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."