PHNOM PENH, August 17, (Khmer Times) – Around 50 forest activists were prevented from staging a bicycle-mounted protest today by authorities at Boeung Tumpon commune, in the city’s Meanchey District.
An estimated 100 police and security guards intercepted the group, who wanted to campaign across the Phnom Penh municipality to highlight to city-dwellers the environmental problems they say are caused by Chinese company Sinohydro Resources’ dam construction project in Koh Kong province’s beautiful Areng Valley.
The protesters assert the project will have major adverse effects on natural resources and a wide variety of rare wildlife.
Alex Gonzalez-Davidson of Non-Government Organization (NGO) Mother Nature Cambodia said, “The Areng Valley is one of the last tracts of natural forest in Cambodia, but it was acquired by Chinese company, Sinohydro Resources Ltd for a dam. The dam project, however, is a fake project, which enables the company to cut down the forest and carry out exploration for underground mining.”
In response, the deputy governor of Meanchey District, Heak Chanleang, said, “We are banning them from conducting their bicycle campaign around Phnom Penh, because they didn’t put in a formal request to City Hall authorities to conduct the protest.”
The Meanchey District‘s authorities seized and impounded around 20 bicycles at the local police station. The deputy district governor said that if they want the bicycles back, they would need to write a letter to the police authorities.
Gonzalez-Davidson warned that the protesters would now explore other options. These include marching along the road from Koh Kong province to Phnom Penh, demonstrating in front of the Chinese embassy and protesting outside the offices of Sinohydro Resources Ltd, located at the Canadia Tower.