Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Areng villagers say they won't tear down community centre as ordered

Areng villagers say they won't tear down community centre as ordered

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Members of a community dismantle a hut used for cooking near a local community centre, but have reportedly said they won't dismantle the centre itself as ordered by commune authorities last month. Photo supplied

Areng villagers say they won't tear down community centre as ordered

Members of a community in the Areng Valley in Koh Kong province have decided they will not dismantle their community centre as ordered last month by Chumnap commune authorities, who claimed the move was necessary to make room for a new commune office.

Alex Gonzalez-Davidson, a co-founder of the environmental group Mother Nature, which has worked with the community, said he has learned that villagers will not bring down the community centre. Authorities had set Wednesday as the deadline for the centre to be dismantled and threatened to take legal action if the community didn’t take down the facility.

The community, however, did begin taking down a small hut nearby that was used for cooking, Gonzalez-Davidson said.

“We completely support their decision to not dismantle the center, as doing so would only favor the local authorities’ plan to further repress non-government voices in the valley,” he said in a message. “As a matter of fact, we will now try and find a way to expand the community center.”

Community members earlier this month asked Koh Kong Provincial Governor Mithona Phouthorng to help intervene in the matter in a video on Mother Nature’s official Facebook page.

Controversy has surrounded the centre in the past after then-commune Councillor Ven Vorn was convicted in 2016 of allegedly harvesting forestry products illegally to build the centre, and of tampering with evidence that he had done so.

The Koh Kong Provincial Court handed Vorn a one-year sentence, with seven months suspended.

At the time, human rights workers described Vorn’s conviction as a punishment for his activism against a hydropower dam in the area and his close association with Gonzalez-Davidson, who was later deported.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom may hire Turkish power ship

    Cambodia is considering negotiating with Turkey to hire a 200MW-capacity power ship to meet electricity demands as the country faces an ongoing electrical shortage, according to the prime minister. Speaking to garment workers in Pursat province on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Electricite du

  • Woman who scaled Cambodia’s three highest peaks eyes Everest

    One of the very few Cambodian women to have successfully reached the Kingdom’s three highest peaks is now eyeing Malaysia’s tallest mountain, Mount Kinabalu, and potentially even the world’s tallest straddling Nepal and China, Mount Everest. While in many Western countries it

  • Cheap, clean and efficient: The firm leading Cambodia’s solar revolution

    Sitting in her bright and airy 17th floor office, Rithya Menon, Okra Smart Solar’s lead firmware engineer, checks the frequently updating data telling her everything about how well their community services are operating. “I saw in the data that there was a problem with

  • PM Hun Sen: Cambodia will not die without EBA scheme

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday reiterated that he would not be overly concerned if Cambodia had its access to the EU’s “Everything But Arms” (EBA) scheme withdrawn because the Kingdom would not die without it. Hun Sen was speaking to factory workers in