PHNOM PENH —
Turkey has officially requested that Cambodia close down all Zaman schools in the country, citing concerns about links to terrorism.
The request was made during a meeting between Ilhan Kemal Tug, Turkey’s ambassador, and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhon.
In July a failed attempt to launch a coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Thousands of people have since been arrested. A foreign ministry spokesman said Cambodia was considering the request.
Chum Sounry, the spokesman, said: “The Turkish ambassador requested the ministry shut down Zaman schools and His Excellency the senior minister confirmed that the ministry will look into the request… by working with relevant institutions.”
Tug told VOA Khmer on Monday that Cambodia would be at risk if it continued to allow the schools to operate.
Zaman International School's Chamkamon Campus on Wednesday, August 24, 2016, after the Turkish ambassador called on the government to close the school. (Photo: Leng Len/VOA Khmer)
“Every country that this terrorist entity operates [in] are of course eventually under threat. I mean, you’ll never know what will happen. I mean look at Uzbekistan, they also have this problem and they shut down the schools, because of this problem,” he said. “It’s not only a school. It’s media outlets; they are companies; they are banks; they are a very powerful, very resourceful terrorist organization.”
Zaman has been linked to Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in the United States whose Hizmet movement has been held responsible for the attempted coup on July 15.
Zaman officials and Gulen have condemned the coup, while Zaman has denied it has a formal relationship with Gulen and threatened legal action against the ambassador.
Deth Sokoudom, the vice rector of Zaman University, could not be reached for comment.
A motorist passes Zaman University in Phnom Penh's Toul Kork on Wednesday, August 24, 2016. (Photo: Leng Len/VOA Khmer)