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Mother Nature backers clash with authorities

Mother Nature activists and supporters protest in front of Koh Kong Provincial Court earlier this week.
Mother Nature activists and supporters protest in front of Koh Kong Provincial Court earlier this week. LICADHO

Mother Nature backers clash with authorities

Demonstrators in the southeastern province of Koh Kong clashed briefly with security forces yesterday, as they marched on the local town hall and court to demand the release of three detained activists.

A villager who was at the protest said that when the group reached Khemarak Phumin town’s Domg Tong Market, they were met by about 20 mixed security forces who blocked their path.

“They grabbed us and tried to arrest one of us, but we dragged that protester away. My child was beaten . . . [but] we arrived at the court and will continue to protest,” villager Phav Nhemg said.

The clash occurred following an order from local authorities to end demonstrations outside the provincial hall in Koh Kong town, the second such notice issued in recent days.

The three activists from local NGO Mother Nature – San Mala, Try Sovikea and Sim Somnang – were arrested on August 19 following a campaign of direct action against what they say is illegal sand dredging along the province’s waterways.

The deputy governor of Khemarak Phumin town, Pen Bunchhuoy, said the authorities had issued the ban on gatherings because it “impacted negatively on public order”.

“If they ask for permission, including where they plan to march and how many people will join them, we will not stop them. We will protect them, because we are the government,” he said.

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