Sand-dredging ships and barges anchor along a section of the Andoung Tuek River in Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor district earlier this year.
Sand-dredging ships and barges anchor along a section of the Andoung Tuek River in Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor district earlier this year. Mother Nature

Environmental activists and community members in Koh Kong province were yesterday detained by guards from a sand dredging company while documenting the firm’s activities.

Two activists from local environmental group Mother Nature – Nhek Nitra and Mot Kimry – were briefly held along with community members Kheiu Sales, Mot Thary and Loek Socheata.

A British filmmaker and journalist, Rod Harbinson, was also detained with the group in Trapaing Roung commune’s Koh Kong Knong village.

Kimry, 23, said they travelled to the site to photograph the company’s dredging activities, which they suspected were illegal, but were detained at about 4pm by security guards working for Udom Seima Peanich Industry & Mine.

The company was named in a May 2010 report by Global Witness as one of several firms involved in the monthly export of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sand to Singapore from Koh Kong.

Eat Bun Thol, director of Udom Seima, yesterday defended the firm’s actions, saying it was the firm’s prerogative to “arrest and interrogate them”.

Koh Kong police said they were unaware of the detention of the environmentalists.