Environmentalist Chut Wutty of Cambodia’s Natural Resources Conservation Group was investigating illicit logging operations in the Mondul Seima district of southern Cambodia’s Koh Kong province when he was fatally shot on April 26, 2012. He was allegedly gunned down by a military police officer who was also found dead at the scene. Six months later, a court in Koh Kong sentenced the security chief of the logging company that ran timber operations in the forest to two years in prison for the “unintentional murder” of military officer In Rattana, who the court said had fatally shot Chut Wutty. The slain activist’s family and fellow environmental activists never accepted the verdict or the official account of the killing. Sonorng Kher of RFA’s Khmer Serice interviewed Chut Wutty’s son, Cheuy Oudom Reaksmey, by skype from California on the fifth anniversary of his father’s murder.
RFA: Today marks five years since your father was killed. In Phnom Penh a group of young supporters gathered to watch the film “I Am Chut Wutty” on their smart phones to mark the anniversary of his death, as a public screening of the film has been banned. But you are now in the U.S. What is the reason for this trip?
Cheuy Oudom Reaksmey: I have come to the U.S. in response to an invitation from Cambodian Americans who wanted me to observe the fifth anniversary of my father’s death in the United States. I have come to the U.S. to tell the outside world about justice denied.
RFA: Your father’s murder case, which was handled by the Koh Kong Provincial Court, has been closed. What do you expect to do to find justice for him?
Cheuy Oudom Reaksmey: I have no faith in the Koh Kong Provincial Court. I am still not convinced that In Ratana killed him. I will do my best to call for the international community to help find justice for him. Over the past five years, the government of Cambodia has not been willing to find justice for my family. Even a pubic screening of the film about my father has been banned by the government. I will have to take this matter into my own hands. I will work with young people on this.
RFA: The public screening of the film about your father has been banned since last year. How significant do think the film is in helping find justice?
Cheuy Oudom Reaksmey: If the government was not behind my father’s death, why would it take issue with us for showing the film in public? The film tells the true story of his heroism in his work to address illegal logging and land concessions.
RFA: Has a ritual ceremony to mark your father’s anniversary been observed by Cambodian Americans in the U.S.?
Cheuy Oudom Reaksmey: Yes, it has. On April 23, a ceremony was observed by many Cambodian Americans at Wat Chas temple in Stockton, California, where “I Am Chut Wutty” was shown. People were moved by the film.
RFA: What is your message to listeners?
Cheuy Oudom Reaksmey: I call on all Cambodians to help find justice for my father. No real perpetrators of his murder have even been brought to trial. I also ask the government of Cambodia to prove that it is not behind the murder by finding the real killers and hold them accountable. I am not convinced that In Ratana, who was a very low-ranking military police officer, killed my father. To the international community, please help intervene in this. My father died to protect natural resources. Our family has not received justice yet.
Translated by Nareth Muong.