20 Feb 2007 By Kim Pov Sottan Radio Free Asia Translated from Khmer by Heng Soy of KI Media “If they want to defrock me, let them defrock me inside the pagoda; if they want to shoot and kill me, let them shoot and kill me as a monk; if they want to jail me, let them jail me as a monk. If they want to defrock me, I absolutely refuse.” – Khmer Krom monk Kim Mean, threatened to be defrocked by the VN authority A source from Phnom Penh affiliated with the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) international, claimed that the Vietnamese authority is persisting on defrocking two Khmer Krom monks on Tuesday. The Vietnamese accuses the two of demonstrating against the Vietnamese authority. Monk Thach Binh, an assistant for the KKF, indicated that the Khmer Krom monks involved are 22-year-old monk Kim Mean, and 27-year-old monk Thach Duoc, the two are fourth-year students attending Buddhist teaching at Khleang pagoda, Khleang province (Soc Trang in Vietnamese), Kampuchea Krom (current South Veitnam). Contacted by phone in Kampuchea Krom, monk Kim Mean said that the Vietnamese authority removed his name from the Buddhist teaching school in Khleang pagoda, and forced him to return to Serey Ta Sek pagoda, Chrauy Nho district, where he was first ordained, so that he can be defrocked: “They (Viet authority) forced me to return to Serey Ta Sek pagoda, but I refused. If they want to defrock me, let them defrock me inside the pagoda; if they want to shoot and kill me, let them shoot and kill me as a monk; if they want to jail me, let them jail me as a monk. If they want to defrock me, I absolutely refuse.” Monk Thach Duoc added: “They do not allow my older brother to study Buddhism. They came and tied him up, they have legal and stamped papers, and earlier today, the Viet authority along with some religious officials, came to my pagoda, they arrested and tied up my older brother in Serey Ta Sek pagoda.” Monk Thach Binh said the 2 monks are accused by the Viet authority of acting as leaders during the 08 Feb demonstration. On that day, the Viet authority prevented 200 monks from Khleang province (Soc Trang) from getting out of the pagoda to beg for alms, the 2 accused monks were the ones who protested the Viet authority, asking them to abide by the law. Monk Thach Thon who works with the Viet authority, and is the deputy Buddhist monk chief in Khleang province, declined to provide a comment to RFA. Monk Thach Binh of the KKF condemns the defrocking attempt on the 2 Khmer Krom monks, saying that this is a blatant violation of the law: “It is totally against the law, against the Viet constitution, against the monk rites and customs. The Viet constitution states that Vietnamese people has the right to worship their religious belief, it’s on page 67, article 30 of the Viet constitution which talks about the rights to speech… Secondly, the two monks did not do anything serious to earn their defrocking.” Lately, several protests against the Viet authority were held by Khmer Krom people and Khmer Krom monks. These protests were held to demand back the land the Viet authority illegally expropriated from Khmer Krom people. Khmer Krom people are also demanding for freedom, and the respect of their culture and religion.