SIGN-ON: Recognition of Rights NOT Repression of Rights

May 6, 2021

 “Recognition of Rights NOT Repression of Rights” 

A Collective Indignation Over Unjust Court Ruling Against Environmental Defenders from Mother Nature Cambodia 

Cambodia is one of the most biologically diverse countries in Southeast Asia, but the government’s drive to enhance its so-called national economic development comes at the price of destroying its precious natural resources. Such destruction is enabled by government-backed development aggression, reinforced by giant multinational companies seemingly immune from their crimes against the environment. 

Unsurprisingly, people express dissent over destructive activities that put their survival in peril; however, opposition to environmental destruction was met with repression. On September 3, 2020, three activists from the group Mother Nature Cambodia (MNC), namely Phuon Keoreaksmey, Long Kunthea and Thun Ratha, were arrested over a social media post. 

They have expressed their plans to live-stream Long Kunthea’s single person march from Wat Phnom to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s private residence to protest against the reclamation of Bueng Ta-mouk Lake and raise the possible environmental issues that the project will cause. They were arrested even before they could conduct their activity. 

Boeung Ta-mouk or Boeung Kobsrov is the largest natural lake in Phnom Penh; local group Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT) reported in April 2021 that 300 families or over 1,000 individuals rely on the lake as their primary source of livelihood through “fishing, aquaculture farming, and home-based businesses.” A reclamation project will potentially affect their way of life. 

Additionally, a report by The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders revealed that the project in Bueng Ta-mouk lake “aims to build a military base, which will destroy the habitat of many bird species and damage biodiversity, and is also expected to cause significant flooding in Phnom Penh.” 

On May 5, 2021, the 3 MNC youth activists were found guilty of “incitement to disturb social security” of a Phnom Penh court with 18-20 months in jail and an accumulated fine of over $3,000.00. Along with the 3 MNC activists, its founder Alejandro Gonzales Davidson and another MNC activist Chea Kunthin have been tried in absentia; the court has issued warrants of arrest against them. 

Thus, the undersigned organizations and individuals urge the Cambodian government to review its court decision against the MNC activists; that the government uphold the Cambodian people’s rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly without fear of reprisal as enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The undersigned organizations also call on the attention of concerned UN bodies to look into their case. 

Furthermore, the undersigned express fervent support and solidarity to MNC activists and Cambodian people at the front and center of the struggle to defend and preserve its forests, land, and natural resources. 

In conclusion, the undersigned organizations further enjoin the broadest number of people to continue the collective action to expose and oppose environmental criminals and other forms of corporate and state-perpetuated attacks against environmental defenders in Cambodia and elsewhere. The people united will never be defeated! 

Sign-on to this statement here.


  1. Asia Pacific Network of Environmental Defenders (APNED)
  2. Not1More (N1M)
  3. Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (Federation of Agricultural Workers) – Philippines
  4. CECOEDECON, India
  5. Centre for Sustainable Community Development (S-CODE) – Vietnam
  6. International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL)
  7. Roots For Equity – Pakistan
  8. Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN)
  9. Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC) – Philippines
  10. Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP)
  11. WALHI Kalimantan Tengah – Indonesia
  12. PROGRESS Kalimantan Tengah – Indonesia
  13. Vikas Adhyayan Kendra – India
  14. Forest Defenders Project-NTUK – Cambodia
  15. KALIKASAN People’s Network for the Environment – Philippines
  16. Karen Rivers Watch – Myanmar
  17. Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN) – Myanmar
  18. Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY)
  19. Cambodia Youth Network (CYN)
  20. Community Resource Centre Foundation (CRC) – Thailand
  21. Just Peace Committee – Vancouver, BC
  22. Pusaka Bentala Rakyat Foundation – Indonesia
  23. Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) – Philippines
  24. Sandiwa Network of Advocates for National Minority Rights – Philippines
  25. Association For Promotion Sustainable Development
  26. National Campaign for Sustainable Development Nepal
  27. North-East Affected Area Development Society (NEADS)
  28. University of the Philippines Zoological Society (UPZS)
  29. MIGRANTE International
  30. IBON International
  31. GABRIELA Philippines
  32. Asia Indigenous Peoples Network on Extractive Industries and Energy (AIPNEE)
  33. Liyang Network
  34. Anakbayan Toronto
  35. PANALIPDAN Mindanao – Philippines
  36. Keo Chanra
  37. Barbara Waldern
  38. Loemchou SAY
  39. Um sorachana
  40. Eduardo Valcos
  41. Meng Kroypunlok
  42. Keo Dalin
  43. Felicia Widenhorn
  44. Monthary Meth
  45. Mange Ram Adhana
  46. Tirtha Prasad Saikia
  47. Luong Thi truong
  48. Chennaiah Poguri
  49. Jojo Guan
  50. Rendilyn Cuyop
  51. Sor.Rattanamanee Polkla
  52. Jill Banta
  53. Al Quinn Alquinto
  54. Bethany Iyoupe
  55. Christie Bernados
  56. Rey Palacio