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Detained Cambodian monk with refugee status says he could jailed if deported from Thailand

Detained Buddhist monk Bor Bet | Photo via Twitter/Phil Robertson from Human Rights Watch’s Asia

Possible deportation and jail time is looming for a Cambodian refugee monk who was recently detained by Thai authorities, despite the recent condemnation from the United Nations. Last month, three Cambodians under UN refugee protection were deported from Thailand and arrested in their home country.

On Wednesday, Thai authorities arrested a Cambodian monk and an environmental activist Bor Bet, who is staying inside Thailand with international refugee status at a temple in Samut Prakan. The detained abbot expressed his concern about being jailed if he would be sent back home to Cambodia.

Bor Bet was known for being an outspoken critic of Cambodian PM Hun Sen, who was recently given a default position to represent troubled Myanmar in the ASEAN bloc and is currently jailed at the Suanplu Immigration Detention Centre.

In an audio message to AFP reporters, the monk said…

“I will be jailed like other refugees if they deport me to Cambodia.”

The news agency reported Cambodian police had not been aware of his arrest and Phnom Penh had not requested his imprisonment either .International diplomats, lawyers, and human rights organisations then flocked to save him from being deported back to Cambodia, with a member of the Thai parliament also attempting to intervene.

The director of the Cross Cultural Foundation, Pornpen Kongkachonkiet, says the monk is unlikely to face a fair trial in Cambodia as Hun Sen’s administration has stifled opposition and activists by curtailing democratic freedoms and using the judiciary to suppress them.

The deputy head of Human Rights Watch’s Asia, Phil Robertson, said Phnom Penh was attempting to quiet criticism from the exiled population in Thailand.

“The fact that they defrocked and jailed this monk demonstrates an obvious lack of Buddhist charity… both Thais and Cambodians would find that appalling”.

Cambodian activists Veourn Veasna and Voeung Samnang were recently deported from Thailand to their home country in early November.


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