Police and soldiers in Mondulkiri province broke up a gathering of ethnic minority villagers yesterday as they planned to hold prayers and call on the government to stop illegal logging.
The ceremony, held in Mondulkiri province‘s Sen Monorom district, was to be attended by an estimated 300 people, but security forces told the group they were only allowed to gather for one hour and that the rally must be limited to 50 people.
“We did not want to commit any violence, so we agreed,” said Pleak Mal, 68, an ethnic minority leader in the district. “They did not allow us to make traditional prayers to demand the authorities stop illegal logging and preserve our culture.”
Prel Raman, district police chief, said officers came to ensure the gathering passed without violence.
Hkak Terngh, 55, said he was prevented from joining the gathering by police.
“I really wanted to join, because we think that our land, culture and natural resources are being lost. We are worried for our children’s future,” he said.