Phnom Penh, 26 April 2012: We, at CIVICUS: Center for Cambodian Civic Education, condemn the cold-blooded murder of Mr. Chhut Vuthy, the president of Natural Resources Conservation Group, today at noon at Thmor Bang district of Koh Kong Province. He was on mission investigating the illegal logging in the protected areas of the Cardamon Mountains. His body is being transported to his family ancestral village in Kandal Province tonight.
CIVICUS Cambodia founding president Ms. Theary C. Seng states:
“I was just there at Thmor Bang last week at the invitation of the Honorable Son Chhay, SRP Member of Parliament, who asked me as a rights advocate to accompany him and his colleagues to investigate the illegal logging and environmental impact of the Chinese dam that is to begin construction next year. We had planned on a five-day stay in the protected areas of the Cardamon Mountains but due to rising security concerns, we left after three days.
“What happened today is meant to be a chilling message to us, the concerned citizens, the rights advocates: You mess with us, you pay with your life. However, let us send a message back: We will not be bowed!
“It is at moments like this that our voices—united, intelligent, strong, firm—are needed more than ever! We will not be bowed by greedy and violent cowards.
“In the honorable memory of Chhut Vuthy, we will not be silent; we will continue his legacy; we will honor him by continuing his advocacy for the protection of our forests, mountains, hills, lakes and seas; we will stand for all that is decent and good. We will not be silent. Let his life be our rallying cry!”
We express deep concern also for the welfare and whereabouts of two Cambodia Daily journalists who were reported to be with him when he was murdered. We demand timely, trustworthy investigation into the cold-blooded murder of Mr. Chhut Vuthy. We demand justice for his family, friends and the people of Cambodia.
To the family of Mr. Chhut Vuthy: Our prayers are with you in this most difficult time.
CIVICUS Cambodia will travel to Kandal Province tomorrow morning to pay respect and invites others to join us, departing at 8:30 a.m. from our office.