The Khmer Kampuchea Krom community gathered about 300 people at Freedom Park for a forum about Kampuchea Krom’s lingering destiny. What is claimed by many Cambodians as an annexation of Khmer territory by Vietnam in 1949, is a tough to crack bone of contention, fed both by ultranationalistic feelings and an age-old distrust in the Vietnamese.
The community of Borei Keila which was forcefully evicted in January 2012 after countless intimidations, lies and cheatings since 2007 (see HERE), held a demonstration in front of the municipality building.
Wat Chas, Wat Samaki Raingsey, Boeung Kak lake: they are a few of the places in the capital where evicted villagers from all over the country flock to to try and draw attention on their land issue. Unlike 10 years ago, when the evicted would gather in the gardens in front of Wat Botum, they now can count on assistance from grass roots land rights activists or buddhist monks who guide them through the steps to make their voice heard.
A complete set of photographs will soon be available on my website…
See also HERE…
I was not happy with this morning’s photographs… So here are 11 from this afternoon…
The evicted villagers from Lor Peang (Kampong Tralach, Kampong Chhnang) are staying with the Boeung Kak lake land rights activists since a few weeks. They have no other place to go anyhow. It allows them to reach those in charge and put pressure on them to find a solution to their issue. And as a bonus here they are learning the tricks of the protest trade through the experienced advice of the Boeung Kak ladies.
This is a follow-up post on the ‘Quest for Land‘ story which is available as an iApp on iTunes and which reports on land issues in Cambodia since the year 2000 with texts by Robert Carmichael and over 700 photographs.
About 60 demonstrators from Lor Peang, during an orderly and short event taken in hand by the Boeung Kak lake land rights activists, marched along Monivong boulevard to the U.S. Embassy, delivered a petition (number how much again?) and walked back. The whole thing was wrapped up by 9:30 AM: brief and rather undisturbing. But efficient?
For the photojournalists reading this weblog: instead of going down South on a pilgrimage to Perpignan’s ‘Visa Pour L’Image’, I suggest you change direction and head North to Noorderlicht’s ‘An Ocean Of Possibilities’ exhibition in Leeuwarden (Netherlands). You might end up feeling less depressed…
And of course you could attend BOTH festivals…
There are about 60 exhibitions around the following topic: “The 21st Noorderlicht International Photofestival is inspired by the growing quest for different means to shape our collective future, in a hopeful answer to the structural failings of our current economic and political systems.”
I was invited to show photographs from those here in Cambodia who are involved in stemming the erosion of their rights.
It is not going to happen yet, but what if each separate evicted community ended up on the same day in Phnom Penh to demonstrate, each one in front of one specific governmental institution? What would that be called? And will the additional 700 soldiers stationed in Phnom Penh be up to their task of maintaining order without sliding into excessive violence?
Some 50 villagers from Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Svay Rieng and Pailin, entangled in a land issue an who are staying at Wat Chas, were prevented from crossing the gate of the pagoda by an important and rather disproportionate force of combined riot police and municipal security guards when they wanted to march to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house.
Four members of the Boeung Kak lake community who showed up in support of the villagers were promptly arrested and evacuated to the police station.
Two villagers who felt unwell were carried away by LICADHO for medical treatment.
Mr Khleang Hout, governor of Chroy Changvar, came to hear the complaints of the villagers. How the governor of Chroy Changva can resolve land disputes in far-off provinces will probably remain a mystery.
Update: the land rights activist from Boeung Kak lake were released already.