Indigenous minorities in Ratanakkiri province are urging the government to freeze sales of traditional land until villages can obtain communal land titles, according to a statement and a letter delivered to the Ministry of Land Management on Thursday.
In the statement, representatives of Ratanakkiri’s many ethnic groups cited loss of land as a key threat to their culture.
“State land concessions, mining concessions, land sales, land grabbing, immigration of people from outside the community and alienation of land through other means are having a severe impact on indigenous culture and livelihoods of indigenous people,” read to the statement, which came out of a provincial meeting in Kon Mom district.
To protect their land from further loss, indigenous representatives said they want communal land titles, which allow villages to manage traditional land as a community and prohibit any individual from selling it.
Though the 2001 land law allows for communal titles, the government must pass a sub decree detailing the procedure by which they will be given out.
In the meantime, indigenous groups want officials to stop all sales of their ancestral lands, the statement said.
The Ministry of Land Management supports the peoples’ request for a ban on sales of traditional land and will bring it to the attention of the government, said Seng Thany, the ministry’s deputy director of economic development, investment and international relations.
The proposition will be presented at a land forum to be held in Phnom Penh mid-October, he said, adding that Prime Minister Hun Sen, provincial governors and donors are slated to attend the meeting.
“The real action will be taken by the prime minister,” Seng Thany said.