Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Christian groups described as 'second Pol Pot'

Christian groups described as 'second Pol Pot'

Christian groups described as 'second Pol Pot'

Religious tensions have been stirred up in Prey Veng province by recent letters

that compare Christian groups to the Khmer Rouge.

The letters, written by

a Buddhist group calling itself "The Committee of 20 Pagodas, All Clergymen and

All Parishes", claim that "in the upcoming days there will definitely be

religious war". Hundreds of people also took part in an anti-Christian protest

in four Prey Veng villages in late October.

"We, the Khmer citizens

throughout the Kingdom of Cambodia, propose to reject Christianity called Jesus

Pol Pot Number Two, which is carrying out activities in the country every day,"

the letter stated.

"Please brothers, aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas,

stand up in solidarity to topple the Pol Pot group, which has the underground

force that makes politics disseminating deceptive news to ensure the Khmer

[people] betray their own nation ... their own religion."

The letter,

which was handed out to residents of four villages in the province, stated that

a small group of Christian Khmers who were "crazed with US dollars" were openly

criticizing Buddhism, cursing monks, and asking Christians to step on Buddha


The chairman of an umbrella group of 700 Christian churches, the

Evangelical Fellowship of Cambodia (EFC), admitted some of the problems had been

caused by proselytizing Christians, but said feuding between political parties

was mainly to blame.

"I am strongly against rice Christianity. I do not

want people to buy other people's faith," said EFC's Mam Barnabas. "I believe

that some Christians do not behave well at all. The hit and run missionaries

leave Cambodia after they try to buy people's faith, and we are left behind to


Barnabas said EFC encouraged its members not to be aggressive to

those of other faiths. He explained the political motives he felt were mainly

behind the letters.

"As it happened before the ASEAN summit, I think they

just wanted to stir up trouble to prove Cambodia is not a place of safety,

security or religious freedom," he said. "If it is not taken care of, this cry

of nationalism could mobilize more people to think negatively of


He said those stirring up tensions were zealous Cambodians,

but not true Buddhists, since followers of the Buddha exhibited tolerance. This

was the first sign of trouble he had seen between the two religions.


spokesperson for one proselytizing Christian NGO, Eng Muny, witnessed the

protest in Prey Krang and Pichirath villages in which more than 200 locals

including achars from Beng Pagoda held banners asking Christians to leave the

country. The demonstrators were later dispersed by the police.


protested that Christians should no longer live in the village and asked them to

leave," he said. "They appealed for people to join hands to overthrow Pol Pot

Number Two."

Muny said the allegations were targeted at his organization,

Kampuchea for Christ International (KFCI), but denied they were true. He said

supporters of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party had instigated the protest after

local Christians expressed support for the ruling Cambodian People's


"Christian organizations have no money to buy faith," said Muny.

However he did concede that some proselytizers had used "wrong words" and told

villagers that if they believed in Christ, life would be better than if they

were Buddhists.

A senior official at the Ministry of Cult and Religions

(MoCR) said such trouble was very rare.

"There never are any problems

between Buddhists and Christians. We are all friends. We are always meeting

together," said secretary of state In Visa Um.

However department chief

Yim Youdavann said she would investigate what had happened in Prey Veng. If the

ministry found there was a serious problem, it might issue an order to suspend

the activities of Christian NGOs.

"I am worried that if there is no

curbing [of the problem], the small problem will become bigger," Youdavann


Although the letter bore the logo of the ministry's Buddhist

Institute, Miech Ponn, an assistant at the institute's customs commission,

condemned the letter and said the logo had been falsely used.

"We have

never used this cheap idea, and I would like to investigate where the letter is

from, and who is against Christianity," Ponn said. "This may be a movement that

could create trouble and insecurity for our country. They can create a problem

[not only] between Buddhism and Christianity, but also between Buddhism and


MoCR estimates there are 100,000 Christians throughout the

country. Christian NGOs say the number of adherents is increasing steadily.


  • Restrictions re-imposed in capital as Covid cases surge

    Amid the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has shown no sign of subsiding with 750 infections and 10 deaths reported on June 2 alone, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has decided to re-impose the suspension of all occupations and business activities deemed as posing high risk of

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway 51% complete

    The construction of the nearly $2 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway is 51.35 per cent complete and is expected to be finished in 2023, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of state Vasim Sorya. Invested in by Cambodian PPSHV Expressway Co Ltd, the first expressway in

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • US embassy guard gets Covid despite two doses of Pfizer jab

    The Covid-19 tracking commission on June 4 said a security guard at the US embassy in Phnom Penh had contracted the novel coronavirus, despite having received a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot two weeks ago. Embassy spokesperson Chad Roedemeier confirmed the SARS-CoV-2 infection to The

  • Kingdom set to be a gold producer

    Cambodia will soon join the roster of gold producing countries after the government announced the commencement of commercial gold mining operations in the Okvau area in southwestern Mondulkiri province's Keo Seima district from June 21. Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 10 announced that after 14 years of