Cambodian Civil Society Calls For End to Harassment, Arrests of Mother Nature Youth Activists — Radio Free Asia

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Members of the Mother Nature Youth Movement present important information to Cambodia’s authorities as an environmental watchdog and shouldn’t have to perform their jobs whereas going through the menace of arrest, in accordance to civil society teams.

Mother Nature activists have been producing quite a few movies exposing air pollution, unlawful sand dredging, corruption, the dumping of wastewater into the ocean, and the unlawful trafficking of endangered wildlife merchandise. The movies, posted to the group’s Facebook web page, have attracted lots of of hundreds of views.

But the group’s activism hasn’t solely drawn curiosity from a sympathetic viewers. Instead, a number of members have confronted prosecution and imprisonment by authorities within the capital Phnom Penh for advocating in opposition to environmental destruction by highly effective and rich people.

In the newest case, Long Kunthea, Thon Ratha, and Phuong Keo Reaksmey have been arrested in early September after Long Kunthea posted a message to Facebook saying she deliberate to stroll from Wat Phnom to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s dwelling with the intention of deterring the federal government from filling in Ta Mauk Lake on the outskirts of the capital.

The trio have been charged with “inciting serious social unrest” together with Mother Nature founder Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson and Young Khmer Thavark Movement member Chea Kunthin, who’re out on bail awaiting trial. All 5 face up to two years in jail if convicted.

The fees in opposition to them have prompted civil society teams in Cambodia to converse out on their behalf, saying the 5 activists and their group needs to be permitted to work with out the menace of arrest. They famous that the Kampot provincial authorities not too long ago acknowledged shortcomings associated to sewage draining into the Kampot River and took motion following one of Mother Nature’s movies.

“The government should take a different approach, rather than silencing people,” Ul Vann, president of the Cambodian Youth Network (CYN), advised RFA’s Khmer Service.

“They need to support the environmental activists as well as other active citizens who continue to work with the government to solve problems such as natural disasters. Arresting them is like shooting the messenger.”

Cheuy Oudom Reaksmey, the director of Cambodia’s Natural Resource Protection Group—which was based by his father, slain forest activist Chut Wutty—advised RFA that activist youth teams like Mother Nature “benefit the country” and shouldn’t be focused for the work they do.

“The government should support their sacrifices because they work voluntarily, without pay,” he mentioned.

“I would like to see the government treat those who protect natural resources as friends, not foes. They are not the enemies of the government or the people and should be treated likewise.”

Campaign of intimidation

Cambodia’s environmental points are thought-about grave, with one of the world’s most speedy charges of deforestation, widespread water air pollution issues, and long-term threats to the very important Mekong River system.

Mother Nature founder Gonzalez-Davidson mentioned the federal government’s actions represent a menace to those that dare to converse the reality about Cambodia’s environmental points. He mentioned his motion won’t be cowed because the end result of intimidation and can proceed its work with some slight adjustments to its technique.

“Mother Nature Youth has set an example of courage for young Cambodians in general. Thus, Hun Sen’s government beats them because they would like to use such mistreatment as an example for intimidating other young people,” he mentioned.

“The simple message Hun Sen wishes to convey to the public and young people is that if they continue to call a spade a spade in public, they will catch them. They will hurt them and make them shut up. This is a Hun Sen scare tactic. The regime is getting very paranoid of its own people who speak the truth about general social issues.”

Meanwhile, democratic nations, home and worldwide civil society teams, and U.N. human rights specialists proceed to urge Hun Sen’s authorities to launch the Mother Nature Youth activists, who they refer to as “prisoners of conscience,” and name for Cambodia to chorus from punishing them for his or her work.

Repeated calls to authorities spokesperson Phay Siphan and ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesperson Sok Eysan looking for touch upon the activists went unanswered.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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