Land Grabs / News

Land Rights Activists Petition EU Ambassador

by Mech Dara

E.U. Ambassador Jean-Francois Cautain greets anti-eviction activists from the Borei Keila community outside the E.U. Embassy in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (Siv Channa)

About 80 activists from a trio of Phnom Penh communities protested against their past and pending evictions in front of the European Union Embassy in Phnom Penh on Thursday morning, hoping to win its help in settling their land disputes with the government and a pair of private development firms.

The communities have solicited the help of the E.U. and almost every other foreign embassy in the city on many occasions already, and approached the E.U. once again Thursday on the occasion of a visit to Cambodia by seven European Parliament members.

They rallied in front of the embassy for about an hour and a half before E.U. Ambassador Jean-Francois Cautain stepped out at about 10 a.m. and quickly accepted their petitions.

“We hope they can put pressure on the government and that they think before they give any more aid to the Cambodian government,” said Chhay Kimhorn, one of the protesters. “They need to think about whether the government’s development is improving Cambodia or making people cry for justice,” Ms. Kimhorn added.

The opposition CNRP on Wednesday also met with the E.U. parliamentarians and called on the bloc, which represents Cambodia’s largest single aid source, to reconsider its funding of the current CPP government.The E.U. says it consistently raises the concerns of those being evicted by government-approved projects in its meetings with state officials. It is currently in negotiations with the government hoping to convince it to compensate thousands of families who have been evicted by the country’s sugarcane plantations, which currently export their sugar to Europe duty free because of an E.U. trade scheme.

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