Trying to punish, they are creating a hero
- Cambodian government would not renew visa of environmental activist Alex Gonzalez-Davidson. The visa expired this Friday, February 20.
- Gonzales vowed to remain in the country, authorities warm to arrest him.
- Human Rights groups, opposition leaders, students and even monks asked the government to renew his visa.
General Sopheak said to the press this week that Alex Gonzalez could be arrested at anytime if he does not leave the country. He added also that they will not use artillery “because it’s a small issue”, noted The Cambodia Daily. The General, probably unknowing what he is talking about, said that Alex is making himself famous “on the point that he committed an offense against the law of Cambodia. We don’t want Alex to become famous by committing unlawful actions in Cambodia.”
Too late General… He is already very much famous. The point is if he really committed an unlawful action or not. Legally he can be charged with obstruction of authorities from accessing a certain point. With our Cambodian legal system, bound to political and economical interests, it is easy to build a process.
But Alex Gonzalez, the Spaniard who considers himself a Cambodia (like me, by the way) and speaking Khmer more fluently than certain officials – it can be proven – became already famous. The persistence of the government to expel him, would fuel his fame across the planet in the coming weeks, unless the visa is renown and, even more, if he is arrested by General Sopheak with not artillery because it is a “small issue” for him, his fame will reach the entire universe for one reason: we are talking about one man who wants to protect the Cambodian natural resources in a moment of global warming concerns and in a country where many people lost their homes before development projects designed without a real sensitivity for nature and society… just for the ambition of money and power. Some foreigners come to Cambodia to exploited our resources and people and they are welcome with golden smiles. A foreigner comes to defend Cambodian resources and people, and we send him out…
The point of the debate is the construction of a hydro-dam in the Areng Valley in Koh Kong. Instead to call Alex Gonzalez to share his real well investigated worries that include the destruction of the inhabitant of endangered species and ethnic Cambodian groups, he is put out of the country!
In a civilized society, development is a need for any nation, but such development must walk along with protection of the environment, with respect for communities and with vision. We hope that common sense comes to the Cambodian government. It is not only allowing Gonzalez to remain in Cambodia, but to bring him to the status of adviser and participant in projects of development that would not damage our jungles and indigenous communities. Too difficult to do it? Too short vision? or to much hunger for money? When our entire planet is destroyed, let us eat money.