PHNOM PENH Feb 20 (Khmer Times)—More than 100 monks, students, and activists gathered in front of the National Assembly in support of prolific Areng Valley Dam activist Alexander Gonzalez-Dadvidson on Friday. Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson, a longtime resident of Cambodia, faces fines and possible deportation if he chooses not to exit the country on Friday.
Thirty-one local NGOs and unions issued a joint statement calling for authorities to reconsider their decision to deny Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson a renewal of his visa so that he may stay in the country.
“We would like to request to Cambodian Authority to reconsider the case of Alex Gonzalez-Davidson and give him a visa to continue living in Cambodia,” said the statement.
The groups urged the government to allow the activist to continue his work with environmental group Mother Nature and “support the community in Areng Valley and help find a solution” for the hundreds of villagers and endangered wildlife that will be devastated if the Koh Kong province hydropower dam construction begins.
CNRP lawmakers also attended the rally vowed to help the activist groups supporting the beleaguered Spanish activist.
CNRP lawmaker Ho Vann said: “We see Alex as a very important person who’s trying to protect the environment in Areng Valley. We shouldn’t discriminate [against] foreigners who try to protect the environment and the country’s natural resources.”
Sam Rainsy, President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), sent a letter to the Interior Ministry pleading Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson’s case on Monday. Kem Sokha, Vice President of the CNRP, has already sent letters to the National Assembly and the Royal Palace on behalf of the beleaguered activist.
But there is no sign that the government is willing to back down from their insistence that Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson must leave the country, where he has lived over 12 years, by Friday or face possible deportation. The Royal Palace has also given no indication on whether the king will intervene to allow the environmentalist to remain in the country.
Last year, Gonzalez-Davidson achieved prominence for his opposition to construction of a hydroelectric dam in the Areng Valley, located in the southern Cardamom Mountains.