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Forest activists say lives threatened

Forest activists say lives threatened

2 illegal log
Activists burn logs confiscated from companies accused of illegally logging in areas of the Seima Protection Forest last week. Photo Supplied

Two anti-logging activists who went into hiding yesterday have alleged that they received death threats from police because they set fire to logs cut from a protected area in Kratie province.

The activists have been leading an increasingly confrontational campaign against Vietnamese firm Binh Phuoc Kratie Rubber 2 Company and others logging in the Seima Protection Forest.

Both activists, Sorn Yan and Mom Sakim, said yesterday that Chet Borey district police chief Yan Heang had threatened them after they burned about seven cubic metres of wood on April 5.

“[He] called me and threatened ‘I will make your family poor for life’ and ‘[while] I can find my wood in another place, your life cannot be found,’” Yan said.

Heang yesterday flatly denied the accusations and said the wood burned by the activists – who lead roughly 100 supporters – had nothing to do with him.

“I haven’t threatened anyone. I only asked why they burned it down. [I said] that is an illegal move and [asked] why did they not contact the Forestry Administration,” he said.

Sakin, who has lead several community patrols in the past month to confiscate chainsaws and bulldozers from loggers, said she told both the district police and Forestry Administration of their plans beforehand.  

“I reported to the [Forestry] administration officers about the illegal logs that we confiscated, but they said they did not have enough forces to take that wood and they asked us to carry it for them,” she said.

“I am afraid for my safety now, because both the authorities and the traders threaten to kill me everywhere.”

Binh Phuoc Kratie Rubber 2 Company has a 10,000-hectare economic land concession in the Seima Protection Forest, formerly known as the Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area, the majority of which they were ordered to stop logging by Prime Minister Hun Sen last year.

The order, according to district officials, was revised shortly after it was given, when Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhaly intervened. Clashes between community forest patrols and loggers have intensified since, while vast swaths of forest have disappeared.

The chairman of Binh Phuoc Kratie Rubber 2 Company is Vu Duy Khuong, according to the Ministry of Commerce. When the Post contacted Khuong’s registered phone number yesterday, a man who answered simply said, “I am not Khuong”.

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