John Vink

Khmer Story/ The Quest For Land

CAMBODIA. Rokakok. 3/01/2001: Former Bassac residents arrive at the relocation site, Rokakok village, some 20km outside the capital.

Khmer Story/ The Quest For Land

CAMBODIA. O’Chroev (Prey Nup). 18/01/2001: Villagers check the location of their plots on a map before registration at the land registry office. Land titles were destroyed during the Khmer Rouge era, and a program is under way to rebuild a proper database.

Khmer Story/ The Quest For Land

CAMBODIA. Chhum Rum (Ratanakkiri). 25/01/2001: Gem mining near a two-year-old village of 200 families trying their luck. Digging is free, and only gem dealers must pay a local tax. Many unlucky prospectors end up heavily indebted after buying tools and food, and failing to find precious stones.

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CAMBODIA. Banlung (Ratanakkiri). 30/01/2001: Footprints in town.

Khmer Story/ The Quest For Land

CAMBODIA. Phnom Penh. 2/02/2001: Homeless in front of the National Assembly.

Khmer Story/ The Quest For Land

CAMBODIA. Rumchek3 (Oddar Meanchey). 10/01/2006: A man sits in the remains of his house, which was burned down by the authorities. He had been promised land by an NGO called Smiling Disabled People, but was evicted after several months of clearing "his" land.

Khmer Story/ The Quest For Land

CAMBODIA. Phnom Penh. 27/01/2006: A displaced family from Rumchek3 camps in a park in front of Wat Botum pagoda trying to get back their land from the authorities. More than 200 people from across the country were camped here at the same time to protest land theft.

Quest for Land/ Boeung Kak

CAMBODIA. Phnom Penh. 27/11/2008: The remains of a house at Boeung Kak Lake. It was dismantled by its owner after he agreed a deal with the Shukaku Inc. development company.

Quest for Land/ Dey Krohom Eviction

CAMBODIA. Phnom Penh. 24/01/2009: Tools of the workers hired to destroy houses during the final eviction of Dey Krahorm.

Quest for Land/ Dey Krohom

CAMBODIA. Damnak Trayoung (Phnom Penh). 3/02/2009: Tenants evicted from Dey Krahorm waiting to be assigned a home promised by 7NG company.

Quest for Land/ Damnak Trayoung

CAMBODIA. Oudong (Kandal). 18/12/2009: A former Dey Krahorm tenant constructs his new home.

Quest for Land/ The Last Chance

CAMBODIA. Saem (Preah Vihear). 17/11/2009: The first harvest by some of the 800 families at the controversial social land concession set up by General Pen Lim for destitute families in 2007.

Vulnerable Situations

CAMBODIA. Phnom Penh. 21/05/2010: Incense sellers on prayer day at a waterfront pagoda.

Quest for Land/ Boeung Kak

CAMBODIA. Phnom Penh. 11/11/2010: Policemen's shoes drying while government officials measure the homes of Boeung Kak Lake inhabitants being forced out of their homes by development company Shukaku Inc.

Quest for Land/ Boeung Kak lake

CAMBODIA. Phnom Penh. 28/11/2011: Riot police contain Boeung Kak Lake residents at a protest in front of the municipality during which four of their representatives - Tep Vanny, Bo Chhorvy, Kong Chantha and Heng Mom - were arrested.

Quest for Land/ Borei Keila

CAMBODIA. Phnom Penh. 3/01/2012: Residents stand on on the barricade to confront the police moments before the final eviction of the Borei Keila community.

Quest for Land/ Borei Keila

CAMBODIA. Phnom Penh. 3/01/2012: Stones thrown by residents and by police litter the contested ground during the final eviction of the Borei Keila community.

Quest for Land/ Borei Keila

CAMBODIA. Phnom Bat, Oudong (Kandal). 5/01/2012: Spilled rice grains at the relocation site for 120 families evicted from Borei Keila. The Phanimex company provided 25kg of rice to those permitted to stay.

Quest for Land/ Boeung Kak lake

CAMBODIA. Phnom Penh. 22/05/2012: Venerable Luon Sovath, a Buddhist monk and land issues activist, monitoring members of the Boeung Kak Lake community trying to rebuild a house on the sand of the filled-in lake.

Quest for Land/ Boeung Kak lake

CAMBODIA. Phnom Penh. 24/05/2012: Venerable Luon Sovath, buddhist monk and land issues activist, being taken away by fellow monks and plainclothes police during demonstration of Boeung Kak Lake residents supporting their 13 fellows arrested on May 22nd.

Quest for Land/ Boeung Kak Lake

CAMBODIA. Phnom Penh. 31/05/2012: Demonstration by Boeung Kak Lake residents in front of the Ministry of Justice, requesting the liberation of 15 members of their community arrested and summarily condemned to 2,5 years of imprisonment.

Quest for Land/ Boeung Kak Lake

CAMBODIA. Phnom Penh. 10/12/2012: Police blocking the Boeung Kak Lake community members of reaching the Council of Ministers to deliver a petition on International Human Rights Day.

ASEAN 2012

CAMBODIA. Phnom Penh. 18/11/2012: Tep Vanny, community representative supporting a banner when Boeung Kak Lake and Pochentong Airport communities, under threat of an eviction, demonstrate ahead of the ASEAN meetings to be held in the capital.

ASEAN 2012

CAMBODIA. Phnom Penh. 20/11/2012: For the third consecutive day the Phnom Penh communities threatened by an eviction held a demonstration on the sand pumped into a lake by the company which evicted 3/4 of the 4000 inhabitants of Boeung Kak Lake, and appealed to U.S. President Barack Obama to put pressure regarding Human Rights on Prime Minister Hun Sen during the ASEAN meetings.

John Vink

The destruction caused by the wars in Cambodia was not only physical. The constant urgency to survive also challenged the very particular and intricate values which built Khmer society over the centuries. Cambodia is far from having recovered the tissue of solidarity which binds a society and which provides protection to the weaker members of its community. The expression of this absence of solidarity is flagrant when it comes to land issues. In 5 years the number of landless has doubled from about 10% to nearly 20%. There are laws regarding land and property, but what is their effectiveness if corruption is to be found at every level of society, and if the most respected laws are the unwritten laws of power? This is the culmination of more than a decade’s work on land rights in Cambodia.

Links to John’s work:
Cambodian Land Issues
‘The Quest for Land’ Ipad app