សមាជប្រជាជនអាស៊ាន

ASEAN Grassroots Peoples Assembly

Natural Resources and Livelihoods workshop – 1

The workshop began with a game of solidarity. The rules are as follows:

Pair up and raise your hands; then turn face to face, jumping on feet and play rock- paper-scissors to define the winner and loser. Later walk to another partner, play the paper/rock/scissors and jump on feet. Build up string of people and jump on the feet and play rock-paper-scissors game. Walk in circle; find the ending tail. “ Where is the tail?”.

Ask the first person to sit on the knee of the second person; then the second person do the same, sitting on knee of the third.

The representative from Samlot district, Battambang province spoke about restricted rights and freedom of speech. She asked the local authorities to be a speaker and mediator in a land dispute (documents available).

Next, Samith a resident in Prek Peay, Kampot province spoke on filling in the soil in the sea and develop the land to be a garment factory; people lost land. Problems happened at Bokor National Park, Phnom Kamchai Mount, due to a waterfall that was turned into the hydropower dam; there is loss of natural resources such as wildlife.

9900 ha land in Prey Peay, located 250km north of Kampot, were grabbed by a company in 1998 when the Khmer Rouge was integrated ( into the Royal Government of Cambodia).  She established a community; on 6th April 2009 the community staged a protest but there was no settlement. A group of students went to measures part of the land for the people. The people are illiterate and ill; it’s difficult to communicate with them. School is far away from the village. [There is lack] of knowledge and technique on farming. Many households migrant to far areas to work; they, husband and wife, both went together.

Chan Thal is from Poun (Tumpoun?) ethnic group in Rattanakiri province. The hydropower dam in Vietnam was established on the Sesan River, and caused flood. People became tearful because they lost property. The NGOs asked people to brace for [disaster], to prepare boats and a 500-meter [safety] location as well as a dike project nearby their village. 250 villagers asked that the hydropower dam project should be reviewed. Ethnic minority group along the riverbanks are affected with diseases.

A Vietnamese land concession company reclaimed [the forest land] and put a rubber plantation. The company is situated only one kilometer away from the village land. Those company officials said they leased the land from the royal government for 70 years and that they will recruit local villagers to work in the rubber plantation. Villagers have prevented the company from bulldozing the forest; yet timber was loaded in trucks and transported away. The villagers have little knowledge; they try to escape from problems. “For me, I will not run away. I hope all of you will help me and hear my concerns,” said Chan Thla.

Chung Ngam, a Borei Keil resident spoke about how the Phanimpex Company has built ten buildings for housing. 384 houses were destroyed on 3rd January 2012. The villagers went to ask the Phnom Penh Municipality Hall officials for the reason why “they cancelled agreement with us”.

The villagers asked why Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema didn’t ask the company to comply that agreement. 117 households are living under the door steps, while the other live under blue tarp. They drop tears everyday. Some have serious diseases. Please, the 10 ASEAN countries, help solve the problem. People scream and cry anywhere they go. An activist has been imprisoned in Prey Sar for more than two months. “I am not afraid of the prison. “I met drug kids… because we do not have appropriate shelter”. Please all of you, help the Cambodians

Next Boeung Kak Lake was discussed. The Boeung Kak land is more than 12 hectares. Wherever they went to submit  petitions, they were bullied Please, Samdech [Prime Minister] Hun Sen, demarcate the land boundaries; while Governor Kep Chuktema denied it. The authorities always keep surveillance. A 71-year grandma was injured at her head, the other woman miscarried her baby.

Kandal Province and a land case in Kandal Steung district that happened were discussed next. Heng Development Company grabbed land from the villagers between 2003 and 2007. They bought the land in 1995. They stopped to buy the land five years ago. Cadastral officials denied people with land title. 200-ha land in Prek Kampeus, Kanthouk, Boeung Sya and the other land area is situated in other three communes.

Some villagers were arrested and put in prison; that happened on 4th September of that year. A Vietnamese company was subcontracted to bulldoze to grab the land everyday. “ May I ask will the government take the land back if it is not developed?” Authorities at all levels are collaborated with fishermen who involved in Illegal fishing activities such as using electrical shock device.

Here is a summary of the major problems being faced including: land concessions, mining concessions, hydro-power dam, dispute between private individuals and community

  • Economic land concessionaires do not comply with the law and human rights.
  • Local villagers have not been consulted about the economic land concession projects; the impact assessment on the economic land concession has been carried out.
  • People face numeral impacts from land dispute (houses, rice paddies, orchard, collective land of ethnic groups, rotational farmland, bury site, and worship land). Natural resources and the forest suffer losses. Ministry of Agriculture has known about the environment impacts. In accordance with Article 137, a committee has the right to monitor the impact on land concession. By law, the people have access to all information. Living standards of the people are impoverished. They lost income. If there is a good impact from the project, their living condition will prosperous and improved. People are intimidated and accused by legal action. Both men and animals are affected by chemical substances. People’s rights are restricted, whereas the rights of citizens should be protected. Indigenous people start to lose culture and tradition gradually.
  • The people affected by the projects did not receive adequate compensation.
  • The local authorities collaborate with the private company and private individuals to grab the people’s land for commercial purposes.
  • The local authorities have no intention to solve land dispute at best.
  • Land dispute solving mechanism is not independent.
  • Villagers are under pressure by the local authorities. They were prohibited from protesting about the land dispute.

At the end the speaker requested that a group of five participants formed a group to find a solution to these issues.

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Countdown to the Assembly!

ASEAN Grassroots Peoples AssemblyNovember 13th, 2012
Together people are the power!
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