Cambodia bars environmental activists winners from travelling to Sweden for awards

Cambodia bars environmental activists winners from travelling to Sweden for awards
Cambodia bars environmental activists winners from travelling to Sweden for awards

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A court in Cambodia has denied three environmental activists permission to make the trip to receive the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’. — DW pic

PHNOM PENH, Oct 4 — Cambodia has barred three winners of this year’s Right Livelihood Awards from travel to Sweden for the award ceremony, organisers have said.

Environmental activist group Mother Nature Cambodia were announced as winner of the award, often dubbed as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”, last week.

On Monday, a court in Cambodia ruled that the representatives of Mother Nature — Thon Ratha, Phuong Keo Reaksmey and Long Khunthea — would be denied permission to travel to Stockholm, calling the trip “not necessary”.

The three environmental activists are serving suspended prison sentences for their advocacy work. They had asked for permission to make the trip, starting November 24, to receive the award.

Mother Nature Cambodia is a youth-led environmental rights organisation that works with local communities to preserve nature and livelihoods amid a crackdown by the country’s regime on civil society activism.

Democracy at a premium

While announcing the winners, Right Livelihood said that the group has been awarded for its “fearless and engaging activism” to preserve Cambodia’s natural environment “in the context of a highly restricted democratic space”.

The Stockholm-based foundation has now urged for the ruling to be reconsidered.

“While we are saddened by this news, we are proud of the work undertaken by Mother Nature Cambodia in the face of adversity,” it said in a statement.

“Right Livelihood stands in solidarity with Mother Nature Cambodia and their continued efforts to protect the environment and the livelihoods of current and future generations of Cambodians,” the foundation added. — DW

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