Slain Cambodian environmental activist Chut Wutty was honored today in a low-profile ceremony held in the capital Phnom Penh on the sixth anniversary of his still-unsolved murder, Cambodian sources said.
Shot to death on April 26, 2012 while investigating illegal logging in Mondul Seima district of southern Cambodia’s Koh Kong province, Chut Wutty had been active in organizing communities to protect Cambodian forests against land grabs.
He had also campaigned against the government’s granting of land concessions in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
Speaking to RFA’s Khmer Service on Thursday, the sixth anniversary of Chut Wutty’s death, Cambodian Youth Network president Tim Malay said that pressure from authorities had forced them to hold today’s observance in a small, private space.
“Due to political oppression, we were not able to commemorate the anniversary in public, and we had to hold the event at our office, attended by just a few people. Others were too intimidated to join us,” Tim Malay said.
“But we will not be frightened away from carrying on Chut Wutty’s work protecting the environment and [Cambodia’s] natural resources,” he said.
Also speaking to RFA, Chut Wutty’s eldest son Chheuy Udom Reaksmey said on Wednesday that a ceremony honoring Chut Wutty’s life and work will be held by this coming weekend in Stockton, California.
“Cambodians who love democracy and my father’s work have wanted to commemorate his death each year by arranging observances in different parts of the United States,” he said.
“It is very paradoxical that [Cambodian] Prime Minister Hun Sen, who says that he loves and protects our country’s natural resources, has blocked commemorations of the death of a well-known environmental activist like my father.”
“He should reconsider this,” he said.
Noting that an official investigation into his father’s death was closed in October 2013 when a court in Koh Kong province abruptly ended its proceedings, Chut Wutty’s son vowed to continue to fight for justice in his father’s case.
“We have no faith in the findings of the Koh Kong court,” he said.
“As his son, I have to continue the fight for justice.”
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Nareth Muong. Written in English by Richard Finney.