Planting Democracy Seeds in Former Khmer Rouge Territory

Building democracy in this part of Cambodia-a strong hold of the Cambodian People’s Party is a challenge to the mind and the body. The CPP in Samlot is led by former Khmer Rouge soldiers who reintegrated with the Cambodian Royal Armed Forces in 1997.

Inspecting party signs

For our team, coming to this territory to bring a message of change is similar to the farmers preparing the field. The hard work continues on with seed planting, weeding, watering, till it is time for harvest.

My body is aching from a cold and weakened by the challenge of walking from field to field. Members of the team consult each other when we can’t seem to get the message of change through to the villagers who have lived with fear for over two decades-the legacy of the Khmer Rouges, responsible for the killing of 1.7 million Cambodians.

Despite daily threats, intimidation, villagers who have lost or about to lose their land seem to be stuck with the same feeling: what if the village chief finds ut that we are from the opposition.

My colleagues and I use the word “democracy”, “human rights”, “freedom” with a lot of caution. We spend hours listening, convincing, and reassuring that only when farmers have title of their land can they live in peace. Land tenure is a right, to men and women.

We have been coming to this territory for the past 15 years but our votes go no farther than 10%.

We train women and youth, we empower the few who have shown courage to continue the struggle.

12 more months before local elections. Time is short. In Some villages, we have no representatives.

Very few organizations here. very little attention given to human rights and democracy.

A true challenge but we are inspired by the courage of our representatives.

Thanks to IT, I am able to blog, tweet and post on facebook.

blogging and tweeting with the help of a 3G cell card

Forgot malaria pills back in the city. Spread myself with mosquito repellant, hoping that it will work.

 

Typing this inside a mosquito net and under a light run on battery.

 

All for Democracy.

Samlot

19 July, 2011

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