The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee Appealed to the Armed Forces to Protect the Interest of Citizens More Than That of Traders – Wednesday, 2.6.2010

Posted on 3 June 2010. Filed under: Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

“Through a press conference on Tuesday, 2 June 2010, groups of civil society organizations in Cambodia, including the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, the NGO Forum on Cambodia, and the Cambodian Housing Rights Task Force, appealed to the armed forces to protect the interest of citizens, and not that of private companies and traders.

“In the press conference also communities that are affected by land grabbing by companies participated. Also citizens of the Boeng Kak lake community that are facing land grabbing and eviction by the Shukaku company of Senator and Oknha Lao Meng Khin from the ruling party, citizens of the Amleang commune in the Thpong district, Kompong Speu, who are vigorously protesting against land grabbing by the Kompong Speu Sugar and the Phnom Penh Sugar companies of Senator and Oknha Ly Yong Phat from the ruling party, and citizens from Romeas Haek district in Svay Rieng, who suffer from land grabbing by the Peam Cheang Rubber Plantation company, participated.

“A representative of the Boeng Kak lake community in Phnom Penh, Ms. Huot Mony, told the story that has led to violations and intimidations, to grab their land and houses by the Shukaku Inc. company, where many citizens are staff of the Prime Minister’s advisory committees that came to settle there since 1980. In 1993, the number of citizens in the area increased. On 6 April 2006, the Phnom Penh Municipality summoned citizens to meet at the Srah Chok pagoda, informing them that all the citizens in the Boeng Kak lake area would receive land titles – but it then became quiet.

“What makes the Boeng Kak lake residents feel very disappointed and hurt is that the notification of the Phnom Penh Municipality, dated 6 February 2006, said that the Boeng Kak lake area is leased for 99 years for US$79.2 million, with the rate of US$0.60 per square meter, to the Shukaku Inc. company, to develop the area of 133 hectares, where 40 hectares are lake surface.

“Through this agreement, 4,252 families in the Boeng Kak lake area in the Srah Chok commune, Daun Penh district, have been seriously affected by the dredging of sand by the company to fill in the lake. This Boeng Kak lake representative added that the company had laid sand dredging pipes that cause the posts of their houses to become unstable, and they had ordered the authorities to threaten and to prevent citizens from repairing their houses. Some families took out their belongings and the inhabitants moved away, as they were afraid of the danger that their houses might collapse.

“Many problems had happened to the Boeng Kak lake residents – some are concerned that their houses might be burnt down, people might get electric shocks, or their houses might collapse. Sobbing while she was speaking, this representative called on the international community to think about the poor citizens who face evictions, before they decide to grant aid to the Cambodian government.

“Also, a representatives of citizens from the Kompong Speu community in the Amleang commune said that their condition is not much different from what the representative of the Boeng Kak lake area had mentioned.

“This representative said that the Amleang commune residents had worked on their rice fields since before the Khmer Rouge regime, except during the Khmer Rouge regime, and then after 1979, they continued to live on their land, doing farming. Just early this year, Oknha Ly Yong Phat’s company had ordered machinery to clear their farmland and to ban them from farming on their land.

“Facing such a situation leads to serious disappointments, and the activities of the government and of these companies are not a sign of poverty alleviation, but they add a heavier burden on the citizens. In the meantime, it was noticed that when protests against land grabbing took place, private companies often used armed forces to intimidate the victimized citizens. Some cases led to shootings at the citizens, but the perpetrators were not brought to be punished.

“Non-government organizations raised six important demands to the government:

  1. The citizens must be involved in all developments.
  2. There must be proper compensation and agreements when dealing with land disputes.
  3. There must be more effective land dispute mechanisms.
  4. Arrests of citizens over land disputes must be stopped.
  5. The government should be involved in solving land disputes, based on proper procedures.
  6. Armed forces should protect the interests of citizens, and not that of powerful traders.

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3895, 2.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #493, 2.5.2010

  • Land Disputes Increased in 2010, though Land Prices Dropped [according to the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee – more than 80 organizations were involved in 236 cases in 2009, compared to the corresponding period in 2010, there is an increase by 34.3%]
  • More Than 200,000 [Cambodian] Workers Are Working Illegally in Thailand [and seriously suffer from the exploitation of their labor – according to the Ministry of Interior]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2264, 2.5.2010

  • The United States of America Increases the Visa Fees to the USA from 4 June 2010 [from US$131 to US$140 for non-immigrant visas]
  • The King Issued a Royal Decree to Finalize the Appointments of Four Officials, and to Nominate Five Others [as advisors and under-secretaries of state; all of them are officials from the quota of FUNCINPEC]
  • The Number of Traffic Accidents within Five Months of 2010 Decreased, but the Number of Deaths Rose [there were 2,626 cases in 2010 which dropped by 145, but 804 people were killed, an increase by 11 deaths]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #671, 2.5.2010

  • [President of the National Assembly] Heng Samrin Does Not Allow Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians to Visit and Monitor the Putting of Border Marker Number 270 in Takeo [at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border; the Sam Rainsy Party claims that the marker is planted on Khmer territory, while the government denies it]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6971, 2.5.2010

  • Traffic Accidents in 2009 Made the Government Waste US$248 Million in 2009 [1,717 people were killed and 7,022 others suffered from serious injuries]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3895, 2.5.2010

  • The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee Appealed to the Armed Forces to Protect the Interest of Citizens More Than That of Traders

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #184, 2.5.2010

  • Land Disputes Might Be a Hot Agenda in the Meeting between Cambodia and Donors Today
  • Cambodia Expressed the Position Not to Extradite [ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin to Thailand [while the Thai government plans to send arrest warrants for Mr. Thaksin to 187 countries]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5213, 2.5.2010

  • The Forests in Oddar Meanchey Might Bring in US$30 Million from the Voluntary Carbon Market
  • A Tropical Strom Hit Two Districts in Siem Reap and Destroyed 373 Houses
  • Samdech Hun Sen Called on All National Institutions to Strongly Pay Attention to Children [he said so during the 61th anniversary of the International Children’s Day]
  • The National Assemblies of Cambodia and of Iran Encourage the Governments of Both Countries to Establish Embassies
  • Within Three Weeks, Nearly Riel 2 Million [approx. US$470] Has Been Charged from Those Throwing Away Rubbish in Public Places

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Eliminating Illegal Settlements – Monday, 31.5.2010

Posted on 1 June 2010. Filed under: Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

“On Friday the Council of Ministers approved a circular for dealing with illegal settlements on state land.

“The spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Phay Siphan, said on Sunday, ‘The circular will help citizens and the government to eliminate anarchic settlements on state land in populated areas, in cities, and at public places [like parks, pedestrian lanes, etc.]. In the future we will eradicate illegal settlements at public places.’

“The circular aims at resolving problems at temporary settlements, also called anarchic constructions, that are built on state land, which results in the loss of road space for traveling, or there is no sanitation. The circular advises the local authorities to provide data about the actual number of such illegal settlements and the number of families, producing plans of these anarchic constructions in order to find solutions, to organize infrastructure and public services to support the life of the people.

“A legal expert of the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions [which works in 20 different countries around the world], Mr. Pen Sithorn, said that the new circular is not bad, but it depends on whether or not the implementation will involve also non-government organizations and the affected communities. He said, ‘The circular says it depends on the government what kind of participation from different sides they will allow.’

Note:

Additional information from the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions:

“A senior official of the Cambodia Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Mr. Chan Soveth, said on Sunday that the circular is good, but its enforcement is not as good as the contents stated in the circular, which makes people live in ever worse conditions. He added, ‘The government evicts people and accepts coordination from the authorities. They confiscate people’s land and deliver it to the rich and to companies, providing little compensation to people. Thousands of citizens have been affected by the policy of the government to force citizens to move to remote areas.’ He went on to say that even though citizens are living on state land, they have been living there for years before the land law was approved. Therefore, they should be offered solutions through the provision of new areas with proper living conditions.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #142, 31.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 31 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #4, 30-31.5.2010

  • A Car Loaded with Paddy Rice Was Intercepted – there Were More Than 800 Kilogram of Turtles Hidden in It, to Be Exported to Vietnam [Kandal]
  • Disputes [through the exchange of statements quoted in the press] between [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit and [ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Creates Political Tension in Siam [Thailand]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2262, 30-31.5.2010

  • The Thai Authorities Released [207] Khmer Citizens Who Had Been Accused of Possessing Explosive Materials
  • Construction Workers on the Bokor Mountain Had a Car Accident while Getting Ahead of another Car – Two Died and Twenty Eight Others Were Injured

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #773, 31.5.2010

  • Oknha Ly Say Kheang, a Big Trader Destroying the Forest, Appeared in Sihanoukville after Having Escaped from Arrest for a While [he was arrested in late March 2010 over illegal wood trading and keeping some in storage. He was spotted driving a luxury car and relaxing in Sihanoukville]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #669, 30-31.5.2010

  • The Ministry of Interior Allows a Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian to Visit Ms. Meas Srey and Mr. Prum Chea [jailed for uprooting Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers in Svay Rieng]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6969, 31.5.2010

  • More Than 60 Persons [police, military police, soldiers, as well as a prosecutor, a commune chief and a village chief] Surrounded a Site where a Military Captain is Storing Luxury Grade Wood [seizing 922 pieces of wood, but the owner of the wood has not been arrested – Svay Rieng]
  • Cambodia Condemned the Persons Who Planted a Sea Mine [attacking a South Korean navy ship, killing 46 sailors] – They Cause Instability on the Korean Peninsular

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3893, 31.5.2010

  • Forced Evictions are against the Constitution and Cannot Be Legalized – Those Who Criticize This Should Not Be Stopped

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #142, 31.5.2010

  • Eliminating Illegal Settlements
  • The Authorities Seek to Arrest Citizens over a Land Dispute [with the Heng Development Company; two persons were arrested for inciting villagers go to protest in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s resident]
  • A US Company [Elixir Gaming Technologies] Received a License to Open a Casino in Takeo [this company plans to start constructing a casino late next year, spending US$8 to 10 million]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #51, 30-31.5.2010

  • An Environmental Officials: The Sesan Hydro Electric Dam II [planned to be constructed late next year] Will Not Flood Ratanakiri [but it might affect only four communes in Stung Treng]
  • Police Arrested a Man Who Raped His Three Step Daughters over a long Time [aged from 12 to 17 – Siem Reap]

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Officials of the United Nations Criticize Serious Human Rights Abuses in Cambodia – Monday, 2.2.2009

Posted on 3 February 2009. Filed under: Week 598 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 598

“Recently, human rights officials of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, issued a report denouncing that there were serious human rights abuses in the forced eviction of thousands of Khmer poor citizens from their houses in order to grab land. The report of the UN Human Rights Council noted that the number of evictions of citizens has increased throughout Cambodia.

Note:

Reference is made available to several UN resources here, including steps to access them.

UN Office for Human Rights

Select: Forced evictions in Cambodia make thousands homeless: UN expert

Press Release: Forced evictions in Cambodia make thousands of people homeless. 30 January 2009.

The following statement on the latest in a series of forced evictions in Cambodia was issued today by the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik.

“More than 130 families were forcibly evicted during the night of 23 and 24 January 2009 from Dey Krahom, in central Phnom Penh to make way for a private company to redevelop the site.

“The forced eviction was carried out in the middle of the night, without prior notice and the shelters belonging to this poor community were torn down and destroyed. This situation has grave consequences for all the victims, but particularly the women and children. Reports also state that prior to the eviction, the community suffered intimidation and community representatives and members were also subjected to criminal charges.

“It is regrettable that the ongoing negotiations with the residents were abandoned, casting aside a valuable opportunity to reach a just and lawful solution to this longstanding dispute. It is now of utmost importance that the rights of the residents to fair compensation for their lost homes and property and the provision of adequate alternative housing are fully respected.

“Unfortunately this is by no means an isolated case, and the increase in forced evictions throughout Cambodia is very alarming. Reports indicate that tens of thousands of poor people have been forcibly evicted and displaced, pushing them into homelessness and further destitution.

“In Cambodia, a consistent pattern of violation of rights has been observed in connection with forced evictions: systematic lack of due process and procedural protections; inadequate compensation; lack of effective remedies for communities facing eviction; excessive use of force; and harassment, intimidation and criminalization of NGOs and lawyers working on this issue.

“Forced evictions constitute a grave breach of human rights. They can be carried out only in exceptional circumstances and with the full respect of international standards. Given the disastrous humanitarian situation faced by the victims of forced evictions, I urge the Cambodian authorities to establish a national moratorium on evictions until their policies and actions in this regard have been brought into full conformity with international human rights obligations.”

The former Special Rapporteur on adequate housing conducted a mission to Cambodia in 2005 and presented a mission report on his findings and recommendations (E/CN.4/2006/41/Add.3). Concerns on forced evictions in Cambodia have been shared through a large number of communications by the Special Rapporteur with the authorities. These communications remain unanswered to date.

More information on the work and reports of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, including a series of pictures, is here; to see them, select
Photographs of the evictions (PDF) at the end of the text.

“The report of the UN Human Rights Council condemning the Cambodian government for human rights abuses was made after the eviction of the Dey Krahom residents in the Tonle Bassac commune, Chamkar Mon district, Phnom Penh, on 24 January 2009. In that event, citizens of more than 100 families were beaten wildly and machinery was used to demolish their houses brutally. These activities seriously violated the citizens’ living rights, and violated also human rights conventions of the United Nations.

“Through a statement on Friday, 30 January 2009, an expert officials of the United Nations [the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Raquel Rolnik] asked the Khmer authorities to suspend evicting residents from their houses, because it is against international human rights obligations. But the Phnom Penh authorities and the Hun Sen government do not care about the report of the UN Human Rights Council, and the corrupt Phnom Penh authorities still collude with the 7NG company of Oknha Srey Sothea to grab citizens’ land impudently. At present, the Dey Krahom residents victimized by the eviction require shelters and need urgent aid from national and international organizations, as well as from generous individuals.

“Local human rights officials observing the collusion between the municipal authorities and the 7NG company evicting the citizens from the Dey Krahom region, said that most citizens have not yet received proper compensation. In contrast, the 7NG company of iniquitous businessman Srey Sothea had set an ultimatum for getting compensation from the company.

“Local human rights organization officials said that the criticism by human rights expert officials of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, is in line with the real situation in Cambodia. In fact, that the municipal authorities collude with the 7NG company and ordered armed forces to evict the more than 100 families from their houses in the Dey Krahom region is a problem that cannot be glossed over. Therefore, the government, headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, the vice-president of the Cambodian People’s Party, must consider how to respect human rights, in order to avoid criticism from all directions.

“Land dispute observers in Cambodia criticized the fact that during these last six months, abuses of citizens’ land, and evictions of citizens, happened more than before the fourth-term national elections on 27 July 2008. Even though the president of the National Authorities for Solving Land Disputes was changed, the number of land disputes could not be reduced. On the contrary, after Prime Minister Hun Sen, the vice-president of the Cambodian People’s Party, appointed Bin Chhin as the president of the National Authorities for Solving Land Disputes to replace [Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Council of Ministers] Sok An, land disputes grew more severe.

“Many said that after the Phnom Penh authorities colluded with the 7NG company to evict the Dey Krahom residents, citizens of the Group 78 in Tonle Bassac and citizens in the Boeung Kak region are very frightened, because they may soon face the same injustice like the Dey Krahom residents. Residents of the Group 78 in Chamkar Mon district’s Tonle Bassac and of the Boeung Kak region, appeal to local and international human rights organizations to help find solutions for them, so that they will not suffer human rights abuses like the Dey Krahom residents.

“Previously, important international human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, frequently released reports criticizing human rights abuses in Cambodia, especially evictions of citizens. Reacting against such criticisms, the not trustworthy man Om Yentieng, the chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the government and senior advisor of Prime Minister Hun Sen, frequently denies the facts, claiming that the respect for human rights in Cambodia has improved. However, after the events on 14 January 2008, Om Yentieng could no longer conceal the fact, because victimized Dey Krahom residents gathered to protest at the residence of Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Tiger Cave Tuol Krasaing headquarters.

“Human rights organization officials observing land violations in Cambodia assume that during the fourth-term government, set up through a unified and comprehensive vote, headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, land disputes will not decrease, and what Hun Sen said about the possibility of a land revolution, is said as a kind of an empty predictiion. If Hun Sen were really willing to settle land disputes, this strong man of Cambodia will not allow senior officials, dishonest oknhas, wicked businessmen, and the armed forces to use execute power to grab citizens’ land as they liked and do at present.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3676, 2.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 2 February 2009

Amnach Reas, Vol.2, #39, 2-8.2.2009

  • 796 Education Officials Get Work Medals [for doing good work in 2008 – in Phnom Penh there are 9,905 teachers and education officials]

Bakong, Vol.10, #252, 1-2.2.2009

  • The Norodom Ranariddh Party Headquarters Was Put in Disarray by a Student Group and by Party Members [reflecting an internal factional split – Tuol Kork, Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1862, 1-2.2.2009

  • A Cambodian Private Hospital Association Will Be Created to Help Poor People
  • Siamese [Thai] Demonstrators Announced Having Controlled the Government House on Saturday Night

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #335, 1-3.2.2009

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Is Angry with [the former RCAF commander-in-chief] Ke Kim Yan for Hosting a Party with Commanders with Funcinpec and Khmer People’s National Liberation Front [of Mr. Son Sann] Backgrounds on 5 January 2009
  • Three More Generals Are Removed from Their Positions [they are Lieutenant General Dam Vuthy, Lieutenant General Dam Dararith – they are brothers, and Lieutenant General Tan Phanna, who is a younger brother of General Chhin Chanpor who was recently removed as the deputy military police commander]

Meatophum, Vol.53, #720, 2-7.2.2009

  • Immigrant Police in Dar Commune Allow Yuons [Vietnamese] to Enter to Do Their Businesses Freely [by just paying some money – according to local citizens and merchants, Kompong Cham]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6567, 2.2.2009

  • A Truck [loaded with pigs] Collided with a Bus: A Tragedy on National Road 5 Killed Three People and Seriously Injured 15 Others [Pursat]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3676, 2.2.2009

  • Officials of the United Nations Criticize Serious Human Rights Abuses in Cambodia
  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Calls on Those Loving Justice to Join the Sam Rainsy Party in Order to Protect the National Interest [he said so during an extraordinary congress of the party]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4810, 1-2.2.2009

  • An [unnamed] Owner of a Rubber Plantation Pays Compensation for a Woman Killed by the Daughter of Mr. Lar Sarith, a Well-Known Singer [she was released after about 20 hours detention – Phnom Penh. She had fled after the accident, but finally police managed to arrest her by shooting a car tire flat. The accident injured a moto-taxi driver and destroyed his vehicle – compensated with US$1,200 – but killed a woman – compensated with US$1,800]
  • The Fifth Person of a “Front for Uniting the Nation” [involved in planting explosive devices in Phnom Penh] Is Arrested and Brought to Court
  • Mr. Yet Chakriya Takes the Position of Prosecutor at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court [replacing Mr. Ouk Savuth]
  • Cambodia Asks Israel to Consider Importing Rice from Cambodia
  • The US Ambassador [Ms. Carol A. Rodley] Admires Cambodia for Fighting AIDS Successfully
  • US$40 Is Released to Each Worker of the LA Factory for the First Step [to settle outstanding payments]
  • The Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Korea Cooperates with the Ministry of Environment of Cambodia

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3478, 1-2.2.2009

  • New Evidence to Accuse Former Tuol Sleng Prison Chief Kaing Gek Eav [also known as Duch – some videos provided by Vietnam about the Tuol Sleng prison showing detention rooms, tools for detaining prisoners, and many dead bodies, when Vietnam forces found this prison in January 1979]

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Challenging Times – What Kind of Change to Come? – Sunday, 25.1.2009

Posted on 26 January 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 596 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 596

On 20 January 2009, when Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States of America, change started to come. Never before had so many people around the world be able, through TV and the Internet, to participate form afar – never before was also so much interest expressed, in the new presidency of this country by a crowd of more than a million people in Washington, and many more around the globe.

To refer here to these events may be an occasion to remember the years of Administrative Reform and Judicial Reforms in Cambodia, and the efforts to see spokespersons authorized in the different sections of the Cambodian administration, so that the Cambodian public will not have to read, time and again, that one official refers an inquiry to the next, and the next does not have time to speak to a journalist. And the public, the people – “The Cambodian people are the masters of their own country” according to Article 51 of the Constitution – are not informed what is being done and why – even in such important situations that they trusted the commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces for many years, and now he is no more there, and the population – civilian and in uniform – does not know why they should withdraw the confidence they had held for many years.

During the long and difficult election campaign, there had been different slogans leading to the inauguration, becoming more and more specific: “Hope and change” – “Hope is not enough” – “Change you can believe in” – not only believe in, but real “Change we need.” And change started to happen. First of all there is an openness for communication, through the media, to the people. It was reported that the new president visited the White House media quarters and press office – places that the former president is said to have avoided – because there, people ask questions and expect clear answers.

When the new president signed some executive orders in front of TV cameras, before he signed them, he read parts of them and explaining what is meant, for the public to understand. And it was announced that e-mail alerts and Internet blogs would be used for “timely and in-depth content” about the administration’s policies:

“The President’s executive orders and proclamations will be published for everyone to review, and that’s just the beginning of our efforts to provide a window for all Americans into the business of the government. We will publish all non-emergency legislation to the Web site for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it.”

And in terms not only of changed style, but also of content, the president made some fundamental policy declarations in his inaugural address:

“Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.

They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.”

One cannot but remember that Prime Minister Hun Sen had made similar declarations in relation to the ongoing violence by the rich or on behalf of the powerful, when he had said already in 2002:

“We are conscious that corruption in the public machinery, be it judiciary or administrative or any other, increases transaction costs for everyone and reduces predictability in law enforcement and implementation of government’s policies… The government believes that enactment of adequate laws and regulations to prevent and punish corruption is crucial for addressing this problem. In this spirit, the Royal Government is committed to finalize the draft of the Anti-Corruption Law before the end of June 2003.”

In December 2005, the Prime Minister had warned that if illegal land seizures were not brought under control, they could lead to a farmers’ revolution.

And – interestingly enough – it was the Chinese People’s Daily Online which reported on 13 February 2007 the concerns of the Cambodian Prime Minister (we missed to see this reported in the local press):

“The land grabbers dare to get a lot of land illegally while we have always appealed again and again to stop. The land grabbers are not simple people, and they must be powerful people in the government. I asked the question, do they dare to conduct a coup d’etat in the future?” And he is quoted to have replied himself that they really dare to do so. “So before they conduct a coup d’etat, we need to take action against them.”

We do not have an explanation for what is happening now – in spite of these words.

When the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch had raise critical question about many countries, including Cambodia, the leader of the Cambodian government’s Human Rights Commission is quoted to have quickly dismissed their statement, elaborated with 20 detailed documents, as “defaming the country with lies. – I refuse all of the accusations, they are just trying to make up things.”

Human Rights Watch had also criticized then USA. The new president’s executive orders to bring change to the detainees at Guantánamo Bay and to the harsh interrogation methods, some of which the new attorney general – the US minister of justice – called torture, remove some of these accusations.

In the meantime, when people from 234 families, to be evicted from land, assured to them by a court order, were protesting, they where shot at – not by illegal private thugs hired by a company, but by members of a Military Police unit.

The Dey Krahom Community on 24.1.2009

The Dey Krahom Community on 24.1.2009


Yesterday, on Saturday, the protracted negotiations – with residents of the Dey Krahom area in Phnom Penh, who claimed that the compensation offered to them for being removed 20 km away, with no school for their children, and no possibility to continue to earn a living like now, where they used to live since many years, are different from the original promise for new arrangements in place – came to an end. They were replaced by destruction and forced eviction.
The police and the people

The police and the people.


Teargas was used, and electric batons – their existence in Cambodia had frequently been denied by the authorities.
Teargas

Teargas


Electric baton

Electric baton


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This action was taken in support of the 7NG Group, the parent company of 7NG construction. The pictures of their website shows big villas on wide green lawns – housing for the few very rich. There website has even a section Code of Conduct. But when one clicks on it, it responds: “We are sorry… – This webpage is under construction.” Is it an irony, or is it just the truth that it shows two big construction machines at work?

dk-kb-grader
According to public discussion, neither the transfer of this public land – originally “3.60 hectares of social land concession granted by the Royal Government of Cambodia to the seven Dey Krahom communities” – into private business use is procedurally and legally very transparent. Nor does the 7NG Group presented detailed plans for the commercial use of the land – except that it is for high class housing and maybe a shopping center – rumors in the absence of transparency. The Mirror has regularly reported information that the construction sector of the Cambodian economy is facing severe problems. The construction boom in Phnom Penh during the last years resulted in many high rise and high price buildings being constructed or being under construction, which now have to be scaled down or abandoned. But the 7NG company can go ahead?

Phnom Penh has not seen anything similar to what what President Obama could say to a new senator, who has dedicated herself to public, not high priced, housing:

“During her career, Kirsten Gillibrand has been a strong voice for transparency and reform in government and shares the belief that government should be open, accessible and work for all of our citizens. In Congress and as special counsel for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, she worked to strengthen public and private partnerships to invest in infrastructure and New York’s economy.”

Where are the 7NG plans to be located in view of the warning, quoted by the Chinese international media? Are they among the group about which Prime Minister Hun Sen has “always appealed again and again to stop” – or is the Cambodian government maintaining the position nationally, which President Obama has denounced as wrong internationally: “that power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please… Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.”

The experience of many people to be marginalized and to be pushed further out, for the benefit of powerful and rich interests, will not help to build a human, peaceful, an just society. This is not how the hearts and minds of people can be won.
dk-kb-distressed
People close by were watching: Will they be next?
dk-np-whonext
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[Pictures: courtesy of Karl Bille, LICADHO, Monika Nowaczyk, Nestle Poell G. Lagaya, Makenzi Travis]

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Dey Krahom Residents Raise Their Last Suggestions, while the Authorities Order Them to Remove Their Houses and to Leave – Tuesday 30.12.2008

Posted on 31 December 2008. Filed under: Week 593 | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 593

“Phnom Penh: Dey Krahom residents, who did not leave at the last eviction efforts, demand housing development in place, or monetary compensation according to market prices, in exchange for leaving from the Dey Krahom area in Chamkar Mon, Phnom Penh.

“Suggestions were raised a day ahead of the final deadline set by the Chamkar Mon authorities for Dey Krahom community residents, to remove their houses and to resettle in new housing at Damnak Trayueng village, Chaom Chau commune, Dangkao district of Phnom Penh.

“Representatives of Dey Krahom residents as well as other citizens raised two suggestions during a press conference in the evening of 29 December 2008, in exchange for leaving from their dilapidated huts in the Dey Krahom community. Residents want either to be provided with land to develop their residencies close to the present place, or, according to the other suggestion, the residents want a monetary compensation according to the market price of the land, finding an independent land assessing company to define the price of the land.

“Such suggestions from the Dey Krahom residents were made, while the Chamkar Mon authorities issued a final notice to the citizens living at the Dey Krahom community in the Pir and Dab Pram sections of the Tonle Basak commune, to remove their and houses to relocate to a new location, prepared for them by the 7NG Company, at Damnak Trayueng village, Chaom Chau, Dangkao, Phnom Penh. The final notice was signed by the Chamkar Mon governor, Mr. Lo Yuy, on 25 December 2008, stating that new 4-by-10-meter ground-floor houses were built by bricks , and a second floor can be built on top. The authorities said that at present, 1,374 families have changed to the new suburban location in Phnom Penh. There are only 91 families left that have not moved to the new location. The authorities ordered this rest of the residents to remove their houses by 30 December 2008 as a final deadline.

“However, the remaining residents refuse to leave the Dey Krahom community and said that they will struggle with their lives if violence is used to evict them.

“A representative of the Dey Krahom community, Mr. Chan Vichet, said that if the authorities use force to evict the residents from their houses at the Dey Krahom community, the residents will also response by force, in order to protect themselves and their property.

“However, the deputy Phnom Penh governor, Mr. Mann Choeun, who met with representatives of the Dey Krahom community in the morning of 29 December 2008, disagreed with the residents’ suggestions. But he presented other alternatives from the 7NG company representatives: the company and the authorities offer two choices to the Dey Krahom residents. First, to accept a flat in the suburban Dangkao district, plus Riel 770,000 [approx. US$190], 30 kg rice, a carton of noodle, and fish sauce. The second choice offered is that a family would be offered US$10,000 plus Riel 770,000, 30 kg rice, a carton of noodle, and fish sauce [but no housing]. The two choices provided by the company and by the authorities were rejected by the residents, saying that the new location is too far away, and it is difficult for their children’s schooling and for them to earn a living day by day.

“It should be noted that the Phnom Penh municipality signed an agreement, providing the Dey Krahom community land to the 7NG company in 2006. The 7NG company plans to develop this former area of poor people to become an area of housing and modern business buildings.

“However, according to a notice from the Council of Ministers on 8 July 2003, it agreed with the request of the Phnom Penh Municipality for social concession land at the Dey Krahom community, which covered at that time 4.70 hectares with 1,465 families in total, in order to develop housing for poor people. The Council of Ministers had agreed to provide 3.70 hectares as social concession land to develop housing at the Dey Krahom community.

“On the other hand, after receiving the rights from the Phnom Penh municipality, the 7NG company started its development work which has frequently led to disputes with the residents. Some were arrested, and one representative of the Dey Krahom community is still in detention at the Prey Sar Prison, while some of the other people agreed to accept housing constructed for them by the 7NG company.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4781, 30.12.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1833, 30.12.2008

  • A Foundation in the Republic of Korea Provides a Loan of US$120 Million for Four Development Projects in Cambodia [1. Construction of a water cleaning station to develop the Siem Reap river, 2. Improvements for National Roads 31 and 33, the Provincial Road 11, and a detour in Kampot, 3. Development of Daun Tri river water resources and Krang Ponley water resources in Kompong Speu, and 4. Restoration of important bridges along national roads]
  • Siamese [Thai] Troops Invite Khmer Troops to Have a Party on International New Year’s Day at the Border [Preah Vihear]
  • Victim’s Mother Said hat because She Could Not Find Money to Pay Medical Services on Time, Her Son Died in a Government Hospital [her son was hit with an axe on his head by an unidentified person, and when he was sent to the Pursat hospital, doctors did not care for him besides putting him on a intra-venous serum drip, because the victim’s family did not have enough money for any medical payment]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #171, 30.12.2008

  • Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs [Kasit Piromya] Wants to Cooperate to Develop the Preah Vihear Temple of Cambodia [according to a Thai newspaper, The Nation. Note: Such cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand is also a condition set by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee]
  • International Human Rights Organizations [Human Rights Watch, the International Trade Union Confederation, and the Observatory for Protection of Human Right Defenders] Demand that Cambodia Release Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun [who are imprisoned for 20 years for killing the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Vichea in 2004, while the former King and many people and human rights organizations question the flawed police and court procedures]
  • [Meanchey district governor] Mr. Kuoch Chamroen Asks Motorbike Owners [whose motorbikes were stolen or robbed] to Look for Their Motorbikes after Suppressing Second-Hand Motorbike Shops and Motorbike Pawn Shops [Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, # #6538, 30.12.2008

  • The National Assembly Adopts Draft Law to Settle Budget Accounts of 2006 Which Were Late because of a Political Stalemate in 2003 Lasting 11 Months
  • Political Crisis in Thailand: [around 10,000] Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporting ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Block Parliament Meeting and Demand New Elections

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3652, 30.12.2008

    Former Siamese [Thai] Minister of Foreign Affairs [Nappadon Pattama] Encourages the New Government to Demand Khmer Territory around the Preah Vihear Temple

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4781, 30.12.2008

  • Dey Krahom Residents Raise Their Last Suggestions, while the Authorities Order Them to Remove Their Houses and to Leave
  • Vina Hong Kong Group Is Involved in Cutting Trees on Hundreds of Hectares in Ratanakiri [minority tribespeople, residents of Pa Ar village, Ke Chong commune, Bar Kaev district, sue this company at the provincial court for cutting trees]
  • [Three members of a] Group which Robbed a Bank and Gold Shops in Svay Pak [in Phnom Penh] and in Kompong Cham Arrested
  • The Four Kantha Bopha Hospitals Can Not Operate without US$25 Million Aid per Year [said Dr. Beat Richner, the founder of these children’s hospitals which provide free treatment]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3466, 30.12.2008

  • Workers and Vendors in Poipet Accused [new Poipet immigration police chief] Sao Bunrith to Be the Same as [former immigration police chief] Pich Saran [regarding corruption at the Poipet border crossing point]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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