An activist with environmental NGO Mother Nature was arrested this afternoon in Kandal province’s Sa’ang district, allegedly for flying a drone without permission, although the arrest coincided with a demand from villagers that authorities halt sand dredging operations in the area.
About 20 Kandal Provincial Police officers arrested activist Hun Vannak at around 12:30pm in Koh Kor village, according to fellow Mother Nature activist San Mala. The arrest followed a meeting between residents and local authorities at a villager’s home, where they aired their concerns over continued sand dredging that they believe is behind a series of damaging riverbank collapses.
For several hours, fellow activists had no idea where Vannak had been taken, or why he was being held.
Later in the evening, however, Lim Kimsor, a women’s issues coordinator for Mother Nature, said provincial authorities told them Vannak was arrested for allegedly flying a drone without asking permission from local authorities.
“Tomorrow, they will bring him to court in Phnom Penh,” she said.
Khim Chankiri, provincial deputy governor, confirmed that provincial police “invited” an activist from Mother Nature to their station today, but maintained he was not aware why.
Police officials could not be reached to confirm the reason for his arrest.