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12 Jun 2024

Khuon Narim & Seoung Nimol, CamboJA

Cambodia: Former Mother Nature's environmental rights activists urge govt. and court to drop charges against them and demand that founder be present at court

"Mother Nature Activists Produce Live Podcast Before Hearing, Urge Court to Summon Founder to Trial", 12 June 2024

Five environmental activists, charged with insulting the King and plotting against the government, produced a 30-minute podcast live on Facebook just before their third hearing to prove their innocence.

They also demanded that Spanish national Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, co-founder of Mother Nature, attend the trial, saying that the basis of their charge was taken from his commentary with a foreign radio and an overseas speech where he allegedly attacked the government.

The defendants boycotted the second hearing … after the authorities barred a few reporters and supporters from entering Phnom Penh Municipal Court compound.

“We decided to attend the trial this week because if we refuse to enter [the courtroom] they will accuse us of giving up our right,” Long Kunthea told reporters. “We attended the trial to defend our innocence, and we’re not betrayers as they accuse us of,” she said.

… During the live podcast, Thon Rotha said if Mother Nature gave him $100,000 to do illegal things or overthrow the government, he would not work for the movement. His work with the organization was related to environmental issues in the country. As his activities were not illegal, he was not worried.

… Another defendant, Yim Leanghy said, when Mother Nature found a solution, the government was the one which benefited, but the government “never considered them a good movement”.

… Leanghy urged the government to consider dropping the accusation “because natural work is done for the government and the people.”

…, Gonzelez-Davidson told … that the government has denied his visa application to Cambodia, adding that he was “blacklisted”…