Saturday, March 10, 2012

Koh Kong intervention sought

The provincial office of rights group Licadho has called on Koh Kong provincial politicians to help more than 1,000 families being forcibly evicted to make way for a sprawling gambling resort and other development, representative said yesterday.

More than 130 families, from three villages in Kiri Sakor and Botum Sakor districts in Koh Kong province, had filed complaints to Licadho between April and December last year, asking for intervention after staff from Chinese company Tianjin Union Development Group and military police allegedly tried to force them off their land.

“We would like to ask the company to stop taking military police to burn down villagers’ homes, to stop forcing and threatening villagers – let them live on their land,” the letter says.

Union Group is transforming 340 square kilometres of Botum Sakor into a resort that will include gambling as well as hotels and an ecotourism development.

Provincial Licadho coordinator In Kong Chit said he had sent the letter on March 5.

“We want Koh Kong parliament to intervene to stop people being forcefully evicted from their villages,” he said, adding that 1,143 families were affected.

“We want a resolution for villagers who agree to go, and we want those villagers who have already moved to be provided infrastructure.

“The purpose of the economic land concession is to improve villagers’ standard of living. This company is making villagers lose their jobs and become poorer and poorer.”

In Kong Chit called for Koh Kong parliament to check that what Union Group had been granted – more than 40,000 hectares from two concessions – complied with the economic land concession law.

Ai Khon, a Koh Kong parliamentarian, could not be reached by the Post for comment yesterday. However, Chan Davuth, an administration officer at Koh Kong Parliament, said he had received the Licadho letter.

In a report in the Post yesterday, a Union Group spokeswoman, who did not want to be named, said allegations of forced eviction were “a problem between the Cambodian government and its people”.