A march for the environment
On Sunday, November 3rd 2013, a group of over 40 Buddhist monks walked more than 25km through the jungle to the remote village of Pra Lay, Cambodia, to raise awareness of the environmental destruction occurring across their country. Situated in the Areng Valley in the Cardamom mountains, the village of Pra Lay is one of 8 villages, collectively home to roughly 1500 inhabitants, which will be flooded by a dam proposed by the Chinese development company China Guodian. 

Another Chinese company had abandoned plans for a dam in the same location stating that the extremely low potential profits, combined with a high impact on inhabitants made the project unfeasible. Despite this knowledge, China Guodian seems set on proceeding, leading to speculation by local activists that they have ulterior motives – such as logging rare hardwoods in the proposed reservoir area.

It will also destroy the natural habitat of several critically endangered species, including the Asian elephant, the clouded leopard, and the Siamese crocodile. 

This story touches on several issues currently at the forefront of Cambodian politics: environmental destruction, land grabbing and forced evictions, government corruption and indifference to the welfare of its people, and the recent trend of Buddhist monks entering the political sphere - despite threats from both secular and Buddhist authorities.
 
Text by Luc Forsyth
November 3, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). Pick up trucks transport the monks as far as the road permits. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 3, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). One of the monk meditates minutes before starting a 25 km march to reach the Areng Valley. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 3, 2013 - Roussey Chrum (Koh Kong). Khmer Youth's Empire members assist the march of the monks transporting food and supplies by motorbikes. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 3, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). The monks start a 25 km through the jungle to reach the Areng Valley to raise awareness of the environmental destruction occurring across Cambodia.. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 3, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). The monks walk a 25 km march through the jungle to reach the Areng Valley to raise awareness of the environmental destruction occurring across Cambodia.. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 3, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). Monks check a smartphone during a 25 km night march through the jungle to reach the Areng Valley to raise awareness of the environmental destruction occurring across Cambodia.. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 3, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). A monk rests exhausted during a 25 km march through the jungle by night to reach the Areng Valley to raise awareness of the environmental destruction occurring across Cambodia.. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 4, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). A group of monks wake up in the morning in the small wooden pagoda of Pra Lay Village, after a back-breaking 25km march though the jungle. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 5, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). A group of monks prepare breakfast at the small wooden pagoda of Pra Lay Village. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 5, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). A group of monks and members of the Khmer Youth's Empire warm themselves around a fire in the cold morning. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 4, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). A young monk walk in front of the small pagoda of Pra Lay Village. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 4, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). Monks prepare a 80m saffron cloth to carry though the small Pra Lay Village. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 4, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). Youth volunteers prepare a 80m saffron cloth to carry though the small Pra Lay Village. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 5, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). Monks and youth volunteers carry a 80m saffron cloth though the small Pra Lay Village to raise awareness of the environmental destruction the construction will cause to the Areng Valley. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ru
November 5, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). A monk during a tree-blessing ceremony in a forest nearby Pra Lay Village. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 4, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). A group of monks walk through the jungle to perfom a tree-blessing ceremony. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 4, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). Monks and volunteers during a tree-blessing ceremony in a forest nearby Pra Lay Village. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 4, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). A saffron cloth is left after a tree-blessing ceremony. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 4, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). A group of monks take a bath in the Areng River, a few km south of the estimated construction site for the dam. The river is a natural habitat of several critically endangered species as the siamese crocodile. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
November 4, 2013 - Areng Valley (Koh Kong). Monks walk through a field on the way back to Pra Lay Village. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
A march for the environment
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A march for the environment

On Sunday, November 3rd 2013, a group of over 40 Buddhist monks walked more than 25km through the jungle to the remote village of Pra Lay, Cambod Read More
56
601
4
Published:

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