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Spanish anti-dam activist Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson.
Spanish anti-dam activist Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson. Pha Lina

Areng Valley dam activist given marching orders

Interior Minister Sar Kheng has ordered immigration authorities not to renew the visa of Spanish environmental activist Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, which expires on February 20, senior immigration department officials said yesterday.

Gonzalez-Davidson, of Mother Nature, an NGO, has led a campaign against the controversial Stung Cheay Areng Dam project in Koh Kong province and has attracted a large following on Facebook for his activism.

The Khmer-speaking Spaniard attracted a thinly veiled threat of deportation from senior ruling party lawmaker Chheang Vun in December, three months after he and other Mother Nature activists were briefly detained for blocking security forces and authorities on an access road to the Areng Valley.

Sok Veasna, the director of the department of non-immigrants and technology at the Interior Ministry’s general immigration department, which handles non-permanent visas for foreigners, confirmed the order yesterday.

“Our minister decided not to extend his visa, so we already made a call and would like to meet him … to let him know that his visa will be expired and he will need to leave Cambodia,” he said.

“Our ministry still has his passport, however. We request him to come and pick up his passport and leave Cambodia.”

Veasna said Gonzalez-Davidson would not be banned from returning to the Kingdom if he leaves voluntarily. But otherwise, he would be deported and barred from returning.

Sok Phal, the director-general of immigration, said that the decision was made after local authorities in Koh Kong lodged a complaint about Gonzalez Davidson’s activities.

When asked if he was being denied a visa because of his environmental activism, Phal replied, “Don’t ask me that. I can’t comment on it; I only do technical work.”

Koh Kong provincial governor Bun Leut said that he filed the complaint to the MoI that led to the decision.

“Alex made trouble with local authorities in Thma Bang district. He took the car of his NGO to block my deputy governor’s group who went to visit the villagers in the Areng area,” he said.

Gonzelez-Davidson said that there was “no doubt” in his mind that the decision to deny him visa renewal was related to his anti-dam activism.

He also rejected the governor’s interpretation of the September road-blocking incident.

“He says that we were blocking the road and we stopped the authorities from meeting the villagers. To anyone who has any understanding of the situation, that is absolutely ridiculous. The only time the authorities have visited the villagers in 15 years has been to cheat, threaten or scam them.”

He added that the Areng Valley campaign had been “extremely successful”.

“They will have to deport me. I will throw as many eggs as I can at their face,” he said, vowing not to leave the country before his visa expires.

Senior opposition lawmaker Son Chhay condemned the decision and said he would seek to question Sar Kheng in parliament about the exact reasons why the visa had been denied.

“Alex has done so much good for the country … what he is trying to do is not for his own benefit – he was trying to protect our environment,” he said.

“It’s not going to be easy for Sar Kheng.”

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Bob's picture

Chheang Vun is an own law maker. Making his own law and doesn't care much about Cambodia as long as he can generate dollar in pocket... He cares much less then Alex the real Cambodia nature protector. He is also more polite then CChheang Vun... These few people just abuse their power to control and sell the NATION to the DEVIL....

So sad seeing these few corrupted power absolute people are taking at all means control the future of the nation.... Wake-up people you don't gave them the power and they ow nothing if you don't support them...

This is what Alex is trying to tell Cambodian people. Bravo Alex for all your immense contribution precious works, fighting against wast destruction of Cambodia nature... He educates Cambodian to use their rights, protecting the only think that Cambodian still own, the forest and natural resources symbiosis with their every day life (Forest give them food, plant leaves, birds, hunting animal)...

savath.pou's picture

Dear Mr. Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson,

The news of you being given marching orders to leave Cambodia is not so surprising for me for two reasons: 1-You are a foreigner and 2-You are standing on the side of the Khmer people and on the defense of Cambodia's nature.

Why is it not so surprising for me? Because under the order of the same Minister of Interior, Mr. Sar Kheng, the late General Police Commissioner Hok Lundy gave me marching orders to leave my country of birth Cambodia within TWENTY FOUR hours only a few weeks after I was unlawfully dismissed on December 12th, 2001, from the Kingdom of Wonders' Senate in my capacity at that time as Senator. What were my crimes?

1-I categorically opposed the Government's Land Concession Bill which gave for concession too much land of 100,000ha for too long a period of 99 years.
2-I categorically opposed the Government's Penal Codes Bill which required to extend to 72 hours the period of detaining suspects from 24 hours as stipulated in UNTAC temporary Penal Provisions which were in practice in Cambodia for almost 10 years since 1992.

Dear Mr. Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson,

The story I am telling you right here and right now is 100 percent true. Firstly, it's recorded in the Senate handsard, and secondly, I still keep my Diplomatic Passport on which Mr. Sar Kheng's marching orders were stamped and signed by his strongman the late General Police Commissioner Hok Lundy.

In writing my own account to both the Post readers and you, I wish to simply say that you should, firstly, never contemplate for one second the idea of giving in to the groundless and despicable marching orders shamelessly given by the Ministry of Interior no matter what will happen to you next. Secondly, please stick to your own principles of defending Cambodia's Mother Nature while all my fellow Cambodian countrymen and I, myself, are completely and totally useless in this particular endeavor. In brief, gentleman, you are our defender and you are our hero. So, stay focused and be strong for us all.

Please accept, Mr. Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, my highest consideration.

Sydney, 21st February 2015.
Savath Pou,
Senator Expelled.

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