Home News Cambodia Cambodian indigenous people’s beliefs and cultures are going to be demolished

Cambodian indigenous people’s beliefs and cultures are going to be demolished

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Download The indigenous peoples of Cambodia have been holding forums and protests to raise attention to the threat to their way of live by incomers and land speculators.

Land grabs, the destruction of the natural environment and the erosion of traditional culture are the major problems facing the different indigenous groups.

The indigenous people make up close to one percent of the population and are often called hill tribes.

Borin Noun reports on a public media event organized by the indigenous groups to get their voices heard.


We are driving on a rocky dirt road to Lom Thmey a village around 700 kilometres from the captial Phnom Penh.

300 indigneous people live in this village and today they are taking part in a public forum organized by a Canadian development agency and the Cambodia centre for independent media.

60 year old Oun Phiv a village elder says things are not good. Their forest land has just been taken over by the DM group who are going to clear it to make a rubber field.

“We are worried about the next generation that they lose our culture and way of life. This will happen if our traditional forestland becomes part of a argiculutural development being backed by state. So we are calling on the local authorities to stop taking our forest land.”

20-year old Hark Sik says he feels with hopeless.

“Most of the young people are more interested in modern things and foreign cultures rather than our own cultural traditional and religious ceremonies. This has been happening for many years.  If our culture is demolished, our races may be destroyed too. We are very worried about it.”

The clearing of his village’s ancestorial land has already begun. Tractors belonging to the DM group are cutting down the forest to make way for a rubber plantation.

Cambodia has seen rapid economic growth in recent years and a building boom the government says projects like this are in the national interest.

According to Cambodia's revised 2001 land law, if farmers prove they have worked their land for five years, they are entitled to own it; nevertheless, about 90 percent of the country's people do not hold title deeds to the land they live and work on.

51 year- old  Tep Tim   is  Kuy ethnic, she cries watching her forestland being destroyed.

“Our Kuy people depend on  hunting in forest and family cultivation. If we lose our forest it will lead to the death of our people.”

Around 200 indigenous people have gathered in democracy square they are protesting about the destruction of their land.

Protests like this are becoming common as land grabbing is a major issue across the country.

Amongst the protests is Chan Thoeun.  She was from Kratie province around 200 kilometers away from the capital.

“We come here to tell the people living in the capital that our traditional forestland is being destoryed and with it our cultural heritage.”

Dr. Ang Chho Lian from the ministry of education says it’s up to indigenous communities to preserve their culture.  He refuses to comment on land grabbing of indigenous land.

"Each family should try themselves to protect their rights such as cultures, language and customs. Parents have to teach their child about their cultural hertiage and there language, if they do not it will be lost.”

Indigenous groups say it will be very hard to preserve their culture if their forest land is destroyed.

Last Updated ( Monday, 02 January 2012 11:45 )  

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