Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Soldiers escorting logs from sanctuary: locals



Soldiers escorting logs from sanctuary: locals

A timber transporter walks in front of his home-made truck in Preah Vihear province.
A timber transporter walks in front of his home-made truck in Preah Vihear province. Photo supplied.

Soldiers escorting logs from sanctuary: locals

Communities in Preah Vihear’s Choam Ksan district have alleged that soldiers are involved in the transportation of illegal timber in the protected forests of Kulen Prum Tep Wildlife Sanctuary, an allegation denied yesterday by a local military official.

Villagers in the district and NGOs said yesterday that they have witnessed soldiers wearing army fatigues and armed with rifles riding along with trucks and motorcycles carrying felled timber in the protected area over the past three weeks.

Ten Hoeun, a resident of the Cheam Sra village, said he had seen the soldiers since the beginning of January, adding that most villagers were too afraid to confront the military staffers.

“I have spotted them at least three times already. Each group includes three or four soldiers,” he said. “They go along [with the timber] in case rangers or village security try to report it.”

On each occasion, he saw at least three trucks carrying sokrom, koki, pdiek and pchoek varieties of luxury wood.

Environmental activist Ouch Leng, who investigated logging in the sanctuary three months ago, said he witnessed the same military officials engaging in the transport of illegal timber.

He added that similar activities were also being carried out within a social land concession (SLC) granted to the families of soldiers in the area.

“There were bandsaws and sawmills at military bases and in the villages,” Leng said. “The sawmill owners are the families of military officials.”

He said he was in the process of collecting documents to file a complaint to the government.

But Eng Hoeung, a provincial military commander, yesterday refuted the allegations, saying that the presence of military uniforms did not necessarily indicate soldiers, and insisting that soldiers only carry arms in approved situations.

“Sometimes, someone wears [a uniform], but they’re not a soldier,” he said.

While Hoeung said he was unaware of an SLC for soldiers in the sanctuary, Ear Sokha, the Environment Ministry’s provincial director, confirmed that an SLC had been granted, but was unaware of the details.

Peok Sophon, of local NGO Ponlok Khmer, said armed forces had been involved in forestry crimes in the area for a while now and that the NGO had been prevented from investigating the issue two years ago.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and