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Cambodian environmental activists sentenced to prison for conspiracy and insulting the King

Ten members of Mother Nature Cambodia were sentenced to six years in prison for conspiring against the state, with three receiving an additional two years for insulting King Norodom Sihamoni. The verdict has been condemned by human rights groups as politically motivated and a suppression of free speech.

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Ten members of the environmental activist group Mother Nature Cambodia were sentenced on Tuesday to six years in prison each on charges of conspiring against the state.

Three of the members also received an additional two-year sentence for insulting King Norodom Sihamoni, bringing their total prison term to eight years.

Only five of the defendants attended the trial, while the other five were convicted in absentia, including Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, a Spanish national who co-founded the group and was deported in 2015. The whereabouts of the four missing Cambodians remain unknown.

After the verdict, the five attending the trial were arrested outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. They had marched to the court with supporters, dressed in traditional white clothing symbolizing the death of justice in Cambodia.

Among them was 22-year-old Phun Keoraksmey, who expressed her resolve despite the sentence. “I chose this way, I chose this path,” she said, standing with her mother.

The Cambodian human rights group Licadho condemned the verdict as “very disappointing,” highlighting the state’s stance against activists fighting for environmental protection and democratic principles. “It is astounding that Cambodian authorities are convicting youth activists who are advocating for clean water, protecting mangrove forests, and warning against land privatization in protected areas,” Licadho stated.

Mother Nature Cambodia, which was founded in 2012 and deregistered as a non-governmental organization by the Cambodian government in 2017, has continued its activism despite some members facing jail time in recent years. The group was co-winner of the Right Livelihood Award last year, often referred to as the “Alternative Nobel.” However, three members with suspended prison sentences were denied permission to travel to Sweden to accept the award.

Human Rights Watch criticized the charges as politically motivated, aimed at silencing government critics. “Mother Nature has campaigned against environmentally destructive projects, exposed corruption, and mobilized young Cambodians to defend the country’s biodiversity,” the group said, noting Cambodia’s high rates of deforestation and wildlife trafficking.

The activists’ sentencing included Gonzalez-Davidson and two others charged with defaming the king during an online meeting. Cambodia’s government has been accused of using the judicial system to persecute critics and political opponents, despite claiming to uphold the rule of law in an electoral democracy. Under former Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was in power for nearly four decades, the government faced widespread criticism for human rights abuses and suppression of free speech. His son, Hun Manet, who succeeded him last year, has shown little sign of political liberalization.

Amnesty International condemned the government’s actions, with Deputy Regional Director Montse Ferrer stating, “The government has shown time and time again that it will not tolerate any dissent. This verdict is yet another sign that Cambodia’s government has no intention of protecting the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.”

FORUM-ASIA also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the activists, urging the Cambodian government to honor its international commitments to safeguard human rights defenders and uphold fundamental freedoms. Executive Director Mary Aileen Diez-Bacalso warned that these convictions stifle civic space and deter environmental human rights defenders from speaking up, thereby weakening civil society’s ability to hold the government accountable.

The sentences of Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, Sun Ratha, and Yim Leanghy included eight years in prison and a fine of 10 million riel each. Ly Chandaravuth, Thun Ratha, Long Kunthea, Phuon Keoraksmey, Binh Piseth, Pok Khoeuy, and Rai Raksa each received six-year prison sentences.

“These convictions significantly stifle civic space, free speech, and freedoms of peaceful assembly and association in Cambodia,” Bacalso emphasized, highlighting the chilling message it sends to all environmental human rights defenders in the country.

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Spam

Last edited 7 days ago by Blankslate

A “King” or “Queen” with fragile skin should abdicate.

Spam

Last edited 8 days ago by Blankslate

Let me put in words. I did not spawn Ling own family for ppl like Loong empire to treat as black entities for their fuck job of owning ppl as head count with nothing to improve their lives. Or if they decide to put a show for wayang purpose and play God in their lives whether to keep or purge them. That is the fuck arse cult of Loong and his cronies empires. Rich and entitled!!! Where ia or ie the rich men playthings. Own by Loong and Yang! No?!?

Too rich and too free. Going around recruiting “pigeons” and “mynah” to harass others who do not want to join their empires. No?!? It is the same groups who are done with their govt entities now gog to their Oppo and celebs entities..same group of entitled vamps who wanna hang around forever to disturb others!

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