Senior members of the monastic community this morning were involved in detaining Buddhist monk Loun Savath, an award-winning human rights activist, after he took photos of protesting Boeung Kak lake villagers outside Phnom Penh municipal court. Monks, police and unidentified plain-clothed men forced him into a Land Cruiser and ushered him away from the scene as more than 60 protesters, flanked by about 100 police, called for the release of 13 Boeung Kak women who where being questioned inside.
The monks would not comment on why they had detained Venerable Loun Savath, who was banned from all pagodas in Phnom Penh last year by Supreme Patriarch Nun Nget. Venerable Loun Savath was driven to Wat Botum, where police and officials from the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Cults and Religion barricaded him inside, sealing off entries so even pagoda boys could not enter.
A Ministry of Cults and Religion official said it was unclear whether the supreme patriarch has grounds to defrock the monk. “[Venerable Loun Savath] is being held here, and after [the supreme patriarch] has finished lunch, he will decide what to do.” The 13 Boeung Kak women arrested on Tuesday are yet to be charged.