“The more they stop me, the more I am strong and stand up. Again and again, more and more,” he said.
On Saturday, Sovath called on Canadians to support land activists and victims, not just with donations, but also through advocacy and petitions to the Canadian government. Sovath’s message of peaceful action resounded through the audience.
“Before, when I was small, I wanted to do something, but I was too scared and I felt alone, so I was discouraged and I lost hope,” said Sarom Om, a Khmer Canadian living in Montreal for 29 years. “If we see someone who stands up, who has confidence, that will help people who want to stand up and help and it will continue like that.”
Cambodian monk and human rights activist Venerable Loun Sovath speaks to the Khmer Canadian community at Wat Buddha Sodhara in Montreal. Photo by Heather Stilwell.
REPORTED ON February 25, 2012
Long ago in the foothills of the Himalayas, a young Prince Siddhartha left the safety of his palace and set off on a journey to overcome suffering. Upon realizing that the root of all suffering was greed, the newly enlightened Buddha dedicated his life to teaching compassion and sympathy to others.
More than 2,500 years later, a Cambodian monk is adding a modern twist to a journey of his own.
Venerable Loun Sovath maintains that Buddhism, human rights, and democracy are intertwined philosophies. He is an outspoken activist, documentary filmmaker, and poet – and earlier this month he boarded a plane to deliver his message of peace to Canada.
“It is very difficult working for human rights and democracy in Cambodia,” said Sovath in Montreal. “I came here because I want Khmer people in solidarity to help each other.”
Sovath is well known among Khmer Canadians, many of whom left Cambodia as early as 1975 to escape the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Last Saturday at Wat Buddha Sodhara in Saint Laurent, Sovath spoke to Montrealers about Buddhism, human rights issues in Cambodia, and a monk’s role in fighting injustice.
“I’ve never ever seen such an inspirational speech like this,” said event organizer Samnang Chuop. “People can listen to him talk for hours and hours.”