Ban on Marching for the Environment

In Cambodia, even a call to protect the environment is perceived as a political threat. Forest activists and NGOs were banned from marching in Phnom Penh on the United Nations’ World Environment Day, June 5th. Photos: RFA/Khmer service

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Forest and land activists, as well as NGOs, marked World Environment Day in Phnom Penh with light-hearted face paint.


Activists called on the government to implement effective protection of the environment, but riot police prevented them from marching.


Animal masks represent wildlife under threat.


This lion mask pleads “stop destroying my habitat”.


Anti-riot police tried to prevent the activists from delivering petitions to the Ministry of Agriculture, as well as to the embassies of China and Vietnam.


Business investments from China and Vietnam are often the cause of environmental destruction. The above banner reads: “Together, we protect the environment.”


Illegal logging is rampant in Cambodia, 50 percent of which is covered by forest. In spite of World Bank assistance, natural resource management remains very poor in the country.


Economic growth has attracted people to cities which are ill-equipped to handle increased wastewater, domestic sewage and industrial effluent.


The demonstrations appeal to public opinion with a call to protect wild animals rapidly disappearing along with their habitats.


"There won't be any animals left if we continue to destroy the forest," one of the activists told RFA.


Defense of the environment and the struggle for human rights are closely linked in Cambodia, where corruption prevents good governance.


The Human Rights organization Licadho condemned police interference stating that "nothing justifies intimidating those taking part in public activities which promote the protection of natural resources."


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