Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers defy officials to stage protest

Villagers defy officials to stage protest

Villagers defy officials to stage protest

Roughly 200 villagers gathered yesterday in Kampong Thom province’s Sandan district to protest against a rubber company that they fear will clear forested land they depend on for their livelihoods.

The villagers convened in front of the offices of CRCK Rubber Development Company despite attempts by district and military police to stop them. Chheang Vuthy, 37, a village representative from Sandan’s Meanrith commune, said an additional 60 villagers travelling to the protest on tractors had been headed off by local authorities.

Those who protested yesterday came from communities in Kampong Thom, Stung Treng and Preah Vihear provinces that border the roughly 200,000-hectare Prey Lang forest, one of Cambodia’s largest. Sandan District Governor Sim Vanna said CRCK had been granted a 6,044-hectare concession in his district last year to plant rubber.

“If they clear Prey Lang, that means they will break our rice pot, so we will die,” Chheang Vuthy said. “If they destroy the forest, what can we depend on?”

Sim Vanna said local authorities had attempted to prevent the villagers from gathering in front of the CRCK offices because they were afraid of violence breaking out. “Our authorities did not use violence on those
villagers – we just talked to them at our district office to find out what they want and how they will be affected,” he said. “I will report their requests to the provincial governor.”

CRCK representatives could not be reached for comment.

Last year, villagers from four provinces bordering the Prey Lang forest called for a halt to development in the area. Sem Sean, a village representative from Kampong Thom province, said at the time that  33 private companies were operating in the forest: 12 in Preah Vihear, 11 in Kratie, eight in Stung Treng and two in Kampong Thom.

Some of the largest include South Korean mining firm Kenertec, Rattanak Stone Cambodia Development Co Ltd and the Pheapimex Group, a firm controlled by the wife of ruling party Senator Lao Meng Khin.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh authorities ban march for Human Rights Day

    Phnom Penh authorities have banned a planned march as local NGOs and workers’ unions gear up to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Monday, with a youth group leader saying they would march nonetheless. The UN

  • Phnom Penh’s Jet’s Container Night Market shuts down

    The famous Jet’s Container Night Market in central Phnom Penh has shut down due to the high cost of the land rental, company representatives claim. Jet’s Container Night Market is the largest such market in Phnom Penh. It operated for just over two

  • Hun Sen rejects ‘rift’ rumours spread by ‘stupid gangsters’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday denied a “rift” among top leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), and rejected claims that Senate president Say Chhum and Interior Minister Sar Kheng were set to be removed from their positions as rumours spread by “gangsters”.

  • EU ambassador to Cambodia: Rights a ‘work in progress’

    The EU ambassador to Cambodia has called human rights “a work in progress” and said the 28-nation bloc has “carefully” noted last week’s statement by the government on taking further steps to strengthen democracy and the political sphere in the Kingdom. The EU marked