Civil Society Calls Blocking of Forest Blessing Ceremony “Indefensible”

Civil society groups and grassroots organizations condemned the Environment Ministry’s decision to block Prey Lang community members, monks and human rights monitors from the annual tree blessing ceremony last week, calling the restriction “indefensible.”

More than 100 groups and communities released a statement on Tuesday saying they were “appalled” and “outraged” at the blocking of the tree blessing ceremony in the Prey Lang forest, alleging that the Ministry of Environment did not have proper legal justification for the restriction. Groups were congregating at the forest from Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, Kratie and Kampong Thom.

“The Ministry of Environment’s use of masked armed rangers to prevent members of the Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) from conducting an annual tree-blessing ceremony in the forest is an indefensible restriction on the community’s freedom of movement and harms conservation efforts in the forest,” the statement reads.

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