Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Monks detained at opposition rally

Monks detained at opposition rally

A monk is taken for questioning from an opposition rally on Friday morning. Facebook
A monk is taken for questioning from an opposition rally on Friday morning. Facebook

Monks detained at opposition rally

Four Buddhist monks were briefly detained and had their phones confiscated during an opposition party rally in Oddar Meanchey on Friday morning.

The monks – Loun Sovath, Prim Huon, Seng Nara, and Nob Vanny – were taken in for questioning by Provincial Governor Sar Thavy and police officers.

According to Sovath, reached an hour after his release, police took offence to a Facebook Live video posted by Huon, in which he said “if any official or any party brings trouble to villagers, don’t vote for that party”.

“That is why the police were accusing this monk of telling [falsehoods],” Sovath said.

Loun Sovath, who was detained along with three other monks on Friday morning. Facebook
Loun Sovath, who was detained along with three other monks on Friday morning. Facebook

The four were questioned between 10am and 1pm and were released after they agreed to delete any videos and live broadcasts from the incident.

“I think they violated my rights; my right to freedom of expression and information,” Sovath said.

In a now-deleted Facebook Live video, Sovath showed himself speaking with Governor Thavy during the confrontation.  

“Monks are not supporting the CNRP or CPP. We just want the politics to go through with neutrality and [according to the] Buddhist way,” he says in the video.

“We are not broadcasting things that are contrary to or distort the facts. And we just broadcast it, and if it is right or wrong the public will know.”

Watch here:


The arrest followed a pattern of harassment of opposition supporters that morning, according to Mounh Sarath, head of the CNRP taskforce for Oddar Meanchey.

Sarath said authorities had attempted to prevent organisers from setting up a marquee for the event in Samroang commune, had blared loudspeakers in order to disturb a speech given by party president Kem Sokha and had set up “illegal checkpoints”.

“Roads were blocked, and in some case, they asked our supporters to walk. [It’s] many miles away; they cannot do it,” he said.  

The event had prior approval from the provincial election committee, he said.

“We are very, very disappointed.”

Sarath said the supporters had wanted to leave with their president in convoy, but were blocked by authorities until, reaching a compromise, they “split up”.

Broadcasting the fallout from these obstructions by authorities led to the arrest of the monks, he said.  

Governor Thavy was briefly reached on Friday, but was cut off due to a bad connection, and did not respond to later calls.

Prominent activist monk Bun Buntenh described the events as “fruitless work that the authority [is] not suppose[d] to do”.    
                   
“They just wanted to limit our rights because they think that we are not on their side,” he said.

“Monks have full rights to fully participate in politics … The more they trouble us, we will participate more in politics.”

Oddar Meanchey Provincial Deputy Police Chief Lek Sokha denied any police wrongdoing.

“What the monk claims, that the police are hurting villagers, is not true. We just asked them to show us the video. What they said was not true, so we asked them to delete it,” he said.

“Just checking [their phones] is not violating their individual private property rights, because we are not taking or stealing. And monks don’t have property.”

“We don’t even dare to block anyone; it was the NEC who told them not to go further.”

Som Sorida, deputy secretary general of the NEC, said he was not aware of the case. 

Additional reporting Phak Seangly, Ananth Baliga and Shaun Turton

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon