Civil society concerned over the security of Ven. Thach Preichea Koeun

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By Ouk Savoborey | Radio Free Asia | 03 September 2010

Ven. Thach Preichea Koeun, the editor of a weekly paper covering the Khmer Krom community, fears deportation from Cambodia due to the content of his editorials.
Ven. Thach Preichea Koeun, the editor of a weekly paper covering the Khmer Krom community, fears deportation from Cambodia due to the content of his editorials.

Venerable Thach Preichea Koeun, a Buddhist monk who wrote political articles involving the Vietnamese authority in the Cambodian newspaper Prey Nokor News, has not recovered his full rights to get back his monk ID and his passport as of yet.

The Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community Association has expressed its concerns over the safety of Ven. Thach Preichea Koeun because he wrote articles related to the living conditions of Khmer Krom people who are under the boot of the Viet government in South Vietnam. His articles were published in the Prey Nokor newspaper which is sold in Phnom Penh.

Thach Setha, President of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community Association, said on Friday 03 September that the security of Ven Thach Preichea Koeun is not stable yet because he wrote articles critical to the Viet government and published them in the Prey Nokor newspaper, so much so that all his moves were followed [by government security agents] and his passport and monk ID were confiscated: “He is facing problem due to the pressure from both the [government] authority and the monk officials. The pressure was imposed on him so that he stops writing for the Prey Nokor newspaper. We see that when Vietnam is affected, it becomes a NO, NO because the Viets have strong influence on Cambodia.”

In response to the problem above, Yan That, the abbot of Wat Ang Ta Minh Pagoda, said on 27 August that Ven. Thach Preichea Keoun asked to find refuge in the pagoda. However, the pagoda committee rejected his request because they were afraid that the pagoda could face problems as they said that Ven. Thach Preichea Koeun is politically involved with the Prey Nokor newspaper. Yan That said that Ven. Thach Preichea Koeun traveled and stayed in Thailand for one month after Wat Botumvatey and Wat Ang Pothinhean pagodas did not allow him to stay there. When he returned from Thailand, he asked to stay at Wat Ang Pothinhean Pagoda, but he was rejected again. Then, he had to ask for refuge from lay people, but because of the Vossa season (monk recess period), he was not allowed to travel anywhere, that was why cops from the ministry of Interior asked Wat Ang Ta Minh to provide refuge for him for the Vossa season and they ordered the abbot of the pagoda to look after Ven. Thach Preichea Koeun and prevent him from going anywhere. Because of that, Yan That asked to confiscate Ven. Thach Preichea Koeun’s passport and ID: “I ask to keep his passport and his ID, I took his ID number so I can report him as staying here to the deputy top monk in charge of my pagoda, and he did not follow the Vossa season rule. When I did that, he [Ven. Thach Preichea Koeun] wanted to accuse us of creating hardship on him. So we advised him and told him to stay quiet, not to listen to the security cops, I am helping him, there is nothing for him to worry about.”

At the same time, Khieu Kanharith, the minister of Information, said on 02 September: “Therefore, it’s a problem between monks. I cannot comment on it because I don’t know how the monk rules are affected, but, the newspaper is still in operation, they can publish it on the Internet.”

Ven. Thach Preichea Keoun told RFA recently that the abbot of Wat Ang Ta Minh Pagoda confiscated his passport and monk ID after he received the order from officials of the ministry of Interior and the ministry of Cult and Religion: “They confiscated them because they said that I publish the Prey Nokor newspaper. They confiscated so that I cannot go anywhere, they want me to stay in one location only.”

On Friday, the abbot of Wat Ang Ta Minh Pagoda said that UN human rights officials paid a visit to Ven. Thach Preichea Koeun on Thursday 02 September. The UN officials did not meet with the abbot.

“We see that when Vietnam is affected, it becomes a NO, NO because the Viets have strong influence on Cambodia,”
Thach Setha, Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community President.

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