On Saturday, the family of slain environmental activist Chut Wutty will commemorate the 100 days, or thereabouts, that have passed since his death in a case that remains unresolved even though six eyewitnesses have already been questioned.
The official story is that he was killed by military police officer In Ratana, who was then shot by Ran Borath, a security guard working for the logging firm Timbergreen, which Wutty was investigating, though it took investigators three attempts to settle on that version of events.
Somehow, none of the witnesses who were there at Veal Bei point in Koh Kong province’s Mondul Seima district on April 26 have said they saw the actual killing of Wutty – a divisive, headstrong activist who had many friends – and perhaps just as many enemies. …
David Boyle and May Titthara
The homes of nearly 200 families living in Pursat province’s Veal Veng district were demolished yesterday and Monday after officials accused the residents of being involved in a secessionist plot, local officials and villagers said.
District governor Chhe Chhiv said that authorities had demolished 191 homes belonging to villagers in Krapoeu Pi commune, although villagers claimed as many as 700 houses had been knocked down. He said the villagers were illegally living inside the Phnom Sankos wildlife sanctuary.
“We need to prevent them because they live outside of our authority. We worry that they will create a secessionist area like in Kratie province,” Mr. Chhiv said, referring to an alleged insurrection in May.
At the time, villagers embroiled in a land dispute with a rubber company in Kratie were violently evicted by authorities while a 14-year-old girl was shot to death by security forces.
Mr. Chhiv added that village representative Morn Bol was arrested on Monday for allegedly inciting other villagers to occupy state land. Mr. Bol, 48, was charged yesterday with illegally clearing state forest, according to provincial prosecutor Ton Sihadech. If convicted, Mr. Bol faces up to 10 years in prison. …
Phok Dorn, P. 1
In April, Chut Wutty was shot to death in the Cambodian forests he was so outspoken in defending, a slaying that outraged human rights activists suspicious of the conflicting explanations given by police.
His death appears to be part of a chilling trend. Growing numbers of activists and others defending the environment have been killed over the last decade, according to a new report from the environmental watchdog group Global Witness. …
Los Angeles Times
Addressing the killing of 14-year-old Heng Chantha for the first time since she was shot dead last month by government security forces, Prime Minister Hun Sen offered his condolences before declaring that the killing of the teenager was not as serious as the U.S. bombing of innocents in Afghanistan.
“I’m so sorry for the death of that niece, I’d like to contribute my condolences. But, in this case, it’s not as serious a matter as the U.S. dropping bombs in the wrong areas in Afghanistan and killing a lot of [innocent] people…under an excuse of getting rid of al-Qaida and the Taliban,” Mr. Hun Sen said, during a speech to mark the midterm review of the government’s National Strategic Development Plan 2009-2013.
“Why don’t they condemn [the U.S.] and just condemn Khmer?” asked Mr. Hun Sen. …
Kuch Naren, P. 21
The Koh Kong Provincial Court yesterday questioned the seventh and final witness to the April 26 shooting death of well-known environmental activist Chut Wutty by provincial military police officer In Ratana, court officials said.
Srey Makny, the court’s deputy prosecutor, said witness Bou An was questioned over the events that also led to In Ratana being shot and killed by logging company security guard Rann Borath, who is charged with unintentional killing. …
Kuch Naren, P. 21
More than 800 Cambodian workers in Thailand were scared to return to work and some had fled their homes yesterday following the violent death of a co-worker outside their factory in Songkhla province on Monday, their representative said.
Phan Chem said workers wanted the Cambodian embassy to come to their aid after a 19-year-old man was allegedly stabbed to death by Burmese co-workers outside the Siam International Food Company. …
Meas Sokchea, P. 3
Members of the Prey Long Forest Network yesterday said they are planning to hold a citizens’ patrol to look for evidence of illegal logging in Kompong Thom province this weekend.
The patrol would be the first such patrol in the country since the April 26 murder of environmental activist Chut Wutty, who had played a key role in organizing, leading and promoting the participation of local people in the protection of forests.
Immediately after Chut Wutty’s death, network members spoke of plans for a coordinated patrol of several forests across the country and said that Chut Wutty’s death would not deter them from continuing in his footsteps. …
Khuon Narim, P. 21
Authorities are investigating the death of a Cambodian worker that took place on Monday outside a factory in Thailand’s Songkhla province, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said yesterday. …
Phan Chem, a representative of Cambodian workers at Siam International Food Co… said a 19-year-old worker from Prey Veng province had been killed and seven other Cambodian workers injured during a clash with Burmese co-workers outside the factory on Monday. …
Meas Sokchea, P. 3
This month’s eviction of villagers in Kratie province that resulted in the death of a 14-year-old girl was one of many such violent incidents over land that have erupted in Cambodia in recent years. But what set the May 16 violence apart was a word: secession.
On the morning of the eviction, 14-year-old Heng Chantha was shot dead when about 200 armed soldiers, police and military police descended upon Broma village in Chhlong district .
The night before, provincial authorities had begun denouncing the villagers as so-called secessionists, claiming the poor villagers were attempting to annex an area and govern it as a zone autonomous from the government.
The accusation that the residents of Broma village were trying to establish their own mini-state was widely expounded by government officials, and two weeks later, police are still searching for five so-called members of their anti-government movement. …
Amnesty International researcher for Cambodia Rupert Abbott also said that government claims of a separatist movement were far from reality. “The explanation that villagers were trying to create an independent state seems implausible, and may appear to be an excuse for violently crushing villagers involved in a long-running land dispute with the Casotim rubber company,” he said in an email. …
Simon Lewis and Khy Sovuthy, P. 19
Observers on site in the aftermath of a Kratie province military operation last week that lead to the shooting death of a 14-year-old girl noticed something odd about the attire of some soldiers.
It was their helmets. Crude replicas of what appeared to be American flags were stuck between the green and tan camouflage, like an out-of-place piece of a puzzle. …
Joseph Freeman, P. 2
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights yesterday called on the government to ensure its investigation into the deaths of forestry activist Chut Wutty and military police officer In Rattana remained independent, and raised concern over an apparent increase in attacks on civilians and human rights workers.
“Despite the current lack of clarity about what exactly happened, we are very concerned that the killing of Mr Wutty marks the latest and most lethal in a series of gun attacks on human rights defenders in Cambodia,” the UN said in a statement.
“We urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to ensure that a full civilian judicial investigation proceeds speedily and with the utmost probity and independence,” the statement continued…
Abby Seiff and Saing Soenthrith
A joint investigative committee will be established to re-examine the killing of activist Chut Wutty and military police officer In Rattana, the head of the armed forces told the Post yesterday, after providing his own version of the incident to radio.
Pressure from the families of victims and rights groups for an independent inquiry into Thursday’s dual shooting has mounted following a series of contradictory and questionable official explanations from the military police.
On the day of environmentalist Chut Wutty’s burial, General Sao Sokha, national military commander, said Council of Minister’s deputy minister Prak Sokhon had asked him to enlist people to form the committee into the double shooting in Koh Kong province last Thursday…
“The government tries to work to provide justice for those two people and also for the nation; what the government did is according to the law,” he said.
Sao Sokha said the committee would be formed with officials from the Ministry of Interior,Council of Ministers, the Ministry of National Assembly Senate Relations & Inspection, other government departments and the national military police.
May Titthara and David Boyle
A draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) drawn up by Malaysia to regulate maids working in the country does not sufficiently protect their rights and needs improvements, an official at the Labor Ministry said on Thursday.
Malaysian officials drew up the MoU between the two governments following a moratorium put on the sending of maids to Malaysia by Prime Minister Hun Sen in October.
Mr Hun Sen’s decision came after widespread reports of severe abuse against maids, sometimes resulting in death, at recruitment centers in Cambodia and by employers in Malaysia…
By Phorn Bopha and Simon Lewis
A Malaysian couple were charged Friday with the murder of their Cambodian maid, who police suspect may have died of prolonged starvation.
The alleged abuse case of Mey Sichan, who would have turned 24 in September, is one of many that have caused both Cambodia and Indonesia to suspend sending maids to Malaysia…
…Mey Sichan was found dead by paramedics called by her employers on March 31. When found, she weighed 26 kilogrammes (57 pounds). She also had bruises on her body.
Police said she died from acute gastritis and ulcers likely due to lack of food over a long period. The maid had been working for the family for eight months…
Government authorities are investigating the death of a migrant domestic worker in Malaysia after her family and rights groups raised questions about the stated cause of death from a lung infection, a relative of the deceased woman said yesterday.
Na Rith, 42, said his cousin Ouk Sakan’s family “panicked” when they heard she had died on November 6. “I didn’t believe it until our family saw her dead [body] directly by their own eyes,” he said.
In the two years Ouk Sakan had worked in Malaysia after being sent there by the company VC Manpower, they hadn’t received a cent of her salary and had heard from her just once over the phone for about five minutes before she hung up, Na Rith said…
Sen David and David Boyle
An 18-year-old Battambang woman who was working as a maid in Malaysia has become the latest in a string of domestic workers to die there this year, and the second to die in less than a month, SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua and the woman’s family said at a news conference yesterday.
Pove Nech, who had gone to work in Malaysia after being recruited by employment agency Human Manpower, allegedly died from an overdose of pills on October 24, her parents said…
Kate Bartlett and Eang Mengleng, p.22
Another family has been asked to come and retrieve the remains of their dead daughter from a recruitment firm after she passed away in Malaysia, and they claim the agency that sent her threatened not to return her ashes if the family pursued legal action.
The mother of 18-year-old Pov Sreynich, from Battambang province’s Mong Russey district, said staff from Human Power Co. had called the day after her daughter died on October 25 and asked her to collect her child’s cremated remains…
Mom Kunthear and David Boyle, p.3
A 54-year-old man in Kratie province’s Snuol district was crushed to death under trees felled on Tuesday morning by bulldozers belonging to Vietnamese rubber company Dy Nam, an official said.
District governor Iv Saphum said that Khem Kan, a representative of 77 families involved in a land dispute with the company in Khyoem commune, died because he did not leave the forested area after bulldozer operators instructed people in the area to get out of the way as they moved in to clear land for the plantation…
Eang Mengleng, p.23
As reports of the death of yet another Cambodian maid in Malaysia surfaced, opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua said yesterday that a bilateral agreement between Cambodian and Malaysia was necessary if the two countries were serious about protecting the rights of Cambodian domestic workers living in Malaysia…
Kate Bartlett and Sok Sidon, p.23
Kampuchea Angkor Express and Virak Buntham Express Travel, two bus companies that share a fleet of busses and operate services running between Siem Reap, Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam have both been involved in bus crashes recently. A number of passengers were injured or killed in both cases and blame has been placed upon the drivers. The Interior Ministry is set to hold a meeting concerning road safety.
(By Alice Burke and Khuon Narim, pg. 1)