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Illegal timber headed for Vietnam: villagers

Men mill around a forest camp that local activists in Ratanakkiri province say is being used as a base for illegal logging.
Men mill around a forest camp that local activists in Ratanakkiri province say is being used as a base for illegal logging. Photo supplied

Illegal timber headed for Vietnam: villagers

Ethnic Jarai villagers in Ratanakkiri province have filed complaints against alleged illegal loggers operating in Andong Meas district, claiming their forest patrols discovered encampments run by migrants who sell timber to Vietnamese smugglers.

Romarm E, 34, a community leader in the district’s Ket village, said a patrol in Nhang commune yesterday discovered about 10 loggers near Krahorm Mountain.

“We went there and saw their camps hidden in the forest,” he claimed. “They sell their timber to Vietnamese people.”

He added that most of the loggers the patrols had encountered were migrant workers from Kampong Cham, Svay Rieng and Kampong Thom provinces.

Afraid of possible retribution, the patrol photographed the camps and handed over the evidence to the provincial coordinator for local rights group Licadho.

Sovann Bunthai, of Licadho, said he had contacted the authorities after receiving the villagers’ complaint.

Phat Sambath, Andong Meas deputy governor, said the authorities had twice launched investigations into the claims since September, but had never found evidence of wrongdoing.

“It’s remote and hard to travel there. We’ve been there, but there’s nothing happening.”

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