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Activists Urge Coca-Cola To Investigate Land Grabs for Sugar Plantations

Land rights activists are urging the Coca-Cola company to conduct an investigation into a Thai-owned sugar company, which they say has evicted hundreds of people to make way for plantations.

David Pred, managing associate of Inclusive Development International, an advocacy group, said in a statement that Coke should immediately look into the company, Mitr Phol, and its Cambodia operations.

Coca-Cola issued a statement last week saying it has a “zero tolerance” policy on land grabbing, and will begin assessment of sugar sources in seven countries, including Thailand.

“Six of these countries have been identified with human rights violations as cited in the US Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced with Child Labor or Forced Labor,” the beverage company said in a statement. “The assessments will specifically include impacts related to land and land conflicts, and will be conducted with the participation of affected communities.”

Mitr Phol was disclosed as one of the top three suppliers to Coca-Cola. Rights activists say the company’s land concessions in Cambodia required violent forced evictions of local communities.

Hundreds of families have lost farmland, crops and community forest resources as a result of the concessions, in Oddar Meanchey province’s Samrong and Chongkal districts, rights workers say. Activists also say the company has refused multiple requests to engage with representatives of affected communities.

“We hope that Thai company operating in Cambodia, as well as their British partner, will cooperate well and return to negotiating with affected people to find a solution,” Eang Vuthy, executive director of Equity Cambodia, told VOA Khmer.