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Cambodian Monks Demand Action on Stolen Buddha Relics

  • Heng Reaksmey

Cambodian monk's shadow on Buddha painting during demonstration at Democracy Park, Phnom Penh, Sept. 7, 2013.
Hundreds of demonstrators and monks gathered near the Cambodian Royal Palace in Phnom Penh Tuesday, demanding an investigation into the alleged theft of rare Buddha relics.
Authorities say a golden urn, said to contain hair, teeth and bones from the Buddha, was taken last week from a shrine near the capital.
Five suspects have been arrested so far, but the demonstrators said Tuesday that authorities have been slow to act in prosecuting the case or finding the missing urn.
Demonstrators and monks marched through the rain, carrying banners with messages decrying corruption and the theft of the urn. One sign read, “The loss of Buddha’s relics are a loss of Khmer national heritage.”
Sin Sopheasit, a demonstrating monk, said concrete action needs to be taken.
“The action taken by head monks does not satisfy me because the relics, which were the symbol of our people and the entirety of Buddhism for our nation, were stolen and there is lack of effort to search for them."
The demonstration ended peacefully after Buddhist officials promised to push the government to quicken the pace of its investigation.
The relics came to Cambodia from Sri Lanka in 1957.
This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Khmer service.