Monday, August 31, 2009

More than 400 Khmer Krom families to demonstrate against canal construction plan

By Sok Serey
Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Socheata
Click here to read the article in Khmer

A source indicated that more than 400 Khmer Krom families living in Krobao district (renamed Tinh Bien by the occupying Vietnamese regime), Motr Chourk province (renamed An Giang by neo-colonialist Vietnam) plan to hold a peaceful demonstration to protest against the plan to built a canal that would lead to the destruction and loss of several hundreds of hectares of their farmlands without any compensation.

Khmer Krom people among these 400 families told RFA over the phone from Krobao district, Motr Chrouk province, occupied Kampuchea Krom that there will be a joint uprising to stop these mechanical engines used to dig the canal: “For tomorrow, we have prepared ourselves, even if they (Viets) want to kill us, we are not afraid! I will go to the canal ditch on my land, I will not let them continue the digging anymore. We ask them to stop [the digging] right now, if they don’t resolve this issue for us, we will not allow them to continue their work, we’d rather die on our farmlands. They are currently digging [the canal], they will dig tomorrow, tomorrow is their main digging operation day. We have gathered from all the villages, we will not allow them to [dig] tomorrow.”

A representative of the group of protesting Khmer Krom people indicated that his family will lose 2 hectares of land from the plan to dig the canal across the rice fields that belong to 400 families: “The International human rights organization said that they will help Khmer Krom people to own lands for farm productions, just like the Vietnamese people. The Vietnamese families now own large tract of lands each, but for our Khmer people, who are the actual owners of our ancestral lands, we lose everything, there’s nothing left.”

A source indicated that a Vietnamese reporter from Prey Nokor city (renamed Ho Chi Minh city by the Vietnamese occupiers) came to investigate the issue with Khmer Krom people living in this area. The reporter asked whether the loss of farmlands was due to the plan to build the canal or not.On Saturday 29 August, the Viet embassy in Phnom Penh could not be reached to obtain clarification about the Khmer Krom demonstration planned for 30 August, nobody at the embassy picked up the phone.

Thach Setha, President of the Khmer Krom Community in Cambodia, said that the Viet government should compensate for the damage and loss of these farmlands: “We share the grief of our Khmer Krom people who are facing serious violations from the Yuon authority. We will seek interventions from the international community. At the same time, with the current visit of H.E. Khieu Kanharith in Kampuchea Krom, we are asking him to take a detour to visit [the affected area] and find a resolution for our Khmer people living there.”

A source indicated that the occupying Vietnamese authority in Krobao district, Mortr Chrouk province, occupied Kampuchea Krom, is currently putting in application the plan to dig a 10-km-long by 50-meter-wide canal that will cross the farmlands belonging to 400 Khmer Krom families. This canal will lead to the loss of several hectares of farmlands belonging to Khmer Krom people and no compensation will be provided by this loss.

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