29 August 2017
Communities in Preah Vihear province of Cambodia affected by sugarcane concessions of Chinese companies today submitted information on the violations of their human rights to the UN Working Group on business and human rights. The communities, predominantly indigenous Kui, have urged the Working Group to communicate through an urgent appeal with the Cambodian and Chinese governments, the companies and other stakeholders calling them to take prompt actions to address their demands, which include cancellation of the concessions and return of their lands and resources.
According to the information from the communities, five companies (Heng Nong, Heng Rui, Lan Feng, Heng You, and Rui Feng), which are subsidiaries of Hengfu Group Sugar Industry based in China, have economic land concessions of 42,422 hectares in area in Preah Vihear. Beginning in 2012, as the companies began their operations, all five companies have allegedly failed to respect the human rights of the communities and destroyed their environment, economy and cultures.
Despite various actions taken with the companies, courts and government authorities to resolve the situation, the communities have complained that there has not been any result. “The corruption of local authorities and neglect by the Cambodian government and the companies in addressing our demands have exacerbated the impacts,” the submission reads.
The affected communities have demanded that the the Cambodian government immediately cancel all five concessions of Hengfu in Preah Vihear province and return our communities’ lands and resources back to us in order to prevent further violations of our rights and destruction of the environment and culture. They have also informed of the concerns that the end of the rainy season will mean resumption and possible expansion of the operations of the companies, which might result in risks to human lives, as seen in the confrontations between the communities and company workers backed by armed forces, and even more serious environmental and social impacts.
The communities have thus urged the Working Group to communicate, without any delay, with the Cambodian and Chinese governments, Hengfu and its subsidiaries, and other stakeholders through an urgent appeal to take prompt actions to address their demands.