Thursday, 20.12.2007: Finally It Is Clear, Ratanakiri Authorities Are Behind the Cutting of Trees to Claim Land; Ratha Visal and Pen Bunna Arrested in a March

Posted on 21 December 2007. Filed under: Week 539 | Tags: , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 539

“A march organized by the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC] to support the [Prime Minister’s] decision not to allow the cutting of trees and the clearing of forests to claim land, was cruelly suppressed on Wednesday morning. At that time, the ADHOC representative, Mr. Pen Bunna, and Mr. Ratha Visal, a Radio Free Asia reporter, were arrested, which shows very clearly that the Ratanakiri authorities are behind the crime of cutting trees and claiming land, contrary to what the Khmer Prime Minister Hun Sen had stated.

“According to a source from Ratanakiri, at least two fire engines with approximately 60 armed police under the strict control of Mr. Bou Lam, the Ratanakiri deputy governor, and You Kan Vimean , the deputy chief of forestry administration, were sent to suppress the march organized by ADHOC, to support the government’s decision to stop the cutting of trees and the clearing of forest to claim land. It was reported that Mr. Ratha Visal, a Radio Free Asia reporter, and Mr. Pen Bunna, the head of the ADHOC office in Ratanakiri, were arrested by a deputy provincial prosecutor, but they were later released.

“The suppression of the march, which had been organized by ADHOC, by the Ratanakiri authorities caused a shock and strong surprise among citizens, because so far it has often been observed that the authorities cruelly suppress all marches against the government – but now the authorities suppressed a march which supports a decision of the government. This is strange.

“It should be noted that during the recent few months, the powerful Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a decision, ordering to urgently stop all deforestation and clearance of forests to claim land from state property. The decision was publicized in order to prevent the grabbing of state forest land by rich and powerful people.

“Anyway, the suppression of the march by Ratanakiri authorities confused the citizens’ feelings related to the intention of this decision, and it triggered the question if Hun Sen’s decision is real or just a play for the cutting of all trees in Ratanakiri.

“It is remembered that between 2003 and 2004, a scandal of mass deforestation in Ratanakiri was revealed in Vireakchey National Park, which is protected by a royal decree. In the Ou Yeul and Kantuy Neak areas, big luxury wood trees were logged to sell them to Yuon [Vietnamese] companies.

“According to a complaint by the Ministry of Environment on 15 November 2004, which was in charge of the park, deforestation was conducted on an area of 6,420 hectares, equal to 80 percent of the whole park, that made the state lose approximately $18 million. Those who destroyed the forest were found – all of them were provincial officials starting from the provincial governor Kham Khoeun, the deputy provincial police commissioner Yoeung Baloung, and the provincial military chief Moeung Samoeun, to simple commune police, which shows that the illegal logging was systematic. But finally, none of those high ranking officials, including Kham Khoeun and Moeung Samoeun, were sent for trial, except for Yoeung Baloung and four to ten low level police.

“However, the shock about that illegal logging did not mean that it reduced the illegal logging in the northeastern Cambodian province; trees are illegally cut in considerable amounts.

“Mr. Bou Lam, who is known as a brother of Bou Thang [CPP member of parliament for Ratanakiri] and deputy Ratanakiri governor, became the president of forest protection community and You Kan Vimean, is a deputy chief of forestry administration – they are reported to be strong protectors for active illegal logging.

“The report said that You Kan Vimean protected many sawmills, causing citizens to lose confidence, and then illegal logging started again; it was like a broken dam overflowing with water. Some sources said that Muong Poy, the current Ratanakiri governor, also very much benefits from the illegal logging and the grabbing of land. Speaking to the point, just replacing Kham Khoeun for less than two years, Muong Poy became a millionaire, and he has now many villas in the province and in Phnom Penh, so many that he cannot remember the number of villas he owns very well.

“The money earned from the selling of forest and land makes Ratanakiri authorities confused about the laws, and they are not afraid of anything at all, not even Hun Sen’s regulations.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.1, #76, 20.12.2007

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 20 December 2007

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1523, 20.12.2007

  • Samdech Dekchor Threatens to Reveal His Former Spy Who Is in the Opposition Party [in Samleng Yuvachun Khmer Son Chhay, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Phnom Penh, says that the Prime Minister is probably referring to him, though without justification]
  • Mr. Yash Ghai [UN Secretary-General’s Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia] Is Just a Person Without Civilization [says Sea Kosal, Cambodian ambassador to the UN]
  • Ukraine’s Orange Revolution Leader Ms. Tymoshenko Gets Position of Prime Minister

Khmer Amatak, Vol.8, #537, 19.12.2007

  • Election Days Approaches, Judicial System Reforms Are Still on Paper and Lips

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.1, #76, 20.12.2007

  • Finally It Is Clear, Ratanakiri Authorities Are Behind the Cutting of Trees to Claim Land; Ratha Visal and Pen Bunna Arrested in a March
  • Prince Thomico Urges Prince Ranariddh to Hold Conference of Monarchists to Attract Support Again
  • Mr. Son Chhay [SRP parliamentarian, Phnom Penh]: If Cambodia Does Not Strengthen Respect for Human Rights, Cambodia Cannot Stay with Other ASEAN Members

Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #6223, 20.12.2007

  • Cambodian Royal Ambassador and Representative to the UN [Sea Kosal] Accuses Mr. Yash Ghai [UN Secretary-Generals Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia] of Looking Down on Cambodia [through his report about human rights situation in Cambodia]
  • US Prepares to Send 80 Observers to Monitor Elections [in Cambodia]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3342, 20.12.2007

  • Global Witness Gets Gold Medal [from the Center for Global Development, Washington/USA] for Report on Deforestation of Cambodia’s Family Trees
  • Chief Murderer Ieng Sary Uses American Lawyer to Defend Him in Court

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4467, 20.12.2007

  • Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen]: ‘Disregarding Agriculture Is a Big Political Mistake’
  • Pork Imported from Thailand Invades Siem Reap Markets
  • A Colonel’s Wife Takes a Taxi from Phnom Penh to Hangs Herself in Wat Dei Doh Pagoda [Kompong Cham – allegedly for domestic issue]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.14, #3212, 20.12.2007

  • Civil Society Organizations Call for Government to Stop Verbal Attacks against Mr. Yash Ghai [UN Secretary-Generals Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia]

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #580, 20.12.2007

  • Yuon [Vietnamese] Government Provides Money to Yuon Associations to Buy Land from Poor Khmer Citizens [according to officials of Ministry of Interior]
  • US Increases Visa Price in Order to Strengthen Safety and Security

Go to last week’s editorial

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