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Cambodian community leader threatened by forestry officials for speaking to media

Srekor commune chief Siek Mekong, of the Sam Rainsy Party, was recently threatened by government officials after he spoke to media regarding the extensive deforestation occurring in his local community. On 31 March 2013, Siek Mekong was interviewed by Radio Free Asia and mentioned that loggers had been clearing valuable trees for over a week without notifying local residents or local authorities. Two days later, officials visited him from the Stung Treng provincial forestry administration. Siek Mekong was instructed to immediately halt discussions with the media and to sign a paper admitting to his actions. According to Siek Mekong, administration chief Sith Samnang informed him, "Your activities prove that you don't want to stay in peace; you want trouble."

Loggers employed by Cambodia's Royal Group and China's Hydrolancang International Energy Co. Ltd. have been clearing the trees around Prey Srong and are transporting the precious wood to Sre Kor 2 village. These companies are planning to construct a controversial hydropower dam in the area, which is predicted to displace over 5,000 residents and significantly impact Se San River's fisheries. The trees are being cleared to accommodate the dam's large reservoir; however residents claim that the loggers are covertly clearing valuable trees outside of this designated area.

Srekor commune chief Siek Mekong has actively spoken out against the hydropower dam's construction, highlighting negative impacts on local ethnic minorities, since preparation work began at the site in 2011. While accompanying villagers at a peaceful protest against the dam's construction in February 2012, he informed Radio Free Asia that the dam would rob ethnic minority villagers of their plantations, sacred graveyards, and forests.

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