Stop the crackdown against communities fighting for land in Preah Vihear, Cambodia! Resist repression, resist landgrabbing!

The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) strongly denounces the harassments against the villagers of Preah Vihear in Cambodia who are defending their lands from corporate landgrabbers.

We condemn the court summon against 10 Indigenous Kuys of Prame commune and two staff of Ponlok Khmer (PKH), a member organization of PCFS, for the trumped-up criminal charge of “arrest, detention, and unlawful confinement.” Rui Feng and Lan Feng,subsidiaries of Chinese conglomerate Guangdong Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co., Ltd., filed the case after a confrontation with the villagers in December 2014that halted Hengfu’s clearing of the disputed land. At the time, the villagers were forced to confiscate two of the six bulldozers to stop the arbitrary clearing. Authorities retrieved the bulldozers in 2017.

The case was actually revived in November 2018, after it slept for three years since the last summon dated June 2015. We deplore Hengfu’s connivance with local authorities and courts for such a desperate measure to quell the villagers’ defense of their land. The filing of trumped up charges is a common scheme employed by corporate landgrabbers to stop land activists who are opposing their development aggression projects.

In addition, PCFS slams the crackdown in Yeang commune, Choam Khsant district, Preah Vihear in relation with the villagers’ conflict with agribusiness Metrei Pheap Kase-Oushakam Co. Ltd. The company is taking claim of the community’s 8,520 hectares in the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary. In January, 15 villagers were arrested for alleged violations of environmental laws. One of them, community leader Sum Moeun, went into hiding for two months upon escape from arrest after he and his son experienced beating by military elements. PCFS decries the use of state forces as security guards of private concession holders, using their guns to intimidate communities and evict them forcefully from their native lands.

Human rights violations arising from land struggles are prevalently taking place in the world especially in Latin America and Asia, victimizing land activists and Indigenous Peoples. This trend proves that repression is part and parcel of landgrabbing, and our experience shows how governments conspire with corporations to further their business interests –always at our expense.

As we close our commemoration for the Day of the Landless 2019[1],we call our members, networks, and fellow food sovereignty advocates to condemn the crackdown against the farmers in Cambodia and express our solidarity to the affected communities. Let our support strengthen global rural peoples’ struggle for land and life. ###

REFERENCES:

  • https://phnompenhpost.com/national/preah-vihear-villagers-summoned-court-detaining-bulldozer
  • https://cchrcambodia.org/index_old.php?title=NGO-workers-and-community-members-received-summonses-to-appear-at-Preah-Vihear-Provincial-Court&url=media/media.php&p=alert_detail.php&alid=72&id=5&lang=eng
  • https://www.farmlandgrab.org/post/view/28558-preah-vihear-villagers-summoned-to-court-for-detaining-bulldozer
  • https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national-politics/missing-land-activist-found
  • https://www.licadho-cambodia.org/articles/20190321/161/index.html

[1] The Day of the Landless was jointly launched by the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) on 29 March 2015 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The date marks the founding anniversary of the APC and the launching of PANAP’s “No Land, No Life!” campaign. The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) started to participate in the commemoration last year.

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