Employees reportedly working for the controversial Company 72 have allegedly been illegally felling timber in a community forest in Ratanakkiri province’s O’Yadav district and shipping it across the Vietnamese border, community members and Adhoc said yesterday.
Romas Svat, a community representative in Paknhai commune’s Lom village, said he and three other villagers who were patrolling the community forest on Sunday came across a camp of Vietnamese loggers in possession of as many as 40 logs, each up to 10 metres long.
“We saw six Vietnamese men at the camp, a truck and two tractors,” Svat said. “We took video and photos of the camp and timbers as evidence.”
Upon seeing the forest patrol, Svat added, the men left the camp after asking patrollers not to take photos.
“We asked them why they logged our jungle. They said it is the company’s forest,” he said, adding that the community had reported the logging to the rights group Adhoc.
Company 72, which has been sub-contracted by Men Sarun Company to clear land for a rubber concession in the area, has repeatedly been accused of illegally logging community forests by locals and officials.
The company was summonsed in February by the Ratanakkiri Provincial Court for questioning, and in May, angry villagers went so far as to sieze the keys and batteries of bulldozers owned by the company.
Adhoc coordinator Chhay Thy said yesterday that he planned to go investigate the allegations by Thursday after receiving multiple complaints from the community.
“The Vietnamese [loggers] crossed the border and have logged illegally since early July,” he said. “They felled big trees and transported them to Vietnam at nighttime.”
The felled timber, he said, was taken into Vietnam through a border checkpoint without intervention from authorities.
However, Sen Voeurn, the police chief in nearby Yatung commune, denied allegations of logging.
“The forest in that area has been cleared and planted with rubber since last year. There’s no forest there,” he said.