March 30, 2016
For Immediate Release
March 31, 2016-- (Cambodia) We are the Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN), a group of Kuy ethnic volunteers who join together to protect the Prey Lang Forest, which has been part of our lives for many generations. We come from the four provinces surrounding Prey Lang, Kampong Thom, Preah Vihea, Kratie and Stung Trung and have volunteered, working together to protect Prey Lang for 16 years.
As part of our patrol routine, from March 23 to 27, 2016 activists from all four provinces traveled through Prey Lang patrol to monitor and suppress the illegal logging that is destroying Prey Lang forest. During these five days of patrol we confiscated many cubic meters of wood, 35 chainsaws, and other materials involved in logging activities. Over the past two months of 2016 we have confiscated 85 chainsaws and many more cubic of wood from illegal loggers in Prey Lang.
On the evening of March 26 we camped overnight near Ta Chuel stream, in the Bueng Char region. On March 27, between 1:30 and 1:40 in the morning, local time, a group of people slipped through our camp and attempted to kill one of our youth activists, Phan Sopheak, who was asleep in her hammock. We did not see their faces and do not know how many they were, but our activist was badly injured on her left leg. If she were sleeping the other way, they would have cut her throat. The criminal soon escaped after Sopheak yelled for help. This was clearly an act of attempted murder, with malice toward her and the rest of the activists. Sopheak is one of the young Prey Lang activists who was nominated to represent PLCN to receive an Equator Prize from UNDP in December 2015 in Paris.
Sopheak was sent to a local clinic for quick treatment on the same day and is now safe, but her left leg is seriously injured.
Sopheak is the third indigenous environmental activist to be attacked this month, the other two were indigenous activists murdered in Honduras on March 3 and 16, 2016.
We, PLCN, are in shock and are very concerned for our safety amid increased intimidation and threats on our lives like this attempted murder by illegal loggers and those supporting them. Meanwhile the level of deforestation in Prey Lang had increased dramatically since early 2016. Without support from the Cambodia government, Prey Lang will cease to exist and our livelihood will disappear. Therefore, we request the following to the Cambodia government:
- Fully investigate the attempted murder on Sopheak and bring those criminals to justice.
- Permanently criminalized all forms of timber trading, both legal and illegal, in the Prey Lang region.
- Stop all logging activities in the Prey Lang region.
- Conduct Investigations to determine who is involved in the logging business.
- Help to intervene and cooperate with PLCN to protect Prey Lang.
For more information, please contact our PLCN members from all four provinces below:
- Mr. Pay Bunlieng member of PLCN from Kratie at 097 611 3807
- Mr. Houen Sopheap member of PLCN from Kampong Thom at 012 373 441
- Mr. Chie Sokhouen member of PLCN from Stung Trung at 096 316 2866
- Mrs. Phok Hong member of PLCN Preah Vihea at 012 948 682