Cambodian Environmental Activists Arrested Before Protest Over Development on Lake

Cambodian authorities on Thursday arrested three members of the Mother Nature environmental group who were planning to march to the home of Prime Minister Hun Sen to demand an end to plans to fill in a lake in the capital Phnom Penh which hundreds of families depend on for their livelihood, sources said.

The three activists—Thun Ratha and his female colleagues Long Kunthea and Phuong Keorasmey—were taken into custody separately, with Thun Rathea seized by police while preparing a video to livestream the protest, Mother Nature founder Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson told RFA’s Khmer Service.

Police have accused the group, who have not yet been charged or released, of operating a recording studio without a permit and with distributing “false information” on Facebook, Gonzalez-Davidson said, adding, “From a legal and constitutional point of view, the detention of these three activists is arbitrary and completely illegal, and is nothing more than a state-sponsored kidnapping.”

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