Boeung Kak Lake residents watch as a construction crew demolishes their homes, Sept. 8, 2011. RFA
In a demonstration over a land dispute, a group of women turn to an extreme measure.
A group of women stripped off their clothes in front of Cambodia’s parliament Tuesday as part of a protest to draw attention to a controversial development project in Phnom Penh.
The 10 women who disrobed down to their underwear were among 100 protesters demanding land titles for residents evicted from the Boeung Kak Lake area, where a private developer granted a land concession is turning the area into a luxury residential project.
“As Cambodian women with dignity we don’t want to be naked, but because of too much suffering we have run out of patience,” said community representative Tep Vanny, who removed her skirt in the protest.
“The officials are working for the rich and powerful and they are leaving us with no choice. We have stripped ourselves to show our suffering,” she said.
The protest is part of a week-long campaign by the Boeng Kak community demanding the authorities drop charges against residents who have spoken out about the issue and award promised land titles to residents who have not received them.
Last year, a decree by President Hun Sen set aside 12.44 hectares (31 acres) of land for the relocation of 794 families whose homes were being demolished in Boeung Kak area, but residents say 94 of those families have not received their land titles.
Around 20,000 Boeung Kak residents have been evicted from their homes or are at risk of losing them since a Cambodian-Chinese company called Shukaku, owned by a politician from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, was granted a 99-year lease in the area in 2007.
Residents have staged high-profile protests since Shukaku suddenly began draining the lake in 2008.
Tep Vanny, who was briefly arrested along with three other women and charged with defamation and obstruction of public officials at a protest in November, said that the women had removed their clothes, breaking taboo in Cambodian society, as last resort to draw attention to the case.
“Cambodian women are gentle but now we have no patience. When we strip [in protest], it means that we are desperate.”
“We are not embarrassed about what we have done. Those who should feel ashamed are the government,” she said.
Cambodia’s land issues date from the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime, which banned private property and forced large-scale evacuations and relocations throughout the country.
An estimated 30,000 people a year in Cambodia are driven from farmland or urban areas to make way for real estate developments or mining and agricultural projects.
Elsewhere in Phnom Penh, protests by members of the Borei Keila community, who have opposed the demolition of their homes to make way for a commercial real estate project, culminated in a standoff in January, when riot police were called in to evict hundreds of residents.
In February, two women from Borei Keila removed their clothes in a protest in front of Phnom Penh’s city hall.
Reported by Mom Sophon and Samean Yun for RFA’s Khmer service. Translations by Samean Yun. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink
New Year Invitations to SRP-RI/FR in Rhode Island on Apr. 7, 2012, A Reception for MP Sam Rainsy in Lowell on Apr. 7, 2012, The 5th Anniversary of H.H. Maha Ghosananda’s Passing at Wat Kirivongsa Bopharam in Leverett on Mar. 18, 2012 and at the International Community of Khmer Buddhist Monks Center, ICKBM, on Apr. 8 in Pelham, Massachusetts United States of America, and the 8th Anniversary of Ven. Ketodhammo Som Bunthoeun’s Passing
Attached below is a very interesting paper by Ian Harris, “Buddhist Sangha Groupings in Cambodia” in Buddhist Studies Review (2001). The article includes interesting views on Tep Vong’s political involvements – using Buddhism to legitimize political interests. He was reported to have condoned political violence, praised political struggle of Monk Hem Chiev against French colonization, yet, Ven. Luon Sovath’s social activities/activism find no praise from Tep Vong, and neither did Ven. Luon Sovath find any place in Tep Vong’s CPP-controlled pagodas.
A Dhamma Talk on Vipassana and mindfulness meditation by Vipassana Gossalaya Jotannano Hong Keo, Vipassana Buddhist Master during a 10-Day Meditation & Vipassana Retreats at the Buddhist Meditation Center, Wat Kiryvongsa Bopharam on the 11th Waxing Moon – 7th Waning Moon of Jeṭṭha B.E.2560 equivalent to June 15 – 26, A.D.2016 in Leverett, Massachusetts, U.S.A. in 2016.
ក្រុងសាវត្ថី Sāvatthī or Śrāvastī
Vipassana chanting by Meditation Master Ketodhammo Som Bunthoeun. Footages from 2016 Vipassana classes at the Buddhist Meditation Center – Wat Kiryvongsa Bopharam in Leverett, Massachusetts, USA.
SAMDECH CHUON NATH
Khmer literature and Dhamma talk by His Holiness Jotannano Chuon Nath, the Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia Buddhism. His Holiness was born on March 11, 1883; passed away on September 25, 1969
MAHA GHOSANANDA SERVICES
Extraordinary Funeral and Memorial Services for His Holiness Samdech Dr. Maha Ghosananda