Reports indicate that Mr. Sat Savuth, a well-known Cambodian human rights campaigner advocating land and forestry rights in Anlong Veng’s Phat commune, was attacked at his home in the Oddar Meanchey province. On the evening of July 23, 2007, four assailants threw a grenade at the front door of his home. Fortunately, neither Mr. Savuth nor his family were harmed. This is the second such attack on his life; in 2005, he was shot by an unidentified gunman who was angered by Mr. Savuth’s previous criticisms of government corruption and illegal logging in the Kampong Thom province. His report on this matter, entitled Cambodia’s Family Trees, has been banned by the Cambodian government.
After the first attack on his life, Mr. Savuth moved to Anlong province on the advice of human rights organizations who feared for his life. Yet even after the second attack, local authorities, who pledged to properly investigate the attack, have dismissed the idea that these actions were “politically motivated”. Yet the second attack came just weeks after the murder of another forestry and fisheries activist, Mr. Seng Sarom. This series of attacks confirms that human rights defenders in Cambodia are particularly at risk due to their efforts to help local communities protect their land and natural resources.
Letter by Gail Davidson sent on July 26, 2007