The first video of “Cambodia UPROOTED” six video series by Kalyanee Mam featured is of a special ceremony in Areng Valley, an area in Southwest Cambodia considered one of the most rich and bio-diverse in the country. This ceremony happens only once every three years to honor the forest spirits and to seek their protection. During this ceremony, a leading village elder speaks about the importance of land and water. We come from the land and water, he says. Without the land and the water we cannot survive. Land and water is the root of our natural and cultural identity.
Chhang Youk, the executive director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, has for many years helped documented the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge and has been key to the functioning of the Khmer Rouge tribunal. This is an essay he wrote recently to mark international Holocaust Remembrance Day.
To commemorate this day and this collective protest, I would like to honor the indigenous women warriors of Areng Valley, who are speaking out and fighting to protect their land from the construction of a controversial dam.