Buddhist monks clashed with Cambodian police officers Monday in Phnom Penh. (Tang Chhin Sothy/Agence France-Presse)
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP): Dozens of Buddhist monks kicked, punched and hurled bottles at baton-wielding police in Cambodia’s capital Monday at a demonstration to demand religious freedom for monks in neighboring Vietnam.
The clashes erupted as about 40 monks approached the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh to submit a petition against authorities’ alleged mistreatment of Buddhist monks in the communist country.
The protesters accused Vietnamese authorities of arresting and defrocking several ethnic Cambodian monks over the past few months.
Authorities let only a few state-sponsored religious organizations operate in Vietnam, a situation that has led to altercations there with some groups including Buddhists.
A large part of southern Vietnam, known in Cambodia as Kampuchea Krom, used to be part of Cambodia’s Khmer empire centuries ago. Many ethnic Cambodians still live there.