June 24-25

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.

 

Northern Region Key Organizer: 24-25 June 2013 at Siem Reap (Siem Reap, Kg. Thom, PHV, U. Mean Chey)

 

Phoeung Samed Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association (IDEA), Siem Reap

 

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IDEA Siem Reap was set up in 2006 with a huge campaign against the privatization of parking area. Mr. Samed is one of the founders of IDEA in Siem Reap and he was the secretariat since then until 2010.  Sameth has become the president of IDEA in Siem Reap province since 2010. So far, IDEA has organized many campaign for justice such as campaign against the policy which require informal workers to pay business fee, stop evacuation informal workers from hotels or guesthouses, campaign to decrease gas price, etc. IDEA has thousands of members of motor-dup drivers, Tuk-tuk drivers, street venders, etc. They are facing a lot of issues such as competition with private company and hotels, privatization, gas price, paying business fee, and many other issues affecting to their business for livelihood.  
Chhe Sambo Skun Community, Banteay Srey, Siem Reap

 

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Sambo is a strong female land activist who mobilizes people to stand up and demand for their land. From 2008, people started advocating at every level; advocate to commune, district, provincial level. People even tried recently to block national road 6 in May 2013. As the result, authority has demarcated the land for people but not yet provided land certificates. Sambo and community has very little hope for this because they feel that the authority just demarcate for us so that people will stop advocating before election. Skun community is facing land conflict with authority who is trying to take their land since 2008. There are 117 families in Skun community who are affecting land grabbing by authority.  
Keo Sophy Tapaen Community, Banteay Srey, Siem Reap

 

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She is a community leader and represents 90 families in Tapaen village who are facing land conflict with authority. The conflict is 183 hectares. Community has struggle for land since 2002 and get many times of empty promises from local authority and provincial governor without any practical solutions. The conflict started in 2002 when authority announces to take the land from the people keeping as National Park. But, then in 2003, people saw that​ Cassava and Acacia trees were planted. On 3 May 2010, people have advocated strongly and 14 people were arrested. Later on they were released.  
Smen Te Sugar Network for Justice, Uddor Mean Chey

 

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??? Community people are affected by Ly Yongphat, Sugar companies. Ly Yongphat has granted land concession for sugar cane companies in 4 provinces; Koh Kong, U. Mean chey, Kg. Speu and Kg. Chnnang.  
Phal Sophea Cambodia Food Service Worker Federation (CFSWF), Siem Reap

 

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Sophea is the president of CFSWF in Siem Reap since 2010 by election. CFSWF is a membership federation working with Massage and Karaoke workers, City Cleaners, waitress, beer promoters, and gas station workers. CFSWF is working and supporting members in solving their issues and demand for better life. CFSWF members are facing issues of low wages, no day off or holidays, rights and sexual abuse, health issues and violence by the employer and guess.

CFSWF is demanding for higher wages, better working condition, job and health security.

 
Sorm Reth Prey Lang, Sandan district, Kg. Thom

 

 

He is an old man who is so worried about the loss of the forest because he sees the important of the forest and his life and families have been depending on the forest for many years. He is very active in any campaign to protect Prey Lang and he is one of the core team members of Prey Lang Network. People around Prey Lang has advocated and patrolled for the protection. Later on, community people of the 4 provinces have organized and formed as Prey Lang network. Then, many national and international campaigns were happening to protect Prey Lang as protected area. Prey Lang is recognized as the biggest lowland forest in Southeast Asia located in 4 provinces in Cambodia; Kg. Thom, Krocheh, Stung Treng and Preah Vihear. Prey Lang is endanger because of illegal logging and economic land concessions to private company such as CRCK Vietnamese rubber plantation, Heng Saravuth companies and many other ELCs. Prey Lang network is currently advocating for Protected Area and rights to patrol and protect Prey Lang. People are also demanding for local authority to stop backing illegal loggers and actively involve and support people to stop illegal logging.  
Ros Lim Bankoeun Phal village, Rovieng, Preah Vihear

 

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Mr. Lim is Kui Indigenous and one of the community leaders in Rovieng district. He has been involving in community work for many years since mining company has started to destroy their livelihood. The main issues happening to the community is mining and forest destruction. Mining is affecting a lot not only to people’s land and occupation but also polluting water sources and farming production. Animals and fishes have died because of the chemical use for mining processing. Health is also a big issues caused by the pollution from mining.

The community is also facing another big issues causing by Try Pheap company who has received huge economic land concession for rubber plantation which is affecting to the protection area called Boeung Per. Try Pheap company has already cleared huge area of the forest and starting rubber planting and continue expanding their clearing and planting.

 
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