“Sometimes, you have to use some guerrilla tactics,” said forest campaigner Marcus Hardtke.
Hardtke is the project coordinator in Cambodia for the Rainforest and Wildlife and Conservation Association, known by its German acronym, ARA. His group helps villagers in rural areas, who are often ignored or exploited by the government, to organize, demand their rights, and to resist illegal logging in forests that they depend on for food, clothing and shelter. Their tactics can be risky. They patrol forests for signs of illegal clearing or logging and occupy logging camps.
On April 26th 2012, Hardtke’s friend and ally, Chut Wutty, was shot and killed while escorting two journalists to report on a logging operation. A security officer was also killed in the incident. Wutty was the founder and director Cambodia-based Natural Resource Protection Group. Critics say the government investigation into the incident, which was closed without any charges filed, was a sham. The commission offered implausible explanations, including a proposal that Wutty had committed suicide out of remorse after shooting the guard. A rash of similar incidents led to the UN calling for Cambodia to stop using firearms against human rights activists.
In this 100Voices video, Hardtke recalls details of the incident from his perspective, and explains why he thinks people who live in timberlands must protect their own resources.
He spoke at Transparency International’s 15th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Brasilia last month. He was interviewed by 100Reporters’ Chad Bouchard.