With economic concessions now widespread in the countryside, international donors must work harder to help Cambodia’s ethnic minorities battle forced evictions and land grabs, a representative for these groups said. Yun Mane, chair of the Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association, is in Washington this week, meeting with international groups to push for more land rights for the indigenous. VOA Khmer's Sok Khemera, Washington.
Advocacy groups, environmentalists and policy-makers discussed for five days on events surrounding Mekong River issues in Washington. “Mekong Days,” a series of talks, films and other events seeks to highlight issues in the region, where some 60 million people live. The Mekong River, a major source of food for many in the region, is currently under increased pressure from hydropower dam projects and the potential impact of climate change. Environmental advocates say the dams could hurt fish stocks in the river, even as temperature and rainfall changes threaten agriculture and livestock. (Sok Khemara, Washington)
The award-winning documentary on Cambodian development, "A River Changes Course," screened in Washington last month for an environmental film festival. The festival examined the impacts of globalization and environmental destruction. VOA Khmer's Men Kimseng spoke with filmmaker Mam Kalyanee to discuss how these issues are addressed by activists and decision-makers.
Housing rights activist Tep Vanny arrived in Washington this week to accept a leadership award. The Public Life Award was given to her by Vital Voices, an organization formed by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. In a studio interview with VOA Khmer's Sok Khemara, the 31-year-old activist said she was honored to be recognized for her ongoing struggles to raise awareness of forced evictions that have left thousands of Cambodians homeless.
Though the government has approved the Lower Sesan 2 Dam project, affected villagers in Stung Treng province continue to rally against it. They want authorities to reconsider plans for the hydropower dam. VOA Khmer's Say Mony reports from northern Cambodia in Stung Treng province. The villagers living along the Sesan river in Stung Treng province say they do not want to see the Lower Sesan 2 dam erected on the river, where generations of Cambodians have supported families by fishing and rice farming. Noy Phut is a fisherman here in Srek Kor village of Sesan district. He says if built, the dam would disrupt his ability to support his family by fishing. “Of course, there will be nothing,’’ Noy Phut said.
Environmental activists are working to conserve a rare turtle that lives in three provinces of northeastern Cambodia. The Asian giant softshell turtle, a freshwater species called “frog head turtle” in Khmer, is disappearing from Southeast Asia, but a good number of specimens have been found living along the Mekong River in Cambodia. “They are in a critical situation,” said Sun Yoeung, a project officer at Conservation International, as he toured the river last week. Around 2,600 of the turtle species are thought to be living along the river. VOA Khmer's Kong Sothanarith reports from Stung Treng.
Conservationists and officials from the government are seeking to save at least four different species of bird that are endangered by make their homes in the Mekong River provinces of Kratie and Stung Treng. Officials traveled the flooded forests between those two provinces, looking for birds identified as under threat. (Kong Sothanarith, Kratie province)