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Khmer Krom targetted, says NGO

Monks flee from Freedom Park while being chased by security forces
Monks flee from Freedom Park while being chased by security forces on Saturday. POST STAFF

Khmer Krom targetted, says NGO

The leader of an organisation of monks from Kampuchea Krom, the part of southern Vietnam that once belonged to the Khmer Empire, accused security officials at the recent crackdowns at Freedom Park and last Thursday’s garment protest of singling out Kampuchea Krom monks for arrest and torture.

The Venerable Sieng Sovanara, 33, acting executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Monks Association, said the Khmer Krom monks had attended the protests along with Cambodian monks and garment workers, but had been specifically targetted for detention and torture and were framed for breaking Buddhist codes.

“Our monks did not use violence, but why were they arrested for torture. Why not arrest the ones that acted violently?” Sovana told journalists at a press conference yesterday.

According to Sovana, the monks had been framed for breaking Buddhist rules regarding chastity by police officials, who produced a bag of condoms and purported sex-enhancing drugs, and accused the monks of bringing them. “But in fact, we did not have it. They were framed,” he said. “They treated us like animals and it is not acceptable. Such an unreal accusation will be unforgettable for our entire lives.”

Son Chum Chuon, the program manager of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom for Human Rights and Development Association, said at the conference that six Khmer Krom monks were badly beaten by members of the military even after they had been detained.

The Khmer Krom groups said yesterday that they had also submitted a three-page statement to the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia seeking intervention.

“The monks were tortured by the soldiers by hitting them with wooden sticks and electric batons, kicking them and forcibly defrocking them and detaining them for more than 13 hours,” the statement read.

Officials at the Ministry of National Defence could not be reached for comment.

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