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Commission Calls for Cease to Land Grabs

The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission launched an Internet petition Monday to urge the Cambodian government to immediately halt land grabbing for development projects or other purposes which have already caused tremendous suffering to hundreds of thousands of Cambodians.

Lao Monghay, a senior researcher for the Commission, said the petition, to be given to Prime Minster Hun Sen, could be an effective way to solve land issues if more people support and sign it.

"If many people help us by signing, it could be an influence to the government and the prime minister to finish or to decrease the land grabbing issues from the poor," he said.

Land grabs are taking place across Cambodia, he said, because the government has granted land concessions to private companies.

"In the city, as we can see that some people who have been living here for a long time were chased out by the government using the excuses to improve and develop the city," he said. "The same as in the countryside, the government needs to grant land concessions to private companies to grow plantations and some other agriculture crops."

Kek Galabru, president of the rights group Licadho, said she supported the petition.

"If there is a petition for people to sign to support halting land-grabbing, then I agree with it because I think that it is serious problem," she said. "I am not only the one who talks about that. Prime Minister Hun Sen usually says that the land issue in Cambodia is a major matter. So he tries to tell the big private companies or powerful officials to stop grabbing the land from the poor people."