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Thailand: NHRC upholds complaint against sugar company

Graphic: Sugar cane

The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand has corroborated claims that a Thai sugar company has illegally taken land off of villagers in Oddar.


The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand has corroborated claims that a Thai sugar company that supplied Coca-Cola has illegally taken land off of villagers in Oddar Meanchey province in Cambodia and violated their human rights, more than a year after the communities filed their complaint with the Commission.

With the aid of local NGOs, the villagers lodged their complaint with the Commission in May 2013, accusing three plantations owned by Thai sugar giant Mitr Phol of stealing their farms five years ago —in some cases burning and razing their homes.

They accuse the company of shooting their livestock or holding them for ransom, and of using the local police and courts to beat, harass and sue them.

After a two-day visit to the affected communities this week, human rights commissioner Niran Phitakwatchara said Wednesday that he backed the claims against Mitr Phol.

"The concession has resulted in the illegal [taking] of land from local people, destruction of their homes, killing of livestock and shooting, beating, threat[ening] and intimidation and harass[ment] of the villagers," he said at a press conference in Phnom Penh, organized by Equitable Cambodia, one of the local NGOs helping the villagers.

"In conclusion, our finding is the collapse of the community," Mr. Niran said.

Hoy Mai, one of the affected farmers, who also joined the event, said more than 600 families have lost over 10,000 hectares of farmland to the trio of plantations across five villages.

"They even burned down the houses," said Ms. Mai, who was at one point thrown in jail while she was five-months pregnant for protesting against the plantations. "Even the rice, they took our rice. They have no respect for human rights."

Date: 14 August 2014

Source: The Cambodia Daily


Image credits

  1. Sugar cane - ElCapitan, Flickr Creative Commons