Saturday, 9 August 2008

The ethnic minorities highly criticise the government

Cambodge Soir

On the World Indigenous Day, their representatives are considering appealing to the UN authorities in order to focus on their situation.

The ethnic minority representatives will appoint a spokesperson with the responsibility of alerting the UN authorities about their situation, said Um Mech, representative of the Kuoy who are living in Kampong Thom province, during a press conference of the 8th of August organised by the NGO Forum in Cambodia.

“The investments from companies obtaining concessions in the rural areas aren’t really benefiting the ethnic minorities who live there”, did he say, bringing up the example of the Prasat Balin district (Kampong Thom province), where “companies don’t hire local labour, forcing villagers to work for Thai companies.”

“It’s important for the donor countries to put pressure on the government, all the more so as an increasing number of foreign companies are asking for concessions in Cambodia”, continued Um Mech, deploring that the government had chosen to organise a day in honour of the ethnic minorities on the 29th of August in Pursat, while the world indigenous day takes place on the 9th of August.

Ros Hean, representative of the Kuoy in KratiĆ©, has praised the government for its efforts towards the ethnic minorities on the field of investment and education, while regretting the pauperisation of these people. “In 2004, 50% of the people coming from the ethnic minorities were living under the poverty threshold, compared to 75% today”, did he say.

According to Ros Hean, the 15 provinces and towns in which 21 ethnic minorities are concentrated lack an adequate infrastructure and staff on the field of education and health.

Tep Tim, representative of the Kuoy in Preah Vihear province wants to focus the attention on the conditions according to which land has been granted to concessionary companies. “The sale often takes place when the owner has drunk, did she reveal. Moreover, the government never consults the community chiefs when granting a concession and rather confers with village chiefs.”

According to Tep Tim, people coming from ethnic minorities enjoy limited access to education. “During the final exams, most of them score C’s and D’s”, she said.

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