|Cornering the European sugar market by "accidentally" buying 99% of Cambodia's |
crop produced from lands where farmers are tossed into the streets to starve with
the help of a corrupt Cambodian government.
The Road to Serfdom
Nearly three-quarters of Cambodia's farmland has been taken
from farmers and "given" to foreign companies.
from farmers and "given" to foreign companies.
Vanishing Property Rights - The right to legally hold and own private property is under attack by corrupt governments and businesses from the U.S. to the EU to Cambodia. Laws are "legally" written forcing owners off their lands and often turning over the property to rival businesses that are totally in bed with corrupt government officials.
The latest case involves the confiscation of private property from Cambodian farmers and the re-distribution of that wealth to Europeans.
Backed by British law firm Jones Day, villagers have filed a lawsuit against the Tate & Lyle sugar conglomerate, claiming that KSL were complicit in government moves to evict them to make way for the plantations. They also say they were insufficiently compensated for the land they lost, and faced "multiple instances of battery and criminal violence" during which villagers were shot at and wounded, with one activist murdered.
The UK Guardian reports of one farmer standing by her rickety wooden fence that separates her clapboard home from the giant Plantation in front of her, Yoen Sarin, 29, waves her hand in an arc. "My land extended from there to just over there." She narrows her eyes. "The company tried to bulldoze their way closer but I built this fence, and even though they've already knocked it down twice, I'm not moving. I keep rebuilding it."
|European "Food Colonies" in Asia.|
Working through 3rd parties and "private" companies, the
European Union is stealing Asian farmlands and
turning them into food colonies for the EU.
Yoen Sarin is just one of thousands of Cambodian farmers who claim they are losing their land and livelihoods to big sugar plantations, some of which are directly supplying the EU through companies such as Tate & Lyle Sugars.
Nearly 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) have been cleared in three provinces to make way for sugar plantations since 2006, activists allege – and most of that land, they argue, has been stolen from subsistence farmers.
Sugar is big business in Cambodia, thanks to a preferential European Union trade scheme called Everything But Arms (EBA), which allows Cambodian sugar to be sold duty-free on the European market at a minimum price per tonne. Official figures show that 97% of Cambodia's €10m (£8.5m) sugar exports went to the EU last year, and Tate & Lyle bought 99% of them reports the UK Guardian.
Although the initiative is intended to bolster the world's least-developed countries, the villagers say they have not profited from the deal at all.
"When the company came in May 2006, they bulldozed without consultation or any environmental impact assessment," said Teng Kao, 52, a village representative from Koh Kong province who lost nearly 10 hectares to the plantations. "They bulldozed the fields and streams. They shot our animals. After about 100 families' land was taken away, we started taking pictures."
|Cambodia opposition taps Into 'land grab' anger|
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy is shown speaking to supporters. "Land grabs are wrong. They are cruel and they must end," Rainsy told supporters this week on campaign stops across the country. "We will rescue Cambodia's forests and natural resources."
Already, the government has transferred control of 2.6 million hectares of land to private business from mostly subsistence farmers, according to rights groups, affecting 700,000 people and 73% of the country's arable land in the past decade. The problem is partly a legacy of Cambodia's genocidal Khmer Rouge regime,which outlawed private-property ownership during its radical Marxist rule from 1975 to 1979, leaving many people without land titles.
"Land grabs pose the single biggest challenge to social stability in Cambodia," said Megan MacInnes, senior land campaigner at Global Witness, a London-based human-rights group. "More and more ordinary Cambodians are being pushed into poverty from losing their land and forests, yet the government continues to lease out land to any investor who'll take it."
The "company" Teng Kao refers to is one of two Cambodian entities owned by the Thai group KSL. For the past two years, these companies have sold all of their sugar cane to Tate & Lyle. Now, Teng Kao and some 200 other villagers are taking their fight to the high court in London.
Private deeds were abolished under the Communist Khmer Rouge, leaving subsistence farmers vulnerable to recent surges in land-grabs and mining and property developments. Campaigners estimate that nearly three-quarters of the country's arable farmland has been granted to private companies as economic land concessions, resulting in the displacement of more than 400,000 people since 2003.
Under Cambodian law, land possession can be established using various legal documents, not just land deeds. As many of the villagers in Koh Kong claim to have such papers, they say their land was stolen from beneath their feet. "I've been living here since I was born – this is my ancestral land," said Teng Kao
Since they lost their farmland to the plantations, many villagers say they have been forced to seek work from the very company they are now suing. "I had to pull my kids out of school and send them to work on the plantation after they took our land away because we couldn't afford to eat," said Chea Sok, 38, a claimant in the lawsuit.
"We work together in the plantation now cutting 1,000 stems of sugar cane a day [for 79p]. It's exhausting and hot and the bundles are so heavy for [my children], they get fever working in the field. They've hardly grown at all – sometimes we don't even have enough rice to eat."
While visiting one of the KSL plantations in January the Guardian saw at least a dozen underage children cutting sugar cane, including some as young as nine years old.
The Guardian also filmed children receiving payment for their work on the plantation, and interviewed parents who confirmed that their children worked in the fields and received payment for their labour.
While it is difficult to establish just how many children may be working in the fields at any given time, campaigners say that hundreds may cut sugar cane on the KSL plantations during harvest, based on their interviews with families affected by the concessions.
Tate & Lyle Sugars "claims" it does not condone or authorize child labor and that all land was "legally" obtained.
|A Serf bows to his
Free men own private property. Serfs own nothing and serve as tax slaves,
working the land and forced to turn over the wealth they produced to
their Lords and Masters in Government in return for "protection".
The Road to Serfdom Series
The world is moving toward a modern form of Neo-Serfdom where everyone works for the all-powerful State or businesses controlled by the State. A world where individual property rights and freedom do not exist.
Freedom is slowly vanishing. What happens when the major employers are owned by government backed investment groups, or your food comes from government owned farms, or your news is delivered by so-called "private" corporations that are in reality connected and interconnected to governments?
George Orwell had a name for it: Big Brother. Benito Mussolini had a name too: Corporatism or Fascism.
Please check out other stories in our Serfdom series.
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THE FEDERALIST - "China to buy up the Australian dairy industry."
THE FEDERALIST - "China Buys Up the United States."
THE FEDERALIST - "750,000 Chinese have Colonized Africa"
THE FEDERALIST - "Korea secretly buys Australia."
THE FEDERALIST - "Australia and Africa become Arab Food Colonies."
THE FEDERALIST - "China buys Australia (For Cheap Too)"
THE FEDERALIST - "The Chinese conquest of Africa"
THE FEDERALIST - "China buys New Zealand - The Road to Serfdom, Part XVII"
THE FEDERALIST - "Arab Food Colonies in Black Africa."
THE FEDERALIST - "Chinese colonization of New Zealand blocked."
THE FEDERALIST - "Chinese "Slavery" in Africa - The Road to Serfdom, Part XIV."
THE FEDERALIST - "Argentina fights Saudi Land Grab."
THE FEDERALIST - "LAND GRAB: 160,000 people thrown off their land."
THE FEDERALIST - "China is buying up Argentina."