Family members of detained Koh Kong environmentalists call for their release during a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Family members of detained Koh Kong environmentalists call for their release during a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday. Pha Lina

The families of four environmentalists incarcerated in Koh Kong province on charges related to their activism called on the government yesterday to release their loved ones.

Three of the detainees, who are affiliated with environmental NGO Mother Nature, were imprisoned in August over their anti-sand-dredging activities, while the fourth, a commune councillor and prominent Areng Valley activist, was jailed last month for alleged forest crimes.

At a press conference in Phnom Penh, the families of the activists spoke about the difficulties they have faced since the arrests and pleaded for their release.

Tha Sophea, the wife of 28-year-old Sim Samnang, said her husband was the family’s sole breadwinner, and without him they had been struggling to support themselves. She added that Samnang had been denied medical care inside the prison for a “stomach disease”.

“I ask the government and local authorities to intervene to free my husband and the other three people as soon as possible.”

The mother of one of the other activists, Try Sovikea, 23, said the detainees were finding life inside their crowded cell difficult to cope with.

“I hope that Samdech Hun Sen will bring justice to these activists who have put in so much effort to protect the national resources for the next generation,” she said.

Officials at Koh Kong Provincial Court could not be reached yesterday.