CNRP leader voices support for activist

Alex Gonzalez-Davidson of Mother Nature Cambodia
Alex Gonzalez-Davidson of Mother Nature Cambodia at a protest in support of preserving the Areng Valley last year. Pha Lina

CNRP leader voices support for activist

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has called for anti-dam campaigner Alex Gonzalez-Davidson to be allowed to remain in Cambodia after the Khmer-speaking Spanish national was told the authorities would not renew his visa last week.

Rainsy, the Cambodia National Rescue Party president, yesterday wrote a letter to Interior Minister Sar Kheng calling on him to reverse his decision to deny the activist a visa.

“I and other Cambodian people do not think he has committed any crime requiring deportation,” Rainsy wrote.

“He has also expressed his love of Cambodia and its traditions; he speaks fluent Khmer, much better than many foreigners who are living in Cambodia.”

Gonzalez-Davidson, who has long campaigned against the planned construction of the Stung Cheay Areng hydropower dam in Koh Kong province, would be the first foreign NGO worker to be prevented from entering Cambodia since Global Witness staff were denied visas in 2005.

Kheng ordered the Interior Ministry’s Immigration Department not to issue Gonzalez-Davidson with a new visa, the Post reported on Saturday.

The move followed a thinly veiled threat of deportation from ruling party lawmaker Chheang Vun in December, three months after the founder of environmental group Mother Nature was briefly detained in Koh Kong for preventing security forces from using an access road leading to the Areng Valley.

Monks and youth activists yesterday penned a joint letter calling on the King to request the government to reverse its decision not to issue Gonzalez-Davidson a new visa when it expires on Friday.

Heng Samnang, Khmer Youth Empire spokesman, said the group would follow up the letter with a protest campaign.

“We have many strategies to prevent the authorities from expelling him from the country,” Samnang said.

Sok Veasna, director of the Department of Non-Immigrants and Technology at the Department of Immigration, declined to comment, saying he “only followed the order from the Ministry of Interior”.

The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights said that the possible deportation would “undoubtedly cause concern among Cambodian NGOs that any foreign staff they employ could face similar punitive measures if they engage in work deemed undesirable”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • NOCC to contest petanque, tennis axe

    The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia will lobby hard over the next few weeks for the inclusion of the Kingdom’s most productive medal-earning sport, petanque, along with vovinam and tennis after the disciplines were left out of the initial list of 30 preferred sports for