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Anti-dredging activists refuse to meet with gov

Activists protest in front of Botum Sakor District Hall yesterday in Koh Kong Province to demand an end to sand-dredging in the Andoung Tuek River.
Activists protest in front of Botum Sakor District Hall yesterday in Koh Kong Province to demand an end to sand-dredging in the Andoung Tuek River. Mother nature

Anti-dredging activists refuse to meet with gov

Activitis yesterday continued their campaign to drive out sand dredging companies from Koh Kong province’s Botum Sakor district, refusing a meeting with local authorities and instead holding a 100-strong protest outside the district hall.

Botum Sakor District Governor On Phearak yesterday requested to meet five representatives of environmental group Mother Nature – which is pushing to expel two Vietnamese firms extracting sand from the Andoung River – to discuss their campaign, now in its fourth day.

However, Sun Mala, a member of the group, founded by deported activist Alex Gonzalez-Davidson, said they refused to meet and chose to protest.

Mala said he was sceptical of the authorities’ promises of a resolution, calling them “a trick” to stall the group’s efforts.

Van Non, a community representative, demanded authorities join efforts to stop International Rainbow Co Ltd and Direct Access Co, which are using nearly 100 sand-dredging and transportation boats to mine estuaries in the area.

Without authorities’ support “the company will just start their activity again when we are not here”, he said.

Addressing the demonstration, Governor Phearak said the firms were operating legally and the campaign, which involved activists peacefully boarding the dredging boats, was affecting their property and finances.

Pich Siyun, director of Koh Kong’s Mines and Energy Department, said the company had not broken the conditions of their licences.