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30 Nov 2016

Environmental Justice Atlas

Land grabbing by Rui Feng International in indigenous Kuoy villages, Preah Vihear, Cambodia

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Tbeng Meanchey district is comprised of various villages, most of them inhabited by the Kuoy ethnic minority, who are engaged in small-scale farming and the collection of Non-Timber Forest Products…Most villagers live there since the fall of the Khmer Rouge Regime in 1979, which makes them…the legal and legitimate land owners…However, in 2011…two Chinese firms, Lan Feng and Roy Feng International [both subsidiaries of Chinese company Hengfu Sugar], were granted ELCs on villagers’ land, amounting to 9,015ha and 8,841ha, respectively…

Conflict exacerbated as the companies started to demarcate villagers’ land and community forests for the development of sugarcane plantations, clearing the area and cutting down valuable Resin trees. No measures were reported to be taken regarding an environmental or social impact assessment…the companies further stumbled across 8th century relicts such as a sandstone carving of Buddha and villagers feared they would keep it. All kind of resistance and mobilizations started, supported by local NGOs and Buddhist monks. Villagers watched the area during night and day, protested in front of local authorities, pulled out plantation crops and destroyed harvested sugarcane…

In several occasions, villagers as well as NGO members and monks were temporarily held by the police and the company filed a lawsuit against the villagers for destroying their sugarcane. The villagers in turn, filed a lawsuit against the companies, demanding a compensation of 600,000$ for the destruction of their ancestral lands, community forests and farming lands…