Police in Koh Kong province yesterday raided a house rented by local environmental NGO Mother Nature in what its members have described as an ongoing campaign of intimidation against the group amid the detention of three of its activists.
Mother Nature activist Thun Sothean said about 20 police officers arrived at the Smach Meanchey commune property, which has been rented by the NGO since February, at 4:30pm yesterday but presented no arrest warrant.
“They came to check all of the rooms.… They took our names and told us to thumbprint a document, but we refused.”
Pen Bun Chhouy, deputy governor of Khemarak Pumin town, said the raid was merely standard administrative procedure, and not a sign of action being taken against the group.
“The house is only rented by two people but it has 21 people staying there, so we came to do administrative checks,” he said. “We just wanted to know where they are coming from.”
But activists yesterday said it was no coincidence that the property had been targeted days after three of its activists were imprisoned over protests against a Vietnamese company accused of illegally dredging in the area.
Mother Nature co-founder Alex Gonzalez-Davidson said yesterday’s raid was a “completely normal reaction from the cartel that controls the powers that be in Koh Kong”.