Mother Nature activist arrested in Kandal province; still in police custody

Created Date : 07 / Aug / 2017
Nature of Violation :
Rights Involved :


Today - Monday,07 August 2017 - youth activist Hun Vannak, a member of the environmental NGO MotherNature, was arrested at approximately 12.30pm in Kohkor Village, Roka Khpos Commune,Sa-ang District, Kandal Province. Kohkor village has recently borne witness toa series of community protests against fluvial sand dredging in the area, whichmay have led to riverbank collapse and the loss of homes.Approximately10 - 15 police officers arrested Mr. Vannak shortly after he left the house ofa local villager in Kohkor village. The police were accompanied by 4-5 uniformedrepresentatives of the Leng Ching sand dredging company and arrested Mr. Vannak.Mr. Vannak was accompanied by a local villager and was on his way to buy lunchwhen he was intercepted by police, close to the villager’s home.According towitness reports, police pushed Mr. Vannak into a police vehicle withoutinforming him of the reason for his arrest. He was taken directly to the policestation in Ta Kmao for questioning. CCHR has received information that Mr.Vannak is being questioned in relation to allegedly illegally inciting thecommunity to protest, and for allegedly illegally flying a drone. The exactnature of the alleged offenses is yet to be confirmed by the authorities.Mr. Vannak arrivedin Kohkor Village on the morning on 07 August to attend a meeting by the Sa-angdistrict authorities and attended by the Sa-ang District Governor, the RokaKhpos Commune Chief, the Kohkor Village Chief, local villagers, andrepresentatives of the Leng Ching Company. Mr. Vannak attended and monitoredthe meeting at the invitation of local villagers who asked him to monitor. Mr.Vannak live streamed the meeting via Facebook Live.The purposeof the meeting was to discuss the issues related to sand dredging in the areaand to find a solution between the villagers and the sand dredging companieswhich are operating in the locality. The villagers have been demanding an endto sand dredging in their area, as well as compensation for lost and damagedproperty. Villagers report that they have been meeting on a near-daily basis todiscuss the dredging and to plan their advocacy. These meetings have routinelybeen interrupted by (mostly district-level) authorities and police. In June2017, another Mother Nature activist, Thun Ratha, faced questioning by local police due to his supportfor the local community in Sa-ang.[1]

Contact Information

For more information please contact CCHR’s ProtectingFundamental Freedoms Project Coordinator Ms. Ramana Sorn, via telephoneat +855 (0) 17 655 591 oremail at [email protected]._______________________________________[1] For moreinformation, see: CCHR, ‘Mother Nature Activist faces threats due to his participation in aprotest’, 12 June 2017. Available at: