Three environmentalists and a rights worker were detained yesterday for more than two hours and blocked from delivering a petition to the National Assembly calling on the government to order sand-dredging operations in Koh Kong province to cease.
Three activists from NGO Mother Nature – Dim Kundy, Sorn Chandara and Chek Nitra – were held along with Dith Sothy of rights group Adhoc.
The activists, accompanied by a handful of others, were blocked by Daun Penh and Chamkarmon district security forces, which had set up roadblocks to stop them.
Kundy of Mother Nature said Vietnamese firm International Rainbow Co, which has been dredging sand on the Koh Kong river, had the backing of the state as evidenced by the treatment they received in custody.
“We came here to express our freedom of speech, but our rights were stifled and we were blocked. They slapped my team. Democracy in this country is taking a nosedive.”
Chor Kimsor, deputy governor of Chamkarmon district, who sits on the body in charge of deploying district forces to protests, the Unified Command Committee, said the actions of the activists were illegal.
“If you want to do anything, you have to submit a request to City Hall,” he said.
All four arrestees, however, were released without charge after two hours.
They were made to sign a statement pledging to request permission in future if they wished to deliver a petition to parliament.