“The soldiers have stopped us and they won’t let us go,” Bopha said, a growing agitation in her voice. Moments later Doyle heard the piercing cracks of two loud gunshots from an AK47 assault rifle. The line went dead.
Doyle didn’t know it at the time, but the gunshots he heard had entered the burgundy-colored Land Cruiser of Chut Wutty, a forestry activist who had dedicated himself to preserving Cambodia’s disappearing forests since 2001. One of the bullets ricocheted off his knee and entered his abdomen, killing him almost instantly. The shooting followed a verbal dispute with three soldiers guarding an illegal logging operation deep in the forest.
And with its doors now shut, the sort of dogged reporting carried out that April day by Bopha and her reporting partner Olesia Plokhii, also 27 at the time, will only become rarer. As Doyle reminded me this week, he gave Bopha the green light to venture into the Cardamoms only to get her out of town. She was receiving threats in the wake of previous stories about Hun To, the nephew of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and his alleged links to an international drug smuggling and money laundering ring.
I left Cambodia at the end of 2013, frazzled after a five-year stint in the country during which I reported on illegal mining operations, corruption, the garment industry, sex trafficking and the impunity surrounding acid crime.
In 2009, I reported on the case of a woman whose arms were webbed together from her shoulders to her forearms with shiny scar tissue. Her husband’s former wife became jealous and doused her with acid while she slept.
“Hun Sen wants to win the election next year and he wants to absolutely ensure that victory,” said Rupert Abbot, a human rights lawyer who worked in Cambodia between 2008 and 2014, when asked why the prime minister shut down the Daily.
“I have no doubt, were he to lose the election, it is unlikely he will give up power. But he would prefer not to do it that way and avoid spilling blood.”
He demanded loyalty and scorned his rival, the Phnom Penh Post, whose Australian owners once threatened to wipe the Daily off the face of the planet. Cross Krisher’s path or admit you were looking for a job at a competitor and you would be out the door before you could say “sticky rice.”
Some people flamed out after a year; others stormed out after too many late night calls from an angry editor. The Daily was boot camp for bad-ass journos with a sense of adventure.
Full article http://www.politico.eu/blogs/on-media/2 ... dia-daily/Bopha, who is now at Arizona State University doing a journalism fellowship, has nascent dreams of starting up a Cambodia Daily 2.0.
“We’ve been working together for years, and I’ve never seen anything like this during my job as a journalist,” she told me.