By Robert Carmichael
Phnom Penh (dpa) – A reputed hoard of Khmer Rouge-era gold saw
monks and villagers engaged in a weekend standoff with soldiers at a
temple in western Cambodia, national media reported Monday.
The provincial governor of Pailin, Y Chhien, said the supposed
owner of the gold, whom he did not name, had tipped off the
authorities to its existence.
“Someone reported that a ton of gold belonging to the Khmer Rouge
regime was buried at the pagoda, but we are not sure yet because we
can’t dig it up because the monks rallied against our military police
and police,” he said.
Y Chhien told the Cambodia Daily newspaper he was mystified at
the resistance shown by the community at Korng Kang pagoda.
“It’s not a secret operation because if we find anything, all the
gold will become state property,” he said.
The temple’s deputy chief monk, Nhim Sothon, confirmed that
several troops had descended on the temple Saturday and Sunday in
pursuit of the gold.
“But our monks protected it, and did not allow it,” he said.
Nhim Sothon said the pagoda last year refused to allow a former
Khmer Rouge cadre to dig at the pagoda after he sought permission to
unearth 50 kilograms of gold he hid there during the 1975-79 regime.
The Khmer Rouge banned organized religion during its disastrous
rule of the country, and many temples became prisons and execution