Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Sorcerer’ hiding in police station for 2 years



‘Sorcerer’ hiding in police station for 2 years

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Rocham Kin (left) and his family have been living in a police station since he was accused of being a sorcerer in Ratanakkiri in 2015. Pha Lina

‘Sorcerer’ hiding in police station for 2 years

As reports continue to pile up of accused sorcerers being violently forced from their homes – most recently in Kampong Speu province – The Post has learned that an alleged “sorcerer” and his family have been holed up at a district police station for the last two years.

Rocham Kin, his wife and his six children, were forced from their home in Kak commune’s Chrung village in April 2015 after villagers, including Kin’s own brother, tried to kill him.

The ethnic Jarai villagers alleged Kin used black magic and brateal, a succulent plant believed to hold magical properties, to kill up to a dozen people. Kin, 50, said yesterday that he and his family have remained at the Bakeo district police station ever since he was first taken into protective custody there. “I am afraid of them abusing me again. Living here is safer,” Kin said.

“I do not know about sorcery and I do not have any magic; I am a normal person and they just accused me. If anyone falls ill, they accuse me,” he said.

The family of eight is supported by district and provincial authorities, who cover the cost of water, electricity and 10 kilograms of rice a week.

Kin said he is rarely employed for plantation work and that without his own land he couldn’t farm and provide for his children. “I do not have enough clothes and my wife gets fevers as well. We are facing difficulties.”

Heng Bunny, Bakeo district governor, said authorities had tried to settle the family in Soeung commune, but that scheme fell flat because of Kin’s alleged dark magic. “The ethnic people still believe in sorcery. They are afraid of him, so they do not want him to live in their community,” Bunny said.

The belief of sorcery remains rooted deeply in Cambodian society, with accused practitioners often attacked, killed or hounded from their homes. In the past three weeks, two families have been uprooted due to sorcery allegations in Kong Pisey district, Kampong Speu.

The most recent of these was Nil Sokha and his wife Oem Kim on Saturday night.

According to district police chief Khem Sophanra, more than 100 people hurled stones at the pair’s home, shattering windows. “His family had left before I arrived. If they did not manage to escape, there would have been a problem,” he said.

Traditional healer Prak Kong, 65, escaped from the same district’s Prey Vihear commune in late March after sorcery allegations were made against him.

Chak Sopheap, of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said religious beliefs were not an excuse to deprive someone of their rights.

“It is the clear and unambiguous duty of the state to ensure that no one is left homeless due to persecution or discrimination. Of course, when dealing with deeply-held beliefs, this is no simple task,” she said.

Additional reporting by Erin Handley

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration