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Villager defies loggers, claims life is in danger

Villager defies loggers, claims life is in danger

A man fled his home in Kratie province’s Snuol district after three men threatened to kill him for confiscating their chainsaws during a patrol against illegal logging, he told the Post yesterday.

Village representative Chea Horn said he was scared to return home after the men visited his home on Wednesday and left a message with his brother that they planned to kill him.

“I’ve fled my home because I am afraid they will come to kill me,” he said.

Chea Horn was one of 70 villagers from five communes who ventured into Snuol wildlife sanctuary on Monday and Tuesday in a bid to crack down on illegal logging.

Villagers had walked through the sanctuary and confiscated three chainsaws from loggers, who had since accused him of being the villagers’ ringleader, he said.

“I just want to protect the trees, because powerful people have taken over the land and they don’t care about the wildlife sanctuary,” Chea Horn said, adding he would ask the local authority to protect him.

Fellow village representative Neunh Nhean said the group would give the materials they had confiscated to police.

“The authority should protect us, because we protect the trees,” he said.

Snuol district deputy governor Men Vanna said he had received a report from villagers, but would protect them if they were being threatened.

Ouch Leng, project coordinator for the Cambodian Land Reform at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said the people who threatened Chea Horn should be arrested.

“The government has not cared enough to protect the forest, but the villagers have tried to protect the forests in their own time,” he said.

Villagers in Snuol district patrolled the sanctuary for illegal loggers last month, resulting in them confiscating five chainsaws and a tractor.

They briefly detained 10 workers who had been cutting trees and released them after making them thumbprint a document promising to stop.

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