Press Release[Around 600 of land affected farmer community representative submit the petition demanding for land resolution]
On March 12, 2018 at 9:00am, there will be around 600 famer community representatives who have been affected on the land conflicts, totally with 19,145.2 hectares of 6822 families from various provinces such, Thbong Khmom, Takeo, Kandal, Svay Rieng and Preah Sihanouk provinces, in mobilizing together to put and submit the petition into the land conflicts to national level including, council of minister, ministry of land management and urban planning, as well as national assembly institutions for any alternative intervention for their land resolutions while it has occurred for more than 10 years conflict which faced them to lose their job for survival adversely. The land issue has been grabbed by merchants, private sectors, and powerful persons who colluded with authorities to seize the farmer communities land to be their ownership division. So far, the citizen communities who residents in the target land conflict provinces have tried and found out for alternative intervention from the competent local authorities through commune, district, provincial until national level, but they haven’t been yet to get the desired resolution from the entire relevant authorities. In addition, some community representatives among those were threatened and intimidated in persecution and restricting their freedom via judicial systems, and labeling accused as inciting people, the violation with cracking down, and monitoring to all citizen representative’s activities by the merchants, private companies, powerful persons, as well as local authorities seriously. Regarding the above information stated, we would be pleased to invite all stakeholders, national and international independent media, civil society, enterprise unions, federations as well as development partners to investigate and monitor for a whole activities of the farmer petition submissions with increasingly peaceful ways during the event! For further information,
APC condemns Heng Fu’s land grabbing in Cambodia
Expresses firm support to indigenous Kuy people’s struggle for land
The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) strongly condemned the intensifying repression and land grabbing carried out by the Chinese company Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co., Ltd. (Heng Fu) against the indigenous Kuy people of Preah Vihear, Cambodia.
Heng Fu is based in Guandong, China which mainly produces diversified sugar products. In 2011, it was granted economic land concessions (ELCs) over more than 42,000 hectares of land in Preah Vihear by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC). ELCs are part of Cambodia’s efforts to transform small-scale farmer landscapes into agro-industrial ones.
According to research conducted in 2016 by an international NGO, the five companies (Heng Nong, Heng Rui, Lan Feng, Heng You, and Rui Feng) appear to be subsidiaries of Heng Fu that opened its US$360-million mill and refinery in 2016 with the aim to supply sugar to markets in the European Union (EU), India, and China. The new sugar mill will be among the biggest in Asia.
Local advocacy group Ponlok Khmer, in Preah Vihear, estimated that the ELCs granted to Heng Fu have affected more than 20,000 people in the agricultural districts of Chhaeb, Chey Sen, and Tbeng Meanchey.
“The Cambodian government promises that these ELCs will bring about development. In reality, however, it destroys the livelihoods and culture of the indigenous Kuy people. Biodiversity and natural ecosystems were destroyed. The development they are talking are actually geared for Heng Fu’s profit”, stated P. Chennaiah, chairperson of the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC).
“The Kuy people only learned about the ELCs when the company started clearing their ancestral lands and forest in 2012. The Kuy people were never consulted on the project. When they confronted Heng Fu, local authorities accused them of illegal settlement on government-owned land,” remarked Chennaiah, also the secretary general of the Andra Pradesh Agricultural Workers Union (APVVU) based in India.
China accounts for around a fifth of ELCs – land leases for private firms and individuals involved in agriculture and agriculture-based industries in Cambodia. Chinese firms hold ELCs for sugar, rubber and palm oil plantations covering about 400,000 hectares out of Cambodia’s recorded 2.1 million hectares of total ELCs.
“We oppose Heng Fu’s so-called local people’s guards recently set up in their communities whose real intention is to harass the Kuy people. Villagers freedom to assembly are prohibited. Entry of outsiders are also restricted,“ stated Zenaida Soriano, APC vice-chairperson and concurrent national chairperson of AMIHAN (National Federation of Peasant Women) based in the Philippines.
“Repression against the farmers defending their land is happening elsewhere in Asia. In the Philippines, eight Lumad farmers from the T’boli and Dulangan Manobo tribes who are reclaiming their ancestral lands from Consunji were massacred by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) soldiers in Lake Sebu in South Cotabato on December 5, 2017. The farmers were part of 140 T’boli-Manobo peasant families who have collectively occupied and tilled their ancestral land that were landgrabbed by the Consunji family. The land occupation campaign started in August 2017 and now covers 195 hectares,” Soriano remarked.
“The area reclaimed by lumad farmers through land occupation is a portion of Consunji’s 10,990-hectare landholding. It is also within the 3,000-hectare coal mine of the DMC-Construction Equipment and Resources Incorporated (DMC-CERI),” added Soriano.
“We express firm support to indigenous Kuy people’s struggle for land. We call on the Kuy people to remain vigilant to halt Heng Fu’s land grabbing. Do not give up the fight to reclaim your land,” ended Soriano.
“We call on the APC members across Asia to urge the Cambodian government to heed the Kuy peoples demand to stop Heng Fu’s land grabbing. The 2001 Cambodian Land Law limits the total area of ELCs that can be granted to a single entity to 10,000 hectares. Heng Fu registered its five subsidiary companies in order to circumvent the law,” Chennaiah ended. ##
Press Release and Invitation to Press Conference on “Analysis Paper on the 7th Version Agricultural Land Draft Law”
The Cambodian Grassroots Cross-sector (CGCN), Community Peace-building Network (CPN), and Cambodia Coalition of Farmers Communities (CCFC) are currently working together to promote and protect benefit of farmers in Cambodia. Following the evolution of the agricultural land law from the 1st to the 7th version, we have co-organized consultation workshops at grassroots and regional level with farmers and representatives of farmers and the results of these workshops have been consolidated into a “Briefing Paper”. The briefing paper truly reflects the views, concerns, and needs of farmers. Some of the main concerns in the draft law includes restricting ownership rights through identifying agricultural production and development zones, conditions of freezing lands, conditions of use and transfer of land, fines on farmers, and the over empowerment of agricultural land agents. Additionally, the last remaining natural and public resources will also be completely lost as a result of promoting private sector through agricultural land under agreement or otherwise referred to as “agricultural economic land concession”, agricultural land leasing, and the dissolution of public state land.
A farmer in Kampong Thom province, Mrs. Khiev Khoeum said that “if this draft law really adopted, we, the farmers who are owners of land will not be able to use or manage our land as necessary needed for the family and after that we will face greater challenge for the family’s food supply”.
Another farmer from Kampong Speu province, Mr. Chea Sopherk confirmed that “the draft law is likely to target the privatization of agricultural sector to achieve the ambition to export rice”. “Government should pay close attention to ensuring local food safety and sovereignty rather than exportation” he added.
Phork Hong, a Kui Indigenous woman said that “we have greater concerns losing our land, rights, tradition and culture of indigenous community especially rotational farming because this law is likely to promote modern agricultural farming and commercial farming for exportation”.
As mentioned above, we would like to invite friends of medias, NGOs and civil society, development partners, diplomats and relevant stakeholders to join Farmer’s Press Conference about impacts and farmer’s position on the latest 7th version of the agricultural land law.
The conference will be held on 7th November 2017 from 9:00am to 11:00am at The Meta House, address: #37, Sothearos Boulevard, Sangkat Tonle Bassak, Khan Chamkarmon, Phnom Penh.
For further inquiries, please contact: