Cambodian Environmental Activists End Bicycle Campaign Citing Threat of Arrest

A Cambodian environmental advocacy group on Thursday suspended a campaign getting in touch with the federal government to secure an island environment in Koh Kong province after its bicycle-mounted youth activists dealt with harassment and the threat of arrest from regional authorities, according to the group’s members.

Authorities in Koh Kong very first stopped the 21 Mother Nature activists on Wednesday in Trapaing Roung district after finishing just 60 kilometers (37 miles) of their journey to the capital Phnom Penh from Koh Kong municipality, which had actually begun a day previously, group leader Rey Reaksa informed RFA’s Khmer Service.

Police at first declared issues over the prospective spread of the coronavirus and took samples at a regional university hospital utilizing nasal swabs, however later on stated they did not have approval to continue with their campaign. The activists had actually prepared to provide a petition to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to designate Koh Kong Krov Island a secured location to protect it versus the effect of tourist and personal interests.

When authorities informed the group to sign a contract to end the campaign, the activists declined, triggering authorities to take their bikes. The activists rather chose to stroll the staying 140 kilometers (87 miles) to Phnom Penh to provide their petition.

On Thursday, after being kept an eye on by authorities overnight, Rey Reaksa stated authorities stopped them from strolling on the order of Koh Kong Provincial Governor Sok Sothy and required to understand why they were using Tee shirts bearing the message “Rescue Koh Kong Krov,” recommending the group was attempting to “disrupt social order.”

Police once again pressed them to sign a file ending the campaign and when the activists once again declined, authorities seized their Tee shirts and threatened them with arrest, triggering Mother Nature suspend its activities.

“This is an abuse of human rights against the youth—they violated our rights as campaigners for nature and ruined our plan,” he stated.

On Wednesday, the Phnom Penh Post pointed out federal government representative Phay Siphan as stating that “there is no problem with this activity” and referred the matter to the Ministry of theEnvironment Environment ministry representative Neth Pheaktra stated any campaign by the youth group was their right, however the blockade was the choice of the regional authority and the ministry just supports legal activities.

However, Voice of America priced quote Sok Eysan, a representative for the judgment Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), as stating that the group had “bad intentions” with the campaign. Asked to determine a particular law they had actually breached, Sok Eysan stated it was an attack on the federal government which supervised of safeguarding the environment.

‘Many pretexts’

Hour In, Koh Kong provincial organizer for regional rights group Licadho, informed RFA Thursday that the authorities had “seriously violated” the rights of the Mother Nature activists, who were just working to secure the environment, as the federal government has actually promoted.

“There is no law to prevent youths from biking to petition Hun Sen’s cabinet to protect Koh Kong Krov,” he stated.

Muong Sopheak, who participated in the campaign, stated authorities had actually monitored his group “nonstop” for the previous 2 days.

He stated Mother Nature is worried that Koh Kong Krov will be damaged in the name of advancement, as has actually taken place to a number of other of Cambodia’s islands.

“The authorities have used many pretexts to prevent us from protecting the forest and natural resources,” he stated.

Koh Kong Krov is a 103- square-kilometer (40- square-mile) island situated about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Koh Kong municipality that is house to a forest, waterfalls, beaches, and wildlife. The island’s residents mainly consist of sustainable anglers who count on its natural deposits to earn money.

Reported by RFA’s KhmerService Translated by SameanYun Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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