via CAAI News Media
Monday, 25 January 2010 15:03 Sebastian Strangio and Chhay Channyda
RIGHTS groups have accused a rubber company in Mondulkiri province of blocking access to a public road after an employee of the company allegedly accosted rights workers on a field trip to the controversial plantation in Bou Sraa commune on Thursday.
In a statement issued Friday, the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC) claimed a French-speaking employee of Socfin KCD prevented around 30 activists from travelling along the road.
“Since the company set up its office in the area, [it] has put up barricades to block people’s access in and out,” the statement said, noting that the road had previously been a public right of way and was used to access areas used by local people.
Socfin KCD, a joint venture between the Khaou Chuly Group and French rubber giant Socfin, has a 10,000-hectare concession in Bou Sraa commune.
Local Phnong villagers say, as well as displacing around 800 families, the plantation has intruded on traditional rotational farmland and spirit forests.
Bill Herod, an adviser with Village Focus Cambodia, confirmed the road, which allows access to Phnong sacred sites, was controlled by police employed by the company.
“Blocking access to this road is a serious issue for the Phnong,” he said.
Philippe Monnin, the general manager of Socfin KCD, declined to comment on Sunday. Provincial Deputy Governor Yim Lux claimed ignoranc of the incident because he was out of the province.