About 85 people continued protesting outside the Koh Kong Provincial Court in Khemara Phoumint City on Thursday, demanding the release of three activists from environmental NGO Mother Nature who were arrested on Monday, a rights worker said.
In Kongchit, provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho, said the demonstration was largely peaceful, but he accused police of trying to confiscate a megaphone the protesters were using. “But they fought to take it back from the hands of the police,” he said.
The demonstrators are calling for the release of Sim Samnang, Try Sovikea and Sun Mala, who for months had led a campaign against Direct Access, a company they accuse of illegally dredging sand in Botum Sakor district’s Andoung Toek estuary.
Following their arrest, the three were charged with threatening to destroy the company’s dredging barges. Provincial police chief Sam Khitvean could not be reached for comment.
Sorn Chandara, another Mother Nature activist, accused police of trying to intimidate the NGO by showing up at a house the group rents in Khemara Phoumint City on Thursday to record the number of people living there.
Deputy city governor Pen Bunchhouy, who allegedly led police to the house, could not be reached.