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Activist Monk Released, Vows To Continue Activism (Cambodia News in Khmer)

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Published on May 24, 2012

Loun Savath said Buddhist elders forced him to sign a pledge to stop assisting villagers forcibly evicted from their homes. He was detained Thursday (5/24) by police and religious elders for some 10 hours at Wat Botum, a prominent pagoda in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. "The contract is serious and it affects not just me but also everyone," Venerable Loun Savath told reporters outside the temple Thursday night after being released.

The activist, sometimes referred to as the multi-media monk, has been visible in recent months filming and taking photographs of residents and villagers staging protests against their forced evictions and alleged land grabs in Phnom Penh. He sometimes blesses protests with water in traditional rituals. "The action was ridiculous and beyond what I can describe," he said, referring to the detention and lectures he received from Buddhist superiors.

Last year, the monk was banned by the country's supreme patriarch from staying at any pagoda because of his participation in social activism. The patriarch described Loun Savath's activities as contradictory to Buddhist principles. But Venerable Loun Savath said he follows Buddhist teachings by defending human rights. He vowed to continue his community work to assist the vulnerable. VOA Khmer's Say Mony reports from Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

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