“Prame is our home,” 60-year-old Tep Toem told PANAP during a visit to their community. “Before us, it was our parents’, grandparents’, and great grandparents’ home.”
When PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) first met newly married couple Khum Rany and Hean Jin, the two were busy building their own traditional house on stilt with the help of their family, friends, and neighbors, along the national highway in Chhaeb district in the province of Preah Vihear. They now live a few kilometers from Prame commune in Tbeang Meanchey district, where both were born and raised as members of the Kuoy indigenous community, and where both their parents still live. Just across from their new house is the sugar mill and refinery owned by Chinese firm Heng Fu Group Sugar Industry Co., Ltd. (Heng Fu). It is reportedly one of the largest in Asia and was inaugurated by none other than the Prime Minister of Cambodia in April last year.
Rany and Hean Jin did not randomly select the location of their new house. For the couple, it is a political statement; their “everyday form of resistance” against the company that cleared the five-hectare rice and vegetable farm of Rany’s family and converted it, along with other Kuoy lands, as well as part of their sacred Prey Preah Rokar forest, into a massive sugarcane plantation.