KHMER Krom activist Tim Sakhorn was ordained again as a monk at a pagoda in Battambang on Friday and has now fled to Thailand where he is seeking refugee status, according to Sann Sang, the deputy director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community.
"Now, it is up to the UNHCR [the UN High Commissioner for Refugees] to determine if he has the right to stay in Thailand," he said.
He added that Tim Sakhorn would be willing to leave for another country if necessary.
The 41-year-old monk was arrested in June 2007 by Cambodian police and defrocked before being extradited to Vietnam.
But after imprisoning Tim Sakhorn for a year and then keeping him under house arrest, Vietnam allowed him to visit Cambodia, which issued him a visa until April 17.
Even though Tim Sakhorn has said he just wants to live with his family and tend his farm in Cambodia, he did not feel the Cambodian authorities were protecting him, according to Ang Chanrith, the executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Organisation.
"When he was arrested, the [Cambodian] government did not take action to protect him, so he has lost confidence in the government," Ang Chanrith said last week.
Christophe Peschoux, the country representative of the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, could not confirm that the monk had fled to Thailand.
"If he went to Thailand, it's because he feels unsafe in his own country," Peschoux said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHRISTOPHER SHAY