PHNOM PENH — On the morning of April 26, a handful of activists took to the streets of the Cambodian capital to commemorate the 11th anniversary of environmentalist Chut Wutty’s assassination. Fifteen activists, some adorned in leaves, other sporting masks of Wutty’s face, gathered at Wat Botum Park in Phnom Penh at 9:30 a.m. holding photos of Wutty to demand the government more thoroughly investigate the murder that place in Koh Kong province on April 26, 2012.
Wutty, a prominent environmental activist who remained defiantly outspoken against deforestation and the politically connected companies that fueled it, was gunned down while investigating illegal logging that he had linked to the development of two Chinese-built hydropower dams, the Stung Russei Chrum and Stung Tatay. Both are situated in the southwestern province of Koh Kong, which sits at the heart of the Cardamom Mountains where deforestation rates have soared in tandem with infrastructure projects.
Trained by Russia, Wutty served in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) until 2000, but the corruption that was driving the ecological destruction that he saw as a soldier drove him to join Conservation International. He worked there for two years before going on to form his own NGO, the National Resources Protection Group.