REPRESENTATIVES of indigenous groups in Ratanakkiri province who fear they could lose their land to private concessions are set to meet with a land rights NGO today to devise ways to draw attention to their plight, after the provincial governor allegedly failed to act on his promise to deliver a petition from the groups to Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The representatives, who are from the Tampuon, Kreung and Jarai ethnic minority communities, said their concerns had been exacerbated by a three-day trade fair held earlier this month in the province, which led them to arrange the meeting with the Indigenous Communities Support Organisation.
Kham Phor Savat, a representative of Kalai village in Ou Chum district, said the representatives had not received any feedback from provincial governor Pav Hamphan as to why he failed to deliver the petition to the premier during his visit last week.
The petition requested that the government facilitate local land titling, intervene in ongoing land disputes and set out requirements for full consultation with affected communities before land and mining concessions are granted.
“If we cannot receive any solutions from the province, we will take this petition to Phnom Penh to have it printed by media companies and civil societies so that our concerns can be heard,” Kham Phor Savat said.
He said that his own community had already been affected by the clearing of 20,000 hectares of forest by a Vietnamese company, which he said had planted acacia and rubber trees on the land.
“This affected land that 190 families in our community use for slash-and-burn agriculture,” he said.
Too many petitions
Ratanakkiri provincial governor Pav Hamphan said he had received a range of petitions from various groups in recent weeks and had not had enough time to act on all of them.
“I have not decided yet whether I will forward all these petitions to the prime minister’s Cabinet or just send a brief report there,” he said.