Landless Ask Donors’ Help With Reform

Led by opposition leader Sam Rainsy, more than 100 landless villagers marched Tuesday to the offices of three international donor organizations to ask their help in getting land reform legislation passed.

Villagers from Banteay Mean­chey and Kampot prov­inces and from Sihanoukville municipality delivered letters to the Asian Dev­elopment Bank, the Inter­national Monetary Fund and the World Bank detailing their plight.

“Our land has been unfairly confiscated by powerful people who do not hesitate to deprive us of our only means of subsistence,” the letter stated.

It was signed by three representatives of more than 300 people living in makeshift housing near the Bassac River.

Land reform has been a key issue with the donors, and a new land law is pending in the Nat­ional Assembly.

The letter blamed a lack of political will for the delay in implementing reforms. The letter is ad­dressed to ADB Pres­ident Tadao Chino, World Bank Pres­ident James Wolfensohn and IMF Managing Director Horst Kohler.

ADB Representative Urooj Malik was the only agency official to come out of his office.

He thanked the villagers for sharing the information with him. He said he would pass the letter on to Chino.

“I will appeal to the Cambodian government to pay more attention to land reform,” Malik told the villagers.

The villagers weren’t allowed into IMF offices, but a secretary came outside to get the letter.

At the World Bank, three villager representatives and Sam Rainsy were allowed inside to talk to bank representative Bona­venture Mbida-Essama.

Oum Try, 38, said 60 hectares of rice fields that belonged to 51 families in Kampot since 1979 have been taken away so authorities could sell the land to a private company.

Kim Horn, representing 39 families from Sihanoukville, said local authorities and businessmen worked together to confiscate their land.

More than 240 families from Banteay Meanchey’s Poipet commune also participated in the march.



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