Chut Wutty, who was gunned down last month while investigating illegal logging, walks on a dirt road in Botum Sakor National Park in Koh Kong province in February. Photograph: Reuters
An estimated 600 people will travel to parts of the Cardamom Mountains in Koh Kong province to investigate illegal logging and commemorate the death of slain environment activist Chut Wutty tomorrow.
Communities from eight provinces that have been affected by deforestation will travel to Koh Kong province from May 10 to 13, a statement released yesterday by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights said.
They will first travel to Thma Bang district before moving on the next day to Veal Bei Point in Mondul Seima district’s Bak Khlang commune where Chut Wutty was shot, the statement said.
CCHR president Ou Virak said yesterday that the purpose of the trip was to show the government that those fighting deforestation would continue to stand up despite the loss of a leader.
“The very reason Chut Wutty was killed was because they tried to confiscate his camera and delete his memory card, and it was pretty obvious that a lot of illegal activities were going on that he was investigating,” he said.
A five-member joint investigative committee found that Chut Wutty was shot on April 26 by military police officer In Rattana, who had attempted to confiscate his camera and was in turn accidentally killed when security guard Ran Boroth tried to disarm him.
Ran Boroth was charged on Friday with unintentional murder.
“I think it is very important that we continue to be defiant of the illegal loggers,” Ou Virak said, adding he hoped the government would support them rather than create obstacles during their trip.
The Post has previously photographed large hauls of luxury rosewood being trucked out the Cardamom Mountains at night in Koh Kong province and conservationists say the trade in illegal timber in the area is rampant.
Svay Phoeun, a village representative from Preah Vihear province, said Chut Wutty’s shooting did not intimidate him, and he was determined to find evidence of illegal logging, regardless of any threat to his life.
“I don’t care. What I want to do is just get evidence of illegal logging in that area to pass to the government because Mr Wutty could not pass his evidence to the government,” he said.
Bun Leut, Governor of Koh Kong province, said he had not yet been informed about the planned trip.
“I am not sure if I will allow them to do that or not because I did not see their request yet,” he said.
Independent environmental activist Marcus Hardtke said large-scale illegal logging had taken place for too long in the Cardamom Mountains and someone needed to take action on the issue.
“In principle, this is a very nice and symbolic gesture, and in the absence of any government action this is very useful,” he said.
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