Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) has learnt that there was an alleged shooting attempt against Ven Et, an indigenous activist of Areng Valley, Cambodia, on 12 May 2018 in front of his house.
“I feel scared and worried about my personal security. I think this time they missed me but next time they might not,” says Ven Et.
Ven Et is a younger brother of Ven Vorn, an indigenous environmental activist arrested in 2015 for “forest crimes”. According to Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Defenders Network, Koh Kong Provincial Court charged Ven Vorn with harvesting forest products without authorisation and tampering with evidence over allegedly illegal timber he had purchased to build a community centre.
“We strongly believed that Ven Et was targeted for the same reason of protecting the tradition of the Chong community and stopping illegal deforestation in Areng Valley,” says Secretary General of AIPP Gam Shimray on Thursday (17/5).
On 17 April 2018, Ven Et received death threat from Til Chan, Chumnaop first commune council as well as member of the government’s Cambodian People Party (CPP). He filed a report to Chumnaop commune police but did not get any response. Fearing for his and his family’s security, they left their home to temporarily seek refuge. He returned to his home on 12 May, the same day he was shot.
Cambodia Indigenous Peoples Alliance (CIPA) demands the government to immediately conduct an independent investigation into this case. “The government should ensure that people responsible are held accountable,” writes Yun Lorang, the Secretariat Coordinator of CIPA.
“Governments have to stop targeting human rights defenders and criminalizing legitimate dissent indigenous communities,” adds Shimray.
According to Global Witness and The Guardian, 197 people were killed 1n 2017 for defending their land, wildlife or natural resources. According to AIPP, many of the attacks and killings are left unaccounted and unrecorded.