Cambodia: Land Cleared for Rubber Rights Bulldozed

, by Fédération Internationale des ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH)

“Yes we accepted to sell our land, but we had no choice...”,
Community member, Bousra village

Economic land concessions (ELC) are long term leases granted over land for agro-industrial exploitation. Over the past years, ELCs have dramatically increased in Cambodia and are the subject of severe criticisms by civil society organisations and international organisations for fuelling human rights abuses, for leading to the deprivation of vital sources of livelihoods for communities and for aggravating poverty. Land right activists in Cambodia are increasingly being persecuted.

In 2008, an economic land concession (ELC) to exploit industrial rubber plantations was granted by the government of Cambodia to Khaou Chuly Group (KCD), a prominent Cambodian construction company with close ties to governmental figures. In 2007, the European company Socfinasia entered into a joint venture with KCD (Socfin-KCD), of which it now owns 80% and ensures its operational management. Registered in Luxembourg, Socfinasia is owned mainly
by the French industrial group Bolloré and Belgian families Fabri and de Ribes.

Socfin-KCD now manages two concessions in the village of Bousra, in Mondulkiri province, (Varanasi and Setikhula) for a total of more than 7000 ha. The concessions affect over 850 families living in Bousra Commune. 90% of the population in Bousra are Bunong, an indigenous group of Cambodia . The Bunong are subsistence farmers practising shifting cultivation and relying on the gathering of non-timber forest products. The Bunong people follow an animist religious belief system that involves the protection of spirit forests and burial grounds for their ancestors.

Alerted by its member organizations in Cambodia about numerous irregularities, including alleged human rights abuses, FIDH organized in December 2010 an international fact-finding mission.

Download the IFHR report here