Forced Evictions and Food Blockade in Kompong Province
|What is affected||
|Type of violation||
|Date||10 January 2008|
|Region||A [ Asia ]|
|Location||Kro-Year commune, Santuk district, Kompong province|
Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)
GENERAL APPEAL (Cambodia): Forcible eviction and blockade of food supplies against the villagers in Kompong Thom province |
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal General: AHRC-UAG-003-2008
24 January 2008
CAMBODIA: Forcible eviction and blockade of food supplies against the villagers in Kompong Thom province
ISSUES: Right to food; forced eviction; right to land
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is deeply concerned by a blockade of food supplies set up by the Cambodian authorities to force 180 families of disabled war veterans, widows and orphans out of their homes and lands at Kro-Year commune, Santuk district, Kompong province, in a forced eviction to hand over the land to a rubber company. This violation to the right of access to food began on 10 January 2008 when these vulnerable people had protested against their eviction.
CASE DETAILS: (based on the information from Kim Kheang, president of Disable War Veterans Association for Agricultural Development and Chhuon Roun, representative of LICADHO human rights NGO in Kompong Thom province)
The Cambodian government made a concession of 8000 hectares of land to a company to plant rubber trees in a remote area called Banteay Lo-Ngeang in Kro-Year commune, Santuk commune, Kompong province in central Cambodia, some 37 kilometers away from the nearest town called Kompong Thmar on Highway 6 crossing the province from Phnom Penh to the historical town of Sieamreap in the northwest. A war veteran named Kim Kheang founded an association called `Disabled War Veterans Association for Agricultural Development`. Members of this association and other people, originally 357 families, with due approval by the chief of the Kro-Year commune named Keo Chheng and the governor of Santuk district at the time named Kim Vasy, cleared the forests for cultivation in 2003. Altogether they have occupied 800 hectares.
In the meantime, the Cambodian government has made a concession of 8000 hectares of land to a company called Tan Bien Company for planting rubber trees. This land overlaps the land that those people have occupied. In August 2007 the new district governor named Sok Kheang called a meeting with Kim Kheang and other fellow settlers with a view to finding a compromise. But no compromise was then reached.
Then, on 10 January 2008, to Kim Kheang`s surprise, a mixed force composed of altogether 36 military, civilian police, military police and forestry officers, armed with assault rifles, was posted along the only access road to the community to seal it off from the rest of the country, to force the people out of their lands. 180 out of those 357 families remained and protested against their eviction.
Those settlers have been allowed out but not allowed to return to their community. Nor have they been allowed to secure food supplies from outside either, which puts them in danger of starvation since they have not been able as yet to grow their basic foodstuffs in their area. Furthermore, those officers have put pressure on them to leave their homes and lands, threatening to burn down their homes and arrest their leader, Kim Kheang.
The AHRC holds that the Cambodian authorities have used food as an instrument of political and economic pressure to evict those disabled war veterans, widows and orphans action from their homes and lands when they have not been able to grow any food as yet on their lands. Their blockade of food supplies to that community is a gross violation of the right to food and, if leading to starvation and death, is nothing but torture itself. Their action is very against an obligation to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which the government of Cambodia is a state party to