Samrong & Chongkal Districts
On January 24, 2008, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries awarded three ELCs totaling 19,700 hectares in the Samrong and ChongKal districts of Oddar Meanchey province to the Angkor Sugar Company, Tonle Sugar Cane Company and Cane and Sugar Valley Company. The concessions were granted for 70 years for sugar production and a processing plant. It is clear that the three concessions are all linked, as MAFF records indicate that the three companies applied for the concessions on the same day, received approval from MAFF on the same day and signed the concessions contracts on the same day. 2 A search of the directors of the three companies reveals that they are, or were, senior figures in the Thai sugar giant MitrPhol Sugar Corporation. 3
The total area of the three concessions is approximately 20,000 hectares, which is in violation of the legal limitations on the size of economic land concessions in the Land Law. The companies also appear to have an affiliation with Ly Yong Phat.
The three sugarcane concessions overlap significantly with private land and commons in Samrong and Chong Kol districts. This includes overlap with over 7,944 hectares of community forest land allocated to the Ratanak Ruka Community Forest. 4 These concessions have led to forced evictions, land seizures, forest clearance and increased militarization in the area, affecting more than 1600 families in two districts.
The most notorious evictions linked to these concessions took place in O’Bat Moan/Bos village, in KonKriel commune between 2008 and 2009. In April 2008 Angkor Sugar company staff demolished 154 houses in the village. Then on October 9, 2009, homes belonging to approximately 118 families were burned and bulldozed by a contingent of approximately 150 police, military police, and hired demolition workers. Forestry Administration officials and RCAF troops from Battalion 42 – another battalion to which Ly Yong Phat provides “support” to– set up roadblocks at the entrances to the village, barring human rights workers and the media from entering the village to observe the evictions. Women and children fled to the local pagoda, while the men fled to the forest out of fear of arrest. Villagers were never allowed to return to their homes.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oddar_Meanchey_Province#/media/File:Cambodia_Oddar_Meancheay_locator_map.svg. ↩
- MAFF Company Profiles. Previously available at: http://www.elc.maff.gov.kh/comprofiles/udmangksugar.htm. ↩
- The Director of Cane and Sugar Valley is MitrPhol President, Krisda Monthienvichienchai; the Director of Tonle Sugar is MitrPhol Managing Director, Buntoeng Vongkusolkit; and the Director of Angkor Sugar is Tat Wanakornkul, who was Executive Vice-President of MitrPhol at the time. ↩
- Community Forestry is a program established by Cambodian law that aims to formally hand over stewardship of forested areas to the communities that have traditionally managed them and depend upon them for their livelihoods. In Oddar Meanchey community forestry projects began to be established in the area in 2006 with support from the EU and Ockenden International and in close cooperation with the provincial governor and forestry officials. ↩