Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tigers, cobras wished on firm

Tigers, cobras wished on firm

Community members from Brame commune conduct a cursing ceremony in Preah Vihear province
Community members from Brame commune conduct a cursing ceremony in Preah Vihear province yesterday morning after being embroiled in a land dispute with a company since 2012. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Tigers, cobras wished on firm

Villagers at odds with Chinese plantation firms in Preah Vihear province yesterday morning held a ceremony to curse the companies for allegedly conspiring to evict them from their land since 2012.

The ethnic Kuoy community in Brame commune, Tbeng Meanchey district, lit candles and prayed for the company directors to be struck by lightning, bitten by cobras and eaten by tigers.

The villagers put a curse on “the people who destroyed our happiness through damaging our farms and forest and grabbing the land”, said village representative Nuon Mun, 63.

The dispute with Rui Feng and Lan Feng began in 2012 when the firms were granted two land concessions totalling nearly 18,000 hectares.

After coming close to exhausting the avenues of justice provided to them by the courts, villagers resorted to the ancient rituals on show yesterday, because “the companies are colluding with officials”.

“We have called for intervention from the prime minister and National Assembly. We also set up press conferences and protested more than 10 times,” Mun said. “But we did not yet get any solutions.”

After the ceremony yesterday, the villagers took direct action, blocking a company vehicle that was clearing the land where they once lived.

The community has drawn up a map of the land they claim, and is preparing to forward it to the Ministry of Interior to apply for a community land title.

Lor Chan, Preah Vihear provincial coordinator of local rights group Adhoc, who was present at the ceremony, said the event was the result of a lack of redress for land grab victims.

“The authorities have ignored this case. It has not been solved and the ‘tiger skin’ policy has not been implemented well,” he said, referring to a government policy whereby villagers are allowed to remain on small plots of land inside land concessions.

Sou Serey, provincial deputy governor, claimed that despite numerous negotiations with the community, their lack of understanding of the law had led to repeated impasses.

“It’s a chronic case – the NGOs are behind them and coached them to protest and make demands beyond the law,” he claimed. “They wanted the company closed down. They think Brame belongs to them.”

Ing Thing Kong, a representative of the companies, said he had watched the ceremony and claimed the villagers had gotten drunk before blocking the firms’ excavator from clearing the land.

“We were clearing the land that three of the villagers claimed was their own. But they do not have land titles yet and they stopped us from doing our work,” he said. But following the villagers’ action, the company agreed to restart negotiations, he added, and a meeting was scheduled for today.

MOST VIEWED

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Num banh chok pizza a new fusion hit

    Num banh chok is a traditional fish curry with fermented rice noodles, prahok fish paste, kroeung paste, flowering plants and seasonal vegetables that is arguably a strong contender for “national dish” status in Cambodia and typically served for breakfast or eaten as an afternoon snack.

  • Cambodia detects new Covid cases after 52 days: PM

    After 52 days of zero new Covid-19 cases, Cambodia has now detected new infections, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen. In his special audio address to the nation late on June 28, Hun Sen said the new cases were detected on people who had undergone PCR tests

  • Higher education leaders tour US

    With support from the US Department of State, 10 Cambodian leaders in higher education participated in the 10-day International Visitors Leadership Programme (IVLP) in three US states from June 19 to July 1. They included nine university rectors and directors of higher education institutions who are members of

  • Gold-covered boundary stone found within Angkor Thom’s West Gate

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) announced that their working group in charge of restoration work at Angkor Thom's Takav Gate or the West Gate recently found an ancient stone slab commonly known as a boundary stone. The boundary stone is 53 cm by 53 cm and 12 cm

  • Angkor ticket sales jump by 1,000 per cent in the first half

    Angkor Archaeological Park netted more than $2.4 million from ticket sales in the first half of 2022, an increase of more than 1,000 per cent year-on-year, Angkor Enterprise reported. According to a July 1 statement issued by Angkor Enterprise, the state-run institution that manages tickets sales for international visitors