Three Australian lawmakers have said they will work to return to Cambodia an imprisoned monk in Vietnam, an advocate said Thursday.
Members of the Khmer Krom Monks Association met with the Australian lawmakers Wednesday, said Venerable Chey Samnang, vice president of the organization.
During the meeting his group asked Australia to help solve a number of problems facing Khmer Kampuchea Krom people, including the arrests of several monks and the recent detention of Tim Sakhorn in Vietnam.
Tim Sakhorn, a Khmer Krom monk recently defrocked in Cambodia for allegedly inciting unrest between the two countries, is in Vietnamese custody, following his apparent expulsion from Cambodia.
Tim Sakhorn's detention is a violation of Khmer Krom people and monks, Chey Samnang said.
"Three Australian congressmen have promised that they would bring the Khmer Krom issues to discuss in the Australian congress," he said. "And one congressman even promised to write a personal letter to the Vietnamese and Cambodian governments asking for the return of Tim Sakhorn to Cambodia."
He did not give the names of the three parliamentarians.
Vietnamese authorities say Tim Sakhorn was arrested for entering Vietnam illegally.
"Tim Sakhorn is a Vietnamese citizen," said Trinh Ba Kim, a spokesman for the Vietnamese Embassy. "He violated Vietnamese laws and therefore he must be punished according to Vietnamese laws."
Tim Sakhorn's supporters say he is a Cambodian citizen who deserves protection under Cambodian law.
Kim Thieng, Tim Sakhorn's 80-year-old father, said Wednesday in a letter to Foreign Minister Hor Namhong that defrocking and sending his son to Vietnam was unfair for a Cambodian who should have full protection under Cambodian laws.