The April 26 shooting death of Wutty has drawn worldwide criticism. There are growing protests by villagers and warnings that Cambodia’s wilderness will soon vanish. Cambodia’s commune elections are a couple of weeks away. Hun Sen initiates his political ramvong – a popular slow circle dance with participants continuously moving around and around in a circle using hand movement and simple footwork.
May 15, 2012
May 15, 2012
An article by Dr. Gaffar Peang-Meth published by the Asian Human Rights Commission
We may never know what really happened when Cambodia’s eminent environmental activist Chut Wutty (46), father of two, head of the Natural Resource Protection Group, a Cambodian non-governmental organization fighting Cambodia’s deforestation, was shot and killed on April 26 at Veal Bei point in Mondul Seima district, in Koh Kong province.
On a trip by car from Pursat to Koh Kong with two journalists from The Cambodia Daily, Khmer Phorn Bopha and Canadian Olesia Plokhii, both 27, who were doing a story on grassroots efforts to prevent illegal logging, Wutty decided to stop at Veal Bei point, a heavily forested area notoriously known for illegal logging, near where a hydropower dam which is among four in Koh Kong and is being built at Stung Russey Chrum Krom by the China Huadian Corporation (CHC).Wutty who devoted himself to protecting Cambodia’s forests, was determined to investigate “forest crime” by a Chinese-owned company named Timbergreen, licensed by Cambodia’s Economic Land Concession (ELC) to clear the Lower Russey Chrum reservoirs.
The ELC is a long-term lease (maximum of 99 years) that permits the beneficiary to clear land for industrial-agricultural activities. Cambodia has granted land concessions for various purposes since the 1990s; the 2001 Land Law formalized the legal framework for land concessions for economic purposes.
Playground for Khmer elite
My last article in this space examined the English narration of a video available on the Internet, “The Green Deal in Cambodia,” which asserted that Cambodia’s forests have disappeared at an alarming rate, and corruption and the lack of law enforcement ensured that profits from the logging benefited only a powerful elite . . . and the logging contributed nothing to Cambodia’s development.
An excerpt from an article by former Peace Corps volunteer Terry McCoy has been widely dispersed on Khmer websites this month. The article features a former Khmer pin up model, Tep Vanny, now an advocate of a new protest strategy and a new matriarchal order in the traditional Khmer patriarchal society. I ordered and read McCoy’s article, “The Playground,” an article I recommend.
“From the slums of Phnom Penh to the southern shores and eastern hills, Cambodia is transforming from a nation of farmers into a country of skyscrapers, golf courses, and air-conditioned villas at the behest of foreign investors – a playground for the elite,” McCoy writes.