Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers seek closure of NGO

Villagers seek closure of NGO

Protesters from Kampong Speu’s Oral district came to air their grievances against Equitable Cambodia
Protesters from Kampong Speu’s Oral district came to air their grievances against Equitable Cambodia, which they say does not represent their communities’ interests. Fresh News

Villagers seek closure of NGO

Villagers protested against land rights NGO Equitable Cambodia and the European Union on Friday for allegedly dividing their communities, before delivering a petition to the Interior Ministry to shut down the organisation.

Equitable Cambodia represents communities nationwide that stand in conflict with companies and the government regarding land rights. But according to villager representative Chey Beurn, one of the villagers from Kampong Speu’s Oral district who protested on Friday, the NGO accused the villagers of “being at the company’s side” when negotiating with the company.

“We used to cooperate with that NGO, but now we don’t want them anymore,” he said.

Beurn, whose community is involved in a land dispute with Phnom Penh Sugar, said the NGO “incited the community to separate” and “made villagers not get along”.

He said they didn’t get any compensation because of the NGO’s activities, leading them to complain to the Interior Ministry about the NGO’s purported “bias” and “irregularities”.

Interior Ministry spokesperson Khieu Sopheak said he didn’t know about the petition.

Another villager, Mao Men, 39, said “that NGO is not honest with us”.

“I didn’t receive any compensation either,” he added.

But EC Director Eang Vuthy said the protesters just briefly stood in front of their office and didn’t submit any letter. “We don’t know their purpose. We didn’t get a specific request or petition, so we don’t really know what they want,” he said.

He said they would stop representing their clients if they officially requested them to do so, but that they were unable to verify whether the protesters were in fact their clients.

Naly Pilorge, deputy director of advocacy at Licadho, said that her organisation’s observers arrived shortly after the protest started, and estimated that there were about 30 protesters.

First Counsellor Genoveva Hernández Uriz, of the EU delegation, which is pushing for conflict resolution, said in an email that they had not received a petition and were waiting for more information. “We are yet to become familiar with all the details about this process,” she said.

The protest comes a few days after the Ministry of Land Management gave its provincial departments in Kampong Speu, Koh Kong and Preah Vihear 30 days to collect all relevant information to solve the land conflicts between communities and sugar companies.

The statement had followed an interministerial meeting with the ministries of commerce, agriculture and environment. However, one of the photographs posted at a state newswire appeared to show Phnom Penh Sugar representative Sim Sitha participating in the meeting.

Phnom Penh Sugar representatives could not be reached yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Hun Sen gets 4th Covid shot, urges compatriots to follow

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany on January 14 received their fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine and called on compatriots to follow suit as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in the community. This marks the launch of Cambodia's fourth-dose vaccination campaign,

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer

  • Singapore backs Cambodia's efforts on Myanmar

    Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports Cambodia in its efforts to seek a solution to the ongoing Myanmar crisis as the chair of ASEAN. Lee expressed his support during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen via videoconference on January 14, with the talks focused