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Cambodia-Americans Plan White House Protest Over Detained Monk

A group of Cambodian-Americans who advocate for the rights of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom people plan to hold a protest in front of the White House in Washington Friday, organizers said.

The group is protesting the detention in Vietnam of defrocked monk Tim Sakhorn, who is being held for illegally crossing international borders without proper paperwork.

An undisclosed number of protesters will gather to "demonstrate against communist Vietnam for illegally and forcibly defrocking and imprisoning Venerable Tim Sakhorn, a good Samaritan Buddhist monk, and to hold a candlelight vigil to pray for his safety and release," a statement from the Cambodian Americans for Human Rights and Democracy said.

Tim Sakhorn is at the center of a debate over the rights of Khmer Krom monks and laymen in both Vietnam and Cambodia and has become a rallying point for supporters of the ethnic group.

A Vietnam Embassy spokesman denied any policies that violate human rights. "As you know, human rights and freedom of religion are well respected in Vietnam," Nguyen The Cuong said Thursday. "It is provided for in the law and constitution of Vietnam and in practice it is well respected."