More than two dozen Cambodians were arrested by Thai police following an armed clash on Wednesday evening inside a national park where the Cambodians were allegedly extracting illegal rosewood, according to an official at the Cambodian consulate in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province.
Bun Sokvibol said that 28 Cambodians and one Thai were arrested after being stopped by police while transporting rosewood from the Thap Lan National Park, a protected area inside Kerng Dinsar commune, Prachinburi province.
According to the police, the Cambodians fired at them as they moved in, and they fired back. There were no injuries, the police said.
“We cannot intervene for the release of the 28 Cambodians since theirs is an obvious crime. Thai authorities seized chainsaws and weapons. However, as the general consulate, we can seek [legal representation] for defending them,” said Sokvibol.
Na Vanna, one of those arrested, was quoted in a local Thai news report, citing police, that a group of 60 illegal migrants had been hired to log eucalyptus trees and were only told they would be logging rosewood by their Thai boss after arriving.
“We did not want to log [rosewood], but they forced us by threatening to report us to Thai police if we did not log rosewood,” Vanna reportedly said.
Chum Sounry, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, appealed to Cambodians yesterday to be wary of brokers’ claims of work in Thailand.