As of September 5, Siem Reap provincial authorities had received more than 100 inquiries from people asking for help finding their relatives who travelled to the sprawling plantation of Khem Veasna – president of the League for Democracy Party (LDP) who now doubles as cult leader and doomsday prophet – in Siem Reap province’s Banteay Srei district.
Several hundred of Veasna's supporters continue to linger there despite an ultimatum to clear out, according to provincial governor Tea Seiha. According to a contract between the authorities and LDP, the throng of followers who gathered fearing an apocalypse predicted by Veasna must disband by September 5 at 17:30pm.
Provincial governor Tea Seiha told The Post that leading up to the ultimatum, many of the followers had already returned home, while at the farm the temporary structures were all dismantled.
The authorities have coordinated their work on the situation with Veasna as he is the lawful property owner there, while the police continued to closely monitor the situation.
“We have not taken any action yet. According to the contract, Khem Veasna has cooperated on almost every point. Now, we have many points of agreement and he is also dismantling the structures according to the contract," he said. “
Currently, those who continue to stay at the farm number in the few hundred and Khem Veasna has asked them to clean up after themselves while there,” he added.
He said the police are sorting through the various inquiries and complaints from people whose relatives had run away to the farm and determining if any of them warrant further legal action.
Provincial police chief Teng Channath said that as of September 5, members of the public had filed more than 100 complaints or inquiries asking for help to find their relatives who had gone to the farm several days ago and had not been heard from since.
"When they submitted the complaints in person, we coordinated with Khem Veasna and accompanied them to the farm to look for their relatives to take them back home. Some 20 supporters had decided to return home as a result of that," he said.
However, he said the authorities must investigate further because there have now been reports or claims that some people who say they want to leave are not being allowed to leave.
“Some people contacted us because they lost their children and they weren't being allowed to exit and enter. But when there is coordination, we can enter. So, we can primarily conclude that there could be cases of confinement,” he said.
Some observers said Veasna's actions had been abnormal to say the least and possibly related to a mental illness.
Siem Reap provincial Department of Health director Kros Sarath told The Post on September 5 that he had not received any information from him or about the case.
Separately, a medic from Tbeng commune health centre in Banteay Srei district who asked not to be named told The Post that because the farm is located in Tbeng commune, the provincial health department required the namesake health centre to put up tents and assign medical staff to go on duty outside of the farm's perimeter in case anyone there required emergency medical treatment.
“My medics are there just outside the fence, because inside the farm they told us that they have their own medical staff on duty. Regardless, we put up medical tents outside the farm's fence since this is going on. We had never received anyone coming out for a medical check-up, but the first patient I saw was a woman who came out to deliver a baby," she said.
District governor Khim Finan voiced the fatigue felt by many of the area authorities. "We worked with them and they agreed to end this. We made a contract with them to end the gathering this evening [September 5]. There remains some supporters and Khem Veasna at the farm, but we know how to identify them all correctly.”