18 April 2009
Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Socheata
Click here to read the article in Khmer
On 18 April, Ang Chanrith, the executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Organization (KKHRO), claimed that his group is legally providing help so that Ven. Tim Sokhorn, the former abbot of the Phnom Den North pagoda, receives his temporary refugee status in Thailand.
Ang Chanrith said: “We who are living in Cambodia, we will not stop it, i.e. we continue to push so that he (Tim Sakhorn) receives the refugee status by the UNHCR in Bangkok. We are working with other human rights organizations, such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Cambodia, and we are also working with Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to have them help push this issue with the UNHCR in Bangkok so that he (Tom Sakhorn) can receive the refugee status.”
Following his one-year jailing in Vietnam, on 04 April 2009, the Viet authority allowed Ven. Tim Sakhorn, the former abbot of the Phnom Den North pagoda, to return to Cambodia to commemorate for his departed mother. However, the Viet authority set 17 April 2009 as his return date to Vietnam.
After he arrived in Cambodia, this former monk was re-ordained again, and he fled Cambodia to seek refugee status in Thailand.
Khieu Sopheak, spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, said that Ven. Tim Sakhorn has all the necessary rights like all other Cambodian citizens, so there is no need for him to fear anything. Khieu Sopheak added: “He has other goal, so he takes this opportunity to ask for refugee status. This is not a new affair, there are several others who are like him.”
Trinh Ba Cam, Hanoi’s mouthpiece in Cambodia, said that he does not pay attention to this issue. He added that Mr. Tim Sakhorn is merely a simple citizen. Trinh Ba Cam said: “We are not preventing him from going anywhere, he asked for the legal authorization, then it is legal, but when he fled, that is illegal.”
Ven. Tim Sakhorn fled to Thailand on 11 April because he fears for his personal safety. He is currently asking for refugee status from the UNHCR in Thailand