A group of protesters demanding the release of three jailed environmental activists in Koh Kong province clashed with authorities on Tuesday, as they attempted to file a petition to the residence of the provincial governor.
No one was injured in the clash, which involved protesters from five different communities in Koh Kong, where sand dredging and other developments are threatening the coastal environment.
The clash comes a day after the provincial court denied to release on bail three activists from Mother Nature Cambodia: Sun Mala, 23, a co-founder of the organization; Try Sovikea, 24; and Sim Samnang, 26.
The activists had been working on a public campaign against sand dredging by two companies in the province, as well as against the construction of a hydropower dam.
In Kongchet, Koh Kong coordinator for the rights group Licadho, said the protesters confronted police and military police as they tried to reach the home of Governor Bun Leut. They tried to break through a barricade to deliver a petition, he said.
Phav Nhoeng, 39, a resident of the province’s Chi Khor Krom commune, Sre Ambel district, said authorities pushed hard against protesters as they tried to cross the barricade. She said demonstrators want the activists released, because they have not committed a crime.
Pen Bun Chhouy, deputy governor of Khemara Phoumint city, denied any violence by authorities. “We are very tolerant and did not allow any clash to occur.”