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8 Jan 2024

RFA Khmer

Cambodia: Environmental activists briefly detained for questioning after holding rally and discussing issues of Koh Kong Krao island

"Police detain environmentalists for weekly rally", 8 January 2024

Cambodian authorities detained and released 13 members of the Mother Nature environmental activist group on Sunday for holding a rally to raise awareness about the country’s largest island of Koh Kong Krau.

Described by environmental activists as “untouched,” the 103 square km (about 40 square miles) island is known for its beauty and abundant natural resources, including forests, white sandy beaches, clean sea water, waterfalls and plentiful wildlife…

Sunday’s detention and interrogations came after the group members dressed in T-shirts advocating the protection of Koh Kong Krau and exercised together on the banks of the Chaktomuk river and discussed the issue of Koh Kong Krau and held banners that read "Sunday for Koh Kong Krau.”…

Mean Lisa, who was among the detainees, told … that the members had gathered … to exercise together and discuss the island. She said the authorities persecute young people who strive to protect the environment and natural resources.

"We take Sundays to discuss Koh Kong Krau every week,” she said. “Secondly, we want to encourage young people from all walks of life and the public to get involved in protecting the environment and natural resources. Third, we want the ministry to honor its promise to make Koh Kong Krau a marine national park."…

Among the detainees was German national Jannik Gaul, who was a friend of one of Mother Nature members.

At the police office, Gaul was questioned in an isolated room alone. After his release, Gaul texted to the Mother Nature group that the police made him speak in front of a video camera saying that members of Mother Nature lied to him to join an illegal demonstration…