Girls’ Education Dream Disappears With Burning Homes
March 5, 2015, 9:00 am
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Girls’ Education Dream Disappears With Burning Homes

 Four years ago, Chhen Da, 20, and Sim Sopheap, 18, both attending grade 7 at a seaside school in Preah Sihanouk Province, would wake up early in the morning and dress up in school uniform of white shirts and blue skirts ready to go to school.

Away from the shattered life at home, their school offered a safe refuge where they were enjoying their studies and had dozens of friends to play with. However, their dream of becoming teachers was only short lived.

The land where their families and other poor people were living on for more than a decade had been claimed by a rich businessman backed by security forces who were armed with a court order to clear community.

“I was at school when the military and police burned down my house,” said Sopheap as she gathered with other people to tell their stories. “They poured gasoline on our houses and burned them.” Continue reading



Pursat Cassava Plantation Workers: ‘It’s better to work for a Khmer boss than a Chinese boss.’
March 5, 2015, 8:57 am
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Pursat Cassava Plantation Workers: ‘It’s better to work for a Khmer boss than a Chinese boss.’

 For many years, Sum Phy, 39, has hailed from her home village in Prey Veng province with her three children to look for work in different provinces. She and her 16-year-old daughter would be hired as daily laborers to harvest rice or work on plantations owned by local Cambodians. As work became scarcer in the nearby provinces, she moved further to another province.

Eventually, she ended up in Ksarch La’eth, a remote village in Ansar Chambok commune, Pursat province’s Krakor district, two years ago. In this northwestern corner of Cambodia, a cassava plantation stretches westwards as far as the eyes can see on a once dense forest to the foot of the mountain. Therefore, Sum Phy and other fellow workers can find plenty of work to do – though they are less pleased to do.

For one reason, the supervisors of the plantations are not Cambodian. They are Chinese bosses belonging to a company from China. The Chinese company has a joint venture with Pheapimex Co.Ltd., owned by CPP Senator Lau Meng Khin, which in 2000 was granted two 70-year Economic Land Concession covering 310,000 hectares in Kompong Chhang and Pursat provinces for growing acacia and eucalyptus trees for pulp and a modern paper mill. Continue reading



“Where Will We Be Buried If They Took Our Graveyard?’
March 5, 2015, 8:54 am
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“Where Will We Be Buried If They Took Our Graveyard?’

When Prime Minister Hun Sen organized a lavish dinner party in Phnom Penh for thousands of student volunteers to mark the January 7 victory over the Khmer Rouge, he praised their efforts and called their land titling mission a success.

However, Cambodian ethic minority people who live in Mondulkiri province in the Northeastern corner of the country more than 500 kilometers away are less enthusiastic about the land titling campaign implemented by the student volunteers. The people here say they have not benefited from this campaign.

“The students did not measure the community forests for us,” says Khang Chnay, who lives Lames Village, Pich Chreatra District’s Bousra Commune. Continue reading



Desperate Villagers Resort to Suicide After Losing Land
March 5, 2015, 8:52 am
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Desperate Villagers Resort to Suicide After Losing Land

 Every evening for more than 20 years, Em Sophal had joyfully gathered with his wife and eight children for dinner despite being exhausted after a day of hard work on his rice field.

However, this happy dinner gathering came to an end a few years ago when Sophal was no longer around to join his family.

After a long, desperate fight to get back his land taken by rich businessmen, Sophal’s 51-year-old wife, Soun Hoeun, says her husband thought he was not worth living without the rice field that he had farmed on for four years. She said Sophal decided to hang himself. Continue reading



Company’s Tricks to Cover Story of Blood Sugar
March 5, 2015, 8:51 am
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Company’s Tricks to Cover Story of Blood Sugar

West of Kompong Speu provincial town, a stretch of tarmac road winds its way from Highway 5 northward towards a sugar plantation owned by a powerful senator from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. Near the end of the tarmac road that crawls along the embankment of a reservoir appears a sign of its builder cemented to the water gate that reads: “A Gracious Gift of His Excellency Neak Okkha Ly Yong Phat.”

However, deep inside Amlaing Commune in Thpong District close to the mountain where the sugar plantation is located, villagers only show faces that bear a sense of betrayal. Unlike the gift from the senator, nothing is gracious here since the villagers’ ancestral farmland was bulldozed and taken over by the company. Continue reading



Beoung Kak Community Facing Hardship but Remains Hopeful
March 5, 2015, 8:49 am
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Beoung Kak Community Facing Hardship but Remains Hopeful

For generations, many Cambodians who lived in Phnom Penh could relieve their boring life or a day of hard work by cooling themselves or go for a pleasure ride on a boat at the capital’s main lake known as Boeung Kak.

Some families had also buried their deceased relatives on a small island in the middle of the lake as they believed that the surrounding water would keep the spirit alive and bring back prosperity and happiness to those who were still alive.

However, these beautiful memories have now become a thing of the past. Since six years ago, the Beoung Kak Lake has been reduced to merely its name as there has been no more water to be seen. Continue reading



From A School Teacher To A Construction Worker
March 5, 2015, 8:47 am
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From A School Teacher To A Construction Worker

 For more than ten years, Um Sophy, 33, had lived a gracious life as a teacher at a primary school near her house in Lor Peang village, Kompong Tralarch district, Kompong Chhnang province. Every morning, she would leave her house to go to school, dressing up in a teacher’s uniform and carrying a bag with school books and exam sheets she had marked for her students.

More than ten years late, many students she had taught are finishing their high school and are ready to continue their studies at the university. The light of their future is just around the corner.

However, Sophy’s life has turned upside down. These days, she also wakes up early in the morning, but she is not going to school anymore. She dresses up in old clothes and go to a nearby pagoda to do construction work with her husband. Continue reading