The Cambodian authorities have decided to shut down Mother Nature, one of the leading environmental grass-roots non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country.
In a statement, published by the government-aligned Fresh News on Friday, the Ministry of the Interior said it had decided to dissolve Mother Nature. It has not provided a justification for its decision as of yet.
The decision comes four days after the NGO published a Facebook video exposing discrepancies in the government’s export data for silica sand to Taiwan and making a case for possible tax avoidance and fraud.
Mother Nature’s co-founder Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson was not immediately available for comment.
The decision to dissolve Mother Nature comes amid a wide government crackdown on media outlets, non-governmental organizations and political opponents, which analysts say is meant to strengthen the position of Prime Minister Hun Sen ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections.
Ouk Kimseng, spokesman for the Ministry of Information, on Friday rejected claims by US-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA), which closed its Cambodia office on Tuesday after almost 20 years of operation, that the government has been suppressing freedom of expression.
RFA’s closure came on the heels of a forced closure of the main English-language newspaper Cambodia Daily over a 6.3-million-dollar tax dispute with the government.