Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Party insists rights are guaranteed

Top: A family of "haves"
Bottom: A family of "have-nots"

October 7, 2009
A. Gaffar Peang-Meth
Pacific Daily News

Modern-day Cambodia is a land of haves and have-nots. There is prosperity among the first group, but those in the second group suffer deprivation and oppression.

Those who could be counted among the "haves" demonstrate some level of allegiance to Big Brother Hun Sen and are rewarded with employment. He controls the primary employment center in the country, the Cambodian People's Party Inc. Those who are less privileged, the "have-nots," are victimized by uniformed authorities who come to evict them from their property, which is awarded to a favored individual or business entity for development.

The haphazard installations of modern infrastructure, tall buildings and expensive villas stand in stark contrast to the scavengers who roam the city's dumps looking for food and the many who live in the open air in rickety shacks with tin roofs. A third of the population lives below the poverty line.

Human Rights Watch describes the situation this way: "The gap has widened between wealthy city dwellers and impoverished farmers in the countryside, exacerbated by large-scale forced evictions of tens of thousands of urban poor, illegal confiscation of farmers' land, and pillaging of the natural resources on which people in the countryside depend for their livelihood."

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