Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Youth cyclists blocked in Koh Kong province

Youth cyclists blocked in Koh Kong province

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Koh Kong authorities confiscate the bicycles of the environmental group Mother Nature. Mother Nature

Youth cyclists blocked in Koh Kong province

Koh Kong provincial police confiscated more than 10 bicycles from a group of Mother Nature Organisation youths who were riding from Koh Kong province to Phnom Penh to submit a petition to Prime Minister Hun Sen proposing that Koh Kong Krao Island be certified a protected area.

Koh Kong provincial hall spokesman Sok Sothy told The Post that authorities had taken the bicycles and blocked the group from moving forward because they had not cooperated with the authorities.

“We asked them to come in for a Covid-19 screening and they did not cooperate,” he said. He said the group had gathered without legal permission.

“They said they want to submit the petition to Samdach, but the government has announced a ban on large gatherings. They come from many groups and areas, including Koh Kong, Battambang and Preah Sihanouk and we have to restrain them,” he said.

Sothy said if the youth group intended to submit a petition to Hun Sen, they should have submitted a letter to the provincial administration to follow up on their journey and avoid any unpleasant incidents.

He said if the group had cooperated with the authorities from the beginning, there would have been no problems.

A member of the Mother Nature youth group Rai Reaksa, who participated in the campaign, told The Post that more than 10 people had been riding their bikes since Monday to travel to Phnom Penh to submit a petition to Hun Sen.

However when they arrived in Trapaing Roung district, they were restrained by Koh Kong authorities intent on preventing them from travelling.

“The authorities called for us to get a health checkup at Trapaing Roung Health Centre, but when we went in they kept demanding documents. They took away our bikes for not moving forward,” she said.

Reaksa said she considers the activity a violation of freedom and a serious rights abuse. She said the authorities did everything to prevent their journey.

“If there is no return of our bicycles we will walk from Trapaing Roung district to Phnom Penh and ask for them,” she said.

Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) executive director Chak Sopheap wrote on her Facebook page that it is not new that youth and environmental activists are detained for promoting and protecting the environment.

She said a bicycle ban also occurred in 2014 on grounds that the group needed permission, although the peaceful demonstration law requires only notification.

“And this is not a demonstration. Do all meetings and cycling need permission? Authorities should enthusiastically support environmental protection campaigns and should spend resources in the prevention of deforestation and lake-sea erosion,” she said.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan told The Post that “there is no problem with this activity”. “It’s just their choice and standing up for their rights is an option. In this case, it should be relevant to the Ministry of the Environment.”

Environment ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said any campaign by the youth group was their right, but the blockade was the decision of the local authority and the ministry only supports legal activities.

He said that even though the youths did not campaign, the ministry has been conducting a study of documents and data related to the Koh Kong Krao area for the past three years to plan the outlying Koh Kong Krao area as a sea national park.

The area, he said, is rich in natural resources and biodiversity, and has beautiful beaches.

“The ministry found that Koh Kong Krao is home to endangered marine life like sea dolphins. The ministry will connect the new park to Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary, Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary, and other conservation areas in the region of the Gulf of Thailand,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pheaktra said Cambodia has 69 protected areas including national parks and wildlife sanctuaries on 7.3 million hectares, equal to 41 per cent of the Kingdom’s land surface.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon

  • Migrant workers set to return from Malaysia

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation confirmed on Thursday that 158 Cambodian students and migrant workers will fly home from Malaysia on Friday morning. This is the second flight to bring Cambodians home from Malaysia. A ministry notice said Malaysia Airlines Flight MH754 will