Family members and activists vow to follow a prominent environmentalist's footsteps after his shooting death in Koh Kong province last week.
Chut Wutty, director of Natural Resource Protection Group, was shot and killed in a forest while escorting two journalists covering illegal logging. A military policeman was killed in the same incident and the Cambodian government says it will establish a joint committee to investigate.
“Even though he is dead, I am happy because his death was for the sake of the nation,” said Sam Chanthy, the wife of slain anti-illegal logging activist Chut Wutty. “I'm proud of him because he had fulfilled his task as a good Khmer citizen, so I don't regret [losing him],” she said at her husband funeral on Monday. “What I regret, however, is that our government did not see such a good man,” she said in front of her husband's coffin.
“I want my children to be trained to work like their father because it's a good work; it's an honest work, it's not a theft nor a robbery, but instead it preserves our national forestry assets,” said Sam Chanthy. “I will let my children walk on his father's footsteps; I don't fear,” she said.
Authorities said Chut Wutty was gunned downed by a military policeman In Ratana, who they said took his own life later, with one gunshot in the chest and another in the stomach. But the account of the shooting incident was not convincing to other activists.
“From today on, the government must find the real killer of my mentor,” Vong Phan, 60, a Prey Lang activist from Stung Treng province, said referring to Chut Wutty. “ He did not sell the national territory, but he just protected the forest for the people in the country and around the world,” she said weeping in front of the coffin.
Chut Wutty was previously threatened for his work against illegal logging network, but he had said he would ignore it.
Yeng Virak, the executive director of Community Legal Education Center, said, “The killing of Chut Wutty even strengthens our mind and determination that what he did was right and we would continue his bravery.".
Forestry activist Monk Loun Sovath said, “Chut Wutty is a human resource almost impossible to find in Cambodia. However, the loss of him is just one as thousands, tens of thousands and millions of Chut Wutty's still remain,” he said.
Nonetheless, family members, villagers, civil society representatives and members of parliament and those supporting the slain environmentalist insist a thorough investigation be carried out to find those behind his killing.