About 200 ethnic Phnong villagers gathered in Mondulkiri province’s Bousraa commune yesterday to protest against several companies that hold economic land concessions in the area, which they say are destroying their traditional livelihoods.
The villagers from Pech Chreada district accused the Kau Su Dak Lak Company and French-owned rubber giant Socfin of digging channels that blocked roads used by the villagers, cutting off access to a nearby forest where they harvest forest products.
The villagers also accused a company called LKL of firing on ethnic minority villagers on September 6 when they stopped to take a break from hunting in a community forest in the same district.
Malaysian-owned Mega First Corporation and a firm the villagers called K-First had also indicated that they might obstruct roads used by the villagers, community representative Khut Chanra, 38, claimed.
Following the demonstration yesterday morning, villagers met with Pech Chreada district governor and Bousraa commune chief Yeut Trin.
“We asked them to cancel some companies’ concessions because they fired on people, causing injuries in the past. [We also] asked for freedom of movement, to not let them block our road. We want a written promise or else we will not stop protesting and we will go to Phnom Penh,” Chanra said.
“But the authorities said it was not their responsibility. We used to live in harmony in a traditional indigenous manner, but since the development started in 2006, it has affected our living,” he added.
Commune chief Trin told the Post that he would seek a resolution for the community, but that some of what they were asking was “beyond my responsibility”. He declined to comment further.
So Sovann, deputy provincial police chief, said that the authorities had identified the assailants in the shooting incident last week.
“There is a sole shooter and he is on the run. We also questioned the company. I ordered the district police chief to send me the case,” he said.