Cambodia’s Landless Class

[NY Times] In a union office for garment workers on the outskirts of the capital on a recent afternoon, Tith Srey Mom and her sister Mach were pondering what to do next. After losing a 10-year legal battle to keep their 200-square-meter plot of land, they were being evicted. All legal avenues had been exhausted. All they could do was wait for the police to come and forcibly remove them.

The sisters are from Chrolang Village, about 30 miles south of Phnom Penh. Tith Srey Mom’s grandparents assumed control of their land in 1979 as the Khmer Rouge were retreating. The family tilled the patch of dirt for decades, growing rice to subsidize their meager incomes.

Then in 2002 the police arrived and told them to leave, claiming that the sisters no longer owned it. No one among the 32 families in Chrolang had ever heard of Tep Menon, but the police said he was now the owner of the plot. And so began the sisters’ decade-long fight in the courts to keep their land.

Read the full article here.


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