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5 May 2021

Khuon Narim, CamboJA

Cambodia: Phnom Penh Court sentence Mother Nature's activists guilty of incitement charges to between 18 and 20 months in prison following years of their environmental activism

"Mother Nature activists found guilty, jailed for planning one-woman march", 5 May 2021

Five environmental activists were sentenced to up to 20 months prison on incitement charges by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court …, over plans for a one-woman march to raise awareness of the impact of filling in lakes for development in the capital.

Mother Nature co-founder Alex Gonzalez-Davidson and activist Thon Ratha were sentenced to 20 months for their roles in the campaign, while Long Kunthea, Phuon Keoreaksmey and Chea Kuntin were sentenced to 18 months, defense lawyer Sam Chamroeun said, in what one rights group called “the government’s continued vendetta against” the group.

“We are disappointed and we can’t accept this decision,” he said, adding that there was insufficient evidence to support the verdict and that he would discuss taking the case to the Appeal Court…

“Today’s convictions are part of the Cambodian government’s continued vendetta against Mother Nature, a thorn in the government’s side that the officials are now moving to destroy through bogus criminal charges,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Ratha, Kunthea and Keoreaksmey were arrested … over social media posts about plans for Kunthea, a 22-year-old chemistry student and school teacher, to march to the prime minister’s house to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of infilling Boeng Tamok lake in northwestern Phnom Penh for a development project.

… “This verdict is a message to other environmental activists,” said Am Sam Ath, deputy director at rights group Licadho, calling on the government to encourage, rather than prosecute, youths attempting to protect Cambodia’s natural resources…