Jarai community vigilantes with the Viet truck transporting illegal logs they have arrested
Cops from unit 623 and O’Yadaw district cops allow illegal logging in Ratanakiri province by Viet merchants
Monday, May 11, 2009
Translated from Khmer by Socheata
The Jarai ethnic minority group from Lom village, Pok Nhai commune, has accused border cops from unit 623, as well as O’Yadaw district cops of collusion to allow illegal logging in Ratanakiri province by Viet merchants.
Poy Phnom, Lom village chief, said that since 2007, Viet merchants had come to log precious wood in the O’Yadaw area and they took them back to Vietnam in large trucks.
Poy Phnom claimed also that the reason these Viet merchants brought in large trucks and cut down precious wood because they are in collusion with the Cambodian border cops and O’Yadaw district cops.
He said that the Viet merchants who conducted illegal logging only aim at No. 1 precious wood. After they are done logging, they cut the woods into pieces and carted them off to Vietnam in large trucks.
He said also that members of his community reported the case to Pok Nhai commune cops, as well as border cops, indicating that Viet merchants trespassed into Cambodian territories to conduct illegal logging, but the cops never arrested them. Quite to the contrary, the cops turned around and accused the villagers of not telling the truth.
Poy Phnom said that, in the past, community vigilantes stopped the trucks transporting illegal logs belonging to Viet merchants, and they brought them to the cops, but the cops made arrangements with the Viet merchants, took their bribes and released the trucks back.
The Lom village chief said that in the evening of 07 May, vigilantes from his community arrested one the trucks belonging to the Viet merchants, but another one fled near O’Cheang area, Lom village, Pok Nhai commune, about 6 kilometers from the “white zone” [No man’s land: disputed border zone].
He added that when the illegal truck was stopped, there were 4 Vietnamese citizens inside the trucks and they have confiscated 10 pieces of logs, each measuring 3-meter long with 40 to 80-centimeter wide.
The truck was brought to Lom village by the vigilantes, but the 4 Viets were handed to the Pok Nhai commune police. However, the next morning, the cops released all the Viets back.
The community indicated also that cops of the Pok Nhai commune are threatening the community and forcing them to return the truck back to the Viet merchant in exchange for 10 million dongs (~$550). But, the community refused to return the trucks back to the Viets.
Nguon Sovann, chief of the border police unit 623, indicated that in the case of the community confiscating the Viet truck, he is not involved with it because he is currently sick. However, he said that police officers working under him are following up on this case. When we asked the cops who are under the order of chief Nguon Sovann, they said that this issue involved that O’Yadaw district police instead.
Ma Vichit, O’Yadaw district police commissioner, indicated that, on the day the illegal logs were confiscated, he was busy: he went to a meeting at the Ratanakiri province. However, he said that his officers are already involved in this case.
Sao Vanny, director of the Keo Andong Meas forestry department, said that he did not learn yet about the community confiscating a Viet truck transporting illegal logs, but that he is sending officials to follow up on this case, however, he does not know the outcome yet.
Representatives of the Jarai community asked the government to take measures to prevent unauthorized Viet merchants to bring in large trucks to conduct illegal logging in O’Yadaw district. They said that the illegal logging started since 2007, and when they reported the cases to the border cops, no measure was ever taken, to the contrary, these cops only take bribes from the Viet merchants only.