Villagers from seven communes in Pursat province’s Krakor district joined forces on Saturday to pray for help to protect land they say they have been farming for decades, and to curse the company granted a concession to use it.
“We lost confidence in the government, so we need Buddha to help us,” said Ket Hong, a resident of Kralanch village in Kbal Trach commune, where about 200 farmers gathered for the ceremony.
People who respect Buddhism believe it is necessary to do good deeds and avoid bad ones, so those who have done bad deeds will worry if villagers join forces to curse them, Ket Hong explained. He said that they did not curse any individual, but directed their prayers for assistance against corrupt people who take over farmers’ land.
In January 2000 the government signed an agreement with Pheapimex granting it 315,028 hectares of land spreading over Kampong Chhnang and Pursat provinces. In March this year it signed a sub-decree returning 6,714ha to affected communities.
Soeng Senkaruna, the provincial monitor of rights group Licadho, said the villagers were turning to Buddha because the government would not listen.
“I think the officials should ask why villagers stopped asking for intervention from them and turned to Buddha instead,” he said.