Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Appeasing the ancestors




Appeasing the ancestors

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Community members conduct a sacrificing ceremony yesterday to reassure their angry ancestors in Stung Treng's Kbal Romeas commune after ten of the villagers fell sick. Photo supplied

Appeasing the ancestors

After being evicted from their homes as water levels rose, 100 ethnic Phnong villagers returned yesterday to their native Kbal Romeas commune – now in the reservoir of the Lower Sesan II Dam – to sacrifice a buffalo in an attempt to reassure their purportedly angry ancestors after 10 of the villagers fell sick.

The homeless villagers raised nearly $10,000 to buy the buffalo and other sacrificial animals. The families were offered compensation to leave their homes ahead of the opening of the dam, but many refused, citing in part an unwillingness to leave behind traditonal burial grounds.

As water levels increased, even the holdouts were forced to relocate to makeshift homes on nearby land. One former resident, Koeng Ban, said his ancestors were confused and angry after their graves were abandoned.

“We held the ceremony in the middle of the village in water to inform the spirits . . . not to abuse us,” she said. Veoun Sambath, Kbal Romeas commune chief, who now lives at a supplied resettlement site, said the true cause of the illness was likely linked to their unhealthy living conditions.

“They do not think about their living conditions. It is not because of the spirits,” he said, adding the villagers who agreed to relocate have not fallen sick. Sambath suspected that some of the villagers may have malaria. A member of the ruling CPP, he went on to accuse the villagers of supporting the Cambodia National Rescue Party and blamed NGOs for manipulating them.

However, Hou Sam Ol, Stung Treng provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said that NGOs had played an important role in acting as an intermediary in the dispute. “They did not move out because the compensation was not appropriate,” Sam Ol said.

MOST VIEWED

  • China and India closer to ‘biggest’ showdown

    Indian and Chinese troops remained engaged in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation in several disputed areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh on Thursday, signalling that the confrontation could become the biggest military face-off after the Doklam episode in 2017. Ladakh is a union

  • Central bank to shun small US banknotes

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) is considering not accepting smaller denominated US dollar banknotes – $1, $2 and $5 – from banks and microfinance institutions (MFIs) which it said are flooding its stockpile as the demand for those notes is low. While some banking insiders welcomed the move as

  • PM lauded in Covid-19 fight

    World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen thanking him for following the WHO’s guidance and commending Cambodia’s efforts in the fight against Covid-19. In his letter made public by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  • Workers return, hope for salaries

    More than 600 factory workers in the capital’s Chaom Chao commune in Por Sen Chey district returned to work after the factory’s owner promised to pay their salaries in instalments until the middle of next month. On Tuesday and Wednesday, more than 600 workers gathered

  • Women detained for forcing kids to beg

    Two women were sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday for forcing six children to beg for money for several months at the Chhouk Meas market in Krang Thnong commune in the capital’s Sen Sok district. Phnom Penh Department of Anti-human Trafficking and

  • Vietnamese tents baffle border guards

    Kandal and Takeo provincial authorities bordering Vietnam have expressed concern after witnessing irregularities by the Vietnamese authorities, including the deployment of soldiers to erect 114 camps just 30m from the border. Takeo provincial governor Ouch Phea told The Post on Thursday that Vietnamese soldiers had erected 83