Three environmental activists affiliated with local NGO Mother Nature were arrested in Koh Kong province yesterday morning after refusing to appear for questioning over their alleged involvement in protests against a Vietnamese corporation engaged in sand dredging.
San Mala, Try Sovikea and Sim Somnang were summonsed to appear at Botum Sakor district police station on Friday but ignored the order on the basis that they believed they had not committed any crime.
At about 9am yesterday, the trio was arrested in Andong Teuk commune while monitoring the ongoing sand-dredging activities of Vietnamese company Direct Access, according to fellow activist Meng Heng.
“We suggested to the police that they read out the arrest warrant, but they read it unclearly and arrested our youths afterwards.
They then seized the phones of community members who [recorded] the arrest.”
Koh Kong provincial police chief Somkhit Vean said yesterday’s arrests were connected to two complaints – one lodged by the company alleging losses because of the trio’s activities, and another by district authorities who claim the activists caused a disturbance at a public forum.
“Now we have sent them to the provincial court,” he said.
In Kongchit, a coordinator for rights group Licadho, said last night the men were sent to the provincial prison at about 6:40pm having been charged with "threats to destroy followed by an order."