ASEAN Grassroots Peoples Assembly
Participants included: 18 people from Prey Lang forest network, 20 from Iram, 40 from farmers federation, 25 people from Sugar_Phnom Kouk, 20 from CYN, 30 people from Aural district, 10 people from the 3S Rivers (Sesan, Sekong and Srepok?), 10 from a fishing community.
Facilitators: Vuthy, Theng Saroeun (a group of Thai nationals and Wulan (AMRC)) all are in one group. A group named CamAsean is allowed to take part.
Cambodian participants came from the following provinces: Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang, Kampot (five persons), Kampong Thom, Rattankiri, Mondulkiri, Koh Kong, Siem Reap, Kampong Cham, Battambang, Preah Vihear, Kratie, Borei Keila community, Boeung Kak Lake community, Preah Sihanoukville, and Kep.
Together they discussed the following:
*There are possible 4-5 ways of solution to each problem
Each community had 10 minutes for discussion and had to do the following:
Kampong Speu Province: Amlang community has disputed with Phnom Penh Sugar Company. The dispute started on 11th December 2010.
People lost their rice paddies because of the economic land concessions. The affected villagers have lived and worked on the land since 1979. Young people and villagers lost their jobs in the rice paddies and fruit gardens. The company only recruited villagers whom they know or through partisan. The company recruited beautiful girls only. The local villagers were not kept informed about the company’s development of the sugar plantation. They were not consulted prior to the land concession granted.
Siem Reap Province: The land dispute started in 2004.
Angkor Thom district: The villagers of Leang Dai commune, Angkor Thom district, who have lived on the land since 1979, had land dispute with Apsara Authority ( a governmental orgnazation/agency established to preserve the archaeological park and Cambodian ancient temples in Siem Reap), when they were stopped by the authority from building their houses.
Another problem happened when the local authorities started to dig a water canal; that activities caused impacts on two villages; villagers lost their rice paddies. The other land dipuste was involved with 50-ha that was taken by a company without paying any compensation to the villagers in Pauk district, Siem Reap. In addition, the villagers were banned from getting access into their rice fields to plant rice or even collecting firewoods.
Banteay Srey district: The local authorities took the land from villagers and sold their land. Despite the presence of youth group (who were assigned to measure land for people), they did not solve problem for the villagers.
Chi Kreng district: Land dispute in this district happened bettween villagers, land dealers and Chi Kreng district chief. That happened in 2006 when the land dealers evicted the people from exploiting the land. Armed soldiers and policemen were used to evict the villagers violently when they were planting rice in the disputed land, injuring three people and other 12 villagers were arrested. The authoriteis discriminate against the villagers.
The land dispute happened in 2007 between villagers and a private company that received an economic land concession for development of a rubber plantation. An indigenous people group was affected from this development. Villagers complained that the natural resources and environment were affected by this development.
The activities continued. A group of ethnic minority group in Malaysia started to show a movie about land disputes in their country. The program was followed by a group of singers who stood up and sang a Cambodian song entitled “The Woes of Prey Lang Forest, Land & Life”.
Preah Sihanoukville Province:
This group talked in a range of land issues, including boundaries of the land, land titles. The also complained that they do not have enough rice paddies land for cultivation. Some swamp forests were destroyed and reclaimed by private companies. The state granted many economic land concessions to private companies; the maritime resources; people’s livelihood and mangrove forests were severely affected by them. Those negative impacts range from children’s dropouts of schooling, work migration, dispute with companies. There was another land case in a village, named KoKi, but there was any settlement despite the fact that villagers tried to solve problems at least 14 times.
Koh Kong province:
A land dispute happened in Prek Chik village, Srae Ambil district in 2007, when a local company, Sok Heng Co., evicted all villagers from the village. This company received an economic land concession from the government. The company asked villagers to put thumbprints and promised to give a land title. In contrast, after giving their thumb prints the villagers were accused to living illegally on the land, on where they claimed to have lived for 20 years. About 70 percent of the total village land area was bulldozed by the company. When the villagers went to complain with the provincial court, they lost the case. The company threatened to arrest everyone in families if they lost court case.
Another land dispute related to a sugar plantation land concession, owned by Mr. Ly Yong Phat (a power Cambodian tycoon and senator from the ruling party Cambodian People’s Party). On the 16th July 2006, Mr. Ly Yong Phat’s sugar company started to bulldoze 1397.7 hectare rice paddies and farmland belong to the people. One village was shot and injured, and number of buffalo was killed by the company. In 2006, the villagers went to complain with some governmental institutions. In 2007 the affected villagers went to complain with the provincial court. On the 24th August 2012 the villagers were summoned to the court, yet there was no solution. The villagers referred the land case to the cadastral and land office for a solution.
The court was dragging feet when they summoned the people for questioning. The court ruled that the villagers lost the case.
Another land case happened in Botum Sakor village, Botum Sakor National Park. A group of environmental rangers threatened to take land from villagers
Kampong Chhnang Province:
A group of villagers, Phnom Srok Network, has had land dispute with a land and forest concession company, Pheapimex that received over 300,000-hectare economic land concession. The villagers staged many protests, between 2006 and 2009, against the land clearing by Pheapimex when it used bulldozers to clear the people’s farmland. Some were injured by a grenade attack while protesting. At least one villager was arrested and put in prison.
The government of Cambodia granted the land concession to Pheapimex without consultation with the locals and without studies on the impacts.
Kampong Thom Province:
Prey Lang Network raised many issues and concessions company, sizes of the forest land, impacts on wildlife and environment, threats, intimidation and abuses of rights by the local authorities when villagers protested. As people went to protest the local authorities did not help solve the problems. This Prey Lang Network aims to protect the forest.
They also named some local companies such as TNT.
Preah Vihear Province:
There are 24 land concession companies. The group raised the impacts on indigenous people who are living in and around the periphery of Prey Lang forest. They were not allowed to exploit a small scale gold mining, because “he said that he is a bodyguard of Samdech Chea Sim” (Chea Sim is president of the ruling party CPP and president of Cambodian Senate).
A company named Phypheath was granted 7,000-ha land concession. The concession size overlaps with the farmland belong to 444 households.
After discussions on land issues, they broke and played game, “ Game of Solidarity”.
A representative from Samlot district raised about the authority’s restriction to the freedom of expression. He asked the authorities to intervene in the land dispute (documents attached).
Om Samith is a resident from Prek Peay, Kampot province. She raised the issue about the filling of the land into the sea, by a local company, that intends to turn the area into a garment factory. The company’s activities caused some villagers lose the land. Beside, Om Samith raised the issue about development of the hydropower dam inside the protected area of Bokor National Park, as company stopped the stream from a waterfall on a mountain top of Kamchai Mount and turned into a dam.
People decided to choose 1, 2,3,4, and combined 5&6, and add 6, 7 & 8 to combine into one.
Speakers asked people to work in group to find solutions.
- Government revokes any illegal land concession company
- Reduce extravagant size of land concession
- Government should punish any company that violate agreements
- Strengthen community network nationwide.
- Before Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery grant any economic land concessions to company:
- Government should review implementation of economic land concession companies over adequate compensation.
- Government should revoke licenses from companies that violated contract and any unlicensed companies.
- Both government and company consult with people about impacts prior to exploiting the economic land concession.
- Government should reduce the off-limited size of economic land concession.
- The company that used chemicals must: clean up any toxic waste from the city towns and deal with waste management inside their factories.
Methodology to dispute settlements on a range of issues including land, mining, forest and hydropower dam, were slowly dragging, ineffective and not independent.
- Government should speed up problem settlement and should make clear contracts.
- Be transparent and fair.
- Institutions to deal with disputes should remain independent. National, international organizations, community and people have rights to participation.
- Solution to problems related to land dispute, mining, forest and hydropower dam require an environmental impact studies, including natural resources and people’s livelihood.
- Propose the Royal Government of Cambodia as well as all 10 ASEAN nations to find appropriate solutions and justice for Cambodian people.
- National and international NGOs as well as donors help promote Cambodian legal and judicial system and other relevant institutes, to respect human rights.
Joint Recommendations for solving problems:
- ASEAN nations should issue a joint statement on respect of rights to land in Cambodia
- Release the [convicted] villagers who were accused in land disputes
- The judicial system remains independent, not under subjugated by political party.
- The government should respect the law and make any laws on land, mining exploitation and electricity, aiming to serve interests of the people.
- Adequate compensation on the basis of market price and on-site development (to ensure job and good infrastructure…)
- Companies and individual persons should make prior assessment of the impacts and allow people’s participation.
(A speaker said): “ Let’s gather documents and start to write petitions. Which network has not submitted peditions to the committee?. If your network does not do it, no one do it for you. Please, Speakers/Facilitators, encourage network members to complete it now. Please, All, bring your concerns to the royal government.
Tomorrow we will have 2,000 people to raise concerns and make a strong demand. You will be informed the venue tomorrow. Many national and international journalists will participate.
Those who have no place accommodation, please ask a representative to come to talk to our secretariat. We will find a place for you.
- You Phally, Khan Chankolich, Lech Mouykeang and Roath Sopheakboros