Taiwan: protests over corporate land-grabs in Cambodia

Human rights groups on Nov. 19 staged a protest in front of the headquarters of Ve Wong Corp in Taipei, accusing the snack food giant in the seizure of farmland in Cambodia. Campaigner Roxanna Chen said two of the company’s local joint ventures, Koh Kong Sugar Co and Koh Kong Plantation Co, have illegally seized 9,600 hectares of farmland in Cambodia’s Koh Kong province since 2006, and that several peasants have been killed by the sugar companies’ private security forces in protests against the land-grabs.

Taiwan Association for Human Rights policy director Shih Yi-hsiang said that as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Cultural, and Social Rights, “the government should make sure that all businesses follow the principles laid out in the two covenants, whether operating in Taiwan or abroad.”

“I don’t know the law, but I want to say that it’s fine for Ve Wong to make money, but they have no right to do so by hurting others and depriving farmers of their rights,” said Ly Vouch Hang, a Cambodian immigrant who represented the TransAsia Sisters Association of Taiwan at the protest.

In response to the protest, Ve Wong Corp issued a statement saying that while the company holds a 30% stake in each of the companies, “our Thai partners are in charge of the daily operations of the companies and have never informed us about what the human rights groups have stated.” (Taipei Times, Nov. 19)

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