Groups of 7-10 Vietnamese loggers are actively and illegally logging in Cambodian forests in Andong Meas district of Rattanakiri province and transporting all timbers across the borders to Vietnam, reports Radio Free Asia.
Villagers from the Jarai minority ethnic group from Nhang commune, Andong Meas district reported on 29th March, said they have seen groups of Vietnamese loggers, equipped with machinery, crossed into Cambodia to log in the Cambodian forests.
Kalan Beng, a Jarai villager from Taing Malu village, said these illegal logging activities by the Vietnamese have taken place since February with the connivance of the military and border police. He said on Sunday 28th, 4 villagers from Taing Malu village went to investigate the illegal logging activities and saw Vietnamese loggers working in groups of 7-10 people actively cutting down trees about 7 kilometres from the village and 3 kilometres from the borders deep inside Cambodian territories. They said they saw groups of 4-5 Vietnamese pushing carts loaded with about 30 cubic metres in total across the borders to Vietnam, about 500 metres from the Cambodian border post/checkpoint. "The (Vietnamese) logging activities are done in the open and are protected by the (Cambodian) police and soldiers. The villagers dare not interfere", said one villager.
Police officials from Pha Tam border Post cannot be reached for comments and Mong Thaen, military commander of Ratanakiri province, said he had not received the reports about the Vietnamese logging activities in Cambodian territories. However, he said he will send officials to investigate the claims.
Mr. Su Vankhamvann, chief of Rattanakiri Border Post, said he will launch an investigation and promised that offence of this sort will not be allowed to go on. However, in early 2010, a group of commune councillors of Nhang commune, Andong Meas district intercepted and detained many trucks transporting timbers across the borders to Vietnam, committed by military and police officials based in the province. The councillors released the trucks after they were threatened by the military and police.
On 22nd March 2010, raids on illegal timber warehouses in Rattanakiri had found 400 cubic metres of illegal timbers, but no one has been arrested. In raids across Siem Reap province on 24th and 26 March, thousands of cubic metres of illegal timbers had been found stockpiled in warehouses belong to powerful businessmen such as Sok Kong, Lao Meng Khin, Ang Try and others. However, no one was arrested in those raids.