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Cablegate: Expulsion of Ethnic Khmer Monk From Cambodia

VZCZCXRO6344
PP RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHHM #0733 1900841
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 090841Z JUL 07
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2858
INFO RUEHPF/AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH PRIORITY 0032
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 3060

UNCLAS HO CHI MINH CITY 000733

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREF PREL KIRF SOCI CB VM
SUBJECT: EXPULSION OF ETHNIC KHMER MONK FROM CAMBODIA

REF: A) PHNOM PENH 905; B) HCMC 520

1. (SBU) Post has been seeking to confirm Ref A reporting that
an ethnic Khmer monk, Tim Sakhorn, was allegedly forcibly
deported from Cambodia to Vietnam. ConGen contacts in An Giang
and Soc Trang provinces confirmed that Sakhorn is from Tinh Bien
district in An Giang province. Chief Monk Chau Pina of Chi
Kaeng pagoda in An Giang province told us on the phone that he
had seen Sakhorn at a religious gathering in the province
approximately one month earlier, before the date of Sakhorn's
alleged forced expulsion from Cambodia. (This was not
considered unusual, as Sakhorn apparently traveled back and
forth regularly between Cambodia and Vietnam.) The monk did not
provide us any other details about Sakhorn. Another ethnic
Khmer monk -- Kok Sala of Svay Toong pagoda in Tri Ton district,
An Giang province, claimed not to know Sakhorn's whereabouts.
However, he reported that he had received instructions from the
provincial Religious Police (PA 38) to deny Sakhorn refuge
should he appear at his pagoda. Police also handed him a copy
of a declaration from the senior-most Khmer monk in Cambodia
reportedly declaring Sakhorn to be a "bad element."

2. (SBU) Separately, provincial- and district-level officials
from the Committee for Religious affairs (CRA) claimed to have
no knowledge of Sakhorn or his activities. The provincial
official noted, however, that "such sensitive cases are handled
by the police."

3. (SBU) Comment: The police warning to Khmer monks not to get
involved with Sakhorn severely limits our ability to develop
information on his case. However, given the police pressure on
Khmer monks and the strong hint from the CRA provincial official
in An Giang, it is very possible that reports of his forcible
deportation to Vietnam are true. The move against Sakhorn would
be consistent with a more general GVN effort to deal with those
ethnic Khmer -- including a number of other monks defrocked
after protests in the Delta in February (Ref B) -- who it
believes are challenging Vietnamese sovereignty in the Mekong
Delta. End Comment.

SCHWENK

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