Vietnam firm with World Bank links accused of bulldozing indigenous land in Cambodia

Rights groups say Hoang Anh Gia Lai cleared the land under the cloak of the pandemic, destroying burial grounds, wetlands and old-growth forest.

A Vietnamese conglomerate funded by investment banks with links to the private-sector arm of the World Bank has been accused by activists of bulldozing land in Cambodia that had been earmarked for return to indigenous communities.

A part of the 742-hectare land in the northern province of Ratanakiri was reportedly cleared in March – as Cambodians were told to shelter in place amid the coronavirus pandemic – by Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL), which is owned by a wealthy businessman with interests in property, agriculture, energy and a Vietnamese football club.

“The company bulldozed two spirit mountains, wetlands, traditional hunting areas and burial grounds,” said human rights groups Equitable Cambodia and Inclusive Development International (IDI) in a joint statement released on Monday. “[It] destroyed old-growth forest and caused irreparable harm to land of priceless spiritual value to the communities.”

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