Press Release for June 23, 2013

Cambodian Grassroots People’s Assembly comes to Siem Reap province

For Immediate Release: The Cross-Sector Network will hold their third and final Cambodian Grassroots People’s Assembly (CGPA) tomorrow in Siem Reap, following last Wednesday’s successful and inspiring Assembly in Preah Sihanouk where approximately 1,300 grassroots people and all three invited political parties – Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), FUNCINPEC and Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP)- participated in the Assembly. The Siem Reap Assembly is set to take place in the public space of Angkor Pjongyn roundabout, Street 60, in Siem Reap from 8AM onwards. As happened at the Assemblies in Kompong Chnang and Preah Sihanouk, those attending will have an opportunity to voice the exploitation they face working in the tourism sector, land issues, harmful impacts of mining and on-going logging inside Prey Long forest. People will also recommend their solutions directly to representatives of CPP, FUNCINPEC and CNRP.

Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association (IDEA), Skun & Tapaen communities, CFSWF, Prey Lang, Boeung Per Network, Rovieng Mining Network, and other communities in the Cambodian Cross-Sector Network are all working together to make the Assembly happen. People’s common purpose is to seek justice and fairness – they see Cambodia developing and getting richer for some and they just want a decent life which has livelihood security for themselves and their families.

Working in the tourism sector in Siem Reap sounds like it should be a good opportunity and a good job. But the reality is working conditions are very poor. Workers are not covered by social security or social services, are forced to work unpaid overtime and face wage cuts if they need to take time off when a family member gets sick.  Because most of the workers in this industry are employed as short-term (fixed duration contract) workers they face constant job insecurity. If they ask for better conditions then their contract will not be renewed. Because of this fear it is hard for them to demand better working conditions”, says Chheng Kimyan from Cambodia Food Service Worker Federation (CFSWF).

“Protecting the natural resources is the most important for us. Our lives depend on the forest- it gives us our food, it gives us our water, it gives us all the materials we need for our life. When companies get concessions in our forest, it threatens everything for us. When the mining companies started their operations, our water was poisoned- our cows died, people got sick and nobody will solve this problem. When illegal logging destroys our forest what will we live from? If we remain silent we will die and what will our future generation have?  So we choose to speak and we are happy that the Assembly gives us a chance to face future leaders with our daily struggle for life”, says Sing Sophearin from Bangken Phal village, Romtum commune, Rovieng district, Preah Vihear province.

Representatives are invited to attend the whole day event in order to listen to the people in the morning and speak to people’s problems and answer people’s questions in the afternoon. To signal their commitment to end empty promises and take real action to solve people’s problems, if elected, candidates will be asked to sign the CGPA People’s Statement (CGPA website). The Assembly will march to any candidate’s office or home if they fail to show up and receive the People’s Statement ahead of the election.

”We have been struggling for our land rights for many years already, some of us since 2004, some of us since 2009. We are tired of empty promises. We want a land title in our hands so that we know our land is safe now and forever. If people cannot get their land back then they need fair compensation. Land is life. Is our life worthless? If not why are our problems not getting solved? They come to measure our land and tell we may get the land title after the election. What does this really mean? We come to join the Assembly to demand our land title now, we are tired of waiting and do not trust in the time after the election” said Kun Eng from Tbaeng Khang Lech commune, Banteay Srey district, Siem Reap province.

As the third and last assembly before the national elections in July, the Cambodian Cross-Sector Network is hoping that this chance for a direct communication between future leaders and the people will result in real actions by all politicians who attend. The people involved are coming with solutions to their problems and are ready to work together with their leaders. The three CGPAs are an expression of real democratic processes in action in Cambodia- the people and the future leaders listening to each and pledging a commitment to take action together for real lasting solutions.

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