Magazine article New Internationalist

Turning the Screw

Magazine article New Internationalist

Turning the Screw

Article excerpt

Sim Pov travelled from central Cambodia to the capital, Phnom Penh, earlier this year, to learn from the organizing efforts of urban housing activists. The lawyer is representing some 70 families who are fighting a Vietnamese rubber company in a land dispute; he planned to recreate their demonstrations in his own community.

The rubber company had evicted Pov's clients from their land in 2014 after promising them new plots elsewhere. They are determined to fight back, like dozens of other communities. Over the past decade in Cambodia, with the help of local and international NGOs, hundreds of small and spontaneous protest movements have sprung up to denounce human rights abuses and the violation of land rights in both local and foreign business deals.

But in August, the Cambodian government passed a law requiring all associations to register with the Ministry of Interior, which will then decide who will be allowed to operate. …

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