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.”

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From the Mother Nature website – mothernature.pm – Gonzalez promotes the defense of the Cambodian Cardamom Mountains, something that faces him against an hydro-power dam in the  Areng Valley that would affect negatively the habitat of endangered species, while creating a new eviction problem with ethnic minorities. Photo Courtesy Mother Nature.

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.

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Alex Gonzalez, the environmental activist defending the Cardamomo Mountains and their communities. Different human rights groups, opposition leaders, students and monks, ask the government to renew his visa. Photo by Khmerization.

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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X39xwdGtVXI) and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (http://www.colombia.co/en/culture/colombians-that-are-making-this-a-better-world.html).

One response to “Trying to punish, they are creating a hero”

  1. Brendan Bosnia says :

    These are the same attitudes adopted by best friends in Asean except 1 or 2 member States ! Malaysian Borneo states have for years been exploited by the greedy politicians and business in criminal collaboration ! The European countries should do more to demand a safe environmental decision with regards to the forests and nature destruction in the name of development in Malaysia and Cambodia ! What has happened to the polite, people-caring Hun Sen , Prime Minister of Cambodia? Has wealth changed his heart ? My friends in Cambodia used to like him because Hun Sen listens to the people or perhaps he does not like foreigners who love the Cambodians more than his Ministers do !

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