the Kampuchea Krom provinces.

In November 2014, he was arrested by district security forces while travelling to a demonstration calling for the release of seven land activists from Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak community.

He was later defrocked and sentenced to one year behind bars, but released by a Royal Pardon in April.

In August, Hay went into hiding after two other Kampuchea Krom monks living at the Ang Taminh pagoda were arrested for allegedly being in possession of a number of contraband items.

“I was informed in advance of plans to arrest me, so when they came to get me, they could not find me and just arrested two of my apprentices,” he told the Post at the time.

Hay could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator with local rights group Licadho, said the latest verdict was likely to have been prompted by Hay’s activism.

“I think this arrest warrant was issued because Venerable Soeun Hay was too active in protests involving the Khmer Krom territory and protests for land-conflict victims,” he said.

Sam Ath called on the court to release the evidence that they have against Hay to “prove it is fair”.


  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Monks given ‘Samdech’ title for contributions

    Three senior monks on Thursday were given the highest-ranking title “samdech”, with Prime Minister Hun Sen saying that the promotions were due to their contributions to Buddhism. The three distinguished monks were promoted on Thursday morning at Botum Vatey pagoda in Phnom Penh, at a

  • Facing possible sanctions, PM criticises Washington’s rights record

    While United States congressmen are discussing the Cambodia Democracy Act and an amendment that could impose more sanctions against Cambodia’s government, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday counterattacked by questioning the respect of human rights and democracy under the US-backed Lon Nol regime, and