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Detained Khmer Krom Monk Not an Agitator, Groups Say

An advocacy group seeking the release of a monk detained in Vietnam called on Prime Minister Hun Sen Thursday to reconsider allegations the monk was a Vietnamese agitator.

Tim Sakhorn, the former chief monk of a Kampot province pagoda, was defrocked following allegations in Cambodia he organized protests that led to violence between monks, Hun Sen wrote in a letter to former king Norodom Sihanouk.

The two-page letter, dated Sept. 28, claims that Tim Sakhorn is Vietnamese and committed many offenses, such as distributing leaflets, inciting conflict between Cambodia and Vietnam, and organizing demonstrations against Vietnam. Those acts led to the beatings of monks and Tim Sakhorn's subsequent defrocking, the letter says.

Ang Chanrith, executive director for the Khmer Kampuchea Krom for Human Rights, called Hun Sen's charges "wrong."

"Prime Minister Hun Sen should reconsider this, because the Khmer Kampuchea Krom [in Vietnam] are already victims, and now that they are in Cambodia, they are accused again," he said.

The Khmer Krom belong to a minority group living along in the Mekong Delta of Cambodia and Vietnam. They have repeatedly alleged abuse at the hands of both Vietnamese and Cambodian authorities.

Tim Sakhorn has been held in Vietnam since July on charges that he is actually Vietnamese and traveled without documents.

Thach Setha, director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association, said he would send a letter in response to Hun Sen and request an audience with the former monarch to clear Tim Sakhorn's reputation.