Peaceful Rally in Jacksonville, Florida on November 29th-December 1st, 2013 against head-monk Tep Vong
A group of Cambodians rallied to protest the officiating of the sacred “Seima Kam” (Buddhist Border Act Ceremony) by monk Tep Vong from Cambodia at the temple “Wat Kanteyaram” (Eastern United Temple Foundation of Jacksonville, Inc.)
The goals of the Rally organizers were to keep the Buddhist sanctification ceremony of the temple in compliance with strict religious procedure and to condemn Human Rights violations & religious misconducts of monk Tep Vong to preside over the “Seima Kam”.
Three prior written notices from the Cambodian Association of Jacksonville to the Temple Association were delivered by hand-delivery, certified mail and E-mail that an imminent demonstration would take place if monk Tep Vong were to be present at the sanctification ceremony.
During the 3 day ceremony, demonstrators distributed to people coming to the temple from many states in USA, France, and Canada, over 600 flyers including an article on the correct religious procedure of “Seima Kam” and on the proofs of wrong-doings committed by monk Tep Vong.
On Friday the 29th, the first day of ceremony, during the religious parade around the temple compound, many monks and people came to ask for those flyers from demonstrators to share inside the temple. Furthermore, a respectful Cambodian elder told monk Tep Vong “Stop killing Khmer! Stop killing Khmer!” Also, an out-of-state Cambodian lady stood up in the middle of ceremony to shout at monk Tep Vong “When will you stop killing Khmer?”
On Saturday, the Chief monk Yieng Meng Kry of this temple gave order to over a hundred and eighty monks at his special meeting without monk Tep Vong’s presence that there will be no questions nor answers; any monk protesting against his order would be chased out of the room. He also announced that the crucial most sacred part of the ceremony would now proceed under the direction of venerable Hok Sovann from Canada, not monk Tep Vong.
To the amazement and disappointment of many monks, the “Seima Kam” ceremony still proceeded and ended up being presided by three monks, one of them being the religious misconduct and Human Rights violation monk Tep Vong. Community members present at the ceremony were very aware of the discordance in the ceremony among the three presiding monks, who had their backs turned to each other, while other monks, keeping their arms crossed instead of on symbolic strings, prompting one observer to comment that this “Seima Kam” did not fulfill its goal of sanctifying the Temple.
Every day of the ceremony, there were groups of 30 to 50 monks standing across the street listening to demonstrators and some monks came to tell them that they did the right things. Some people joined the demonstration to shout “Tep Vong, go home!” Two monks told demonstrators that they had stopped eating for two days over monk Yieng Meng Kry prohibiting their freedom of speech and improper procedure of the ceremony. More than 70 percent of the monks left the Temple on the third day before the end of ceremony for the same reasons; about 30 monks stayed to complete the ceremony under the presence of monk Tep Vong.
In the Cambodian Community especially in Jacksonville, there is a growing request that the “Seima Kam” must be redone in compliance with the strict religious procedure organized by a newly elected and competent temple Association.
The organizers of Rally in Jacksonville: • Born Chim, President, Cambodian Association of Jacksonville Contact: (904)309-3216 • Tyler Thavy Sam, Member of Khmer people Network for Cambodia Contact: (904) 772-5517 • Dr. Nicole B. Ung, President, Meboun Foundation Contact: (562)499-9061
December 7, 2013