prom thomacheat

Metta Forest Clearing Reaches Boundary Limits

After a few months of rapid deforestation, tree-cutting activity at Kampong Speu’s Metta forest has slowed down in recent days as clearings reach the boundary limits of land allocated to families from the military’s tank unit.

A community member living near Kampong Speu’s Metta forest surveys land clearing on June 8, 2022. (Roun Ry/VOD)

Soldiers Rip Up Community’s ‘Forest of Loving Kindness’

As Kampong Speu’s Metta forest is rapidly destroyed, locals’ allegations against Brigade 70 soldiers are multiplying: a monk’s phone confiscated to prevent photos of forest clearing, seven Buddha statues destroyed, and the land sold to tycoons for dirt mining.

Loggers cutting down protected forest in Kampong Speu's Metta forest, edging closer to a pagoda with a nature-loving monk.

Soldiers’ Forest Clearing Approaches Nature-Loving Monk’s Pagoda

Monks and villagers say that a group of people purportedly hired by the military to cut down Kampong Speu’s Metta forest are continuing to destroy a densely forested area full of wildlife, and are now only about 200 meters from a pagoda inhabited by a nature-protecting monk.

The Venerable Prom Thomacheat carrying food for a resident gibbon in the Metta Forest around his pagoda in Trapeang Chour commune, near the Oral Wildlife Sanctuary in Kampong Speu. (Andrew Haffner/VOD)

Soldiers Accused of Firing Warning Shots at Forest Monk

Kampong Speu’s Metta community forest, home to a monk who has been helping locals protect the woods, is seeing rising violence and clearing by soldiers, including warning shots fired at the monk, residents have alleged.