Cambodian Villagers Protest Sand-Dredging Operation in Protected Zone

At least 10 ethnic Phnorng villagers protested on Monday in Cambodia’s Mondulkiri province to demand an end to a sand-dredging operation carried out in a wildlife sanctuary in the Bou Sra commune of the province’s Pech Chreada district, local sources said.

Speaking to RFA’s Khmer Service on Nov. 26, Sraing Soeun—a resident of Bou Sra’s Pou Toeut village—said that villagers had earlier seized dredging machines used in the operation, which they said had been launched in secret and was still unlicensed. The project’s owner had already blocked the upper end of the stream being dredged, reducing the village’s daily fish supply and interfering with local religious practice in the forest, Sraing Soeun said.

“This is affecting the community’s forest, preventing us from holding religious services,” Sraing Soeun said, adding that the dredging is being carried out within the boundaries of a protected zone, the Phnom Naim Lea wildlife sanctuary. “Nowadays, authorities won’t protect the community or our natural resources. Instead, they try to destroy them,” he said.

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