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

  • Hundreds of children in hospital with dengue

    A serious dengue fever epidemic is affecting Cambodia, with nearly 600 children hospitalised in the five Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals on Monday alone, a statement posted on the Kantha Bopha Foundation’s official Facebook page said on Wednesday. Because Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals provide

  • Sihanoukville building collapse death toll rises to 19

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said on Sunday that the government will act against those responsible for the collapse of a seven-storey building in Sihanoukville on Saturday, which resulted in 19 dead and 24 injured as of Sunday evening. Sar Kheng said three Chinese nationals and one

  • Gov’t to probe Chinese exports to US via Sihanoukville

    The government is investigating allegations that Chinese companies are using Chinese-owned special economic zones in Cambodia to export goods to the US and avoid tariffs, said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay. The move comes after US embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes said the US had

  • Banh: The Khmer Rouge worse than sanctions and pressure

    Minister of National Defence Tea Banh said on Thursday that having sanctions and external pressure placed on Cambodia was not worse than life under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Tea Banh, who is also deputy prime minister, was speaking to military and ruling party officials